Day 169: God loves me more (or not.)

Have you seen the blog posts about the “one thing” that Christians should not say? While I don’t wholly disagree with the sentiments, it does bring to mind the emails that I get about the “one thing” that you should not eat if you are trying to lose weight, or the “one thing” you should do if you really are. (OK, so yeah, I get those emails…) I’ve decided to try and not write a “ten best” or “five thing” blog post regardless of their popularity on Huff Post (and I’ve read plenty of them, so please don’t be offended if you have written one.) I’ll readily admit that I have hopped on plenty of bandwagons in my life and this is just one that I have decided to let pass me by.

So back to the “one thing” that Christians shouldn’t say. First off, I hope I have forgotten more things that Christians shouldn’t say than most people can think of. I’m full of them. If you haven’t read these posts and you don’t know what I’m referring to, there have been a number of posts recently saying that Christians should not say that they are blessed. The reasoning behind this is that it is bad theology (which I don’t disagree with, by the way) and when we say we are blessed, we are in reality saying that somehow, some way, God chose to bless me – and not others. In essence, God loves me more.file000834482034

Ok, ok, I get it. I’ve been lucky more than blessed. I was lucky enough to be born to good people in a good neighborhood in a time when you didn’t have to mortgage your future to get a college education. I was born white and straight in the US at a time when there was significant advantages to being born white and straight. I was lucky that I was able to get my post-secondary and graduate degrees on scholarship, and the most college debt I ever incurred was for one ill-fated year at Cornell in a PhD program. If it hadn’t been for that, I would have always been “education debt-free.”

But my husband and I live a life that requires our complete reliance on God and belief that God will provide. Gavin is an interim pastor in the Presbyterian Church, and so is looking for a job every 2-3 years – and his work is, in essence, to put himself out of a job. But he works with these congregations to help put them in the best place possible to call their next installed pastor.

In my work as a spiritual life and leadership coach, I have to rely on God that those who need my services will find me – one way or another. I do what I can and then rely on God for the rest. There has always been a steady stream of clients — which has indicated to me that I am to keep on this path, knowing that this is what God has for me to do.

It’s not always easy to live into that trust in the midst of so much transition. But we have been blessed. Not because God loves us more, but because when we have relied on God, God has not let us down. In many ways, for us to call that “luck” rather than God’s blessing or God’s faithfulness dishonors the way that God has continued to show up in our lives, reminding us that we are where we need to be to further God’s work in the world.

So rather than debating whether saying, “I’m blessed” translates to “God loves me more,” can we talk about other things that Christians shouldn’t say – like “it’s God’s will” when a parent, child or spouse dies tragically, or telling anyone whose sexuality and gender expression are outside the “norm” of heterosexuality and traditional gender expressions that they are going to go to hell?

These are things that a Christian should never say.

 

Day 161: Yes…all women.

know women who never reported being assaulted because they didn’t have overwhelming evidence to prove it.  — Chelsea Pitcher (@Chelsea_Pitcher on Twitter.)

I’m a little late jumping on the  bandwagon, but I’ve been letting it settle into my soul a bit before I write on this blog and share all my stuff, but it is time. I know it is time.

The power of the  hashtag is that there is so much “stuff” around sexual assault and sexual harassment and unwanted sexual attention and rape and near-rape and unreported rape that all women just know on an instinctual level — yes, all women — that we could fill a library with stories. Stories from all women.

file6861302726234

My story is this. I was raped in college by a man who I then had to spend the next 4 years seeing around campus because that’s how small our college was. And if you don’t think it happens everywhere, think again. I don’t believe it was premeditated, and to be honest, I don’t even think he considered his actions to be rape. But I said no, I said I didn’t want it to go further, and I was unable to stop it. And no, I didn’t report it. I was the one dealing with shame, and I knew that it would come straight back on me. I even chided myself saying, “What’s wrong with me? Why did I let this happen?” But it’s been 30 years, and so many strong and courageous women have come forward that I feel that it’s time to break my silence.

Not all women have been raped. The ones that haven’t consider themselves to be the lucky ones. That’s telling, don’t you think? Rape has become so prevalent, so pervasive that if you haven’t been the victim of sexual assault that you feel like you are one of the lucky ones. I agree.

It took me years to come to terms with the fact that the rape had happened, and even longer to heal from the wounds that it left. Rape is about power, but it’s also about vulnerability — and that’s what it makes it so damaging. You were vulnerable once, and you never want to let yourself be vulnerable again. Be strong, be aware, watch who you are with, be slow to trust, be suspicious of anyone who pays attention to you.

This conversation has needed to happen for a long time. It’s been 30 years and I can still get in touch with the pain and the shame and the anger of that night. We need to change how we are raising our boys. We need to change what we are teaching our girls. Video games that involve rape and degradation of women by men should be as difficult to get as pornography.

So  know women for whom the pain of sexual assault and rape are all too real. We are the ones who are working out our issues through kickboxing and martial arts and self-defense classes. We are the ones who are still working at being vulnerable with our spouses, but not too vulnerable with the rest of the world. We are the ones who know that there are more of us than we will ever know.