Are you strong?
Are you brave?
I am constantly perceived as being a strong person and I’m not. I have to battle past my personal weaknesses and the choices that are a result of a life of being weak everyday. I hope to be strong someday, but I am not.
I am brave, however. I am brave enough to tell the truth when someone won’t like it. I am brave enough to tell the truth even when that means someone won’t like me. That is a really brave thing to do when you’re not very strong. I’ve had to learn boundaries and self respect and all about absolute truths – the absolute truth of what I have faith in and the absolute truth of what I believe on a number of important things like life, death, pain and healing.
But because I am brave, everyone perceives me as strong. And they give me burdens – their burdens of opinion and pain and experience – because they think I can handle them. And I can’t. I don’t. I become depressed and melancholy and downhearted and lonely for the lightness of life that those around me seem to have and I don’t. I keep getting burdens that I don’t have it in me to bear. Because I am a Christian I do believe in bearing one another’s burdens, but I also don’t believe that every burden that I’m given is mine to bear.
As we continued to present information about sexual abuse to different groups, I knew they would share their personal stories of abuse with me. I am ready for that. I am called to do that. But I am not called to hear every single person’s story of those who are “falsely accused.” How much more clearly could it be illustrated why this problem continues?
Rarely does someone say “I know a pedophile.” They always say, “He didn’t do it. I know he didn’t. Because he’s too nice…or not that kind of guy…would never do that kind of thing….” At the same time half the people in the group are telling me they were abused. So, apparently the victims are being abused by……noone.
They don’t know. They just don’t want to believe. I don’t blame them, but then I really do. Because it’s no wonder children don’t tell when it happens to them. It’s no wonder when they do they feel abandoned and alone, because apparently everyone always believes the pedophile. And when I say always…I do mean always.
When Joshua came forward everyone believed us. Not a single person shared a moment of disbelief. When he was removed from our church, then removed from his high school. When he was indicted and even when he passed his lie detector tests, there was only communal grieving for the absence of justice. I knew that was unusual, but I’m grateful I didn’t realize until now how unusual it is.
And I will deal with you seeing me as strong, since I’m being so brave. But sometimes it would be great if you could remember that I’m really not strong. All I did was ask God to use me and say yes when He showed me His plans. And the weight of all I’ve been through and all I know is as much as I can bear some days. Feel free to give me a hug, though. I could use it.