Tag Archives: fear

#MeToo

I hate this, I really do. I hate that the hash tag #MeToo has taken over Facebook and Twitter. I hate the conversation around this hashtag has included people who I love dearly, who do not wish to be reminded of what they have lived through and those who act as if it is no big deal or that somehow women (in particular because it happens to men as well) should just get over it.

Hate is a strong word, but the word “dislike” isn’t strong enough for how this hashtag grieves me in so many ways. I can intellectually “get” that there will always be people who derive their power from harassing and bullying others. What strikes me to the core of my being is that it is still in so many ways accepted as normal rather than an unacceptable trait that will not be tolerated ever.

It has taken me decades to basically not be triggered any more from at date rate that happened when I was very young and very naive. As an underclasswoman at a Christian college I had a love of Coca-Colas and limeades. I was not adverse to alcohol, just wasn’t much of a drinker. An older upperclassman (he was 28) invited a friend and me over to his house with another friend to play cards. He served limeades with Bacardi 151. I had no idea what Bacardi 151 was other than rum. I wasn’t concerned, because he was my friend. I didn’t understand why they all thought it was funny that I didn’t know what it was. Of course, I am sure I do not have to paint a picture of what came next.

When I tried to confront him later, he laughed at me and I will not print what he said. I sought out a couple of people, but it became clear to me that there would be no  sympathy or understanding because I should have been more careful, or smarter or had a clue. It would be several years before I would talk to any one about this. I felt ashamed, embarrassed and guilty for not being in control of the situation.

Then when I attended License to Preach School in the summer of of 1982, I had an experience that was nasty to say the least. There are four parts (Christian Education, Administration, Pastoral Care and Worship) taught over a two week period. We were in Nebraska, where classes were held at the church and we slept at a motel at night. The Administration teacher demanded that our papers be type written (for you young ones that was before computers.) No one had brought typewriters because it was not on the list of things necessary. This man made each woman come to his hotel room by themselves to type the papers. He wore skin tight shorts and shirt and leered over me, breathing on neck, touching me. Even as I write this, I feel the hair raise on the back of my neck as I write these words.

There were not many women, but three of us on the drive back found out we all had the same experience. We decided to tell our respective District Superintendents so other women would not have the same thing happen to them. When I met with mine, the response was, “Well, he didn’t rape did he?” No, he didn’t rape me. It was shrugged off and the conversation was changed. After all, the administration teacher was an elder in full connection, I was just a 23 year old local pastor. I wanted more than anything to be a pastor and I wasn’t going to push that hard. It would be his word against mine.

Of course, I am old enough to have mores stories. There were times in my life I had far more triggers and was very uncomfortable in my own skin. It has long been a joke that I am not much of a “hugger.” I am quite comfortable shaking hands and hugging is fine, mostly. Years ago, when I was serving a three point charge, I was at the middle church on the circuit. I was shaking hands following worship and one of the men and his wife whom I adored came to shake my hand. I don’t know to this day what happened but I stiffened up, had trouble breathing and he slowly backed away. I apologized and then went to the next church.

The following morning Max called me and said could we have coffee? I drove over to the little cafe and sat down and he asked me, “What happened yesterday?” Max was old enough to be my grandfather and I honestly told him that I didn’t really know, but then I shared with him my history and that something had triggered me and I didn’t know what it was. I felt so embarrassed and I didn’t normally share my history with my parishioners. He looked at me and said, “I am so sorry. I am sorry that happened to you and I am sorry that some how I reminded you of it.” I was so blessed in that moment. The fact he took the time to find out what was happening with me spoke volumes of his willingness to listen and to hear and to be present. It gave me hope that I would not always have to hide my experiences.

When I chose yesterday to post the #MeToo I did so not for sympathy or to try and jump on some bandwagon. I shared it because I know there are many that still stay silent for fear of retribution or job loss or violence against themselves or someone they love. I know that not every woman experiences harassment or violence. I think I would be safe to say that most women have experienced fear. There are some who will never believe it is that bad, but it is.

I very rarely am troubled any more about those experiences. I am in most ways past it and it doesn’t effect me any more. I am who I am today, in part, because I have survived and more importantly chosen to thrive. Today, what pains me the most, is that there is even a hashtag that states MeToo. I don’t want anyone else to have to learn to thrive after harassment or rape or assault. I don’t want those experiences to be minimized or questioned. I don’t want other women (and men) to have to justify their feelings (oh it wasn’t that bad) or to defend their bodies from inappropriate touching or groping.

I believe that we can do better. I want any one who has been belittled, assaulted, touched, mocked or bullied to have safe places to be heard, to be believed, to heal. This is the time, this is the place to say #NoMore. I will be and provide a safe place for anyone who needs to share their story. I will believe you and support you. I will listen. I want to be a part of ending this ugly and perverse part of our culture. No More. No more harassment, rape, assault or bullying. No More. No more violence again women (men and children)  as workers, as wives, as lovers, as friends, as strangers. No More.

 

 

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Anxiety, Fear and the Rumors of War

Today is my day “off.” I attempt to not check my e-mails or respond to e-mails. The day is often filled with all kinds of other “to-do” lists and sometimes with hobbies or projects I really enjoy.

Today I am struggling to stay away from the news. The rhetoric racheting up  between North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and our president Donald Trump is enough to cause anxiety in the calmest of people. I don’t spend time wondering about scenarios that are silly or practically non-existent. I am not losing sleep over the possibility of a meteor hitting the earth or some other great natural catastrophe.  I am not a conspiracy nut or an end times prepper.

And yet….and yet. I can not help but be concerned when grown men are hurling insults like they are on a play ground. The “mom” in me wants to grab each of them and put them in a corner until they cool off. Angry words and quickly spoken insults often results in fists being used and a fight ensuing on the playground. I watch in disbelief as one threatens the other, Kim by saying North Korea will launch missiles at Guam and President Trump using phrases such as “fire and fury” and “locked and loaded.”

Harry J. Kazianis wrote this opinion piece on the Fox News website. His insight on the hell that war with North Korea would bring is worth reading. The devastation on the ground even without nuclear or chemical warfare, the deaths, the destruction, the starvation is unconscionable in any stretch of the imagination.

As a child, I remember the body counts of the Vietnam war and how the war was brought into our living rooms every night. That doesn’t even begin to acknowledge every horrible skirmish and war since and currently on-going. There have been terror attacks, two Gulf Wars and other wars across the world that are often hidden in our news cycles. I am saddened and sickened by the possibility that missiles and bombs and tanks and troops could kill and destroy many people on the Korean peninsula, Guam and Japan.

Today the United Methodist General Board of the Church and Society posted this call to prayer:

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On my own facebook page I posted: I am praying for the cooling winds of discernment to dampen rhetoric of war and of hate and of violence. I am praying for the thousands if not millions of people that are being targeted. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

I have no power to influence the powers that be, I do have the power to pray and to pray for peace. As a follower of Jesus, I take seriously his challenge out of the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5-7, that “peacemakers” are blessed and called children of God, that we are turn the other cheek and not repay violence with violence. This challenge is one of the most difficult for Christians to follow, but that does not mean we should not attempt to live as a people of peace.

So, today, I have been doing mundane tasks. I have swept and mopped the kitchen floor, canned 7 pints of diced tomatoes, made gazpacho for dinner, done the dishes, a load a laundry and will soon do other household tasks. I am praying for peace, I am connecting with the Prince of Peace, that my heart and spirit might be free from fear and anxiety. I know there has always been war and violence and the rumors of war. I attempt to do my part, not to participate in the hateful rhetoric or be driven by fear. I will choose to be a peacemaker and a child of God and a follower Christ. May my words and my actions be a witness to a God who calls us to lives of peace.

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All Souls Day

Part of this post was written three years ago. Our culture doesn’t know much about Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Some of what is shared in the next three paragraphs are from that blog, but I end with some new thoughts about this early church tradition.

Today, in Western Christian tradition is All Souls Day.  It is the third day of the “triduum of Hallowmass.”  Who knew that Halloween was a holy day?  The first day of the three, All Hallows Eve, October 31, was a day when early Christians believed that some how the space between this life and the next life was thinner.  They would don “masks” to keep former souls from recognizing them.  Of course in North America this became “trick or treating” through costumes and pranks and the offering of treats.

The second day was All Saints Day, November 1, which remembers all martyrs and official saints of the church both known and unknown.  The third day, All Souls Day, November 2, remembers “all the faithful departed.”  In most protestant traditions, these days are lumped together and often celebrated on the first Sunday of November.  A google search will give multiple hits on these traditions.

I, being who I am, love this history and the layers that surround these practices both from the Christian tradition and other traditions.  What I love most, is the remembering and the giving thanks.  Often in the U.S.A. graves are visited on the last weekend in May.  I always tried to avoid focusing All Saints on that weekend, because it is also the first three day weekend of the summer and consequently loses some of the religious significance that the first Sunday of November can offer.

Remembering those who have gone before is holy, sacred and spiritual work.  The act of remembering is a blessing on those who take the time to laugh, to cry and to tell the story of those who have made a difference in their lives.  After thirty plus years of ministry, the list gets longer each year for me.  The spaces around those memories grow more tender as I remember, as I grieve and as I smile through tears and give thanks that I have been so blessed by so many.

The holiness of these moments become more sacred in the midst of a time of great anxiety and fear. Next week, will be an election which has been filled with bigotry, hatred, lies and ugliness from both sides. The fear mongering has been almost overwhelming. Many, myself included, will be glad when the election is over.

Add to that another horrible shooting in Des Moines where two police officers were ambushed, another black church is vandalized,  and where the deaths in Syria mount, is it any wonder that many are just tired and afraid. It is important in times like these, to remember the saints and souls and spirits who went before us. We are NOT living in the first period of time fraught with fear and anxiety.

Those who went before us lived through wars and rumors of war, violence, hatred and natural disasters. The early Christians were persecuted and wondered if the end of the world was coming. In these days, we are hearing the same from both parties. Neither is speaking the whole truth. These elections and difficulties are part and parcel of being part of this world. The saints that have gone on before us, understood that whatever occurs day in and day out is not the kingdom of God. The reign God continues to challenge all of us “saints” to live lives of faith, of hope, of love and justice.

We keep eyes and hearts and spirits focused on the promise that the time is coming when we will experience something new and wonderous. In the meantime, we lean into each other for strength, and trust God’s Spirit to help us believe and God will make all things new in God’s own time.

And so, remembering I am “surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) , these saints and souls of God, I am graced to serve.

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