Thursday, December 7, 2017

Advent 2017 #7: Finding the Safe Place in a Crazy World


I knew I had a stalker long before I said something in public. I knew it was a creepy situation, and going in a bad direction, because I'd had a stalker before. The first stalker was a psychopath. I learned to stay out of his way as much as possible. Eventually, he went to prison for another crime.

The first time I said something about the cyber-stalker was during a class with a group of women I didn't know well, but trusted. We were talking about social media. I confessed I was afraid to become a "public figure" because of the "crazies" I might attract. "I don't want the stalkers to be able to find me," I said. 

"Stalkers?" someone asked.

"Yeah. Those guys who get fixated on you and kinda stalk you."

People were shocked. They didn't have stalkers. If I had stalkers, it was my fault, they told me. Something was wrong in me. I should be delivered of it. Someone gave me the contact information for a person who could help me pray through this "wrongness" in me that caused me to attract unwanted attention.

I considered contacting them. These women said it was my fault, so it must be true. I didn't want to believe them, but I'd experienced considerable harassment when I was younger, as well as the first stalker. I believed much of it was my own fault. Maybe there was something bad in me that caused these people to do wrong things.

I can't believe I considered this nonsense. These criminals may be attracted to the vulnerability I share in my blog posts, but that's their flaw, not mine. I might need to recognize the problem earlier and set a tighter limit, but I didn't cause their sin.

It was not my fault. 

The first stalker wasn't my fault and the cyberstalker wasn't either. The men who thought they could say anything and do anything were not my fault either. The people who thought it was funny to see me blush when they said and did outrageous and offensive things were not my fault.

The silence was my fault.  

Instead of speaking up, I accepted the behavior and went along. Eventually, this outrageous behavior seemed normal to me, but it wasn't. In my younger years, I made lifestyle choices that still shock me, still shame me. I wasn't much better than the people who did and said all those wrong things. 

The acceptance of the unacceptable was my fault.

I still vividly remember a day, decades ago, when, for that moment in time, I'd had enough. The tiger-woman in me emerged. "Say that one more time. I want to get it right for my attorney. He'd love to hear what you just said."  I was still in training, and I put everything on the line when I said those words to a man who held considerable power over me at the time. I no longer cared. 

I can still hear the ugly things he called me in response. I can still see the shock in his face. He was furious, but he backed down. 

That kind of treatment leaves scars that run deep.

I put the future of my medical career on the line that day, and, in that moment, I understood something shocking. I didn't care if I ended my career or not. At least for that moment, enough was enough. It took years for me to repent of my own sin and sort out who was guilty of what, but that day was a start.

Today, I read the Time article about the person of the year, The Silence Breakers. The women who spoke up about the sexual harassment and abuse they'd experienced have been honored for their actions. I wept all the way through the article and for a good while afterward.

"Finally, Lord," I said over and over again as I read. 

I've thanked God today for the women who had the courage to come forward and call a halt to what should have never been tolerated. I've thanked God for the men and women who responded to the complaints with decisive action. I wished I'd said something nearly forty years ago. My life, and my choices, might've been different.

What does this have to do with Advent? 

What I wanted was a safe place, where neither harassment nor abuse existed. I found that safe place in Jesus Christ. He may have so-called followers who aren't safe, but He is. 

I read these beautiful words this morning about the Messiah and wept for the sweetness of our Savior, who honored women in a time when they were nothing but possessions. I gave thanks for the Christ who treats women as equal with men, for the Father who loves us all with tenderness and righteousness.

"And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down the with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them." Isaiah 11:6 nasb

Jesus is a safe place for the vulnerable, the weak, and the fragile. One day, the lamb will be safe with the wolf; the baby goat (kid) will be safe with the leopard. The devourers will no longer devour their pray. 

Safe. 

The tenderest among us are safe with Jesus. We all are. In Christ alone, we find our strength and our hope no matter how weak, vulnerable, scarred, or flawed we are.

In a world full of craziness and sin, Jesus is our safe place. As we prepare for Christmas, may we surrender our scars and fears to the One who heals every wound and defends us from every fear and every enemy.

"You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance." Psalm 32:7 niv
_______________
When you like and share this post, it expands our digital reach and more people have the opportunity to read this series. It makes a bigger difference than you can imagine! Thanks for helping!

In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: #6: The Preparation of God's Love

Here are the links to the other posts in this series: #5: When Joy Flowed Forth and Splashed Into My Heart , #4 The King Who Will Not Let Us Down., #3 Preparing for Transformation#2 Preparing for the King with an Humble Heart, and #1 Getting Ready for Jesus

#advent2017