I am listening to “Know my Name” by Chanel Miller. She is the victim of Brock Turner. Listening to what she had to go through is triggering for me. My experience is different, but we found out a friend close to our family was a predator, and it came dangerously close to us-but he hurt someone else, and all children are our children. Victims bodies are no longer their own even after the rape-the prodding, scoping- telling them how their trauma and grief is going to play out with a timeline. Then the newspapers and courtrooms have no feelings in the process-because they can’t- to try and determine what happened. Victims are treated as the culprit, and their whole family and lifestyle gets brought into the story. And to hear people think her getting drunk was worse than being raped. She said her consequence should have been water and aspirin, not rape. We have put all of the responsibility on women to prevent rape. This is absurd, and I am tired of how our society treats women. She said it best: our system forces victims to transform their feelings into logic.
That is true. I did the “Conceal don’t feel” for the longest time to survive. We lost our whole community over believing a victim over the sexual predator. Our community wanted both worlds, and this wasn’t one of those moments–I had to protect our kids. Faith communities have to operate differently in these cases. This was soccer, but it was a ministry to me. I gave my heart and soul to this, because I wanted a better story for our kids- it crushed me, and it crushed the kids–Jake too.
That was Blake’s team. Kimbo’s team also fell apart with another sort of betrayal at the same time. I had to take Kimbo to her end of year soccer party knowing this announcement was coming. (Trump had just gotten elected too, and the church was silent on the sexual violence that came out of his mouth, and it was his action too!). I broke at this party. It was so embarrassing. I started sobbing, and I could not stop. The person who was going to tell me bad news a bit later, held me. I will never forget the embrace. She said this: You have been carrying too much. You are tired. It is time to rest.
I say she gave bad news-it ended up being good for us all-but it didn’t feel like it then. Our world was gone. And it seemed as though no one cared. Sure, everyone wanted to be friends still, but they wanted us to just never mind the fact our hearts were stomped on.
This is the moment I began to learn how to feel my feelings. I was so broken and could not see a way forward. Because I allowed my feelings in, I was able to hear the comforting words of Scripture. I hadn’t heard our ancestors sobs before. They knew my pain and talked to me through preachers and teachers here right now. They taught me how to love anyway.
Why am I saying this? Because it is hard to be human. What I am experiencing now – this unending joy- did not come without scars. Did not come without the cross. And even now, I still worry people will leave. Learning to trust again fully, without an escape plan, has been a journey in and of itself. My people now have witnessed a lot of my feelings, and are still by my side. Listening to Chanel cope post-rape makes me cry. When you have been violated physically or emotionally- the world is no longer the same.
Here is another thing about learning from our emotions-not let them lead, but teach: I am less likely to be manipulated by my emotions. Trump does this. The whole administration, and too many of our churches do it too. I was listening to how his rallies work on a podcast a few months ago. They play music from the past to hit their emotions. (White music, of course). They play it loudly so people can’t talk (trying to keep them from discovering-I would say). He speaks to what they want to hear-acting like he cares about it. He plays on their fears of Democrats, their fears regarding the border, racism, misogyny, and xenophobia- the crowds cheer. This rhetoric gets into our policies too. He is also rolling back sexual violence protections on college campuses when women are raped – like Chanel Miller-at an alarming rate.
Watching people grow into an increasing careless state is so upsetting.
But days like today happen. I am back at seminary getting to speak to incoming students for this Spring, and I have only had one semester in seminary, but I was able to share my heart completely. The room was diverse and beautiful. So much beauty and kindness. The people on the panel with me are becoming some of my dearest friends in seminary. I made a friend who has asked me to be her mentor, and I cannot think of any greater honor that has been asked of me in my life.
I was thanked for my honesty and given a gift card. I would do all of this anyway because it is in my heart to do this. But to finally be valued and thanked-It feels like redemption. What I did before mattered, and now I am using what I learned in a different area–In a world that once did not welcome me. Now it does. I still can’t believe it is true. I trust this journey. I am grateful for this deep joy I feel.
Those of us who proclaim the Christian faith will be led to the cross, but there is also redemption.
I haven’t finished Chanel’s book yet, but I know she has found redemption. The fact she can write her story so transparently, and read it, says so much about the power of hope.