Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Avalanche

"It only takes one voice at the right pitch,
to start an avalanche." 
~Dianna Hardy

On Thursday social media erupted over the Kavanaugh hearings.

Thousands of people watched and listened, and then positioned themselves firmly on either side of the issue.

For many Ford's testimony was the boiling point in a large cauldron that has been brewing since the 2016 election.

And all the while, I have been sitting by quietly.

Listening, absorbing, and having dinner table conversations with my husband about all of it.

While the Kavanaugh hearings are the prime target these days, it seems like I cannot turn on the TV-even the sports channels-right now without listening to yet another story or continuation of a story about sexual harassment or abuse.

Woman after woman coming forward to speak HER truth.

The "Me Too" movement has taken our country by storm, and left all of us a little rattled and choosing sides of the fence.

Some of us speculate that they are lying, and many question if it is merely a publicity stunt.

A quick shot at fame.

A woman scorned seeking only to drag someone down during a defining moment.

Some of us wonder what took them so long.

Why are they choosing right now to be the moment they come forward?

We write their stories off as insignificant because it took them longer than 48 hours to gain the courage to say something, because our entitled culture feels that we have some kind of right to determine how and when a story that is not our own is told.

But, on the other hand, some of us feel deep compassion for these women.

We feel compassion, because we can relate.

We hear the phrase, "one in four", and we cringe.

We hear their words and their stories, and it's like we're looking in a mirror watching their mouths move and swearing it was our own.

Some of us would never be so brave.

We sit on the beds where we've hidden our shoebox full of our darkest secrets and we quietly cheer on these brave ones who have chosen to get their box out for the world to see. We tell ourselves that their story will make enough of a difference. The world doesn't need ours too.

And no one wants to hear our story less than the Church.

But, we watch as CNN leaks over into our sanctuaries and takes a front seat in our pews.

We sit quietly by while pastor after pastor, and church leader after church leader resigns under the pressure of various sexual and abuse allegations.

We watch as our David's fall to their Bathsheba's, and we gasp in contempt and confusion.

How is this happening?!

Where in the world did we go wrong?

Surely. There must be a mistake. A misunderstanding.

I was raised Southern Baptist and I attended a private school that was housed inside of an Independent Baptist Church. 

I am what the political agenda likes to call: A conservative. 

In fact, I've been fed the conservative, Christian view since before I could talk.

And as a "good" girl with a "good" background, I know that one of the cornerstones of my conservative, Christian view has always been that women-like children-are to be seen and not heard. 

Trust me, I know my place. 

And for years, I was the girl sitting on the side of her bed trying her damnedest to hide her shoebox.

But, as many of you know, all of that changed with one post.

And suddenly the quiet, conservative, Christian girl had let her voice be heard, because she was tired of sitting by and letting the men do all the talking for her.

And while that post focused mostly on my side of a very raw story, it does talk about the different paths that lead to that defining moment for me.

The moment that I found strength and power in telling the MY story.

But, in all honesty, MY story does not end there.

There is a much deeper reason why the "Me Too" movement is so personal to me.

Because there is a piece of the story I have only shared with a handful of people.

People whom I trust deeply and love fiercely.

People who have always stood behind me and helped me clean up every single mess.

But, as I listen to the stories of others and I watch as doubt tries to take down bravery, I feel this urgent need to tell you all something:

Me too.

In the summer of 2013, I was drugged and raped by someone close to me.

Someone whom I would of trusted with my life.

Someone in whom I had confided.

Someone who made me feel safe.

He wasn't a love interest.

In my mind, there was never any hint at any type of relationship other than friendship.

But, he thought otherwise.

In a weak moment, he took advantage of me and of my trust.

I will never forget how I felt the next morning: the embarrassment, the confusion, or the way my fuzzy mind tried to painstakingly put together all the pieces of exactly what had happened.

I totally blamed myself for months.

I felt guilty and dirty.

My upbringing had ingrained in me that this was somehow MY fault and I believed those voices.

I shoved the experience in a shoebox and hid it under my bed.

I moved on.

I started telling my story-minus that crucial piece.

I stood on my soapbox and shook my fist.

I championed for women and healthy co-parenting.

All while trying to ignore something that probably would have made such a difference for so many.

If only I had the courage.

If only I could have said it without being afraid of my voice shaking.

And yet, here we are 5 years later.

After 5 years, I have made my peace with each part and player of my story-my whole story.

Except for one: the Church. 

As I sit here almost 17 years later from the first moment that the Church failed me, I realize that I never saw 2018 coming.

I never saw Willow Creek on the horizon.

I didn't know who Urban Meyer was, and I'm pretty sure that Brent Kavanaugh wasn't even considering that he might be a Supreme Court nominee.

And I definitely never thought that at some point the Church would have to answer for all the years it has shoved girls like me under the rug while using WWJD and the Proverbs 31 Woman to keep us in check.

For years our voices were confined to Sunday School classrooms and women's Bible studies, because as a conservative, Christian woman you did not speak up, and you most certainly did not speak out.

If it was something you felt passionate enough to share with your husband or your father, then you would hope and pray that he would share it for you. 

And if you did happen to speak up, you became a Hester. You were shamed into wearing your own "scarlet letter" that served as a reminder to everyone around you that the sins of others were some how "your fault".

You weren't submissive.

You dressed "immodestly".

You were "asking" for it.

You didn't understand "your place" in the church or in your own home.

And so you would repent, and bow your heads.

And just like that we would recant our stories, because we didn't want to disappoint Jesus or our families.

We wanted our churches to accept us-we wanted to feel whole.

And at some point along the way while we were idolizing the Proverbs 31 Woman, we lost site of the other major female players.

The ones I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the last 5 years.

The ones who lead armies, disobeyed kings, and hid spies.

The ones who went to wells alone and who washed Jesus' feet with their best perfume because that's all they had.

The ones who Jesus chose first to reveal Himself too on the third day.

The ones who did not need someone to do the talking for them-because Love sought them out and took hold of them personally.

Love cupped their faces and said, "I care about YOU and YOUR story! Not the version your husband or your father wants to tell. Just you. I don't need anyone's permission to love you, because I made you and the rest is history."

Love chose them regardless of their background, their life choices, or their sin.

And when we take the time to read those stories and open those shoeboxes, we realize that while the Church has gravely failed those of us with scarlet letters-the people who have failed us the most are ourselves.

Because, we chose to buy into the lies.

We chose to be silenced.

We chose to let others tells us exactly how our faith was supposed to look without seeking it out for ourselves.

But, no more.

Because, here's the truth: we, as women, were never designed to be silent, and we were not created to put our faith in humans who were destined from the Garden to let us down.

Yes. The Church has many, many responsibilities, but, at some point we have to quit depending on four walls and a steeple to keep us safe and to give us the permission we have been brainwashed into thinking we need.

It doesn't matter what everyone else thinks, because it's YOUR story.

And if you have a story, consider this your permission to tell it.

Because as long as I live I will always abide by this truth: that God did not give you your story so you could keep it to yourself.

Someone out there needs to hear your truth, and it's time that we start holding more than the boys club and our politicians accountable.

It's time that we start holding the Church accountable.

What if, Church, instead of questioning or doubting their truth, we start allowing these women to get up on our stages with their dusty shoeboxes, so that their stories can change lives and hearts?!

Can you even imagine how that would begin to heal the wounds that were left deep inside of some many?

Can you imagine how many women would find their way back to Jesus if they knew they didn't need anyone's permission to lay their baggage at His feet?

I can.

The horizon is full of them.

So how about we stop judging?

How about we stop thinking that we have the right to determine how someone else tells their story?

How about we take the hand of the sister next to us, and quietly whisper the words many of them are dying to hear: me too.

Because it's time that we start helping each other carry the burden, instead of adding to it.

It's time that we take out those shoeboxes and break our silence.

It's time. It's been time.

This movement is long overdue.

I know. I know. It seems crazy and irrational.

Who would've thought that a secular movement would be what it would take to start an avalanche?

I'm sure Josh McDowell didn't.

My 17 year old self definitely did not see this coming, and my 27 year old self thought she would never see the day.

And yet, here it is.

And for them and for their wounds-I'm finally glad that it did. 

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