“Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” As I listened to Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globes, I thought about all the #metoo stories that have poured out since Alyssa Milano tweeted “if all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
These past few months have been a powerful reminder that our words and our stories matter, especially when it comes to the places we’ve been silenced, marginalized and trapped in shame.
Over the years I’ve heard countless stories from college women I worked with about the sexual assault, harassment or abuse they’ve suffered through on campus. I’ve talked with married women about how the shame of abuse has clouded their marriages because their experience of sex has been damaged. I’ve talked with older women who soberly tell me about the comments they’ve endured from Christian men in their churches and Christian workplaces about their bodies and clothes rather than their job skills or competency.
And I have my own #metoo stories. From my first kiss as a sixth grader that was unwanted, unexpected and confusing to when I met with a VP of a seminary eager to hear about the academic programs and being caught off guard by his comments that he was interested in having more “beautiful, blond women” in the student body. And a slew of far worse things in between.
As we wrestle with the #metoo stories out there and in the lives of our friends I want you to remember that your words matter.
They matter because every time we stand in our truth and share our personal stories, it rips away the shame of keeping things in the dark.
They matter because it can be healing to hear a friend say “it’s not your fault.”
They matter because we realize that we aren’t alone.
They matter because it restores trust every time a man is willing to say “I’m listening” and “I believe you.”
They matter because there is hope and healing on the other side of silence for every woman who speaks her #metoo story.
My friend Maddison and I recently recorded a podcast where we share our #metoo stories and talk about how we’ve found hope in the midst of pain. It wasn’t fun for us to talk about the sexual harassment or assault in our lives but in speaking our truth I can see how God has helped me to heal and has used my story to help others heal. I remember that Jesus doesn’t just take broken people and fix them, he makes us new.
You may not be ready to share your #metoo story and that is o.k. You don’t owe it to anyone to put something on facebook or twitter. It might be too painful to deal with your pain in a public way. But you owe it to yourself to share your story with a person or people that love you and whom you trust. You owe it to yourself to be free from shame and to see that there is hope in the places you feel most broken.