In the Bible, Job did not avoid darkness, and he did not avoid God. Instead, he brought his questions about the darkness to God. He wrestled with God. Job refused to be silenced by darkness, and he refused to fear darkness. He kept speaking truth, kept pleading. He kept wrestling through the dark. Finally, he had a break through. He emerged enlightened, and in God's light . . . .
We don't have to live in fear, for God is with us in triumph and tragedy. Facing our brokenness is an epic journey of sorts, into the abyss of pain. But He catches every tear, and He never leaves us alone. No tear is cried in vain. From our pain, He creates purpose. We can rest knowing, not our will, but His will be done.
Saltwater pearls are considered rare and precious gems. They grow in mollusk shells along beds formed from extinct, eroded volcanos. One single pearl grows for years, facing threatening predators, crabs, and parasites. The few that survive emerge as beautiful smooth, translucent round layers reflecting light ... you are a pearl. A pearl of great price.
Rooted in dignity, we can act with integrity. Integrity is more than doing the "right" thing when no one is watching. Integrity is transparency, authenticity. It is owning our flaws. It is inspecting ourselves, our behaviors, our motives. Integrity is acting from a place of personal dignity, acting with respect to the dignity of others. Integrity is seeing others have worth simply because they ARE.
"Reflection and experience are tools of change. Reflection keeps us from being defeated by our pasts, and it gives us the power to shape our futures."
Survivors, if you're living in your own Egypt, if you're in a community enabling abusers and silencing abuse, and if your soul is crying out, know that God hears you. You don't have to stay in Egypt anymore. You have a voice. You may feel like Moses did. He worried over what words to say, he worried his words wouldn't be received, and he worried he wouldn't be believed...God gave Moses the right words to exit Egypt, and He can give you the right words, too. He can set your soul free.
Our design isn't accidental. We are damaged with purpose. By reframing our perspectives of ourselves, we allow defects to localize our light. Then, like the butterfly, we can scatter our energy into the world.
"I found kinship in the pages of Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, Virginia Woolf, and Kate Chopin. From Hardy and Hawthorne, I learned that experiences like mine transcended time and culture. I was not alone after all, and my experience was no tragedy. It was unfortunate, but it was universal. Women had universally survived such experiences since early biblical times. I wasn't alien, after all. I was among survivors, warriors."
"Embrace your strength and beauty. There's nothing high-minded about having both a mind and a heart. There's no shame in owning your strengths and sharing them with the world. This indifferent world needs your empathy--it needs you."
"Each day we lace up our true selves in the 'shoes' that best meet that day's mood, crowd, and occasion. Some days we wear patent leather personalities. Some days we wear combat boots. We bind up who we really are in order to portray who we think others want us to be. But isn't it freeing to take off your shoes...and go barefoot?"
"I heard a young, brave woman speak about the sexual assaults she endured as a teenager at the hands of her teacher. She said this about abusers: 'They will use our silence to kill us and then say that we enjoyed it.' She spoke so matter-of-factly absent any fear. I envied her freedom, her courage, her strength. It was then I realized I would never be free from you until I discarded the chains of silence and released myself from the weight of your deeds....this shame is yours to carry, not mine."
Abuse that occurs in educational or religious settings can send trauma reverberating through entire communities, and it's important for both direct and indirect victims to receive positive support in the wake of such events.
"America's greatness depends on all of us, collectively. It depends on each of us, individually. America's greatness isn't political. It's personal."