After 'Me too': My call to repentance

October 19th, 2017

Author's note: The language of confession and repentance was profoundly resonant to me as I considered how I could “turn away from” past injury. I recognize that this language may not be appropriate for all victims of sexual violence, especially considering the baggage of blame and shame that has accompanied the word “repent” and the experience of sexual violence. I in no way seek to lay blame for sexual violence on those who have endured it.

A few nights ago, after hours of debate with myself, I posted “me, too” on Facebook. Almost every woman I know had also done so or soon would. I struggle to think of a single clergywoman in my social network who didn’t. I knew some of the stories of friends and colleagues, stories of heartbreak and betrayal and resilience. I initially felt bolstered by the community this shared hurt created. But as the days have worn on, more and more my own history has come into clearer focus. Each memory recalled has added to a growing sense of angry helplessness at the sheer volume of harassment and abuse and assault.

There’s been a pattern in my life, begun generations before me, of tolerating what should not be tolerated. Of staying quiet, of just taking it as normal, of accepting it as the price of admission to society and relationship. I now know this is sin: both the destructive behaviors of sexual assault, abuse, and harassment and my toleration of it. Sin is what breaks us and pulls us away from God. Sin can be committed by us or committed against us. It obscures our knowing God’s image in us and God’s love for us. Over thirty-two years on this earth, I have become numb and partially blind to the sin of sexual devaluation. It obscures God’s image borne through me by reducing me to a less-than human. It distances me from God’s love by reinforcing that I am an object for another’s use. It sickens the community God intends to be the body of Christ. It breaks what God desires be whole.

So I must confess, and I must repent. I must turn away from the patterns and lies and silence that have allowed me and so many others to be broken by sexual degradation.

I confess that I have believed the lies that sexual abuse, assault, and harassment tell me about my sacred worth. I confess that I have not loved myself as God loves me. I confess that I have been silent and dismissive of my own pain and that of others.

I repent of my acceptance of these sins committed against me and the sin of ever believing them to be normal or deserved. I repent of not loving what God loves. I repent of hiding and silencing and not healing.

I affirm that I am beloved of the Creator, that I am reconciled to God through Christ, and that I am guided towards the fullness of Love through the Spirit.

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