You know that overly productive burst of energy you get when you are avoiding something? That “I can do anything-I'm superwoman-I will do ALL of the things in the next two hours” feeling? Well, all of the things except that one thing I'm avoiding. Yeah, that one. That's how my day has gone. Y'all... I stood on a folding chair (let's stop here and acknowledge that I realize the stupidity of this. It wasn't wise, but it was easy. I know internet... I'm not saying I'm proud of it, but it happened) and pulled wallpaper off the wall for two hours. Because even that seemed easy compared to this, compared to the unraveling that is sure to follow.
I am currently sitting surrounded by complete mess and destruction. Since I'm in the process of renovating my bedroom, this is, quite literally, true.
However, this could just as easily be a description of the rest of my life. That's how the last few months have felt in many ways, a beautiful undoing on some days and a destructive mess on others.
It was several months back that I first read a post entitled "He Wrote it Down" in which a fellow blogger bravely detailed the impact of the police officer who believed her story of abuse and wrote it down.
It was the next week that I sent a one-line note to my own believing advocate that simply said Thanks for writing it down. That felt like enough for the time being.
Then came Lena Dunham’s book, detailing the abuse of her sister.
Then came the difficult call where I had to report abuse.
Then came the sexual abuse story of the Duggars.
Then came the church, the world, everyone, having this complicated, messy discussion about abuse.
A discussion that offered both a healing balm and fiery darts all within one scroll of a mouse.
A discussion that nearly made me leave the internet. But then, I remembered who I am. I'm not one to leave when things get messy. Instead I say let's fix this, let's do better.
I had so many heated things to say, so many words to spew from a place of hurt.
But then I remembered that hurt people hurt people and I refuse to add more coals to that fire.
I could not, however, ignore the fact that every time we emphasize God's grace at the expense of His justice, we tell another victim that his or her story, his or her pain and healing, matters infinitely less than an abuser's reputation,
And this is not the way of our God.
This cannot be reconciled with a God who calls us to “Act justly and love mercy” (Micah 6:8).
This is not an accurate representation of a God who “is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth, who fulfills the desires of those who fear him; who hears their cry and saves them, who watches over all who love him, but destroys the wicked.” (Psalm 145:18-20).
He balances grace and justice in a way only a perfect and loving God can.
Our God instead comes to “rescue me because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19)
I truly believe the enemy badly wants a hand in this fight.
And so I prayed that we would learn to balance grace and justice in a way only those painfully aware of their own redemption are able. I prayed for Jesus to come quickly, and I dreamed, I wondered.
And I had the following conversation with God.
“Hey, how cool would it be if this discussion didn't disappear when the drama of the news and media did? How cool would it be if the church got this one right? Like, we need someone to be a platform, to give victims a voice. Because I really, truly, believe deep in my soul that the fiery darts come from a place of naivety and ignorance, which though not excusable, are not the same thing as malice. We can fix ignorance and naivety, right God? I mean, how can we expect society to hear from the victim's view when no one is telling their stories?”
The conversation ended with me naively believing that God would be using my agenda and my timetable to come up with a solution. As if He actually needed the advice and plans of this 21 year old. As if the God of the universe hadn’t already been burdened by love and placed perfectly equipped people in a position to help.
And I went about my life.
For all of about 24 hours.
Then, it was coming from everywhere.
Jon Acuff was saying stuff like-
“Bravery goes viral, but one person always has to go first. When you go first with your story, your dream, and your hustle, you give everyone in the room a really powerful gift. You give them the gift of going second. It's hard to go first. You don't know the rules yet, you don't know how it will be accepted, there's no precedent. It's easier to go second, which is why the world needs you to be brave first.”
And then, I was on Jen Hatmaker's book launch team (go pre-order For the Love right now, you won't regret it) and reading words like:
“When people courageously voice a true, hard thing, they've already stolen some of its dark power before we offer one word to fix it.”
And all of a sudden, it was before me... plain as day.
Hannah. Go first. Voice the true hard things. Give the gift of your story, your support.
It seems that's the way of faith, While I'm over here saying “You know, if someone would just do something about that,” God is grinning and patiently waiting for me to figure out that perhaps there's a reason I feel strongly about that- whatever that is. Perhaps, I am the someone.
So, that's where it began, how it started.
If you made it this far, you are an angel.
This is where I introduce you to the exciting part.
Last week I decided to follow through.
I was all “God I'm pretty sure you're wrong about this (let me remind you how easy and charming I am ;). Clearly I am just the poster child for obedience, and submission and all things lovely), but just for the heck of it I'll ask. But no one is going to jump up and want to be this scary vulnerable over the internet God, I mean I'm just saying.”
So I did it, I asked.
It went something like this:
God has been calling me out of silence over the last week to share my story on my blog. In addition, however, I feel led to offer an opportunity for your voices and your stories to be heard as well. I'd love to do a contributor series on my blog to share your stories of redemption and finding healing, of courageous strength and to open a conversation about abuse. You would have the option to contribute anonymously or with your first or first and last name, whatever your preference. Please let me know if you have a story you'd be interested in sharing!
And then it happened. Women came out of the woodwork saying things like “I'm terrified to say yes, but I think I need to” and “let's get this ball rolling” and “can my sister/mother/friend share too?”
It was exhilarating...and terrifying all at the same time. Funny how God knows what he's talking about, right?
Last week, I wanted to punch someone. I wanted to scream at Facebook “please filter your words. Would you ever actually say those things to a survivor?”
This week, I just want to collect their stories and share them all with you.
Because we are strongest where we are broken. In the pain of brokenness, we find the sweetness of healing, strength and redemption. I pray that's what this project makes you see. It truly is a sweetly broken life.
Over the next several weeks, or months, or heck, years if it takes that long, I'll be featuring a story or two on the blog each week.
I cannot wait. I hope you'll read each one, and cheer them on.
I hope that together we will put an end to the fiery darts of ignorance or naivety.
Finally, according to statistics, 1 out of every 4 women and 1 out of every 7 men, will be reading this and thinking “me too.”
May the stories bring hope and healing, for you, for all of us.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” - Maya Angelou