1/12/18 Morning Musing: We Damage His Name…

After reading another story about another woman being sexually assaulted by a man and it not coming to public knowledge for decades and hearing her disparaged and minimized because she “waited too long” or because it was “decades ago”…I just can’t be quiet any longer. (This time, it was Andy Savage of Highpoint Church in Tennessee.) It’s late and my heart hurts so be patient with me as I try to make coherent points.

I can not understand how “waiting so long” is supposed to negate the victim’s reliability or the truth. People in power have gotten away with abuse of the ones without that power forever…and unfortunately, it is also true in churches. But unlike outside of the church, we Christians should be held to a different standard…not because we are better than anyone else…not by a long shot. We should be held to a higher standard because we have intimate understanding of Jesus’ example of giving a voice to the voiceless…of bringing justice to the marginalized…and giving dignity to the broken or hurting. This intimate knowledge of our God and his heart means that we can not continue to ignore injustice and abuse of power while representing our Lord accurately because each time we do, we aren’t just lying…we aren’t just hurting the individuals being denied justice…we are also damaging the name of our God.

We damage his name when we continue to turn a blind eye to abuse.

We damage his name when we refuse to see other people…other image-bearers…as valuable.

We damage his name when we give racism or sexism (or any other ism) a pass by remaining quiet when we know we should be speaking up.

We damage his name when we refuse to enter into honest and respectful dialogue about topics that matter. (This contributes to the trend of people seeing the church as obsolete.)

We damage his name when we defend abusers and judge victims based on whether or not we align with them politically, denominationally, etc. (Yes, I just went there.)

We damage his name when we push for male leaders in church to receive funds for their ministry, appropriate pay and title, and continuing education while denying it for their female counter-parts.

We damage his name when we beat people up with our religion instead of listening to them and loving them.

We damage his name when we applaud what is wicked and criticize what is good.

We damage his name when we deny others the freedom that we simultaneously demand for ourselves.

We damage his name when we judge others instead of remembering how we have been forgiven.

We damage his name when we mistreat each other in the name of “witnessing.”

We damage his name when we abandon the needy, weak, marginalized, aged, or hurting.

We damage his name when we refuse to own our sins and, instead, justify our ugly behaviors or minimize them by using more palatable wording so that we can feel better about ourselves.

I could go on and on forever with this. At some point, we must quit tolerating the abuse of power. If we are the ones with power, God’s blessings are not limited…there is no need to try to hoard it. If we are the abusers, yes there is forgiveness…the gospel is not too small for any sin…but that doesn’t mean that accountability is void. If we are the survivors…and hear me on this…please hear me…our pain is not to be wasted! It can become a beautiful place that will allow us to minister to others and understand the hurts of others if we allow it. If we are the ones without power, our God is the God Who Sees us (El Roi) so he clearly sees the power-mongers and they will be held accountable.

How are you doing with this? Did any of these points make you wince a little or bring a specific incident to mind? Is there some way that you can pursue a more truthful and authentic way of living this out? Is there someone that you feel you should apologize to? Is there forgiveness that you can extend to someone regardless of whether or not they have asked for it?

My prayer for us tonight is that we would simply love each other better. I am praying that instead of constantly grappling for power or position or status or whatever, that we would see the truth of what is important and life-giving and pursue it with abandon. I am praying that we would try to squeeze every bit of living out of this life while we have it instead of pursuing the things that lead to our physical, emotional, and spiritual death. I am praying that we would also learn how to receive love when offered by others.

Much love friends,

Beks

Advertisements

6/9/16 Morning Musing: Healing: Prayers for All Involved In or Following the Stanford Rape Case

This week, the country has been virtually vibrating with the news of Brock Turner’s conviction and puny sentencing. I’ve read the articles, the letter from this man’s father, and the 12-page testimony by the victim. There are several things about this that really bother me and so I write this post as a way of sorting through all of my thoughts and feelings:

First, a prayer for the victim: Father God, I want to lift this amazingly brave woman up to you so I am asking for blessings for her and her loved ones. Lord, please ease her pain as she steps forward into her forever-changed life. I know that this trauma will be with her throughout her life but I ask that one day, it becomes a source of only strength for her instead of pain. Lord, I ask that you continue to turn her scars into something beautiful…strength and an un-quenchable passion to take a stand for the marginalized…for the abused…for the ones who have been cast aside. Lord, I thank you for this woman. I think the world needs her and her story. Please continue to speak into her who you say she is: Not a victim…a warrior. Not worthless…priceless. Not unloved…worth dying for. Help her to see that she is a beautiful, valued, treasured daughter of the King. Finally, Lord, please help her to restore her relationships that have surely been damaged because of the fallout of this trauma. Father God, please hold her close to you. Amen.

A prayer for Everyone: Heavenly Father, I thank you for the outrage that is felt on behalf of this woman, but Lord, I ask that we would not merely settle for the addictive high that comes with righteous indignation. I ask that you would spark in us an insatiable need to stand up against injustice, oppression, and evil. I ask that you would grant us the gift of sight…that we would see the invisible ones…see the marginalized…see the voiceless…see the hurting ones around us. And once we see, Lord give us passion, creativity, and compassion so that we might be able to help meet the needs of those around us. Lord, give us a willingness to be inconvenienced and to get messy so that we might be able to be real. Finally Lord, I ask that you would please help us to see that, while Mr. Turner is the criminal in this case, we are all responsible for some bit of this woman’s pain (and the pain of all victims) when we feed into this prevalent evil attitude that further harms the hurting and blames the victim. Please help us to be willing to change and Lord, please do some much-needed work on our heart-spaces. I love you Lord. Amen.

A prayer for Brock Turner: Father God, as outraged as I am at this young man’s actions and lack of remorse, I am deeply saddened about his heart-space. Lord, I ask that you would help him to come to a place of true understanding of the depth of his broken-ness. Lord, please help this young man to stop resisting accountability and…well…Lord, I ask that you would change how he sees the world…not to harden him…but to help him to see outside of himself. He can’t take back what he did…he can’t undo what has been done…but I ask that he be changed so that he no longer sees the world for what he can take from it…but sees opportunities to give. Father God, please help this young man develop compassion and empathy and a desire to submit himself into a position of serving others. Despite Brock Turner’s crimes, I know that you love him God…just as you love everyone of us despite our sins and broken-ness…so I ask that you would heal this young man while he lives out the consequences of his actions. In your name, Lord, Amen.

A prayer for Dan Turner : Father God, no one understands the heart of a father like you do so I ask that you would do work on Dan Turner’s heart. I can not imagine the pain and grief that he is experiencing so I ask that you would minister to him but Lord I also ask that you would do work there. Please help him to lovingly and wisely guide his son to a place of accountability instead of dismissing how Brock has injured others. Lord, please speak truth into this father’s heart. Amen.

Much Love Friends,

Bekah

5/19/15 Morning Musing: Change Agent

“I want to see justice served!” *someone else should get right on that!*  

“She has the right to feel safe in her own home.” *so she should make sure to speak up for herself.*  
“Bullying is wrong and kids should be able to get an education without fear of bullying.” *Let’s make some more rules about this.*
Yesterday, I saw a video circulating around facebook that I have seen circulating before: There was an over-weight quiet kid at a school being bullied by a loud but smaller (and very aggressive) kid. The bully is making a spectacle of their interaction so as to draw attention to how “tough” he is and he punches the bigger kid right in the face and the bigger kids does not react with violence. The bully continues to attack two more times before the the quiet, larger kid finally picks him up and slams him into the ground and rattles the smaller kid’s brain until I’m suspicious of permanent damage. Throughout the interaction, you see other kids watching and you hear other voices…and obviously, the bully had this planned because he had someone filming it for him and he retreated to the camera-person when the quiet kid finally retaliated.  
There were all of the expected comments on this post about the bully getting what he deserved and applauding the quiet kid for standing up for himself and there were several people saying how happy this made them. And I felt broken because I did not feel happy at all…I was sad…and pissed…and I did not feel like I saw justice…I felt like I saw a peaceful child pushed to a point of violence with no allies…I felt like I saw a kid get trapped between his conscience, the “rules”, and a sense of self-preservation…I felt like I saw retaliation and that is simply not the same as justice. Now hear me, I am not condemning that child for defending himself…not at all. (I’ve actually had conversations with my own kids about not allowing themselves to be bullied and knowing when it is the right time to kick someone else’s teeth out.) But here is what upsets me: That child stood there alone while surrounded by other kids. People watched and filmed this as though it were sport. There was cheering and commentary until this child was pushed past his ability to reason. And this kid’s torture and misery was entertainment. And people watched. And people filmed. And people made comments.
Where the hell was the outrage? Sure, we can make morally-correct commentary from our comfort and safety on our side of that screen…we can shake our heads and cluck our tongues at how bad bullying is…we can make our statements about not waking the gentle giant…and we can draw more posters and have more anti-bullying seminars…but where was the call to action on the other side of that screen? When did we become a society that was ok with anything as long as it isn’t aimed at ourselves? Why can’t we just stand up against injustice…for the sake of leaving the world a little better than we received it…regardless of who the victim is.
As is usually the case, I’m not really just talking about this one topic (bullying)…I’m talking about injustice whether it be overt or less obvious. I’m talking about choosing to stop violating our consciences by standing by. I’m talking about not making someone stand against injustice alone and over-whelmed. I’m talking about our sense of morality extending farther than just our own protected circumstances…past just our words. I’m talking about physical bullying but I am also talking about the gospel…and how if we are changed by it…truly changed…we can’t just let others fight alone against their own bullies (just like in the animal kingdom, bullies isolate their victim before devouring them)…we must be moved by our ideals past just talking and stand with the ones who are standing alone so that they are not more easily devoured.
So, how are you doing with this? Do your actions match your ideals? Would someone look at your life and say that the gospel matters to you? For example, if you believe that God loves people of every race, does your life reflect that? If you believe that both men and women are equally valuable, what are you doing to right the wrongs in your sphere of influence? Are you more concerned with following the rules or obeying your conscience (the Holy Spirit?) When was the last time you got uncomfortable for the sake of someone else? What do you stand for? Have you actually ever stood for it?
My prayer today is that God would take hold of our hearts and minds and itch us until we just can’t be still anymore. I’m praying that we would not be able to get any peace until we speak truth into people’s lives by living out truth in our own lives. I’m praying that we do more than rant and discuss…but that we will become agents of change. Much love friends,
Beks
Video I discussed can be found here: http://youtu.be/PMvVOJV5A6Y
Thank you to Barb Haesecke who helped me to see myself not as just a “cage-rattler” but as an agent of change.

2/24/15 Morning Musing: Choosing to Champion

Before I get into this topic, I am going to admit that I have not read “50 Shades of Gray.” Before you begin to criticize me, please understand that I am not avoiding this because of being on some moral high horse. It’s not because I enjoy looking down on others for temptations that they experience. I am staying away from the book and movie simply because I know it would not be healthy for me and that I would likely end up in a full-on panic attack at the images that the book or movie would conjure for me. All of that said, if you are going to see the movie or have read the book, I AM NOT Judging you. Please understand that before reading any further. I would, however, like to offer a perspective that maybe you haven’t considered.

First of all, I am someone who has experienced abuse in my past and I will tell you right now, there is NOTHING sexy about abuse…nothing at all! Abuse indicates that at least one of the people is seen as being without value…sometimes it’s how the abuser sees the victim, sometimes how the victim sees his/her self, and sometimes it’s how the abuser sees him/her self. Either way, it is the physical manifestation of someone buying into and perpetuating a lie. (Truth: Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (‭I Corinthians‬ ‭3‬:‭16-17‬ NKJV))

You may ask “What is the problem with it if they are both consenting adults?” Well, honestly, I am not saying that people shouldn’t have the freedom to choose this…I think the freedom to choose is the beauty of the gospel…but I am saying that we are absolutely affected by the choices we make and there are consequences to those choices whether we want to admit it or not. “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” (‭I Corinthians‬ ‭10‬:‭23‬ NKJV) Just because we are able to do something doesn’t mean that we will benefit from it. It’s not illegal for me to poke out my own eye…just saying…

What if your struggle is that abuse, pornography, prostitution, books about sexual fantasy, etc turn you on? Interesting thing…we had a couple of sex therapists come speak to our marriage class this last Sunday and they made some really interesting points about this: God designed sex to exist in the confines of marriage and marriage was designed to help us better understand our God So, if we follow that line of thinking, when sex becomes a physical act that is not woven together with our emotions and spirits…when it becomes selfish or self-serving…the beauty and joy (ecstasy or high) of it becomes lost. I think that in order to (attempt to) achieve the intended high, the person involved in the impure sex act has to do more…go farther…be more dangerous…further distort the intention of sex…it’s just like any other addiction in that the high will never be as strong as it once was yet the “need” will continue to grow and consume. (There is actually a ton of scientific data to support all of this.) My point is, this should be viewed as any addiction would be viewed…the addict needs help…handling this alone is a sure-fire way to continue in the addiction.

Finally, I understand that the main character’s (Grey’s) background is riddled with abuse and mistreatment and that he becomes the one with power and he mis-uses it as well. Let me be clear that this situation is not romantic…do not turn this into a story that it is not…this is the very definition of transgenerational trauma: a person is deeply traumatized and over time, it changes that person’s brain chemistry in such a way that their reality is not the same as everyone else’s reality…this is a self-protection feature of the brain that prevents the person from going fully insane…the brain is trying to make sense of what the person has endured. With this new altered view of reality, the person perpetuates the violence on others. (For example, in Indonesia, war-time prisoners were severely and repeatedly abused for long periods of time in sickeningly horrific ways. After the war ended, many of those survivors went on to create brothels where women and children have been trafficked and…are you ready for this? The abuse distinctly mimics the abuse that the war survivors endured. In fact, the rooms tend to be the exact same dimensions as the cells that the prisoners were in.) Because the brain has adapted to make the initial victim ok with what has happened to them, they go on to also believe it is ok to perpetuate the violence on others because it has become normalized to them. That is not a pattern of love…it is a pattern of violence. It is not romantic…it is abusive. I’m not saying the the abuser is evil, but what they are doing and what has been done to them is evil. God created all life and holds it as sacred and good…humans especially received special care by our God because we are his creation that is made in the image of God. So, please do not romanticize a pattern of violence that assaults those that God sees as sacred.

I know this musing was heavy. I apologize for that. But I have been trying to process these thoughts for two weeks now and finally got them all together. I really feel like we are facing a decision to either champion those who are voiceless or continue to numb ourselves and society against the very real pain and abuse that we are confronted with.

My prayer today is that our hearts would be softened to the victims of any type of abuse. That we would strive to make the world safer instead of numbing ourselves to the existing violence. I am praying for any of you who have found yourself victimized at any point in your life. I am praying that God would redeem the pain in you and make you strong enough to begin to break these patterns…that you would become a champion for others and help them see truth. Much love friends,

Beks