This is what I do, don't try to understand how I do it; I don't really know either

Archive for January, 2014

I was raped

This past week I became aware that a woman in India was gang raped at the orders of an elders council. I found this to be abhorrent and shared this story on my social media to bring awareness to the atrocities that go on in our world. If people don’t know, then they can’t take action. It is my hope that with knowledge people will do what they can to bring about the change that needs to happen in our world to speak to the value of human life.

One of my facebook friends private messaged me that she did not feel that story was appropriate for facebook and that she changes the channel if there is stalking or rape on it. If we ignore the problems they will not go away!

This made me wonder if part of the reason it is easy to turn away is because the victims are nameless and faceless people. Sure rape happens, but if it’s not someone we know then we can pretend it doesn’t. It’s when crime comes close to home we realize how great the problems are.

So that’s why I want to share part of my life story publicly. I want to put a name and face to rape. It’s mine. I was sexually abused as a child from a young age to age 10. My parents knew nothing about it while it was happening. I was raped in high school by an older boy and again at a party in my early 20’s.

I have spoken to too many women who have been through what I have been through. Some had never told anyone what had happened to them. What I went through is still painful even though I have found a lot of healing, but I am grateful that I have been able to use what happened to help other women who know the shame that is left like a residue on your soul.

If you want to pretend this doesn’t happen, then you can no longer look at my face. I am proof that it does and that we have to talk about these issues and take action. Praise be to God that I am also proof that you can go through horrific things and find healing and wholeness. It is difficult to share my story, but I do so because though the scars remain, THEY DO NOT DEFINE ME.

I bring a reality of hope, of life after the darkness.

So how do you help? You help by being a part of the change that has to happen in our culture. This is a fantastic 12 minute video from TedX that will explain the sexual objectification of our culture: http://www.upworthy.com/being-a-sex-object-is-empowering-oh-wait-no-it-s-not-here-s-why-2. Men and Women should watch that video and take the steps she suggests. Things have to change! We should be outraged at what has become normal. If we can not change things here, how can we make changes around the world – changes that will stop women from being raped, stop children from being sold and stop lives from being lost.

If you have been a victim and need help or someone to talk to contact me through social media or my email on the contact page. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

I can only imagine how incredible it would be to live in a world where people saw the value in each and every life.

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I was bullied

I watched this documentary called Bully. It breaks my heart. Maybe more so because I understand it. I know what it’s like to not fit in. To be picked on and called names or pushed around. In elementary school I was called pig nose. In high school I was called captain forehead. All you want is to have friends and feel like you belong. I just wanted people to like me but the harder I tried, the more I failed.

Victims often get blamed. They are told things like “you shouldn’t put up with that” or “stand up for yourself.” The problem is these kids have no tools to work with. If they could have stood up for themselves don’t you think they would? They don’t have the confidence and/or often the physical ability to do anything different.

I cried all the time and I dreamt about suicide everyday for years. There were two reasons I am still alive: the first is because I didn’t have it in me to hurt myself which is tied to the second reason – I didn’t really want to die, I WANTED TO LIVE!

I just wanted to live without the pain, without the name calling, without being afraid on the walk to school about what would happen that day. I wanted people to be ok with who I was even when I didn’t know who I was.

The end of the film says – Everything starts with one. They’re right. I had one friend in elementary, granted not everyone was mean to me but I really truly only had one friend. She gave me hope that maybe one day it wouldn’t be like it was. Her name was Lindy. Then in high school I got another friend named Alex. They didn’t care about my awkwardness. They didn’t care that cool kids called me names. They hurt with me when boys grabbed me inappropriately for fun or saluted me when I walked down the hallway with a C on their foreheads.

And in all honesty there were kids who were bullied way worse than I was. I made it out alive but kids don’t anymore. One life lost is too many. I wish I could talk to every kid who wants to give up and tell them to hold on – one more day at a time.  I want to tell them that they can make it- because I did.

Adults lets stop blaming. Stop blaming the kids who are being bullied PERIOD. No excuses. Stop minimizing their pain and their experiences. Hurt with them.

Schools stop blaming parents and parents stop blaming schools. Shut up and work together – where do you think kids are learning the name calling, the shifting of responsibility? Bullying happens because we allow it. It will take more than wearing a pink shirt one day a year to change this but we can.

Start in your own home. Have discussions about the value of human life regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation. height, weight, appearance, athletic ability – any of it! Then show it in your life. Help others, especially those less fortunate than you.

We had a football party three years ago and two of the kids’ parents who were invited told me their kids had never been to a birthday party or any party. They were never invited. NEVER should that happen.

Every life has value. EVERY one! If we actually believed that and lived that way, no one would want to end their life. Because living would be worth living for.

Pop the Pastor Bubble

I am a licenced pastor. I preach Sunday sermons, I lead outreaches, I have married people and thankfully I have never officiated a funeral, but I can. I do not let my title define me. I do not even allow people to call me pastor- it’s what I do, not who I am.

I have been finding an interesting phenomenon. When people find out (or I tell them) I am a pastor they treat me – normal. Occasionally when people first know me and what I do, they try to not swear around me but if they hang out with me long enough it fades, and I’m glad. I don’t want anyone to pretend to be something they are not when I am around.

I was thinking about this recently because not all pastors are that way. Some live in a bubble. I have seen it way too often. So I wondered why do people not put me in a bubble? I hold the same title, do the same job.

I conclude that there are two reasons: I don’t let people put me in a bubble and I don’t put myself in a bubble. As a people, we want idols and stars. We want perfect people on pedestals to lead the way. No one can live up to that and when they don’t we are so outraged at the bad example they set for our daughters on MTV. If others are perfect we can look to them and not have to be role models ourselves, or we can pretend to be a group that looks really nice on the outside.

The flip side is leaders who are fakers and want people to see them as more exalted than the people they lead. I get the trap – I’ve fallen to it before. Someone is in awe of you for some thing good you did or whatever and it feels good. It’s hard to be vulnerable when your in the spotlight. Your weaknesses and faults show throw exponentially. You talk less about the issues your having or pretend to have it all together so some can look up to you. It seems easier to tell someone you know the way, than to be honest and say I don’t have an answer but let walk this together. The first answer gets you home by 5 while the second means life gets messy and interrupted.

Pastor bubbles suck more than any leadership bubble. The bubble draws attention to ourselves when we are supposed to be pointing the way to Jesus. The very people we’re supposed to be helping, we are hurting. If there is ever a safe place where people can be real, honest and vulnerable it should be the church. Many have failed at this because of bubbles.

If your in a church or organization where there is a leader, please recognize that leaders are people too. We screw up, we hurt people, we make mistakes, we bleed. No one has it all figured out today. We crucified the one guy in history who did. If the leader above you wants you to see them that way then get out fast.

If your a leader, pop any bubbles that come your way. Don’t pretend. Be real, be honest, be vulnerable. It’s true that if you live that way there are people who will go and look for a “better, more perfect leader who has all the answers.” Let them. Jesus said he came for the sick. The sick need someone who can get them to the hospital and I will tell you the church is not the hospital – Jesus is. As leaders and as the church, we are the ambulance.

bubble burst

When bad things happen to good people.

There is a common belief that bad things only happen to bad people and good things to good people – or at least it should be that way. Clearly this is not the case in the world in which we live. I have often wondered why people assume, or even expect that, but as I read Deuteronomy 28 today I made a conclusion.

We expect good things to happen to good people and bad to bad people because that’s what God laid out. In that chapter he says if you obey then you will be blessed, and if you disobey you will be cursed. Pretty straight forward and pretty basic. We also see this in many Proverbs.

So why doesn’t this happen? Was God wrong when he had the authors of the Bible write these things? If you look at Deuteronomy you have to keep in mind he wasn’t making a blanket proclamation to the world. He was directing a certain group of people at a specific time. If you look at Proverbs your clue is right in it’s name – it’s a Proverb. A Proverb is a short popular saying, usually of unknown and ancient origin, that expresses effectively some commonplace truth or useful thought. It is not a universal law of how the world operates.

No where in the Bible does God ever say life is fair. No where does he make any promises of a fairy tale life once you become a Christian. I wrestled with this when my best friend and her children were murdered. She loved God with her whole heart and her twin boys were only 14 months old. How could God not protect them?

God made us with free will. It means we can love others or we can hurt them. His only promise for ultimate safety and protection come after we die, with eternal life. That’s not to say that God is out there somewhere with his arms crossed just watching us like a spectator. He does intervene at specific times for specific purposes. What either of those are I make no claims to know. I just let Him be God.

I do know one specific time with one specific purpose. He came down himself. He stepped into this world of both joy and pain and took all our sin so that his promise of eternity with Him could be possible. Without that act there is no way any one of us could have bridged the gap we created between us and Him.

So for now, if you continue with the expectation that good things will happen to good people, and vice verse, you are going to be frustrated and disappointed for the rest of your life. If however, you chose to let God be God, you will be able to come to terms with the fact that we live in a fallen world but we don’t live for this world. We live to follow Him and He will take us to the next where bad things don’t happen at all.

Susan and the boys are waiting for me there.Susan and babies