Let us be a family…

I am so weary.

Weary of heartbreak coming at me from all sides, of the late night messages from friends harassed by ex husbands, of a mother who is in fear for her sanity, for her life, for her very soul, trying to keep it together for children with nowhere else to turn. Weary of the “widows and orphans” of our age being shunned for being victims of abuse or neglect, for being brave enough to believe that no man is better than an abusive one, or just simply for being single. Shattered to my very core by the grief my friends are forced to carry alone because of the insecurity of others.

I am angry.

This heartbreak will not go away, it will not be squashed, comforted into a mere inconvenience. It will not be ignored.  The One I turn to in heartbreak, exhaustion and sorrow is angry too!  His Grief will not be denied, and He demands we do better. The Jesus who revealed Himself to the Samaritan woman at the well demands we do better than this.  The Spirit, grieved and grieving, demands the church be a place of family for those without.

Will you sit with the pain? Will you allow it to change you, to galvanize a resolve to do better in you?  Will you love well, and constantly, not for recognition or applause, but because if you don’t, who will?

Will you say, “No More!”

No more distracting, no more demurring for a peaceful life, no more crossing to the other side.  The women on the edges of our communities deserve fullness of life, all of them; the divorced, the widowed, the single. The ones we would rather not see because they reveal our fears writ large and painful. They deserve the same loud, rambunctious and messy family we long for; an interfering, bossy, nosy band of sisters and brothers who will stand in the gap with them. A family who will walk all the way with them, be a place of healing and joy and growth. They deserve a family who will fight for them.

Our family needs them.  I need them. I need to be reminded to depend more fully on Jesus, and to be grateful for small lovely moments so easily missed as I rush to yet another game/meeting/dinner.

The Church needs them. The Church, the beautiful living expression of Jesus’ body on earth that is called to transform the earth, needs the wounded Warrior Women to lead, to share, to disciple us in the Broken Way.  We need their voices and their tears.  Because in them we see Jesus. A Jesus who always sought out and loved the broken and the lost over the put-together and in-charge.

Will you invite our sisters to belong first? Will you invite those who have no money, to come, buy and eat?

Dear Sisters,

We need you!  You are not a burden or an inconvenience, you are our family and without you, we are Less Than, we are incomplete. 

Forgive us who have flitted into your lives, when it was convenient, and out of them again when we got “busy”.  Forgive us for allowing a culture of insecurity, lust and pride to determine who we “let” our husbands care for.  Forgive us for abandoning you to pass holidays, school plays, football games and recitals alone.  Forgive us for not sitting with you when it is unbearably hard and lonely. Please hold us to account. Please reach out, and please forgive our faltering attempts to love those whose daily lives expose our idolatry of safety and security.

Let us be a family curated by The Master for one another. 

Your Sister,

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Because #MeToo is more than a hashtag

I don’t usually reblog the work of friends. I don’t usually blog about my personal experiences of abuse, either. But the “week that broke me” has stretched into two and the conviction grows that we can not and must not be silent.
The power of #MeToo cannot be allowed to diminish, we must look full in the face of this cultural societal epidemic, own our part and change. Together we can change the world that our children grow into. Together we can raise the next generation of men to treat women as equal in both value and agency. Together we must come out of the #MeToo season better, kinder and more forthright in our opposition to the cultural norms that have landed us here.

Welcome Normandy! Thank you for your vulnerability and strength.

Shoes and Shortcakes

Sometimes it feels like everyone is against me and no one is doing anything about it.

Sometimes it feels like society cares more about protecting others’ reputations than protecting my safety.

Sometimes it feels like ugly and manipulative lies are believed and valued above fearful and vulnerable truths.

Sometimes it feels like people in authority care more about abusers than survivors.

Sometimes it feels like well-wishers are only willing to engage in visible slacktivism and not invisible activism and support.

Sometimes it feels like I am alone. Weak. Helpless. Exposed.

The recent accusations against Harvey Weinstein and the subsequent social media explosion of opinions surrounding that topic, in addition to the overwhelming response to the #MeToo campaign, have weighed heavier on my soul than I expected. These events have left me feeling these sometimes feelings constantly instead of once or twice a week. My triggers have been more prevalent this past week. My…

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#MeToo

I am heartbroken.  I cannot bear the weight of my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feed… and yet, I must. We all must.  We must look full in the face of the parade of #MeToo posts.

We must see, and be changed.

We must listen to the women and girls, and some men, telling their truths, bravely drawing aside the curtain to reveal their scars.

Almost all the women I know have a story of abuse, from the brutish and violent to the excused “boys will be boys” or the laughed-off workplace violation. There are no socioeconomic barriers to the systemic nature of these stories, they have happened in schools, bars, churches and locker rooms, at universities, bus stops, internships, doctor’s offices, and workplaces around the globe.  The common denominator? The devaluation of women, of her right to ownership of her body. The systematic shaming that forces her into silence until something so egregious happens that she is forced to tell her story out loud.

We’ve all heard it:

“It’s a compliment, love!”,

“You’re a tease, what did you expect?”

“Don’t make mountain out of a molehill.”

“This is how you get ahead in this biz.”

“You were asking for it… by drinking / flirting / wearing a short skirt / wearing makeup”

How do we make sense of this, how do we answer the competing voices with clarity, bravery and compassion?

This morning I had reached a point in my memoir manuscript which I had merely placed in parentheses “… (X kiss…/ att’d rape.. / rescue).

I couldn’t bring myself to write That Story.  It was too hard, too real.  “No one wants to read that much truth”, my inner voice said. But the flood of #metoo posts gave me courage. Courage to tell this story;

This story, I had been conditioned to believe, was my fault.  Because, in a world quietly dedicated to the comfort and happiness of men, the very fact of being sixteen and at a party, gave a boy two years my senior permission to use his hormone-fueled strength to force himself on me. This story that, but for the care of another boy, who remains a friend to this day, could have ended with me being yet another girl raped at a party.  It is a little over 26 years ago, and yet I can still feel the adrenaline and panic cutting through the wine in my blood stream, I can still feel the bruises blooming on my thighs and abdomen, marks left as he tried to force me into submission. I remember being embarrassed in front of my savior, like I had caused him an inconvenience. I remember being grateful that I wouldn’t have to reveal to my parents what really went on at those “safe” house parties with trusted friends. But, most of all, I remember the shame that I had allowed myself to be in this position.

It was not the first time someone had violated me.  I had already absorbed the message that girls are for boys’ enjoyment, that our primary function was to look pretty, be amenable and available. To disagree with any of the above was to make yourself outcast – a fate worse than death. My erstwhile rapist however, suffered no sanction, he continued to be invited to parties and seeing him would send me straight for the door, or the bar, whichever were closest. I was in the wrong, I had asked for it. So I hid.

I look back over the years and silently chronicle the occasions along with my sisters; from groping in bars and bus queues, to men three times my age ogling and chatting me up while on work experience in a Crown Court, to the almost daily struggle to be seen as a thoughtful, capable, serious human and not just a set of parts to be admired or sexualized.

The most difficult and redeeming thing about writing a memoir is examining our story with clear eyes and thoughtful judgement.  Our history impacts our future, and unless brought into the light and seen, really seen, can haunt our present with its ghosts.  I had, until really recently, internalized a sense of shame and fear around sex, shame that has its genesis on that hot July night in 1991. I was constantly conflicted about being seen as attractive, a simultaneous blessing and curse, especially in Christian ministry. I have carried this baggage well into my walk with Jesus, into my marriage, and as I sit here writing I have to fight the internalized conditioning; the voice shouting at me that I’m making a fuss about nothing.

It ends here. I will tell my stories, and I will fight for women and girls to be protected from experiencing the same. I will raise men who hold their fellow men to a higher standard, and who will believe the women in their lives when they have the courage to tell their story.

My sweet husband sent me this text this morning, and I had to pull over when Siri read it to me:

“You never know how strong you truly are until being strong is your only choice.”

Bob Marley

I am so proud to be part of a community of women who are willing to brave the glare of public scrutiny and tell their stories. Together we are strong. Together we will change the world.

#MeToo

Fight on, sisters. You are seen!

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