Now seems like as impeccable time as any to write about this topic. Those who read my blog know I'm included in the me too hashtag. Those who read my blog know my periodic therapy descriptions in dealing with post traumatic stress disorder. And while life experiences compounded this in complexity, trauma for me began at an early age.
Trauma began with me too.
Without question me too is a reality in my life as it is with so many other women. It is an interesting phenomenon to observe this movement flooding our online feeds and what I notice most is that not many people react, comment or acknowledge when it is shared. I'm not saying there is a lack of support or lack of empathy but for whatever reason reaction is minimal. Perhaps because the topic is uncomfortable and we don't know how to react? Maybe we are afraid to say the wrong thing so it is just easier to react with nothing. Furthermore could it be that silence is the way our society has been trained in dealing with uncomfortable topics? But the truth is we know it is there and we know history continues to repeat itself. Silence is not working and we should then applaud every ounce of bravery differently. We need to stand up for it, speak it out and reinforce it. That my Loves, is the heart of the me too message.
I've reflected on a number of things through therapy from a biblical perspective and in the course of doing so these two questions are critical for me, for this one particular me too girl.
How has this strengthened my faith through the course of my life?
Do you see yourself in a particular character from scripture and how does this reflection impact you?
I'm not going to lie. Reflecting on these two questions stirs up a ball of multiple emotions, both good and bad. It can get ugly and perhaps my therapist is the only one who has seen the darkest of ugly. It's hard dealing with this dichotomy but the truth is light and dark, joy and grief can co-exist together.
As for the faith part, this thread in my life has been and always will be the pathway to my relationship with God. Because when we are hurting that deeply we learn there is no where else to turn but to Jesus. But that does not mean I am not angry. Anger itself is not sin, it is what we do with the anger that matters. Quite frankly I'm angry because me too is way too many and I know a bible character who can painfully relate.
My answer to the question above is Tamar.
If you have not read about Tamar in scripture I will do my best to summarize. First, she can be easily skimmed over or missed entirely because we are not told much about her. What we are told is horrible. Tamar can be found in 2 Samuel 13, she is the daughter of King David. She is young, we are told she is at or around the age of puberty. As a royal daughter it is likely she has a future marriage arranged for her but at this age Tamar is not married yet. She is a cherished princess, watched and protected closely within the harem at her fathers palace. It is what we might think of today as having a body guard with us at all times in closely guarded social interactions. The women in the harem and those guarding them are generally Eunuch's, a man anatomically incapable of marriage or in other words, physically incapable of producing children. We read King David had many wives and concubines and many children. As such Tamar had a half brother who we also learn of in 2 Samuel. Sadly this brother arranges for approval from their father for Tamar to go and care for him in sickness. Sadly there is no such illness but it is the only way her brother would ever see Tamar socially outside of the harem guard ship. Tamar obeys her father and goes to care for her brother in kindness and trust. It is there he sends all the other servants away and he assaults her. Tamar pleads with him to stop but the assault occurs.
When we study the cultural norms of the time, we learn unmarried women, no longer virgins regardless of the reason, are disgraced unless they marry that partner. Naturally scripture tells us Tamar pleads for her brother to marry her in the wake of his assault but her brother refuses. He throws her out and loathes her. In grief scripture tells us Tamar collapsed. She tears her garments, a sign of grief in that cultural time. She covers her face in ashes. King David was furious but he did nothing toward his son as a consequence for the assault. Nothing…
In today's world this is an example of a human rights violation being swept under the rug, not talked about and silenced. In scripture, little more is said about Tamar.
If you are anything like me you might be thinking, "WTF?" "I'm not okay with this!" Like me you might wonder why God's word does not tell us more about Tamar's life after assault. I don't care about these dudes fighting and killing each other over this sister then go on to assault even more women themselves. Now having said this rant, scripture does demonstrate the compounded destruction this family experienced as consequences of assault.
What I want to know though is WHAT ABOUT TAMAR????????
Just because scripture doesn't cover it all doesn't mean this woman's life wasn't significantly altered. Silence is not right but sadly something that has repeated itself for thousands of years.
Me too is the outcry and it is a testimony of Tamar's living spiritual descendants. I might not be able to read much about her life but I certainly know much about mine. Me too then, is a continuation of God's word through our voices spoken by incredibly wounded but brave and strong lives.
I need to know about Tamar, I need to bring light to it. There may not be written account of the rest of her life but we can infer pieces by studying the cultural time in which she lived. Tamar would have returned to her fathers harem, never married or having children. She lived out her days in the harem with other women. For Tamar, daughter of King David, justice was denied. But 2 Samuel 14 does give us hope of a next generation Tamar. Tamar means palm tree, a symbol of justice in the Jewish tradition.
In the body of Christ, "me too" is a testimony of our lives. We are her voice.
Who are we?
What do we look like?
What kind of lives do we lead?
What are we passionate about?
What are our struggles?
Most importantly, how does all of this strengthen our faith?
Like Tamar, some of us may never marry. Thankfully in our age and time we may marry. Yet another might be a single mother who was not successful in making that marriage work. We might have children from relationships that haven't lead to marriage. We might marry and stay married. And through all of this we might experience love with a man or with a woman.
I'm not writing to debate the approval or disapproval of any of these circumstances. For God's sakes, suggesting someone be hanged for their humanness as our country's leaders display is just outright evil.
I'm bringing a voice to these circumstances because they are real and they very much exist. Regardless, our ability to give of ourselves and to spiritually connect on a soul level with another person is deeply altered. Tamar was deeply altered even though we don't know all of her circumstances.
Yet scripture tells us God made us in His image and we are made for this kind of soul level connection.
Using myself as an example, my spouse and I know this level of connection is an issue for me in this relationship. I have not ever developed the ability of successfully connecting with him on this level as God intended for a marriage. This is a man who is an incredible friend to me, hardworking, respectful and could not be a more loving father to our children. Yet I can not wholly function in this partnership.
I can either continue to stuff this reality away like it doesn't exist or I can accept it. But I can also bring a voice to it that makes a difference. I can fight for the future generation of Tamar's and to help them bravely, fiercely, without fear or compromise accept themselves for who they are.
This is what one Tamar looks like.
What God cares about most is that I love my Lord, my creator with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my mind. The only thing God declared as not good in the story of creation is for a human soul to be alone. Tamar, a me too is going to connect differently, whatever that looks like for her and this is bravery. Whatever that looks like…it is strength.
One thing I know for sure…my Jesus, our Jesus is here through it all.
Approximately 20 percent of girls (1 in 5) and 8 percent of boys (1 in 12.5) will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
The estimated number of women who have been the victims of rape since 1998.
The percentage of perpetrators of sexual violence that will walk free.
The percentage of men who will be raped in their lifetime.
The age range in which people are most likely to be sexually assaulted.
The percentage of women who experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the two weeks directly after being raped.
The percentage of child sexual abuse perpetrators who know their victim.
Statistics from Huffpost.com
Loved By Grace,