Hope for #metoo

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.

Tell Fear to Skedaddle

I’m not entirely sure skedaddle is a real word. But I know fear is real. I know it lurks in the places where we start to think about trying something new, especially when it comes to spirituality.

You may be a Christian & feel afraid of taking a step of faith to follow him in an area he’s been challenging you about.
You might not be a Christian and be scared of going to church, exploring Jesus or even opening up that can of worms.
You mighty be struggling in your faith and fear that things will never change and doubt that God even cares for you.

Fear is legit. But it doesn’t have to control you. One of the basic ideas of prayer is that God can take what is in bad our hearts and replace it with with something good. Consider the scripture from today’s calendar:

“No fear exists where his love is. Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear, because fear involved punishment. The person who lives in fear doesn’t have perfect love.” 1 John 4:18

God can push the fear out of your heart and replace it with love. He can do that for friends who know him and friends that don’t know him.  Ask him to take the fear out of your heart and replace it with his perfect love.
Fearless happens with friends,

 

Jessica

The butterfly that messed everything up

A couple years ago I was feeling really sluggish and chalked it up to being a mom of a two year old- when I went in to get a sinus infection treated my doctor drew some blood. Turns out I wasn’t just a tired mom- I had hypothyroidism- an autoimmune condition that affects just about every other function in the body- energy level, digestion, libido, metabolism, everything. I went away to a cabin after I was treated with a radioactive iodine pill to let that sucker kill off the node on my thyroid that was causing all the problems. I slept for 14-hours straight.

And now, a couple years it’s returned. Instead of just popping a radioactive pill I get to take synthetic thyroid medication daily and have been learning how to take care of myself- to reduce and manage stress, eat nourishing food, exercise on a consistent basis. You know, like, the things healthy people should be doing anyways. It’s been both interesting and overwhelming learning about thyroid disorders- shocking to realize how many women it affects.  One woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder in her lifetime and are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to have a thyroid disorder. (See honey, I’m not just lazy & addicted to napping!)

picture from quantumwellnessinc.wordpress.com

picture from quantumwellnessinc.wordpress.com

In part I’ve been pretty quiet on the blogging front because it’s been a struggle just to do normal things- like the dishes, caring for my kids and returning emails. I know that sounds so pathetic but there were days that I would get 8-hours of sleep, wake up exhausted and then still need a 2-hour nap to get through the day. Then add in the guilt of not getting home or work stuff done, a healthy dollop of depression was added into the mix. Oh, plus unexpected weight gain. Just what every woman wants!

It’s been sucky to realize that this is going to be a life-long thing I deal with and not to minimize it (oh, I’m just tired.) A couple things have been really helpful in regaining energy, focus and endurance to get through long days with young kids. Limiting gluten, drinking a ton of water, and joining the YMCA to go to exercise classes has made a noticeable difference in my health and energy.

The bigger piece has been learning how to manage stress and anxiety by practicing self-care. I’ve loved discovering thyroid loving care (TLC) and Tracie Fountain’s website on how these women have successfully learned how to manage their thyroid disorders.  Tracie even offers a free 20-minute consultation to help you get started on your healing journey which was so helpful to me to even legitimize that there really is something wrong with me.

Women put so much pressure on ourselves to get things done everyday that self-care is one of the easiest things to cut. Do we really need to sit and read a magazine with a cup of tea? Take a 20 minute walk in the middle of the day? Light a candle because it’s simply enjoyable? Yeah. We do. Because it’s a way of affirming- I’m worth it. I’m worth taking care of. This was such a big piece for me- stopping and saying “by doing these things I’m setting myself up to be healthy and happy. Taking 20 minutes to paint my nails or bake some gluten-free bread is not going to end the world.”

What have been ways you’ve learned how to practice self-care over the years? What do you struggle with in taking time for yourself?

www.lovethispic.com

www.lovethispic.com

When a man loves a woman- he will be an advocate

In the immortal words of singer Percy Sledge “when a man loves a woman….he’d change the world for the good thing he’s found.” My friend Rob from California loves women- and is changing the world because of it. He loves women so much that he has dedicated a significant part of his life and leadership to being an advocate for women and girls in his life.  Today, he graciously agreed to share his thoughts to use his power as an advocate for women. Check out his blog and leave him a nice comment. We bloggers are a comment hungry bunch. Show us some love!

ADVOCACY: WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME

Over the years, it has been my joy to advocate for women around me, both in my life and in my ministry context. Indeed, using the power, privilege and access that culture gives me because of my gender to advocate for women has been a transformational experience, both for me and the women around me.
For me, advocacy has meant empathizing when a colleague has been hurt because of negative gender stereotypes.
Advocacy has meant theological engagement with people who are asking women in my life and ministry to take back seat because of their gender. One time, I endured a 2 hour debate highlighted by me being repeatedly called a “false teacher” because of my position on the issue.
Advocacy has meant intentionally investing in women, mentoring them and developing their leadership gifts.
Advocacy has meant hiring women into leadership roles in my organization, leveraging my positional power to gain for them some measure of such power. For instance, when I started leading my current ministry team, there was one woman. Last Fall, during a meeting, I looked around and realized I was the only man in the room.
The bottom line, then, is that I see advocacy for the women around me as a key part of my ministerial calling. After all, advocacy is a Biblical idea. Proverbs 31:8 reads like this: “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, ensure justice for those being crushed.”
But here’s the thing…I’m no hero.
What I mean is that I’m not doing this because these women are charity cases. Far from it. Instead, these women deserve the opportunities they find themselves in. Sometimes, people will thank me for advocating for women, but I just see it as a way to honor Jesus and advance our Gospel mission.
And, on top of that, I continue to benefit personally from advocacy. Here’s what I mean.
rob_dixon
First, it is a joy to watch someone you’ve advocated for flourish. I coach girls soccer, and there is no greater satisfaction than watching the team achieve on the field after a hard week of practice. In the same way, when advocacy results in someone flourishing, it’s a great blessing to the advocate. It is a powerful experience to watch my friend Beth use her exhortation gift, and knowing that I’ve had a role in opening doors for her to use that gift? It feels awesome.
Next, I get to be shaped by gifted and godly women. My experience has been that God has used the women that I’ve empowered to shape me. As just one example, I blend grace and truth in my leadership far more effectively because I’ve seen that modeled by Layla and Tina, two gifted women that God has allowed me to advocate for over the years.
Finally, by advocating, I believe I get more of Jesus in my life. American culture gives me power by because of my gender. I call it male privilege. And by opting to submit that privilege to Jesus, in the same way I would my car, my house or my bank account, Jesus gains more control of my life, and I gain a greater sense of partnership with what he is up to in the world. In this way, advocacy actually draws me closer to Jesus.
So, in the end, I’m grateful that God has used me as an advocate. Because of what’s in it for the women in my life.
And because of what’s in it for me.