The Words Don’t Reach

Gentle Reader,

There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is suffering too terrible to name

The moments when you’re in so deep
It feels easier to just swim down

If you see [her] in the street, walking by
[Her]self…have pity

You knock me out, I fall apart

We push away what we can never understand
We push away the unimaginable

– “It’s Quiet Uptown,” Lin-Manuel Miranda

Someone died.

I’ve been staring at the blinking cursor for a good few minutes, unsure how to go on. Or if to go on. But, blast it all, this is how it works. How I work. Something happens and I am compelled to put words to it. The words that I can’t speak, the ones that get caught somewhere between my mind and my throat, the ones that are released only through my often ink-stained fingers. The psalmist tells us that his bones grew old when he kept silent. I feel that.

A weekend of euphoria. Flying high.

Practically perfectly paced for a crash-landing as the reality of brokenness rears its ugly head once more.

And it’s a moment that the words don’t reach, even as I strain for them. Even as I grapple to make sense of what I logically, rationally know I will never understand.

What do you do with that? When you know you’ll never understand, when the opportunity for restoration has passed? When you’ll never have the important conversation or hear the acknowledgement? When you’re still dealing with the destruction, the ripples of which have spread far and wide?

I sit at Jesus’ feet and I tell Him that I don’t know. I don’t have the answers to these questions. I’m not even sure that I want Him to answer them right now. I just want to lean against Him, wrapped in holy silence and a love that requires no speech in its expression. He doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, He welcomes women like me to just this place, just this position, for it is here that we best learn.

Triggered. It’s a word I despise. It’s been abused and misused. People use it to silence constructive, valid opposition.

But here I am, the switch flipped, flashing back in my mind to every scene. Every interaction. Wondering what I should have done, could have done, differently. A deep, gnawing anguish in the pit of my stomach. The fear that every woman has, no matter how much healing she has experienced, that maybe, just maybe, she really did bring it on herself. Ask for it. By being too beautiful or too smart or too different.

Too…womanly, with the curves and the softness and the hair and the smile.

Frightened by what God designed and delights in.

Because you have been treated wrongly.

I suppose I should just get over it.

I wish it was so easy. I long for it to be so easy.

God, You were there. You saw it all. You know what’s true and what’s false. Please, reveal that to me. Help me, Father. I feel stupid and selfish for asking. I don’t even know why I’ve written this vague thing on this public platform. But maybe somebody else feels the same way. Maybe somebody else had the wind knocked clean out of her lungs in the space of a few seconds. Maybe he knows what I mean here. I know You do. Help me. Help them. Help us.

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.

– Matthew 5:4, 7 & 9 (CSB)

SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEWSLETTER, REST STOPS ALONG THE WAY. PONDERINGS AND PUPPY VIDEOS DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX EACH SATURDAY(ISH).

Donald Trump and Sexual Assault: What Else Are Evangelical Voters Willing to Accept?

I don’t use the “reblog” feature on WordPress (the company that hosts this site) very often, but there are times when something is just too good and it must be shared. Read this. Think about it.

Signature

Christian in America

Last night’s presidential debate opened with the Republican candidate for president apologizing for boasting about sexual assault, while in the same breath claiming that it was just words, mere “locker room talk.” “I’m very embarrassed by it,” he admitted, “but it’s locker room talk.”

That’s all. Nothing to worry about. This is just how men talk when they are together having fun. People just say these things.

That’s what Trump would have us believe.

I have heard much “locker room talk” over the years and I have never, ever, heard someone even come close to bragging about sexual assault without being called out on it by any man with any self-respect whatsoever.

I am well aware that many men say these sorts of things. Many men commit sexual assault too. Indeed, one out of every five women in America has been the victim of rape or attempted rape, and half…

View original post 951 more words

Peace, They Say

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com (3)

Gentle Reader,

I took part in an exchange today, one that has me shaking my head. I was accused of gossip for commenting on an article that the author invited comment on. I was told that I “obviously have problems” for believing that the Church should advocate for victims of any kind of abuse rather than protect and defend the perpetrators. The jabs at my character won’t keep me up tonight, but they do make me sad in the sense that they stand as yet another example of the deep dysfunction within the Church.

I love the people of God, but I don’t always love what they say or do.

We are called to be so much more.

We cannot stand on such cheap, flimsy understandings of mercy and justice. When we minimize or justify or defend any kind of sin, when we claim that it’s all good and nobody should be upset because the person repented, regardless of whether or not they ever humbled themselves and did everything possible to make things right with the one they offended or abused, when we contrive to shift the blame onto the shoulders of the victim, we wind up belittling what Christ did.

He became sin. He BECAME sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). Every horrible, awful, evil, dark, nasty, vile action or thought that anyone would ever have, He became. The Father turned His face away. Those agonizing hours when Jesus hung on that cross, naked and bruised and bleeding and gasping for breath – THAT is the fallout of sin. That is God’s opinion of it. It is not a “mistake,” an “indiscretion” or “no big deal.”

Forgiveness and restoration is available to anyone who comes to the Lord with a sincere and contrite heart. Thank God for that or I would be lost. But we don’t get a blank check to do whatever we want. Grace doesn’t mean that there aren’t consequences to our actions. It doesn’t mean that, if Jesus were walking the earth today, He would protect or defend those who perpetrate abuse.

On the contrary, He would call them out. He would bring them face-to-face with the full ugliness of what they’ve done. That’s precisely what He does now through the work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:5-11). He doesn’t pat abusers on the head and say, “It’s all good now that you asked Me to forgive you.” No. He washes them clean and then gives them both the humility and the fortitude to go out and face reality. See, that’s part of the radical, transformative nature of the Gospel; not that we hide behind “God forgave me” and seek to escape consequences, but that we deal with them, whatever they are, in the light of truth because we understand and accept just how heinous sin is. We accept that our actions affect others and that there is not such thing as a victimless crime.

For example, God can and will forgive a murderer, but that murderer should serve jail time. God can and will forgive an adulterous wife, but her marriage may end. God can and will forgive a man who beats his children, but those children should be removed from the home. God can and will forgive a woman who steals from her place of business, but she should be fired.

Should perpetrators be given the chance to make things right? Yes. We should not walk in bitterness and withhold that from them. But we should also not make light of their actions or slap their wrists. Mercy and justice do not exist in separate spheres.

Finally, God is absolutely an advocate for victims and calls His people to be advocates as well. Even a casual reading of Scripture reveals His heart in that regard (just a sampling – Psalm 82:3-4, Isaiah 61, Proverbs 24:11, Proverbs 31:9, Isaiah 1:17, Isaiah 58:6-7. Ezekiel 22:28-30, Amos 5:21-24, Micah 6:8, Luke 10:27-28, 1 John 3:16-18).

God forbid we be characterized by these words:

They dress the wound of my people
    as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
    when there is no peace. – Jeremiah 6:14 (NIV)

My journey to faith. (15)

50 Shades of Something Else Entirely

{ image source }

Gentle Reader,

I realize that I’m a couple of weeks late to the party, but I do like to make a dramatic entrance.

There is a plethora of articles and information out there that go into great detail as to why 50 Shades of Grey is nothing more than an attempt to glamourize (and thinly at that) an abusive relationship. Some of the loudest voices actually come from within the BDSM community itself, which I find incredibly telling. And of course there are quips galore, the best of which has been floating around Twitter (I am unclear as to the original source):

“Fifty Shades of Grey” is romantic only because the guy is a billionaire. If he was living in a trailer it would be a “Criminal Minds” episode.

How true. Although I dispute that it’s romantic at all.

I’m not going to give you an exhaustive list of reasons as to why you should avoid 50 Shades. (Except that it began as Twilight fan-fiction. Please do dwell on that for a bit). It’s been done and by people far better versed on the topic than I. A simple Google search will lead you to that conclusion.

I have something else to tell you.

First, let’s be quite clear about the fact that this is pornography. Women who would (justifiably) flip out if their husbands or boyfriends indulged in the consumption of illicit material are absolutely kidding themselves (or outright lying) if they insist that 50 Shades is “just” a love story. This series has sold well because of the graphic descriptions of sex. (And the descriptions can’t even be that good; more than a few reviewers have said that E.L. James’ writing is awful). If you read the books or see the movie, at least be honest about what it is that you’re putting into your mind.

Second, the major thematic element in the 50 Shades series is control, not love. I have not read the books (nor will I) but I have had enough exposure to them to know. I’ve read plenty of quotes. I’ve cataloged dozens of copies of each one for the library. I know that Mr. Must-be-Ironically-Named Christian Grey stalks, grooms and abuses Anastasia I-Checked-My-Brain-at-the-Door Steele (she has GOT to be the single-dumbest female character ever written). I know that he uses his past as an excuse for his present behavior. I know that he uses power – financial, physical, emotional – to manipulate this woman he so “loves.”

There’s nothing sexy or romantic about it. The fact that anyone thinks otherwise is quite literally beyond my understanding.

But maybe the people who enjoy these books (and the movie that the actors themselves found to be horrid) were never stalked, groomed or abused.

I was.

Too young and naive to understand, too convinced of my own complete lack of self-worth, I never found the words to discuss what happened to me as it was happening. Not with my parents or other trusted adults, at any rate. My friends were aware of some things, but they were also too young and too naive. Many of these people are still in my life and I love them to pieces, but their advice at the time simply wasn’t helpful. How could it be? We had no experience of these things.

There is nothing but horror to be felt when your boyfriend pretends to shoot himself during a phone conversation because he loves you “so much.” Nothing but confusion when he screams at you in front of others because you achieved something while he wasted his time and somehow that’s your fault. Nothing but pain when he calls you terrible names. Nothing but frustration when he starts dictating your clothing choices. Nothing but an undefinable emotion when you tell him that you’re afraid he’ll hit you – and he does. Nothing but terror after you break up with him and he shows up at your workplace, outside your classroom doors, uninvited at friend’s houses when you’re there, follows you home night after night and sits in the street for long stretches, staring.

And yet you think all of these awful feelings are somehow love, because he’s sunk his hooks so deep into your mind that you no longer know what’s up or down, right or wrong. When you try to confront him about something, he cries. Or refuses to speak. Because you’ve hurt him. Because you don’t understand how deep his devotion to you goes. How dare you question him?

I’m still afraid to run across this guy and it’s been more than 11 years since the last incident. I don’t want to be afraid. I’m a grown woman with a good life and an ever-growing sense of self. By the grace of God, I’m strong. I’ve dealt with some genuinely difficult stuff. Yet the handful of times I’ve run into him… The ice crawls up my spine in the thinking about them.

Real love is not about control, my friend. Relationships are not based in one partner dominating the other. Ladies, there is something fundamentally flawed in your thinking if you are attracted to Mr. Grey, if you think he’s so dreamy and you want a guy just like him. There are plenty of Mr. Grey’s in the world – and they are evil. They will manipulate you. Gaslight you. Abuse you. They will cut you until all of your beautiful sparkle, all of your unique life, is drained out through the veins of identity and value.

That’s not love. That’s not romance.

It’s 50 Shades of something else entirely.

Darling, precious women – you are worth SO MUCH MORE. In fact, the God of all creation has such passionate love for you that He sacrificed His own life so you could be with Him. So you could be made whole. He wants nothing more than to bring you out of darkness and into the light of His wholly perfect love. He wants you to have healthy relationships where you are cherished. Highly esteemed. Where you can grow and flourish. Where your gifts and talents are appreciated, your strengths admired. Where your weaknesses are acknowledged but never used against you.

God will never push you into the dirt and He doesn’t want you to be with anyone who will.

Mr. Grey belongs in the trash.

Don’t climb in there with him.

My journey to faith. (15)