An open letter to Christians: Yes, I too am a Christian.
Most every time that I have tried to be vulnerable around Christians; I have been shut down, lectured, condemned, judged, or worse. This past year it has been extremely difficult to integrate my faith into my sexual assault, as it should be. Rape infiltrates everything, but especially your spirit. The wound cuts deep.
The only way to heal is to allow myself to process my feelings. All of them. These include all of the negative emotions. Please don’t tell me to pray more or “Just give it up to God.” These phrases sound nice in the moment, but unless I process the hard emotions: what you’re really asking me to do is be FAKE. God is BIG enough to handle my anger towards Him and my perpetrator… Yes, I’m angry at God. That’s ok too. David was angry at God many times and he was called a man after God’s own heart.
In order for me to get to true forgiveness I have to wrestle with the hard stuff. Survivors are not looking for you to provide the easy answers. There are no easy answers. They are looking for your presence, your empathy, and your ability to listen. We proclaim that we offer radical forgiveness, grace, and understanding. This is missing from many modern day churches. This is why many survivors turn away from the church. They do not see the hands and feet of Jesus; only judgment, condemnation, and shame. Trust me, we get enough of this out in the world.
My Journey is my own. I would appreciate if you would stop telling me “What I should do…” or “What I should have done…” or better yet “What God wants me to do…”
Maybe I’m referring to a Christian man who sent me an e-mail basically telling me that its God’s will that I should Not press charges against my attacker. In Jesus name, he said. Well sir, the police couldn’t discourage me, the justice system has failed to stop me, and unless God himself comes down from heaven… You will not stop me. God doesn’t condone abuse and there are consequences for ones actions. I’ve received many messages such as this one… Just sweep it under the rug and forgive…. ummm NO. That theology makes me sad. The sweep it under the rug part anyway.
God loves me just the way that I am… right this very moment. He understands more then anyone the pain that I’m going through in my worst hours. I would be honored if you would walk beside me on my healing Journey; but please don’t “Jesus shoot me” or anyone else for that matter. We are already wounded.
Your fellow Christian.
To end with one of my favorite quotes:
“To all who have been abused, broken, deceived and ignored, we have failed you and our God. We repent for looking nothing like our Lord when we have silenced you, ignored you or moved away from you and then acted as if you were the problem. You are not the problem; you are the voice of our God calling his church to repentance and humility. Thank you for having the courage to speak truth. May God have mercy on us all and oh may the day come when his church reflects the indescribable love and compassion of Jesus, even to the point of laying down our lives for his precious sheep.”
-Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment