Victim or Victor?
Silence Empowers Perpetrators
This piece of Caryn Drexl’s Photography speaks of unfathomable pain and suffering. It also exhibits triumphant undertones that are not only haunting, harsh realities, but speak victory if one simply dares to look long enough under the torment. Kind of synonymous with the old adage that a good friend shared last week, “Our churches are hospitals for sinners, not a showcase for saints.”
If churches and congregations are supposed to be safe havens and refuges for the hurt and broken, how can they safely coexist alongside places of worship and be common ground that encourages engagement in healthy relationships? Can they nurture and develop into communities where we can learn and grow from one another as we do life together safely through prayer, consolation and the healing of our infirmities?
Why is it I cannot be consoled or receive this peace that others receive or flock to? Why is my spirit so downcast within me? Is it because my hands are tied and affliction abounds or because it is yet another piece of bravery that valor requires I walk through?
Have our churches become so polluted with sick people who only attend so they can be catered to and loved on while we practice our sermons getting paid through accolades and tithes and commercialization or are we forgetting through our performance-based facades that we are supposed to administer healing through Love Himself in order to be released back into our communities?
The Word teaches that the Body of Christ is meant to be the hands and feet of God while sojourning this side of heaven through love, justice and accountability. Why, then, are we staying loosely bound and tied, afraid to bravely break free by confronting and speaking up against the actions of a brother from another mother?
Isn’t that what community in the church is all about; loving one another while sharing our experiences in claiming freedom and holding each other accountable for how we do life each and every day, good or bad? To me, that requires trust that is gained solely through the engagement of communication and the building of relationships.
Since coexisting on earth oftentimes requires love, patience, goodness, kindness, etc., communities go through a gamut of emotions similar to victims ranging from fear to denial and maybe even to acknowledgement. As a society, how can we claim victory when the actions of our leaders compound and make the violation much more worse than need be all in the name of devaluation?
I personally feel completely violated myself, not so much from the actions of a perpetrator, but the way my complaint was handled by those in authority. I didn’t ask the Lord to put me on this path or even to take its sting away. I asked Him to give me courage to be brave enough while being obedient through Love. I knew this obedience would release the everlasting peace and wisdom that I was craving for, but I was not prepared to tackle this battle after what I perceived was being completely devalued and shut down.
I can handle the person injecting the fear and control, but what about those who shepherd and lead us and are supposed to protect and support us as we press through attacks, not to mention the legalities that accompany it? What are we supposed to do if we don’t feel as if our backs are covered? I know that sadly in the world we live today, this violation will happen again, but it does not have to tarnish the spirit of another.
I was brave enough to try and stop the actions through Love before they hurt more people or themselves and the power from my voice was stilled before I even had a chance to share my concerns about what had transpired. I don’t know what hurts worse, the actions of the perpetrator or the blatant disregard of my value. Mocking it on the podium is quite shocking. Isn’t this conduct called denial, sweeping it underneath the rug because no one wants to take the time and deal with it? Is it the victim’s duty to proclaim victory without the untying of the ropes first?
Being an advocate and a victim myself, the one thing I always try to emphasize and share with victims is that when we keep quiet because we feel no one will believe us or more harm will befall us, or it will just cause a scene in the church, we are giving our violators the power to continue in their conduct. What might have started out as borderline bad behaviors can quickly escalate into dangerous situations because no one stood up and said, “Stop. Enough.”
Bad behaviors and boundary breakers will continue to exist and clash in our congregations until someone is bold and courageous enough to bring awareness through Love. When this conduct is tolerated in our congregations and the victim is ridiculed, this is not the edification and correction process that Paul speaks so clearly about in 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
As a matter of fact, how can we effectively help build each other up while being sensitive to all sides until we take the time to communicate? Have our churches lost that delicate art, sense of communal relationships, in order to be polished and presented with perfection? I didn’t realize living in an imperfect world being imperfect beings demanded perfection; just saying…
Call me bold and courageous or even crazy. I like to believe I’m a Beloved chosen to walk out my faith as I boldly confront what my Lord asks me to do. Call me controversial or even boisterous, but I know where my value and worth derive from. It is my duty and responsibility as a child of God to talk and share about lifestyles and subjects that are a part of our culture today which are not spoken about and even hushed in our congregations. God forbid!
Until next time…