As I get older, it seems as if I am increasingly reminded that the seasons of life are always changing. Sometimes these changes are welcomed and celebrated, while other times they are all too bittersweet. A few weeks ago, I came to the difficult realization that the season for Rhymes with Religion was coming to an end as I concentrate more on my amazing family, the expanding work of GRACE, and on my awesome law students. Thanks to so many for reading this blog and for the many kind and encouraging words sent my way during this daunting but incredible season of writing.
I was humbled, excited, and nervous when RNS approached me about writing a blog committed to spotlighting issues related to child sexual abuse within faith communities. I was also incredibly encouraged that a major news organization was wanting to invest in a blog focused upon an evil that has been kept in the dark for too long destroying countless lives. Though I never considered myself a columnist, I agreed to dive into this blog world because abused and hurting souls must know that there are those who understand them and who recognize that they have so much to teach us. My hope and prayer is that my written words have protected little ones, encouraged survivors, and changed the hearts of many Christians who will begin stepping forward to confront and end this nefarious epidemic within the Church.
As many of you know, bringing light into the darkness of child sexual abuse in the church can often be a difficult and lonely journey. On those days that I simply want to give up, I am reminded that I am not alone on this journey. I walk alongside some of the most amazing heroes on the face of the earth. Many of these heroes are survivors walking far more difficult and painful journeys that me, but who never hesitate to stop to help lift me up and inspire me to press forward to another day. They are often the truest reflections of Jesus in my life.
Recently, on one of those days when I felt I simply couldn’t go on, I received a precious email from one of my readers that said,
Thank you from all of us who have languished by the road – bloody, beaten, and robbed – and watched the Levites and the Pharisees just walk on by.
Those beautiful words picked from this unsung hero me up and carried me through another day.
If you are a child who wakes up each day fearing that they will be once again abused by an adult you’ve been told to trust and obey, or who lives in fear each night about what will happen when the lights go off, please know that you are not alone. These same heroes want to protect you and help you bring this very real nightmare to an end. There is much hope for you.
If you are an abuse survivor who is suffering in silence and fear because you’ve been ignored, marginalized or even vilified by the very people you had hoped would welcome and support you, please know that you are not alone. These same heroes want to walk alongside of you, listen to you, and be your biggest advocate in helping you step out from the shadows of silence with confidence. There is much hope for you.
If you are a perpetrator who has found protection and support within a faith community, please know that the season for your cover and deceit is changing and it’s not in your favor. There will never be hope for you unless and until you stop perpetrating and turn yourself into the authorities for all of your crimes.
Though the season for this column has ended, my season of protecting children and serving and empowering the abused will only end when this horror ends or when I take my final breath. I encourage each of you to continue following and supporting the work of GRACE as we labor to transform faith communities into the safest places for children and survivors and the least safe for those who abuse. We have a long journey ahead of us.
I live each day of this journey knowing that Aslan is on the move and that means nothing is safe. But rest assured, that is good news. As stated best by Mr. Beaver in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when describing Aslan: “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course He isn’t safe, but He’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
This King is the ultimate hero who gives me much hope that one day light will indeed overcome darkness and there will be no more abuse. Our children will be safe and those who have been abused will experience the unconditional love from Christians all over the world. They will experience Jesus.
Until that day, please join me on this journey as we carry out the work of our good King.
Signing off with much hope…