Tag Archives: Forgiveness

The Reality of TV…

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I’m sure by now, most everyone has heard about the newest reality TV tragedy…19 Kids & Counting.

If, by chance, there’s still someone out there who hasn’t heard, I’m going to assume they aren’t here reading my little blog either…because they’re much more likely to stumble across numerous Duggar stories than they are to stumble across my tiny portion of the internet.

So, the latest is that eldest Duggar child, Josh, admittedly made a “mistake.”

First off, I will in no way support Josh or his actions, whether he was 14 or not.  Having been a victim of childhood sexual abuse for most of my childhood and having dealt with my own fair share of family drama, I’m going to say, I have a right to use my voice in this.

Josh made a choice.  Was it a mistake?  No.  It was a choice.  His choice.  Was it the choice of the girls he molested?  From what I’ve read, he was older than all of his victims therefore, he was responsible for his actions.  They are not at fault.  Period.

The fact that the Duggars call this a “mistake” really grieves me.  A mistake it buying Colgate toothpaste when you meant to buy Crest.  A mistake is choosing the wrong size pants.  A mistake is driving past your road and having to turn around.  A mistake is an accident, doing something you did not mean to do.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a mistake as:

to understand (something or someone) incorrectly
to make a wrong judgment about (something)
to identify (someone or something) incorrectly

At 14, sheltered or not, boys know the difference between their bodies and a girls body.  By 14, they are maturing, changing, and growing.  By that point, especially in such a conservative family where premarital anything is discouraged, I’m going to guess, Josh knew that sexual conduct was inappropriate, wrong, evil, or whatever you want to call it.

The choices Josh made were choices.  They were not just mistakes…they were choices that impact the lives of those he molested in every single way imaginable.  I know because I’ve been there.  I know because I’m still there.  It’s not something that ever really goes away, no matter how much counseling or support one may have.  There may be healing, but it becomes a part of you.  Josh’s choices were not mistakes.  They were choices.  He could have chosen not to act on the feelings he had.

Are his choices unforgivable?  No.  That’s between his victims and God.  That’s not for me to judge or say whether he’s been forgiven or not.  If his victims choose to forgive, then good for them.  Forgiveness has the ability to free them from some of the burdens caused by him.  It has nothing to do with Josh, but freeing themselves from the chains of His choices, giving them room to heal.

Enough about Josh.  What he did was wrong, no matter how old he was.  And he knew it was wrong.  He admits that.  Period.

Let’s talk about the victims.
Let’s talk about the media.

The media is spilling this story all over the place.  Frankly, there’s not one family that’s ever walked on this big planet that didn’t have some kind of saga, scandal, or secret.  Not one.

If anyone ever thought the Duggar’s were the one family that escaped that, then that’s their own fault for thinking they were without issues.  Everyone has issues.  Everyone!

Believe it or not, the Christian life is not perfect.  I know many Christians who “appear” to have the perfect life.  I was one of the girls who envied (yes, I’m a Christian who has been envious of others!) others because they seemed to have the perfect life.  The thing is, when you start to get to know people, you realize we’re all just a bunch of messed up, broken people in need of a Savior and a whole lot of grace.

What burns me up is how the media is broadcasting this story as this huge tragedy and scandal, how cruel Josh was to victimize his sisters and other little girls, what a disgusting person he is, blah, blah, blah.

While I agree to an extent, the media is victimizing these girls all over again.

They’re not just destroying Josh, putting him in front of a firing squad and pulling the trigger, they are traumatizing his victims all over again.  No matter what happened, which none of us really know and that’s only for his victims to share if and when they want to, they deserve to live without all of this.  What we’ve done by putting this family in the light based on this scandal, this trauma, is destroyed them.  We scarred them for life…as if they weren’t already scarred enough.

By bringing this to light, we haven’t stood up for victims rights.  We’ve crushed them.  We’ve said shame on you and your family.  We’ve condemned the whole family.  We’ve demanded their “show be cancelled.”  TLC agreed to take Josh off the show but we still scream…”screw the family,” “take all of those whacks off the air“.  What we’re doing is victimizing the entire family based on one or two or three (parent’s, not the victims) people’s choices.

The family handled the situation years ago.  Whether we agree with the rumors of how they handled the situation or not, they dealt with it.  Perhaps these girls had gone through counseling.  Perhaps they had found at least some peace and healing.  I even hope they have been able to forgive.

My point is that what we as a society have done to them is not punish Josh for his crime.  We have punished his victims for his crime.  We have traumatized them all over again.  We have poured salt into their wounds.  We have crippled, maybe even destroyed their future.  We have impacted their entire family and the families of those connected.  We have slandered their name, dragged it through the mud.

All because of one boys stupid, inexcusable (as Josh even stated) actions.

What he did was wrong.  But two wrongs don’t make a right.  The media bashing this family, all the nasty comments on either side…all that’s doing is destroying these people.  We are no better than the crime we’re complaining about.

Think about it.  Does this affect Josh’s life?  Yes, it already has as he had to resign from his job and has been let go from TLC.  Is that all?  No.  Now the whole family is under fire.  Now the victims are exposed…maybe not by name but their lives, their pain, their suffering…are out there, exposed to the whole world and not by their choice.  We have rob them of that choice.  They have been violated all over again.

Next time you want to spread a story to attack someone who’s hurt another, think about the victims.  They need support and prayer now, more than ever.  I don’t care what you think about Josh, what he did, whether you defend him because he was only 14 or whether you want to see him burn.  His judgement and the punishment for his actions are not up to me or anyone else on this planet.  He has to live with the choices he’s made.  So do his victims.

The reality of this is that no one is perfect…no one.  Just because a family may appear perfect, doesn’t mean they are and if anyone ever tries to say their are, call BS because they’re not.  No one, Christian, Muslim, Athiest, or whatever religion or belief or human out there can claim to be perfect, having made no wrong choices ever.  And we’ve all suffered because of our choices and actions.

The issue here is that there are victims who have already suffered enough and all we are doing by dragging this family’s drama out for all to see is making them suffer more.

Now that we’ve already done that, where are the people standing up for victims rights?  This would be a great time and opportunity to talk about how devastating childhood sexual abuse is, how it destroys lives, how it robs its victims of peace, security, trust, hope, and often much more.

Instead of focusing on how disgusting this boy’s actions were and how we like or don’t like Christians, homeschoolers, skirt wearers or whatever piddly things we can think of to throw daggers at the Duggars, why don’t we take this opportunity to speak out about how light needs to be shined on the victims, to give them hope, not to destroy them or traumatize them all over.

The reality is…

Just because it’s a reality show doesn’t mean it’s real.  We don’t see behind the scenes, behind closed doors, etc.  Not one family can claim the reality of perfection.  Period.

The reality is…

Sexual abuse sucks.  Period.

Peace out…

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31 Days of Grace | Day 31 – Daughters by Grace

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When I debated over my topic of choice for the 31 Days of October, 2013, I struggled to settle on the perfect topic.  I was reluctant to make a choice.  Honestly, I simply felt inadequate to do any topic justice.

That’s where grace found me.

You see, there is nothing I can write here that will ever be perfect.  There is nothing I can say that will make the world a better place.  There is nothing I can do to right all the wrongs.

With grace, we have a second chance.

Because of grace, we find hope.

When I began this soul searching, relationship building walk a few short years ago, I had no idea where it would take me.  In that small span of time, I have traveled leaps and bounds.  God has shown me amazing things – things he’s doing in my life and the lives of those around me, different ways to view things and people, how he can and is using me and my life and that he does have a plan for me.

I am here, by grace.

I am just a girl, imperfect in every way but beautiful, loved, forgiven by Him.

I am His daughter by grace.

The women’s ministry from our church chose this name, “Daughters by Grace“.  At the time, I didn’t quite understand why we even needed a name.  Maybe I still don’t but the truth is, I needed that name.  I needed to hear that it was possible for me to be someone’s daughter, loved unconditionally, without having to give anything away or do anything to earn it.

After the name was chosen, a verse was chosen to be our go to verse.

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To him be glory both now and forever!  Amen.  2 Peter 3:18

That verse was chosen to represent the goal of our women’s ministry – to grow – to grow in His grace, in His knowledge and to give Him all the glory.  As He freely, without merit, gives us grace, we gain the ability to grow, to grow as Christians, to grow closer in our relationship with Him, to grow in our knowledge of who He is and what His plans are for our lives.  Looking back now, I realize He has been growing me, drawing me closer to Him, pouring His grace into my life. To Him be all the glory!

Little did I know, this grace theme would repeat several more times in big ways.

At our women’s retreat this past fall, the theme of the retreat was grace.  This wasn’t our own doing – we used a kit provided by another organization that puts out annual retreat kits.  That was their topic but it was most definitely confirmation to me that God wanted to teach me about grace.

There have been songs – I’ve shared some with you this month.  The words have comforted and cradled my heart and taught me more about grace.  They’ve reminded me again and again that there is nothing I can do to earn His grace but He chooses to shower me in His grace because I am His.  Just because I am His.

I admit this has not been an easy journey and as I write this today, on the last day (October 31, 2013) of this journey, I feel no more adequate than the day I first set foot on this path.  I have struggled to write each day – sometimes failing to write at all and then catching up in a spare moment to put out several days at once.  And honestly, some days were just too hard so I put thoughts aside and took an easy road with my post.

In the end, I find myself here…needing grace.

Needing anything is not something I care to have attached to me.  This is a valuable lesson I learned yesterday.  I realized for me to be needy – scares me.  As much as I may truly need people, I am afraid to let them in.  As a little girl, I felt like I was in a world alone.  When I needed someone, they failed me.  When I needed protection, I continued to be hurt.  When I needed a hero, no one rushed in to save me.  When I needed to sleep, I was overwhelmed by nightmares.  When I needed love, I found all the wrong people.  When I needed to be freed from the pain I was feeling, I turned to self-harm.  When I needed anything or anyone, it only hurt more.

But that’s exactly what I need…grace.

So to walk this journey of grace and to hear over and over there is nothing I have done that is so bad or so wrong that mercy, love or forgiveness can’t make it better.  To hear that grace meets us right where we are – in all the imperfect places.  To learn that His love is unconditional, that I am growing in His grace and knowledge.  To know I don’t have to do this alone anymore – to be truthful, it’s heavy.  In some ways, I do find comfort in knowing that but at the same time, I realize I still have so far to go.  I am still at a point where I am not quite sure how to accept that but I know it’s possible.

I am His daughter by grace.

With grace, I have hope.

In His grace, I will continue to walk this road, learning, living and giving Him the glory.

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. May you walk this road knowing you too, are His daughter by grace!

 

31 Days of Grace | Day 26 – Accepting Grace

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I’ve been reading through the book, The Unburdened Heart by Suzanne Eller.  It’s not an easy book to go through as Suzanne digs deep into many areas of forgiveness, but I highly recommend.

In one chapter, Suzanne talks about grace and part of that is being able to accept grace.

Do you find it difficult to accept the idea of grace?
Mercy, love, forgiveness?
Do you feel unworthy?
Punishing yourself?

Often times we struggle to accept grace because of a past that haunts us.  Perhaps our past was filled with abuse, violence, broken trust, or other painful situations.

Part of being able accepting grace is first being able to forgive yourself.

Some quotes Suzanne shares in her book are from women who struggled with this very thought – forgiving themselves.

“I stuff it all down.  I have never given myself permission to talk about what happened.”
“I did so many bad things.  Yes, my past is ugly, but the ugliest parts I brought on myself.”
“I don’t think God even sees me.”
“How can God love someone so mad at Him?”

Suzanne goes on to say, “You bring pleasure to God, yes, you.  Right where you are.  He sees your heart.  He sees your potential.”

“Every day is a new opportunity to love Him and walk with Him.”  ~Suzanne Eller

31 Days of Grace | Day 24 – Blessed by Grace

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The Old Testament is a guide through the laws put in place for specific time periods, for reasons we don’t fully understand in today’s times and to instill values and order in a corrupt world.

The New Testament highlights God’s mercy, love and forgiveness – Grace.

John 1:16-17 says, “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

What greater gift could we receive than the blessing of Christ.  Through Him, we receive life even after this life because of His mercy, love and forgiveness.  Grace.

 

31 Days of Grace | Day 8 – Extending Grace

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Been burnt?
Frustrated?
Hurt?
Annoyed?
Criticized?
Judged?
Condemned?
Wronged?

Why not be angry?  Why not hold a grudge?  Why not retaliate?

Our feelings may quite possible provoke us to pay someone back, holding on to anger just to spite them, lashing out or worse.  Realistically though, there is a much better choice.

Extending grace is hard.  It’s a choice but what a privilege it is to have that choice.

Carrying the weight of anger is heavy.  It’s ugly.  It destroys us.  It hurts those around us.

Letting go of that hurt releases that weight.  It’s a freedom.  It’s not a freedom directly given to the person who hurt you, but a freedom to YOU!

What if instead of paying them back and holding on to that anger, we prayed for them.  What if we stopped to try to understand the choices they make, we saw them as broken, just like us.

Extending shows that you understand the freedom of grace, that you’ve had your own fair share of times when you needed that same grace from others.

When you debate the choice of extending grace, think of the last time you hurt someone.  Was grace extended to you?  If not, what impact would it have had on your life had it been extended to you?  If grace was given to you, how did it make you feel?

 

Oh the lessons…

Lessons

My heart sank when I walked in the room.

It was the first night of new Wednesday classes at church.  My class … a women’s Bible study on forgiveness.  (Insert big WOW here for – nothing like a big topic, right?!)

The book we are following, The Unburdened Heart by Suzanne Eller, is simply amazing.  She does a great job of writing so that no matter what your story is, you can relate to the thoughts and feelings expressed in the book.  I can’t say enough good things about it.  So for the past few weeks, I’ve been so excited about how God is going to work in the lives of the women who come to this class, myself included.  I can’t wait to see how he works and the amazing things he will do.

As excited as I was to start this journey, I was filled with anxiety and fear.  I had spent the whole day fretting over praying out loud.  A few weeks back, I shared a little here about how God was working on me with prayer.  Surely I could tackle this praying out loud thing, right?  I was going to do it this semester in class – I would take the reign and pray for the women in my class.  After all, God has been preparing me for this.  Still, I was afraid, nervous, anxious.

Philippians 4:6-7  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Instead, I walked in with nerves raging and quickly noticed an unfamiliar couple sitting in the room – a man and a woman.  Immediately, my heart dropped.  My class was suppose to be only women.  In my head, there was simply no room for a man.  We were facing some really big topics, the possibility of deep, intimate conversations, some that simply wouldn’t be possible with a man in the room.  Without asking him to leave, I gently warned him that the class would probably be all women and that he may feel uncomfortable as well as the women who attended and hinted that he might want to consider a different class.  In most ways, you could say I handle the situation fine but the outcome was not at all what I had hoped for.

The couple left.  Not just left my class … they left the church.  If I had to guess, I’d say they left angry.  Angry that they had made the effort to come.  Angry that they needed my class and didn’t feel welcomed.  Even though my intentions were right, they left angry.

What was suppose to be a light and fun evening quickly started off totally wrong.  I managed to somehow pull myself together enough to get things going.  The class went on, women came, women opened up, we passed the tissue box around on the first night!  It was great and I am absolutely looking forward to the next 11 weeks with this wonderful group of ladies, getting to know them and seeing God working in their lives.

Why did I share the story above?  Well…if you’ve read many of my recent posts, you know that God is really teaching me.  Sometimes, lessons are pretty hard to learn.  Sometimes we have to make mistakes to learn from them.  It’s like riding a bike, sometimes we have to fall before we learn to ride.

This morning, as I’m sitting in the Sunday service, listening to our pastor talk about the man that was born blind that Jesus healed, my thoughts went elsewhere and I thought about the couple from Wednesday night.  Sitting there in church, I kept thinking about what I could have done differently.  Did I really handle it the way I should have?

The answer was simple – it was NO!

I did not do anything wrong by the way I addressed this couple but that doesn’t mean I did it right either.  Perhaps instead of standing across the room and going on and on about how uncomfortable he and everyone else would be, instead of suggesting he go elsewhere, perhaps I could have first of all introduced myself.  I did not even introduce myself.  Here was the this couple I had never met before, in my class, and I didn’t even take the time to welcome them or introduce myself.  Secondly, I could have gone over to them and after introducing myself, I could have leaned in close to inform them that this was really suppose to be a women’s class, however, they were welcome to be there if they choose.  Basically, I could have shown them kindness and acceptance, even if it went against the rules I had placed on the class.

Proverbs 21:13  Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.

Philippians 2:4  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The thing is, we have encounters like this every day.  God is trying to speak to us and teach us new things every day.  I am so thankful that through this, I learned a very valuable lesson.  I learned to be still, to take the time to acknowledge people, to welcome them, to show them kindness.  I learned not to be so quick to react.  I learned that even when a choice seems right, that doesn’t make it the best choice.

How many times has God tried to teach me something and I failed to see?  How many times have I turned away from his lessons?

While I am so sad that this couple left and the weight is heavy knowing that I am the reason they left, I walk away thankful that through this difficult situation, God is teaching me and that I am able to see it, able to learn from it and hopefully it will prepare me to handle situations better in the future.  Let my mistake be your lesson!

And while you’re here, can I ask you to pray for me?  You see, because I allowed anxiety and fear take over, we failed to pray at all Wednesday night.  I did ask the class to keep the couple that left in their prayers, but I failed to pray for our class and I didn’t even take the time to ask someone else to pray.  I allowed fear to get in the way and that’s not what I want.  I know God has been preparing me for this and I know that it’s not about me, it’s about him.  Please pray for me, that he will use me and give me the words of prayer that my class needs.

 

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