There is no going back…

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Here goes…the very last wall I have kept guarded and built up around myself like a protective blanket is about to crumble down, and I can’t turn back.

I am a victim of sexual assault. I don’t call myself a survivor, because during my ordeal I never felt that my life or “survival” was in danger. No, the only thing in danger in that dark garage on Huntoon Road was my virginity, my self-esteem, what little shred of innocence I had left, and my dignity.

At 11 years old, I had not even started my period yet. I had only ever kissed one boy {under the bushes at recess at my elementary school}. I only knew about sex secondhand, and I certainly was not “raging with uncontrollable hormones”, which is probably why staying the night in a garage with teenage boys my parents were “hiding” from the juvie police didn’t cross my mind as a “dangerous” decision. I was young. I was stupid. I was wrong.

The next morning, I slithered back into the house and headed straight for the bathroom. I was bleeding from having my small body torn, and I sunk into the bath. I didn’t even know how to shave my legs yet, but I knew what it was like to have someone on top of me.

I wondered if this meant I had to “love him” and that we were “boyfriend and girlfriend” now. The thought made me sick. I wondered if the other girls I knew from school that had “had sex” with this same person had also said “no..please stop” and cried as he promised in their ear that it was going to be okay and to just be quiet. I wondered if I should hold his hand now when I went back outside, because I didn’t really want to look at him much less touch him…or have him touch me, ever again. I wondered if you could get pregnant when you have never had a period. I knew a girl in my school that was pregnant, she was 13. I wondered if everyone would know, or if they could tell. These are the things you think about when you are 11.

I wrote about that night in the garage and about my (physical as well as emotional) pain and confusion in my diary, because that’s what you do when you’re a kid.

A few weeks later, after my 12th birthday and after the young men were long gone, my mother found it…my diary.

She was irate…

…with me. She beat me. She called me a little slut, a whore, a slew of other things and hit me over and over. I remember crying in the bathroom after, and shaving my legs for the first time. I don’t know why I remember that, but I guess that’s what a 12 year old whore does. She never told my father. For that I am still thankful.

Knowing with certainty now that what happened was definitely my fault, and I deserved to be punished for it changed and shaped the way I would view my body and what I could possibly give to another person for many years.

I buried the secret and allowed myself into compromising situations time and time again, because I just didn’t care anymore. There was nothing left to be “taken” from me. I actually have bile rising in my throat right now as I write this.

It took me many years and a new family before I could begin to forgive myself. I even started calling myself a virgin again, but when the words came out it felt like a huge lie. I tried to convince myself that I was… although deep down my biological mothers words and fists had pounded “whore” onto my heart, and deep into my soul.

My husband and I were married for 5 years before I even hinted at what happened in that garage. It was a part of my story I always kept locked away for myself. I never shared any details, and begged him to never talk about it again, and he has not since that day. Again, I am thankful.

No one knows my secret. Not my parents, my brothers, my best friends. Rather, no one “knew”…until now.

Why now? Why would I share this, knowing the insurmountable pain it is going to force me to face?

This is why. Today, 11 of my friends (and counting) shared different memes and opinions about a sexual assault assailant on social media. This person is rich, powerful, and a staple in todays politics. This person is vile, and yet the very people I see pledging their allegiance to him also do so in the name of “Conservative Christian views and Morals”. They do so in the name of “politics”. 

One meme shared said “If American women are so outraged by the use of Trumps naughty words…then who the hell bought 80 million copies of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’?”

{For the record, the leaked tape does not create outrage over his use of “naughty words”, it is much more over his verbal account and boasting of “grabbing (a woman) by her pussy” and pushing his hands up her shirt, putting his lips on her, while trying to use his power and authority to convince the woman to have sex with him.}

Friends, stop. Please. Just stop.

So far, there is 11. 11 friends that have shared dismissing comments on how he sexually assaulted a woman who worked for him, while shifting blame to ALL women because thousands of books about sex were sold. {Wait, what?}

For the record, “reading a book about sex” and having a man “grab” you “by the pussy” while trying to force you to submit yourself to him are TWO VERY VERY VERY DIFFERENT THINGS. I can’t even believe that has to be explained??

I just read the book “Finding Me” by Michelle Knight, a woman who was abducted and brutally sexually tortured for 11 years at the hands of a sexual predator.

This does not mean that I hope to be abducted and sexually tortured and beaten for 11 years, or that I think its cool and okay, nor does it mean that I condone or support the actions of a sexual predator.

It means that I read books.

This way of thinking is disgusting, and must stop. For the love of our children, just stop. It is not okay, it is not the same. The fact that “good people” are still throwing allegiance, while shifting blame once again back onto WOMEN (because this is exactly what a post like this does) is DEPLORABLE and DISGUSTING. It is what we have seen this man do over and over.

That victim was someones DAUGHTER. Every woman this man has ever called a “dog” or “fat” or “ugly” or groped, or sexualized, or assaulted WAS SOMEONES DAUGHTER. Think about that.

This isn’t politics, this is simply about right and wrong, and people perpetuating a rape culture..which is EXACTLY what these memes and comments {and your blind allegiance to it} do.

They shift rape blame from the perp to the victim.

They beat the girl for what the man did to her, just like my mother so many years ago.

Friends, this is NOT about politics. You hurt me today, but I am choosing to let down my guard to help you understand. Every time you dismiss these actions, you hurt me. You hurt girls who have been molested, sexual assault survivors, and women who are victim of sexual harassment. We will still pretend to be okay, but you just reinforced that tiny voice in our heads telling us that our assault was somehow our fault. YOU are a part of a problem far bigger than you understand, for the sake of what? Your candidate? You took another little slice of my dignity today. I will forgive you.

I do not care who you are “voting” for. You can vote for your Trump without condoning his every lewd comment and without dismissing his actions and behavior. Same goes for those of you voting for your Hillary. Voting doesn’t have to mean plowing over and shredding the dignity of others in the blind allegiance of your hero.

For me, I will post this, then reap the consequences..good and bad.

Someone will be helped by knowing that ‘she’ is not alone, and that her assault does not define her.

Someone will tell me all the reasons why I should still vote for Trump, because that’s exactly how disgusting and sick people are.

Some will play the role of my biological mother, and attempt to tear me apart..not knowing that I am far from ever believing those lies again.

But some might sit back and take a moment to let my story and the millions of others just like it “sink in”. They might change the way they speak of these terrible things, the way they blow them off and make memes indicating its okay and don’t think twice about the damage they could potentially cause to their “friends” before moving forward full throttle. They might even change the way they think about the men who hurt women with their words, their hands and their bodies. My hope for you, reader, is that you become one of the latter.

Humility in a righteous world.

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“Lord, deliver me from the lust to vindicate myself.” -St. Augistine

CONVICTED. That’s what I am this morning as I prayed over my woes and hurts. You see, we live in a world where day after day and week after week, we and millions of our peers can publicly express their many thoughts and opinions, support and condemnation through the wonderful world of social media. I’m not bashing facebook or asking you to deactivate your twitter, I love social media and the connection it provides during those long hours of motherhood and those lonely and isolated times of foster parenting. In an instant, I can find a “friend” who “gets it” and can council or pour into me, and I am thankful for that luxury.

But lets be honest here….right now, that’s not what social media is REALLY about, is it? Right now, we find ourselves in a world where opinion and vindication, the need to be right and ensure that others agree with our particular stance on any given topic is the “acceptable norm”. We fill our friends lists with like minded people and then we “de-friend”, or worse yet, publicly crucify or convict anyone who opposes in any way our way of thinking.

CONVICTED.

Think about the last 5 topics that have been brimstone and hellfire in the social media storm…think about where you were standing and what you had to say. Now think about the hardness and hatred you saw thrown around. I’m thinking. I’m thinking about my stance and how I tried so very hard to take a road of kindness and love. How I made public stands about lions and babies and without even knowing it, a county clerk. I wanted to make sure I didn’t hurt anyone with my words, but also that my point was loud and clear, and my “social world” knew where I stood. “This shouldn’t matter.” (the lions); “This is evil.” (the babies); “This person is not a representation of my Christianity.” (the clerk). I thought I could be “kind” (“Your kindness will reward you but your cruelty to your neighbor will destroy you.” Proverbs 11:17)but still stand firm on my message of Jesus and his love, and even in those moments- those very messages were offensive and hurtful. The very thing I worked so hard not to be, in my own actions, I was being.

SOMEONE on my friends list cared deeply about the lion. CONVICTED.

SOMEONE on my friend list was hurt by my words about abortion. CONVICTED.

SOMEONE on my friend list identified with and praises the clerk. CONVICTED.

The most fascinating thing in it all? I probably shared some of the same feelings, morals, beliefs and convictions as my friends, but because we never stopped to have an actual conversation out of a place of trust and love as brothers and sisters serving the same Lord, No middle ground was found before the condemnation and convicting of one another started.

This is where humility comes in.

So often, we find ourselves in the need to be “right” at all costs. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes we are “right”, fundamentally. When we go “wrong” is when the deep need to ensure others know we are “right” rears its evil head. (Refer to the public display being made by the clerk.)

“Pride leads to disgrace but with humility comes wisdom.” -Prov. 11:2

“…and all of you, serve each other in humility, for God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” -1 Peter 5:5

CONVICTED.

As the firestorm that is social media (aka. Social Acceptance) heats up and the beast of righteousness and vindication is released, we find ourselves being torn apart and publicly challenged  via that lovely thing we call “newsfeed” and “wall”. It hurts. Its painful and its personal, and as you sit alone reading all about yourself you begin to think about how to vindicate yourself. The need to make sure that everyone knows that you are “this” or your aren’t “that”. I need to make sure my friends know where I stand and the goodness in my heart….wait…why? In my own efforts to tell my friends that I don’t live in offense, I found myself hurt and offended. In my efforts to put aside the need to defend myself or my viewpoints as I am called hurtful things, I found myself needing to defend my person.  I went to bed anguished and hurting, trying to figure out how I was going to “fix” this public condemnation of myself, because that’s what I thought I “needed”. Is that not in its self the need for vindication? The only way to repair the things directed at me would be to direct words back at someone else. “It is foolish to belittle ones neighbor. A sensible person keeps quiet.”- Prov 11:12

CONVICTED.

I remembered this morning….well actually the Holy Spirit remembered and ripped through my heart this morning…a sermon I heard a few years ago about humility and ways we can practice humbling ourselves. It hit me that this is where we (at least I, personally) need to begin, on social networks and in our daily lives, in order to lay down our own pride and find worth in ourselves and our peers again.
“It was pride that changed angels into devils; It is humility that makes men as angels.” -St. Augistine

How? How can I practice being humble and what does humility look like in our world today? I remember that teacher as she shared with us:

SERVE.
Humble yourself by serving those that are different from you, less fortunate than you, and different minded than you. Be hands when you are able, and serve others humbly without the need for recognition or thanks.

PRACTICE LETTING OTHERS HAVE THE LAST WORD. 
Let others express their thoughts and opinions without the need to justify or express your own.

LEARN TO NOT ALWAYS NEED TO DEFEND YOURSELF. The lust to vindicate ones self is deep seeded, but unnecessicary. Your value and worth are from the Lord and the Lord alone, not man.

PRACTICE THINKING MORE OF OTHERS THAN YOURSELF. Hurting people are hurtful people. Humble yourself enough to pray for others and put their needs ahead of your own. Allow yourself to disappear from your own concerns.

ASK GOD TO OCCASIONALLY REMIND YOU OF THE DEPTHS OF YOUR OWN SINFULLNESS.
When you remind yourself of your own sinfulness and sinful nature, you can humble yourself before God and man.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brothers eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” -Matt. 7:3

Practicing humility is hard. Its more effort sometimes than the easy and more acceptable road of self vindication. Swallowing words and pride sometimes tastes pretty sour going down, but reminding yourself that you are the least of these and yet you are still of immense value brings peace to ones soul.

I am a self righteous person in a world that promotes and accepts self righteousness. This transcends through the liberal world and the Church alike, whether we want to be honest enough with ourselves to admit it or not. We will always be able to find something that needs publicly convicted or vindicated while pursuing our self righteous stance and defending our actions or words. We MUST become better at practicing humility than we are at posting our viewpoints on our “wall”. I’m talking to me here.

CONVICTED.