Andy Stanley recently did a sermon series in which he encouraged his listeners to ask themselves the question, “What breaks my heart?” He challenged that instead of complaining, blaming, and finger pointing, to actually do something about it.
Surprisingly, this question stumped me for a while. EVERYTHING breaks my heart, for God’s sake! Murder, violence, cancer, infertility, infidelity, abuse, neglect, addiction, ISIS, persecution, rape, hate, poverty, homelessness…You get the picture. I grieve it ALL regularly. I have to be very careful of my news intake and certain TV shows and movies because I’m so damn sensitive. The horrors of this world send me into a depressive hole that I have to use a bunch of energy to climb out of. I try to save myself for my clients, but I don’t want to be ignorant of world events, either. It’s a daily struggle for balance. Some days are better than others.
I watch an ABC family show called, “Switched at Birth.” It’s good, and I’ve learned a lot about deaf culture from it. There’s drama obviously, but a strong family dynamic and some healthy relationships, too! Anyhow, the last several episodes have been about consent.
I wept through almost the entire episode. When she woke up next to him, not remembering a thing—but feeling that it was very wrong. Trying to figure out what was going on. Word getting out and people calling her a “slut, whore, bitch…” Her friend saying, she was sorry it happened, but “she shouldn’t have put herself in that situation.” I even cried for the guy character, a good guy, who made a stupid choice.
I cried for myself. The shame. The confusion. Knowing that even if I had reported him, I would’ve been condemned and further humiliated, just as she was in this show. Feeling as though no one would believe me anyhow, since I’d willingly gone to his apartment to “watch a movie.”
What breaks my heart wide open is how much we’ve messed up sex. Pornography, 50 Shades, sex slavery, rape culture, DENIAL about our rape culture, how women treat other women, how much we have been objectified that most of us don’t even blink an eye when we are (more on this in a minute). How we trade sex for affection, acceptance, attention, touch, love… How we devalue our own bodies and the bodies of others. How we distort our healthy, God-given needs to be chosen, worthy, touched, wanted, and loved in for cheap imitations. And we wonder why we are never satisfied.
In college and after, it was normal for me to be grabbed, groped, and harassed. I was a server, so I was asking for it, right? When I worked at a bar, I was told that I was hired because of how I looked and only as long as I would put up with sexual harassment. And because I made myself believe none of it mattered, what I was actually believing is that I didn’t matter—therefore perpetuating my tendency to “put myself in situations” that I shouldn’t have.
This is what breaks my heart, y’all. Ok, Andy Stanley, here it is: I’m not just complaining anymore. This is my attempt at doing something. Friends, I’d love to hear any personal insights you’d like to add. I’d love to hear if you are on a journey to wholeness and health. Please share your stories so we can start cheering each other on.
Girlfriends: let’s stick together. Let’s build each other up, instead of tear each other down. We can start with eliminating the words, “slut”, “whore”, “bitch”, and others from our vocabulary. Friend, please start paying attention to the people you surround yourself with and those you call friends. Do they want what’s best for you?
Guy friends: YES MEANS YES. Make sure you have consent and that she is in a state of mind to give it. If you are unsure, DON’T. Treat every woman you come in contact with the way you would want a man to treat your mother or future daughters. You want to be valued as more than the way you look, right? You want to be seen as more than the size of your parts? Perhaps women want that, too. (Or if she’s coming on to you, try to see the insecurity and loneliness behind her promiscuity, and don’t exploit it).
Everyone, let’s seek to understand the deeper, God-given desires and needs we ALL have and find healthy ways to meet them. Ask for help, if needed. Or talk to someone safe. Let’s stop settling for cheap imitations that only leave us hungry for more.
With love and respect,