confession.

12 Aug

What better way to follow up on last week’s post, where I wrote, “If this week has taught me one thing it’s that I’m genuinely ashamed to learn that I view my own sins in a much more positive light than those of someone else.”

Number 48 on the list:  Confess something you have done wrong to someone and ask them to pray for you.

Good bye, positive light.

I don’t know how to write about this one.  I took this one and made it as difficult as possible.  In that, I didn’t just confess something I did to someone.  I confessed something I did to the someone I did it to.  I don’t know how to write about this one because I’m not going to write about what I did or who I did it to.   “Confess something to someone.”  What do you even write about if you remove the “something” and the “someone”?

Confession.

Confession: I had a really easy time thinking of who to confess to.  I had a really easy time thinking of several things I had done to wrong several people.  It was difficult to narrow it down to just one.  So I didn’t.

I think if there’s something I’m learning in all of this, it’s that the difficult things are becoming less and less difficult.

There’s this home group that meets at my friend Paul’s house every Wednesday.  Yesterday we talked about Matthew 6:1-4, a passage that talks about giving.  I said that last week, while I was initially trying to write the letter to the registered sex offender, I would have given anything to just give away $100 and be done with it.  That would have been so much easier.

Confession: God does not want us to live an easy life.

I would be willing to go out on a limb and say that we have all done things to other people that no one knows about.  We’ve wronged people in ways they aren’t even aware of.  Since we’re the only humans that know every thing we’ve done, it’d be easy to just keep our wrongdoings to ourselves.

Confession: God does not want us to live an easy life.

It’d be much easier to just throw money at our problems.  But I think that was never God’s intention.  I think He intended for us to face loving people head on.  It’s not easy.  Sometimes it’s doing something that no one even knew needed to be done.  But it does need to be done.  And it hurts so good.

I confessed something to someone the other day and it hurt so good.

Confession: My soul is filled with joy when it’s not easy.  I imagine that it fills God with joy as well.

black canvas.

9 Aug

This is more difficult than one would have thought.  Obviously I knew making my way through this list would be difficult, but I never realized how draining it would be.  Draining in the most beautiful of ways, but draining nonetheless.  The kind of draining where you spend a lot of time inspecting the parts of yourself God so desperately wants to change.

I’m friends with this guy named Jason.  Jason is the teaching pastor at theHeart, which is the church I go to.  Yesterday he did a sermon titled “black canvas” which is this idea he’s been mulling over for months now.  He spoke about how we all start with this blank white canvas.  That as we go through life, we add a black mark here and a black mark there and before long, we take a step back and realize that the entire canvas is black.  (This list makes me take a step back and realize that my canvas has been black for a while now.)  But, and I think this was my favorite part, Jason went on to say that a black canvas is just a different kind of blank canvas, that it’s a blank canvas with a history, that it is the kind of blank canvas that utilizes a battered and broken history.

We ALL have a black canvas.  Perhaps that’s been the most draining part of this blog– realizing just how many layers of black paint are on my canvas.  But also realizing that that’s no longer a good enough excuse to resist being used.

* To watch a video about this very topic made by, amongst others, the talented Paul Sherar click…. HERE.

google searches.

6 Aug

(In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a Googleholic.)

I’m amazed at how some of you find my blog.  This morning someone Googled the word “incest” and found 50 ways.  Earlier this week someone looked under the word “porn”.  Someone else typed in “one bowl of rice”.  (Why?!)

Thanks for taking the time to read, regardless of how you got here.

letter.

3 Aug

…it turns out it’s difficult to write a letter of encouragement to a random registered sex offender.

How has this week gone down? I started the letter last Sunday.  I got dinner with my friend Rob’s wife Claire (you may remember, she was mentioned here) on Thursday and busted out two blogs inspired by our conversation/my research following our conversation.  On Sunday afternoon I volunteered with OASIS, where I learned many things about OASIS’s response to emergency situations (including emergency shelter), transitional services from said shelter back into a more independent role, and the educational presentations they provide in the community to teach individuals about maintaining healthy relationships.  I finished the letter yesterday.

Why did it take so long to write? It’s difficult to write a letter to a stranger, much less an encouraging letter.  How do you encourage someone you don’t know?  In my experience, encouragement requires a knowledge of something the person you’re encouraging needs to be encouraged in.  How do you encourage someone you don’t know anything about?  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I know this particular individual was convicted of second degree rape.  New phrasing:  How do you encourage someone when the only thing you know about them is that they were convicted of rape?  I made a stipulation in the beginning of this project that kept me from a) letting the person I wrote to know that I knew and b) writing a letter with any sort of burden on my shoulders.

What I mean is that I’m not interested in telling him that “God still loves him” or that he can “be clean again” or anything else that implies that I know anything.  I don’t want him to know where I found his address.  I don’t want him to know that I know that he raped someone when he was my age.  I don’t even want him to know my gender.  (As such, I typed the letter.)  What I do want, what I didn’t necessarily want when I started the letter but what I certainly want as I finish it, is for him to know that he’s loved.  That God loves him the same way that He loves me the same way that He loves my best friend’s three-year-old daughter.  I wanted that to be a good enough reason to send a letter and for that to be a good enough reason to receive a letter.

We all have something we struggle with.  We have all had or currently have that sin that we are entangled in.  We all have something.  The primary difference in our somethings and in their somethings is that some of our somethings are posted online for everyone to see and some of our somethings are not.  If this week has taught me one thing it’s that I’m genuinely ashamed to learn that I view my own sins in a much more positive light than those of someone else.

the [lack of] christian response to sexual predators.

29 Jul

While Google-ing the term “sexual assault”, I found numerous websites with definitions, statistics, how to determine if you were sexually assaulted, help for victims of sexual assault, and coalitions against sexual assault.  When I searched “sexual assault + Christianity” I found forums for survivors of sexual assault, news articles about Christian leaders that sexually assaulted an individual, and counseling services that promote that they help people find “restoration, truth and wholeness from child abuse, domestic violence, spiritual abuse, and sexual abuse.”  Never once did those broad searches offer support for predators or even something so simple as:  “God still loves you.  God always loves you.  YES, you.”*

The Christian community is quick to embrace alcoholics and drug addicts and proud people and any other acceptable form of sin, perhaps because those are things most all of us have openly and admittedly participated in.  It’s almost a badge of honor in a Christian’s life to be able to say, “I fell away from God…  I got drunk by 5pm/shot heroin to numb the pain/think I’m better than you.”  (Kudos to anyone who leaves behind a life of sin.)  But what about the sinners with the sins we’re not so willing to embrace?  “I’ve fallen away from God…  I masturbate to porn for up to five hours a day/act upon sexual fantasies about someone of the same gender/really think I have a special relationship with the six-year-old I regularly molest/like the feeling of power I get when she says no.”

We were never told to choose who gets to be loved by God; we were simply told that He loves.  We were never told to choose who we love; we were simply told to love.  We were never told to choose who gets to be forgiven by God; we were simply told that He forgives.

*  There are websites like that.  A couple of my favorites:  XXXchurch and The Strip Church.

sexual assault.

29 Jul

Sexual assault is exactly what it sounds like:  an assault of a sexual nature on another person. Though what offenses are included under the umbrella name of “sexual assault” differs state-by-state, sexual assault can include rape, child sexual abuse, incest, sexual harassment, dating and domestic violence, and hate crimes.*  1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime.  College age women are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.  60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.  Think 60% is low?  Something to consider:  That number has increased by 1/3rd since 1993.  Every two minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.**

What constitutes a sexual assault is determined by the law of the jurisdiction where the assault takes place, which vary considerably, and are influenced by local social and cultural attitudes.  For instance, under North Carolina law (the state in which I reside) the term “rape” only refers to penile penetration of the vagina.  All other forms of unwanted penetration are referred to as a sexual offense.  This means a lot of things, but one of the things this means is that the 3% of men who have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime, a statistic that makes up 10% of all rape victims, weren’t “raped”, per se– just offended.

(I’m offended.)

* Click any of the types of sexual assault to learn more at the website for the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization RAINN (Rape Abuse & Incest National Network).

**  It took me about an hour to research and write this blog.  It’ll take you at least two minutes to read it.  Ten minutes if you click on all the links.  Between the time you and I both spent on this blog post, 36 people were sexually assaulted.

sex offenders.

28 Jul

While I was talking to my friend Rob about the challenges of eating only rice, he asked me what made me choose to start with that one on the list.  I had already thought of that question so the answer came quickly:  “Because it’s much easier to physically sacrifice something than to make any other kind of sacrifice.  I wanted to ease into this whole thing.”

13.  Look up the closest registered sex offender in your neighborhood and try to befriend him.

Guess I’m done easing.

When I originally saw this one on the list, I wondered how I should approach it.  If I should do exactly as it says or if I should alter it to be more appropriate for a young woman.  Afraid I would be biased in making that decision, I asked a dozen friends if they thought I should befriend a registered sex offender.

They answered with a resounding:  “No.”

Instead, I plan on doing a few different things to help me gain a better perspective on a topic I don’t know much of anything about: sexual assault.  The first thing I’m going to do is to write an anonymous, random letter of random encouragement to a random registered sex offender here in Boone.  (A random letter that does not in any way acknowledge that he’s a sex offender and I know it.)  I’m going to continue doing that once a month for the next year.  The second thing I plan on doing is meeting with Rob’s wife Claire.  She just so happens to work for OASIS, an organization here in Boone that’s dedicated to ending domestic violence and sexual assault.  Through Claire I learned of several opportunities for me to volunteer with OASIS.  This weekend I’m going to help them set some things up at the shelter they have.  I’m also going to look into the option of volunteering for their crisis hotline.

Expect a post in a couple of days with more information on sexual assault, OASIS, and how I’m having an impossibly difficult time writing (and meaning) encouraging words.