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The Why

Over the last month or so, I’ve seen several stories of victims of abuse of some kind come forward to name their abusers and describe the abuse. One thing I see pretty much every time this happens is “why did they wait so long to say anything?” I want to try to explain it.

Often, when a person is experiencing abuse of some kind, be it mental (emotional/verbal included), physical, and/or sexual, he/she will go to someone to get help. Sometimes, the person is believed and helped. More often than not, that doesn’t happen. The person will be met with inaction, blame, disbelief, or perhaps all three. All the while, the abuser is working to convince the person being abused that it’s deserved.

Here’s my personal example. Fifteen years ago, I experienced about a year of constant, severe mental abuse. I was told by the people abusing me that I deserved it. There were “consequences for my actions,” and I wouldn’t be experiencing it if I hadn’t messed up first. At the beginning, I went to a leader to get help who said “oh, I can’t get involved.” Message: you’re on your own, I’m not helping you. I remember vividly crying at an elder’s wife’s house after experiencing another “consequence.” Baffled by my emotional response, she said, “did you honestly expect it to be different?” Message: you deserve this. I told a friend what was happening and she said, “that can’t be right. He wouldn’t do that.” Message: you’re lying. Told a friend’s parent what was happening and he said, “this wouldn’t be happening if you hadn’t made the mistake first.” Message: I’m the one to blame. I deserve this.

I stopped looking for help. I stopped talking about what I was experiencing. What was the point? It seemed like every place I turned to for help turned me away. My already low self-esteem became basically non-existent. Every unkind word, every move to ostracize me- it was all deserved. I was a hypocrite and a failure. I wasn’t welcome. Because I did mess up. I did make a mistake. If they’re all saying these are the consequences, it must be true and I’m a terrible person who should be grateful for whatever kindness I receive. I’m thankful I had my parents and my (now) husband during that time or things may have gotten worse. I’m also thankful I had a good doctor who asked the hard questions and upped my medicine.

Through good friends, an amazing therapist, and my family, I now am able to say I didn’t deserve the way I was treated. Fifteen years later. While I have no desire to call out anyone by name or try to “cancel” anyone, I can understand why others would. If I thought for a moment they were doing to someone else what they did to me, I’d shine the brightest spotlight on them to bring that darkness out. I would do whatever I could to protect those who needed it (because no one should be treated the way I was, let alone a teenager). Maybe that’s why people wait so long. They’re content to accept what happened to them as long as it’s not happening to someone else. Or maybe it’s taken 10 or more years to find their voice and accept and understand that what happened to them wasn’t deserved. It wasn’t. It takes time to get over that, to unlearn the lies you believed to be truth. So, after all that time and all that work, maybe they want to use that new-found voice to say “what you did to me was wrong” and work hard to ensure their abusers aren’t in a position to hurt someone else. Because, like I was told so often during that awful year: your actions have consequences.

Ew, Feet!

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”

John 13:14

Most of us hate feet. We hate having other people’s feet close to us. We hate other people touching our feet. We don’t even like looking at pictures of feet. So, can you imagine having to sit down around a meal with a bunch of guys who have been walking along dirt roads in sandals all day – and YOU have to wash them?

Ew, David!

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7 Mind-Blowing Truths About Jesus

There are those who claim all the divinity-stuff about Jesus – you know, the miracles, the resurrection, the “God in the flesh” stuff – was made up after the fact. They want us to believe Jesus was just a good teacher whose stories got blown out of proportion and became the stuff of legend and mythology. But I think it’s pretty clear from very early on Jesus’ disciples believed him to be the Messiah, the Son of God. They understood (post-resurrection) who Jesus really was and is. This is the message about Jesus they ended up carrying to the ends of the earth.

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Ya Dead Mon?

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12 | NIV

The bobsled barrels down the winding course, more grueling than anything they had encountered on their unlikely journey. The team of four is making great time. They’ve proven they could go from pretenders to contenders. The crowd is stunned. Just as they near the end of the course, a bolt on the sled’s steering system shakes loose, sending the whole sled into an unrecoverable fishtail. They ricochet between a couple walls. Next thing they know, the whole crew find themselves sliding on their helmets, upside down for another several dozen yards. The crowd stands in shocked silence, only broken when the team leader, Derice, calls out to his teammate, “Hey Sanka, ya dead mon?”

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Good Guardrails

Proverbs 13:6

Righteousness guards the person of integrity,

but wickedness overthrows the sinner.

You want to know another thing that breaks my heart? The unending number of stories about pastors and ministry leaders who lead sinful, even criminal double lives. There isn’t much out there that can get my blood boiling more than hearing about men who use their position of authority to abuse innocent people under the guise of ministry. There are too many to even name at this point.

But what made me do a double-take recently was the number of pastors on Twitter who, in response to the news about Ravi Zacharias, said things like, “This could easily have been any one of us.” If that’s the case, then get out of ministry and get help. I understand wanting to extend grace and even empathy, but he is guilty of a pattern of criminally abusive sexual predation. That doesn’t just happen.

Today’s verse from Proverbs reminds us how important boundaries are. Jesus didn’t just warn against murder and adultery. He warned against the corrupting power of anger and lust. Outward sinful actions always start in the battleground of the heart and mind.

“Righteousness guards the person of integrity.” Righteousness is all about doing the right thing – even when no one is watching. Joseph is a good example of this, maintaining his commitment to God in slavery and prison and Pharaoh’s palace. The church needs more men and women of integrity, those whose lives are consistent across all the spheres in which we operate. That starts in the heart and mind. Then we build patterns of behavior and guiding principles to protect us from the infiltration of sin.

“Wickedness overthrows the sinner.” When Cain was angry with Abel, God warned him, “Sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Cain had a choice. We always have a choice in any given situation. God always provides a way out. Sin always promises more than it delivers. It takes more than it gives. If we think we can handle it, we’re deceiving ourselves.

The good news is every day we get to make a choice about what kind of person we want to be. You can always start over. Every day is a new chance.


Mother God

Isaiah 66:13

As a mother comforts her child,

so will I comfort you;

and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.

As I’m writing this, I’m sick. I checked my symptoms on the Mayo Clinic website. It’s not COVID, just a cold. But I’ve been pretty miserable for the last few days. Anytime I’m sick, I remember what it was like when I was younger. There’s no question that being sick as an adult is way worse than being sick as a kid. As an adult, I still have certain responsibilities I have to meet. As a kid, all I had to do was lie on the couch watching The Price Is Right. Plus, I had my mom to take care of me.

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More than Words

Psalm 19:14

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart

be pleasing in your sight,

Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Hey, remember that thing you said when you were angry, scared, or hungry? Remember how it caused someone to recoil in hurt? Honestly, you probably don’t, but I can guarantee they remember it.

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Sustaining Hope

Psalm 91:2

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

What a year it’s been. It has been almost a year to the day since we got the call informing us schools would be closed before and after spring break. We were nervous but hopeful that this would all be behind us by Easter, or by Summer, or by next school year, or by…. Yet here we are.

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The Little Way

Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

I’ve got to keep it real. This passage is in the context of addressing slaves in the 1st Century Greco-Roman world. The amazing thing was slaves and masters worshiped in the same churches and shared a religion. The sad thing is that American slave owners abused this passage and others like it to keep African slaves in their place. These instructions were meant to revolutionize the slave-master relationship, leading to freedom and brotherhood. But like most things, if it can be used to oppress other people, we’ll find a way to do it.

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