Monday, July 29, 2013

Taboo Topic?

It was all over the news today. A sex trafficking ring busted and 105 victims rescued, one was just nine years old.

I haven't done a lot of reading on it. I can't really bring myself to just right now. Sometimes the evil side of humanity is just too hideous and I have to turn my eyes aside until I have the inner strength to look it in the face.

This all leaves me wondering, though. What will happen with these girls? What does their future look like? Where does healing even begin?

But you don't have to have sold your body and your soul for money to find yourself crushed in spirit and emotionally damaged beyond recognition. It happens all the time. I've seen all sorts of statistics but they seem to run between 1/4 and 1/3 of females will have experienced some sort of sexual abuse by the time they are 18.

That means that perhaps one in three women make it to adulthood with a totally skewed view of their own worth and a totally twisted view of sex itself.

Even for those who have not suffered at the hands of an abuser, sex is such a confusing and emotionally and spiritually charged topic. The current culture spills forth lies by the fistfull. Good is bad and bad is good and we find ourselves drowning in a toxic stew of expectations and perversions.

It seems like sexual brokenness is everywhere. We just don't talk about it. For far too long the church has just sort of ignored the topic as best it can, until it is forced to deal with the issue. I don't think any of us needs another lecture on God's original intent for sex or another spin through the quasi-erotic Song of Solomon. It is more a matter of how . . .  how . . . HOW do we get from Point A to Point B?

I pray that these 105 girls will receive the care and counsel and healing that they need. I hope that the best of the best are there to care for them through the next years as they grow through adolescence and into adulthood and all that that entails. May none of them fall through the cracks.

But what about the rest of us? Now I haven't done a whole lot of reading in the marriage book department (finding them only slightly more helpful than parenting books, which I consider the scourge of the earth), but the ones I have read never ever seem to even touch on sexual brokenness. What a totally bizarre disconnect and a huge disservice to women, and to the men who love them.

I have a friend who has just started blogging about the horrific abuse she suffered at the hands of several family members. I see this as powerfully healing, not only as an outlet and a way for her to put her pain into words, but for those who read her story and know they are not alone.

I think it is time to talk.

Monday, July 15, 2013

My Can of Worms

Earlier today my friend, Julie, shared a blog post that got published in the Chapel Hill News. It is a wonderful post about her journey to make peace with her own body, regardless of its current shape. I think she is the first person I have ever known personally to be this open about this topic.

For all the talk out there about body image and cultural expectations, very few people seem to write about their own personal battles. I have mentioned bits and pieces of mine, here and there (You can go back and look for those references in my posts yourself. It will be like an Easter egg hunt.), but really struggle to come out in the open. Perhaps it was because I was so defined by my eating disorder for a few years in high school. Perhaps it was because, for some reason, I still feel a huge amount of shame surrounding that struggle. Perhaps it is because I just so want to leave all that behind having enjoyed years of freedom and not having to pay heed, at every turn, to what I eat and how I look.

Sure, there are times when the shackles come back to haunt me. I think that is why I have such a visceral reaction to the "eat this...don't eat that" approach to life. I have know that slavery and I don't ever want to go back.

Is this a struggle for you? I am asking my readers to interact with me a bit on this. The statistics on eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, yo-yo dieting, overeating....the spectrum) say that there are a lot of y'all out there, yet I don't hear anybody talking about it, at least not on a personal level. Am I missing something? What concerns you? What is hard for you? Is this even an issue for anybody any more?

Every so often, though, I think it is time to tell the whole story. My whole story. It ain't pretty. I wouldn't even know where to start. But I think it might be time. Thank you, Julie, for giving me the courage to really speak up after all these years.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Delighting In Weakness

I have never been what anybody would consider a "strong" person.

I started out the runt of the litter, so to speak, and bottom of the heap. Painstakingly shy and devoid of any athletic ability, I was a perfect target for the neighborhood bully and the last (sometimes second to last) to be chosen for any team. Other than my intellectual prowess, at least through grade school, I had very little to offer the world. I would sit and watch all those "everything" people. The ones that were smart and athletic and popular and grand citizens and wonder how they did it all and how they knew how to do all they did. I somehow failed in the skills department. Nobody would have ever described me as strong.

Stress and pain and life in general were hard for me to handle. I had my inner demons, too. My weakness went technicolor when, at 17, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder. That year is a blur and yet God plucked me out of the pit. But I was pitied because I was so weak.

Pretty much all my almost 50 years have been a saga of one weakness after another. I wanted to be the strong one. The tough girl. And yet I wasn't. I'm not. I was never the strong disciplinarian when raising our kids. I couldn't homeschool, even though I got plenty of "anybody can do it" advice (well, anybody but me . . . at least not without bloodshed).

I entered into the world of real estate in absolute terror. The stereotype of the hard-nosed, aggressive, pushy realtor is well earned. I have encountered more than enough agents who graduated from The Steamroller School of Real Estate.

And my passage through "The Change of Life" was anything other than a show of strength, what with incinerator-worthy hot flashes and emotional meltdowns that would make any drama queen proud. Coping was not my strength. Nothing was.

But I guess where I feel the weakest usually is on the inside. There are sometimes that my heart just hurts. Those times when the stress of life and the reality of my own failures seem too much. There are times when loneliness overtakes me and I don't know where to turn. There are times when I am handed a plate of obstacles but with seemingly no tools whatsoever to tackle them. There are times . . . well, what am I saying? . . . most ALL the time . . . I feel so weak.

Last night I went back to 2 Corinthians 12:10. Well, I read through the entire passage but got down to the punch line and these words jumped off the page:
"I delight in weaknesses." Delight. Delight? Well, that is what the NIV says anyway. Other versions say things like "am content in" or "glory in" and so on. But for some reason the translators of the NIV chose "delight in."

Why . . . WHY would ANYBODY delight in weakness? Our world HATES weakness. Sometimes even the church hates weakness. But we are to delight in it. Why? Well, because of the verse before that. God's power is made perfect in weakness. He says "My grace is sufficient for you."

What a relief! I don't HAVE to be strong. I don't have to depend on something inside of me that isn't there to get me along in this broken world. I can't.

Almost two centuries ago Henry Francis Lyte penned one of my favorite hymns, with this beautiful line: ". . . well our feeble frame He knows."

I am so thankful for a God who "remembers that we are dust." (Psalm 103:14)

There is no strength in dust, only in the Creator of the universe and the Creator of the dust. I can delight in that.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Taking My Own Medicine

I need to take my own medicine. For the past several months I have been so impressed by how important it is to listen to people. I even wrote my last blog post in it. I have been saying this on Facebook. I have been saying this to my friends and family who have come to me for advice (Ha! Imagine that! What were they thinking?) I even wrote this on a church survey. And most of all, I have been telling this to my husband.

Matt and I don't get in too many fights. We are both rather conflict-averse, but most of all, and perhaps because our relationship is much more of a friendship/companionship type marriage, we just don't have all that much to fight about.

But recently we have had a few good ones. They have run along the lines of my "Why do you have to try and fix me?" rant that some of you know so well. I have explained, passionately, just how much I need to be listened to and have been fighting against his words. But I missed something. It was all about me. ME.

I have been dishing out to the person I love more than anyone on the face of the planet advice what I haven't been willing to take myself.

He needs me to listen to him just as much as I need him to listen to me. Maybe this is what Jesus is talking about when he says in John 15:13 that

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."

Perhaps I need to lay aside my need to be listened to and just sit down and listen to my husband. 

Lord, Jesus, may my ears be big and my mouth be small. Amen.