No to Lukewarm

These are times that require a firm choosing of sides. As formerly taboo ideologies and concepts have shamelessly been trying to establish themselves as the norm, we find that the more wrong is being pushed as right, and right as wrong, we see that the line between them is becoming clearer than ever.

Now is not the time to be lukewarm. We cannot be neither hot or cold. Either we support or even just accept killing, abuse, misogyny, racism, white supremacist ideologies…or not. When we say yes to a leader who subscribes to even just one of these, but who also subscribes to a common value like for example, anti-abortion, we still yes to these other evils. Standing up for immigrants, the LGBT, abuse victims, or the poor does not mean you have to sacrifice your pro-life values. If anything, the disenfranchised needs those values at play.

Like it or not, we are at a monumental time in our history where we must take arms in protecting truth or it shall not prevail in the lives of many. Right now, truth needs our help in rising above the filth of lies that attempts to cover it.

With the staggering amount of absurdity and bold, audacious lies that come out of the mouths of our leaders daily, the citizenry has been conditioned to hear, and forced to accept, unbelievable realities. It’s called gaslighting.

The Philippines’ Duterte has sold his country to China and actually has the audacity to ask his predecessor how he managed to let go of his country’s disputed land in the South China Sea. Beyond that, he has murdered more than 20,000 Filipinos, has freed the most corrupt, has trashed the Constitution, and cursed God in a country with 70% Catholics. So far, he is still in power, with a good number of Christians lauding Romans 13:1-5 as a defense for him.

The United States’ Trump has just denied climate change as a fact, has launched a most brutal and merciless anti-immigration campaign, has thrown his seat’s power to the protection of the NRA and tax cuts to the wealthiest, all while having his background unveiled to the world to be riddled with illegal dealings and abusive, misogynistic patterns of behavior. He’s still pumping vitriol to Twitter-dom every few hours daily, and his followers still believe God sent him.

There are no accidents here. The spiritual battle is raging and we must choose where we stand.

I’m not what you would call a “political person”. I’m not usually heavily vested in the political issues of society. I usually busy myself with my responsibilities, pay my taxes and go my own way.

But what’s happening right now begs my conscience to speak up. We CANNOT possibly idly sit by as more and more people are being hurt, disenfranchised, abused, killed. That could easily be us, and I wouldn’t want our children to grow up with evil as the norm. Everyday, the temptation to just let this slide or to be apathetic about all these is real. But we cannot. We must not. For our children. For our souls.

For every Christian, there are different seasons. A season of planting, waiting, harvesting, etc. Now, I believe, is the season of separating the wheat from the chaff. We have to choose which of the two are we.

Are we for God or are we for evil? It cannot be both.

Choose, and speak up. Stand for it. It will be hard. It is hard.

I’ve lost friendships, I’ve lost my home. Fear creeps up every now and then for me and my children, and our future.

Yet, I fear staying silent more, for I know my God. His words are harsh to a lukewarm church, “The members of this church see themselves as “rich” and self-sufficient, but the Lord sees them as “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked”  

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Again, these are troubling times. Yet, my hope is and always will be in the Lord. Not in some populist leader touted as some sort of “messiah” or “God-sent”. The only Lord I recognize is Jesus and this is His promise: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Another Story of Abuse

These days, either you’ll feel defeated as a woman, or you’ll feel empowered to be one. With the #metoo movement comes the uncovering of thousands of sexual abuse and sexual assault cases that would’ve been left under the rug if it were not for the courage of those who spoke up. And the men, for their part, have resisted, undermined, trivialized all these stories. Some have even done a classic “Adam” and blamed the ruin of their lives to these women.

And with the surfacing of a sexual assault accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, women from all over the country (the world!) are finding reason to fight harder, as the abuse of men have shown itself to know no bounds.

Perhaps it is too much to ask for understanding or empathy. For not many can relate to a sexual assault survivor, unless you were one yourself.

And that is why we tell our stories. If not to help you feel empathy, then to understand that this is real. Much too common in fact.

Too often, these stories spring alongside misogynistic behaviors, a sense of entitlement and a position of authority. While there may be exceptions, abusers do follow a pattern.

The victims, on the other hand, have sort of a pattern too. In the aftermath of the abuse, no matter the extent it reached, it is the same. The feelings of hurt, trauma, guilt…all the same, all terrible. Then, we jump to the next stage which is to try to deny it to ourselves or if it’s a loved one, justify it (“Maybe he didn’t mean to do it?”). Next, we grapple with the damage it left behind. Fears that lead to emotional, mental and physical dysfunctions that make simple things suddenly complicated, much too challenging.

Perhaps, if but just one of the thousands, you read one story and truly empathize with that, truly help bear the weight that an abused carries even for just a moment, that will help lessen the absurdity that is our world today.

My story began when I was about four years old. My abuser was a male teenage relative. We were swimming together in a pool when he sat himself by the pool stairs and called me to him. Then, he pulled me to him and started rubbing his penis on me. I was four but I knew he was doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing. I tried to get away from him, but he pulled me closer. From then on, I tried to avoid being left alone with him. I never once mentioned this to him, or to anyone else in the family for I feared no one would believe me and as a four-year old, it wasn’t clear to me what just happened. All I know was that I felt violated, though I had no words to articulate that then.

The second abuse happened much later, when I was in my mid-twenties, in the hands of a close male relative. He would lay down next to me in my bed, hug me with his arm purposely on my breast. He embraced me so tight that I could not move much. I pretended to be asleep and was annoyed at being bothered from my slumber. This happened many times in the course of many years. I did not tell him until about a couple of years ago. I tried to be as direct and as straightforward as I could, and tried to communicate the abuse as I recognized it to be, as well as letting him know that I had forgiven him. Our relationship was spared.

Yet, I will never know if it ever registered in his mind that that was abuse. He was defensive, as expected, saying that he meant no malice. Yet, to a woman, an inappropriate touch is obvious and can never be excused. If it made me feel uncomfortable and violated, there’s not much else your intent or lack thereof can do anything to make me feel otherwise. It just has to stop.

I share my story not to “ruin” the lives of my abusers, but to pinpoint just how common it is, in fact even occurring the hands of a relative or someone the victim knows, and that sometimes, men do not know how to draw the line. Must women tell them? Well, then we are telling you now and you are not in a position to make excuses or to not listen.

I have children and everyday, I find myself distraught at how corrupted this world is, and how I’m ever going to let them go out in the world. Statistics show that 1 in 5 girls, and 1 in 20 boys are victims of sexual abuse. How can a parent possibly rest? Yet, I know that I cannot possibly shield them forever. So I educate them. As much as I can and as much as their young minds can comprehend. I’ve taught them that private parts remain private, and that nobody can touch them. If a stranger attempts to do so, he or she must swat their hand and immediately tell Mommy or Daddy. I have taught them that strangers will sometimes lie to them, telling them that they or Mommy or Daddy will be harmed if they do say anything, but I told them that they must not believe that. Of course, I teach them to not go with strangers, to always make sure bathroom doors are locked when they’re inside using it, and to always dress and undress in private.

This is a time when the predators have been unmasked and while it is a good thing, I also know that these are dangerous times.  As a woman once a victim of sexual abuse, and now a mother and a woman who believes in social justice, I will continue the fight in my own way. We get up, we learn, we try to protect what’s ours, and we continue to stand up for what is right and we will never allow the wrong to be normalized.