Shatter the Silence-Cheryl Allison Film

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Today I sat down to watch my friend (I am so proud to call her my friend!) Cheryl Allison’s film: Shatter the Silence. It is on Amazon Prime for free- Everyone please watch it! After such a long night of deep grief when the church was silent in a moment I was in despair, hope came when I walked into the doors of Wilshire Baptist Church. I believe in church again, and I know it is going to get better. My faith tells me so. And some real tangible things have happened to back up this belief–one is this film. My pastor, George Mason, is also in this film speaking out on violence against women, and calls the church to account.

God heard my cry, and I found a new day. I also learned how not alone I was. What I have learned during the agony, and after, is how widespread sexual violence is in church, and in all areas of life. Women are sorely underrepresented in leadership in church and in government. I was (and still am) shocked to learn not only how unprotected we are -church silencing and the government with a backlog of rape test kits, but to also learn what men in leadership think about women in regards to rape! This film is so important. I am also glad someone said this goes back to early biblical times. We are still not over women treated as property. I am going to say more on that in a minute.

Not only sexual violence spoken in my church by a male pastor; Cheryl has taken this story to film, and it is reaching far and wide (USA, UK, and Germany). Cheryl’s goal for the film is to screen at universities as part of ongoing curriculums and special screenings, and on November 12, 2019 “Shatter the Silence” had it’s first educational screening at the University at Texas Arlington. In an age where the Trump administration is rolling back sexual violence protections on college campuses-this could not come at a more important time. A reminder to not lose faith. Hope is never lost when we stay true to our faith. Thank you, Cheryl!

I learned there are, and were, some amazing women working in Texas Congress to make change for women. We are severely underrepresented, but the women who were elected worked to make it matter for women. One is discovering the backlog of untested rape kits! Former Senator Wendy Davis is one who gave voice to women, and you can learn more about her in the documentary. She has started a non-profit, Deeds Not Words, and is continuing to do amazing work to this day.

“Shatter the Silence” received Honorable Mention from the jury at the Santa Monica Film Festival! The Dallas Art Beat says the documentary thinks globally but acts locally. That is part of Martin Luther King’s vision in terms of justice.

What stood out to me is learning how to have a conversation. Coming to Wilshire is not only important to my healing, but also to help me cultivate what I have learned into a conversation. There is a lot of pain, and it is easy for emotion to take over when we need people to listen. This documentary addresses this too. There was space given for men to ask anything they want, because this has turned their world upside down too–Raising awareness how the responsibility has been placed on the victim for too long. I also appreciated hearing men who want to be allies and friends want to know what is appropriate and what isn’t, and understanding people have different tolerance levels.

For me, I want to tell men to just be normal friends. I meet with men at my church one on one, and it isn’t a big deal. It is like meeting with any normal human being. The Billy Graham Rule was not good to women. I understand what the intent was, but it made women out to be the ones who can’t be trusted. Plus, Jesus did not do that. He met the woman at the well, a place known for picking up women, and he did not take someone with him to verify his purity. He treated her like a human being, and released her from the story society told her. He released her to preach, because a lot more people heard about Jesus after this moment. Women Preach!

Which brings me back to church. Yesterday, I posted this blog post-Max Lucado on Jen Hatmaker’s Podcast . Lucado is a huge influence in my life, and I am so grateful. There are raw emotions written in this post, and I think this drives people away. I would like to challenge people to stay in the hard conversations. Let the pain speak too. I had my husband read it–believe it or not, becoming a feminist does not eliminate men, if anything it includes them more–and he liked it. He told me if we can’t speak this truth, then we can’t get to the cancer that is deep in our theology because we are too afraid to speak. This is huge coming from Jake. He is a 9 on the enneagram. He is an extremely balanced person, and he said this needs to be said.

Yes, there will be fall-out, and there is no way around it. Jake was hurt by the situation I wrote about too. I haven’t written a lot about that, because that is his story. Usually, I assume I am over-reacting, but when I saw his pain and inability to reach out in the soccer-world (truly his world); I knew I wasn’t over-reacting. This was real. It involves sexual abuse of a child, and Max’s story also includes his own sexual abuse as a child. This issue is massive and cannot be ignored. It is hurting women and men-and our children. Lucado thinks the splitting of the church is the work of the Devil. I think the Devil was in the silence. Holy Spirit is here with her Holy Wind blowing through and revealing what has been so wrong. Did you know when Lucado spoke out saying Trump was not decent-his fall-out was severe and extremely gross? I am sick to my stomach to learn there is a disease is in our church that is causing such evil words and actions to occur when calling out a sexual predator. Then comes the SBC massive sexual abuse, and we see how that is going.

We cannot ignore the church’s complicity-including authors of Scripture. What I love about Scripture now is knowing this. A lot of the violence written-God never ordained it–and lot of it never actually happened! Praise God! Paul ignored women and changed a story about Jesus being revealed to Peter instead of women first-but Jesus  never was portrayed this way. Mary was sitting at his feet learning to preach-our first preacher to proclaim the resurrection-along with other women. Old Testament-women were the beginning of the Exodus, Puah and Shiphrah saved the Hebrew babies by lying to Pharaoh. People may fail us; God will not. I believe this now.

Wilshire and “Shatter the Silence” are faith made sight for me. A glimmer of light in the unknown future. Hope it is going to get better. My pastor, George Mason, is amazing in the documentary. I get to call him friend too. He is so good to me. He hasn’t once judged my emotions or where I am on the journey. He wants to empower me wherever I am, and won’t give up on me. I can’t tell you what that does for my soul. He can ground me like no one else can (the good kind of grounding). Men and women working together is not something to be feared. It can be so good, and a beautiful friendship. I know because I am experiencing this gift.

I have dark days still. The wounds hurt some days more than others. Especially when I read or hear things that trigger me. These are things I am going to have to work through the rest of my life. LeVar Burton, who I loved growing up watching on Reading Rainbow, tweeted about what it is like being black in America. Being black is not for the weak of heart he says. He also said this, and it spoke to me in a profound way: For, being Black in America oftentimes means living in and loving a country, that does not love us back. You may take exception to my premise, but you cannot discount my experience.

Our wounds are not the same, but I can’t help but think about being a woman in church. We live in and love an institution that oftentimes doesn’t love us back. America doesn’t  either-especially woman of color.

It is time to be ok hearing the pain, and not discounting it. When I went to CenterPeace conference in October 2018, I just listened to our LGBTQUIAPlus siblings. They did not need my questions-they needed my ear. I cried and apologized for how we have treated them. They said “in the name of God you are forgiven”. We can get here. I know we can.

Thank you, Cheryl. My good and faithful friend. God has blessed me beyond measure with your friendship, and to experience our new journeys together. We can keep going together.

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