Wednesday, June 14, 2017

When The Pro-Life Church Is Pro-Abortion


The Church is nothing if not verbosely pro-life   Members march, rally, pray, and carry signs to try to put an end to the killing of innocent babies.

Here's the rub; The Church makes bold pro-life claims, but regularly practices abortion.   Viable human children of God are regularly and sometimes brutally aborted from The Body of Christ with no remorse. 

Woman seek abortions for a number of very personal reasons.  These reasons include inconvenience, the discovery of a birth defect in the child, the health of the mother, or simply because it's "my body; my choice".   None of these reasons are reasonable in the eye of the pro-life Christian zealots.   And yet, the very real practice of abortion is alive and well in today's Church.

A child has a developmental or physical disability and is deemed "too hard" by church leaders and volunteers. Abort!  Abort!

I work with families affected by disabilities and they all say that having that child or adult in their life is a gift.  The person with a disability often teaches them far more about patience, compassion, and unconditional love than they ever thought possible.   Sometimes they have front row seats to miracles they might not have seen otherwise. The Church often misses those opportunities.

A woman asks questions of a pastor or seeks to put an end to gossip (how dare she), and the pastor decides she's inconvenient. Abort!  Abort!

The pastor has no desire to be held accountable to a mere child of God and literally says, "my body, my choice". The health of the church is "at risk" when a dissenter asks too many questions. Abort!  Abort!

A person is found to have sinned or reveals a human weakness. Christians rise up and declare this person to be defective or "too weak" to contribute to The Body. Abort!  Abort!

No person is perfect. It takes some longer to mature than others.  How dare we look into the face of God and say, "this child of yours isn't viable".

In an almost unbelievable scenario, a Christian is engaged in "unapproved" extra curricular activities like Theatre or performing secular music and they're declared a danger to the reputation of the local church. Abort!  Abort!  

I don't know of any medical technology that would allow for aborted fetuses to be transplanted into another woman's womb, as the fetus is usually destroyed before being removed. But many woman become pregnant through in-vitro fertilization. The mother (or surrogate) must endure painful and intense medical treatments that prepare the body to host and care for the transplanted fetus.

In my experience, The Church is not prepared to love, accept, nurture, and host those who've been previously aborted from The Body.  Sometimes the aborted kids of God never heal enough to be grafted into another church. The bible speaks very clearly about how quickly body parts die when they are disconnected from the whole. How can The Church continue the practice of shunning and disconnection knowing the practice can (and often does) lead to people leaving The Church, turning their backs on God, and ultimately losing eternal life?

We simply cannot continue to profess respect for ALL life when we regularly support the practice of aborting God's kids from HIS Body!  We will be held accountable. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Saying Goodbye to Hate...Confessions From a Punching Bag



2016 was one for the record books for sure.  We lost creative icons, we elected a billionaire to the U.S. presidency, we deleted, blocked, or unfriended people with whom we disagree. We not only cut people from our social media feeds, but many refused to even spend the holidays with family because of opposing political views.

In 2016 we seemed to be obsessed with hate.  We spread it, wrote about it, spoke against it, produced it, and lamented about it.

We can be so mean.

I’ve been living in a culture of hate for most of my life.  It’s very simply been a fact I came to expect and tolerate.  Donald Trump is, in my opinion and experience, NOT an anomaly.  Rather, he is a reflection of who we are as American humans.  We make fun of people, call one another hurtful names, jump to conclusions, put ourselves in bright and shiny lights while dimming the value of others, and spread hurtful and untrue gossip.

I can’t change the world, but this punching bag is standing up to the hatred once and for all.  I’m sick of it! 

My husband told me last week that I was living my life as if I’d done something wrong and I needed to stop it!  He’s RIGHT!  There’s a long list of places I won’t go because people quite simply hate me and have made me feel unworthy.  That list includes churches, businesses, neighborhoods, and a hookah bar.  The most hurtful hate has come from my Christian “family”.  I believed that God had put people in authority over me and I was taught to submit to said authority.  I believed that the “hard” people were there to teach me grace, mercy, forgiveness and love.

And while I still believe those things to a degree, I’m angry that I’ve allowed myself to take on and believe their shit! 

I AM DONE! 

I was dumped by one “friend” because I DARED to show compassion for the Black Lives Matter folks in my Facebook feed.  What part of “ALL lives matter” do you not get?  The fact that you twisted what I said and made it about YOU, is not my problem – it’s your problem.  I won’t take on your hate.  You don’t like me.  You don’t agree with my opinions.  You think I agree with everything YOU think and say?  No way!  BUT, I understand that opinions are formed by experience, education, and emotion and I would NEVER have cut you out of my life just because I disagreed with you.  I loved you.  I NEVER made your opinions about ME!

I was accused of thinking horrible things about certain people because I quoted a statistic from a book.  Let that sink in…A STATISTIC FROM A BOOK!  I personally feel compelled to help the needy with my prayers, good thoughts, AND expendable income.  That does NOT make me a bad person.  No, I do NOT expect others to feel as I do nor do I condemn anyone else for the way they spend their dollars. 

I want ME back.  I am sick of living my life like I did something wrong just because someone decided they wanted to believe the worst about me. 

This:

-To the pastor I loved, admired, and thought the world of: NO, I NEVER EVER EVER lied to you!  You were wrong, plainly and simply wrong!

-No, I did not tell a family member anything unkind about you and did NOT deserve that hateful email.

-No, I did NOT put a hit out on you.  You’ve hated me for years and you’ve told multiple lies about me.  I was simply sitting in the church pew listening to the teaching when I suddenly realized you were standing guard behind me – arms folded, eyes strained on me.  What is your problem?  Enough is enough! 

-No, God did not “close the door of opportunity” for you to confront the afore mentioned crazy woman.  The God who made “don’t lie” one of His top 10 would never close the door of opportunity to tell the truth! 

-To the church leader: how dare you refuse to serve me communion at church just because your wife is filled with hatred for me. 

-To the pastor of the big church on the corner:  Simply standing on that enormous stage and teaching the ways of Jesus isn’t enough.  Do you not think it’s important to practice what you preach?  I don’t think it’s crazy to expect that when your leadership team speaks from that pulpit about reconciliation, that they also PRACTICE the same.  Church has NEVER been a safe place for our family – NEVER!

-To the LONG list of people who've said judgmental, cruel and untrue things about my children - unless you're in the arena getting your ass kicked, I don't need your feedback!

-To the pastor who told me I was on a “dangerous path” because I wouldn’t submit to verbal abuse and lies – you are WRONG.  Period!

I can’t change the hateful, but I can change me.  I’ll continue to show love to those with whom I disagree.  I will also SPEAK against the lies.  I DESERVE to be defended – even if only by me.

2016 was hard for many of us.  Enough is enough.  I can’t change the world, but I can stand against the hatred in my world.  I’m tired of being your punching bag.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Why I'll Never Work for A Christian Organization Again (and the #1 reason might surprise you)


When our son was 18 or 19 years old he got hired at Disneyland.  It seemed like the perfect job for him, given his talents and personality.  However, after about six months on the job I received a phone call from my son.  "Mom", he said, "if I don't quit this job I'm going to grow to hate Disneyland, and I don't want to do that."

I've come to understand just how wise our son is.

I've worked for, in, and around Christian churches and organizations my whole adult life.  In fact, my love for the Christian workplace was cemented when I was a 15-year-old counselor at a church summer camp.

The time has come, however, to say that I'll never again work for a faith-based organization.  My heart can't stand another disappointment.

I've also worked in the secular field - mostly Theatre and Education - and my husband has worked exclusively for secular companies, so we have a pretty clear and well-rounded view of how differently businesses are run in the two arenas.  Here are some major Christian workplace hurdles:

In the Christian workplace gossip is tolerated and even encouraged as a means of keeping an eye on the employees.  Both the Old and New Testaments are riddled with scriptures giving clear warnings against gossip.  There simply is no place for it in The Church.  But, 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says, "Abstain from all appearance of evil" and leaders and pastors lean heavily on gossip to let them know who might be giving the wrong appearance.  A music pastor once let me go because one or two people came to him to tell him I said or thought things I never said or thought.  I saw a pastor once fire a young single woman because someone told someone else that they saw a man in her apartment.  No need for facts - there was the APPEARANCE of evil.

When I posted a plea for prayer on my Facebook page, I was called into my boss's office and reprimanded because a number of people had called her to find out what was wrong with me and/or my family.  She was livid that my personal life had filtered in to the workplace.  I looked at her and said, "I would hope that you told those people to call me.  After all, talking about me when I'm not in the room is gossip."  She said nothing and shrugged her shoulders.  SHRUGGED HER SHOULDERS!

Speaking of a lack of sympathy when it comes to family needs, this brings me to another challenge in the Christian workplace - the blatant hypocrisy in the "do as I say, not as I do" mentality.

The same music pastor who made wild accusations against me also claimed that my "heart wasn't in the right place" when I accepted a role in a play.  Theatre, you see, is evil.  Imagine my surprise when I was working one night at the theatre and the pastor and his wife were first in line.  It turns out they had been season ticket holders for a while, but we had not been there on the same night until that moment.  So, it's not okay for me to be in a play, but you can pay money to see said play?  Hmmmm....

Our children have chosen paths of rebellion and that has forced us to leave churches and has caused us to lose many "friends".  When a "good child" is stricken with cancer or some other life-threatening illness, the whole congregation surrounds the grieving family with love, support, and chicken casseroles, but a rebellious child clearly indicates sin or moral failure, so no casserole for you!

I got a call one day at my most recent faith-based place of employment in which I received very hard news regarding one of our children.  I began to cry.  My boss feigned sympathy and told me to take a couple of days off.  A week or so later I was called into her office for a review in which I was chastised and written up for "not being in control of your emotions".  I was reprimanded for my tears and told to "leave your personal life at the door".  However, once a week a couple of friends of the ministry came in to pray with my boss.  I could hear most of those prayers from my office and they always started with, "what can we pray about in regards to your family?"  I heard them pray for her family's needs on a weekly basis.  When her family suffered a serious loss, the vice-president of the company flew 2,000 miles to comfort them.  But for me?  No prayers.

Christian workplace leaders believe that God has put them in authority over their employees.  The first part of Romans 13 admonishes believers;  "All of you must obey those who rule over you."  Of course that same chapter goes on to tell us how to love one another, but leaders pridefully focus on that first verse and use it as a way of enforcing the because-I-said-so leadership model.

I've worked for organizations that promote the "Lead Like Jesus" leadership model.  According to their website their "proven methodology is based on the model of Jesus, focusing on heart-centered, transformative leadership that equips leaders to effectively impact their own spheres of influence."  I've read the books and explored the curriculum, but regardless of a company's claim, I've yet to actually work for a "Lead Like Jesus" leader.

The Christian workplace is a good strong breeding ground in which to raise up sturdy Pharisees.  I've never heard more judgmental condemnation about people we don't even know than I do at a church or faith-based job site.
- "I refuse to watch 'Good Morning America' because they're all gay."
- "Robin Williams isn't making God laugh now because he's in hell.  He sealed his fate when he committed suicide."
- "If my son lived with his girlfriend they wouldn't be welcome in my home - it's just that simple."
- "Addicts will always be addicts.  I don't want them anywhere near my church."
That's just a tiny sampling of the ugly comments I've been subjected to at work.

These same people will turn on the Christianese-speak in a snap.
- "God really showed up in that circumstance."
- "I prayed for cooler weather and God sent a breeze at just that moment."
- "God has really blessed my family and He's blessed our office."
- "I don't understand, but I completely trust God's sovereignty in this difficult situation."
I struggle with seeing authenticity in these people.  When I go to work, will I get Mr. Critical or Mr. Spiritual?

Perhaps we need to dismantle the whole "Christian Workplace" philosophy and acknowledge the fact that as long as there are human people involved, there will always be mistakes, misunderstandings, and people who screw things up.  For me, I assume that because you say you believe certain things you will live accordingly.  But, when I do mess up (as we all do), I expect you to forgive me and vise-versa.  Silly me.

Perhaps the most difficult thing about leaving a job at a Christian church or organization is the loss of relationship.  I spent years building what I'd hoped would be life-long friendships and relationships but the minute I was fired, laid off, or left of my own accord the relationships were over.  I tried keeping in touch - making dates for coffee or lunch, but the invitations were never extended to me and eventually, I stopped making the effort.

This last job was especially difficult in regards to lost relationships.  I believed the people in my office (as well as the organization across the hall) were friends. But once I was fired I didn't exist.  I was even removed from the mailing list of a Christian Women's organization that was led by my former boss.  Who does that?  I LOVED the families we served and worked with, but I've not heard from one single person.  It's hard.

On the other hand, my husband still has friends he made at jobs he long since left or from which he was fired.  I've watched most recently as our daughter has gone through a bit of a crisis and who has rallied around her?  All her work friends - even those from the job she left many months ago.

When we were in the midst of incredible darkness it wasn't The Church family who stood by us.  No! It was my theatre family!  The Church, in fact, shunned us, blamed us, and closed the door on us in our time of incredible need.

This brings me to my number one reason for never EVER wanting to work for a Christian organization again.  I, like our son, still love Disneyland...uh...The Church, and I don't want to become so incredibly bitter that I never want to visit again.  You see, right now that's about all I can do - visit, but I hope to one day once again feel that I belong.  I still love my brothers and sisters in Christ and I ache for restored relationship.

After all, we'll be spending eternity together.  Right?



Monday, September 29, 2014

Knowing…Seeing…Loving…Praying



I've always known I have a gift.  If I were a non-believer I might consider myself a psychic.  But I'm a Christ-follower and I know I have the gift of prophecy.  

My husband wonders if maybe it's a curse.  He says people just don't know what to do with me. I'm having a hard time finding my place in the family of God.

I remember the first time I became acutely aware of this gift.  I was around nine or ten years old.  My family was one of several families invited to a party at the home of Carolyn and John - a particularly beautiful and fabulous couple who'd led a charmed life.  John had been a record setting basketball player for the USC Trojans and then the New York Nicks.  His career had been side-lined when he was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma.  Aggressive treatment had saved his life.  Although he never returned to professional ball, the book about his life led to a vibrant ministry.

Their beautiful idyllic home was about 1/4 of a mile off the road and completely surrounded by trees. At one point during the party I remember sitting on the lawn and mindlessly picking at the grass.  Carolyn saw me, came up to me and gently chastised me.  "Please don't pick the grass.  I work hard to keep this beautiful".  

The word "fire" immediately popped into my head.  I remember thinking, "Carolyn would be very sad if her home burned down."  I started praying for John, Carolyn, and their kids.  "Lord, I pray that if anything happens to this home You would keep this family safe.  If this house burns down, help them escape."

Two weeks later that house burned to the ground.

When John and Carolyn shared the harrowing experience with the church family, I remember them telling how Carolyn had heard the baby crying and she got up to check on him.  As she walked down the hall to his room she saw the glowing embers of a fire.  When she got to the baby's room, he was sound asleep - not crying at all.  She believed God had awakened her.

This was back in the day before GPS and cell signals and because the house was so far off the road it took some time for the fire department to find the fire.  By the time they arrived, the house was fully involved and could not be saved.

I tried going back to the church I loved and an evil spirit warned me that I should go.

I was walking down the hall of church and I caught a flicker of light on the wall.  I turned to look and two red eyes jumped off the wall, came right up close to my face, looked menacingly into my eyes, then floated very quickly down the hall.  I smiled and thought, "wow satan, you really don't want me here."  

Within a few months I was forced to leave, as I detailed in my previous blog post.

It happens all the time - I "see" something and then I know how to pray.  I've seen spirits too.  Not just in Africa where you expect it, but in the eyes of my ex-husband, hovering above the bedroom doors in my home, jumping out of a painting on my wall, in the hallway at church, sitting on my couch…everywhere.

A little over a year ago our small group leader invited a "surprise" guest to my home.  I told my husband I was pretty sure the surprise would be a professed prophet, which did not please him as he doesn't do well being publicly put on the spot regarding religious things.  Sure enough, we spent that evening entertaining all the members of our small group, and the female prophet who identified the spirits living in my home.  That fact didn't surprise me as I believe good and bad lurk all around us.

After dinner, the seer went around the room and prophesied over each person.  Our small group leader is a teacher and Bible study author.  However, it was the woman sitting next to her on the couch for whom the prophetic words "teacher" and "bible study leader" were given.  At that moment, I saw a spirit walk into my home through the open patio door and sit between the two women.  I immediately silently prayed and asked God what that was.  "It's the spirit of jealousy".

I can't explain exactly what the spirit looked like or how I recognized it.  It just…was.

Whether it's seeing spirits, sensing a family member is in trouble, knowing where to find my run-away child, or simply knowing how to pray and for whom, I know I have a gift.  Like all spiritual gifts, it's supposed to be used for the edification of The Body of Christ.

The problem, however, is no one knows what to do with me.  My children have (mostly) learned to listen to me because my intuition is freaky, but I've most definitely been shunned by the very people who should be the most accepting. 

This is what I know for sure; "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2.  It's definitely a challenge to keep loving the very people who've condemned, judged, despised, and broken my family, but I DO love them and that's why what they say matters to me.  

So, is my gift a curse?  


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Being Shunned


Hollywood producer, Robert Evans writes in his autobiography (The Kid Stays in the Picture) about surviving Hollywood’s worst gossip, lies, and character attacks.  He was able to just brush off what people said about him, apparently subscribing to the adage, “what people think about me is none of my business”.  Besides, he was no saint.  It took, however, just one horrible egregious lie by actress Sharon Stone to cause him to have a heart attack. The sexy star falsely accused Evans of murder.

Words matter. Anyone who says, “They’re just words – ignore them” has never suffered true character assassination by a cruel person wielding the ax of gossip and lies.

Over the course of the past few months I’ve suffered numerous anxiety attacks.  Once I left a partially filled cart in the grocery store, and another time I carried my unstamped (and therefore unsent) packages out of the post office.  No, I haven’t been accused of murder, but I HAVE been accused of putting a hit out on a former friend.  A HIT!!

The accusation has been affirmed and confirmed.  This woman has made a myriad of crazy allegations against me over the years.  She once accused me of threatening her entire family, so this isn’t new.  I have confronted her about her allegations and gossip.  She sat across a table from me, pointed her finger in my face, and told me she had proof that I was “weak”, a “victim-wannabe” and then added,  “I have no choice but to assume you’re jealous of me.”

But putting a hit out on her?  She has insisted that her informant was a “reliable source”.

Now on one hand, I finally understand all the strange things that have been going on whenever I showed up at the church in which she is a leader and teacher.  Her husband denied me communion, she herself snubbed, shunned, and walked away from me whenever I got close enough to say hello.  One day she even stood with her arms folded behind me during a church service while I sat innocently in my seat listening to the sermon.  I don’t think her eyes ever left me.  Finally, I became so uncomfortable that I left.

On the other hand, what kind of a person makes this kind of crazy accusation?

As soon as I confirmed the truth of the situation, I contacted a pastor at the church who knows my history with this woman.  I was looking for counsel on how to deal with this new accusation.  The pastor told me to “keep your mouth shut and let God be your defender”.

Listen, I’ve written ad nauseam about the damage this woman and her friends have caused my family.  We don’t deserve this!  If saying those words out loud makes me a “victim-wannabe” then so be it! 

The fact that this woman and her friends are Christians is relevant ONLY in that when there is conflict, we are supposed to confront one another in love and for the purpose of reconciliation (Matthew 18).  It is NOT okay – EVER – to spread gossip or to LIE.

 I’ve always followed the Biblical steps of confrontation and reconciliation.  I remember one man defending his own slams against me by turning the tables and making accusations against me.  When I denied his claims, he called me a liar.  The truth is, I’ve never seen the steps in Matthew 18 actually work.  I don’t believe people want reconciliation and restoration, but rather they just want to be right. 

The attacks from this woman and her friends have done life-altering damage to my family and me.  I lost so much – a job, a best friend, an entire church family, and my kids lost their faith.  I do NOT blame The Church for the bad choices or for the dark path my kids took.  I do, however, believe that we ALL do things we wish we hadn’t done when we are in deep never-ending pain.

Like us, our kids lost every friend they had when we were originally kicked out of this woman’s church, AND they watched as their mother was knocked down and beat up again and again by our family “friends”.  They watched me seek restoration with these Christian friends (many times), only to be told that because I worked for The Theatre, I was a danger to their reputation.  It was devastating for ALL of us. 

Are we victims?  NO!!  We’re survivors.  But here’s a fact: For every action there’s a reaction.  My kids walked away from The Church, from God, and from their faith because of how we as a family were treated.  The ugliness towards us has NEVER ended and no matter how deep my faith is nothing can change the fact that my kids have seen (and are seeing) so much ugly.

These people caused deep unnecessary pain and we suffered.  We truly felt as if one day we were out riding our bicycles on a beautiful warm day when out of nowhere a semi-truck deliberately ran us over.  And then, to add insult to injury, we were blamed for riding our bikes – for being human. 

You know, when a Christian mom and dad lose a child to disease or sudden accident that family is embraced, loved and never forgotten.   But, I’ve had people stop me at church to tell me my kids “deserved to be kicked out of church”, and will “never be saved”.  Ummm….so, if (according to you) my kids are dead in Christ, where is your compassion?  Where are your prayers and friendship?  Why am I shunned? 

Some of you have expressed a great deal of impatience with me.  “Move on.” “Let it go.” “Ignore these people.”   I move on and the gossip follows me!  I’m tired of you telling me that I’M a bad witness.  Just by telling our story?  You have no problem talking about the evils of the Westboro Baptist Church, or denouncing the Sudanese for sentencing a Christian woman to death for her beliefs.  But, I share our story of abuse in the name of religion and I’M a bad witness.  Is there no one who sees that as hypocritical?

Am I still bemoaning something that happened years ago?  No!!  I’m frustrated that YEARS LATER these people continue to rip at my family and no one will defend, affirm, or protect us!

The Barna group has written books about how The Church has driven away an entire generation of young people.  David Kinneman wrote (or co-wrote) “You Lost Me” and “UnChristian” and preachers teach the truths from these books in churches all over the country.  Another book detailing the disconnect between what we say and what we do is “The Hole in our Gospel” by Richard Stearns.  And yet I DARE to tell our story – to put names and faces on the anecdotes we read in books, and I’m shamed.

Because you profess to be a Christian, you have a responsibility to me just as I have to you.  I firmly believe that if ONE person had stood up with courage and told the truth years ago, we would not be in this scary place today.  This woman and her friends have been allowed to terrorize my family, and no one speaks up.

Perhaps I’ve misread the Bible.  Perhaps the God of mercy, grace, forgiveness, and unconditional love is not real at all.  Perhaps He IS a judgmental, condemning, hate-filled being who really does not want me in His kingdom – just as you don’t want me in your church.  

Perhaps.  But I KNOW who Jesus is, and guess what? He loves my family.  It is HIS desire that we spend eternity with Him.  I will CONTINUE to be a Christ-follower because I know the Son of God.  I know his character, his compassion, his mercy, his grace, his miraculous works, and his unconditional love.

Robert Evans wrote a check to Sharon Stone for $250,000.  That check is hers if she can corroborate one word of her heinous story.  I’ll make the same offer - $250,000 to this woman who has made this horrendous accusation against me if she can prove I put a hit out on her!   Come see me, and bring your “reliable source”.  The money is yours – unless I first spend it all on therapy and anti-anxiety meds.



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Heart

A guilty heart grows a forest of hate; fertilized by truth's silence.

     --Elizabeth Stoeckel
       January 1, 2014

I Resolve to Defend and Affirm



In 2nd Samuel, chapter 13, we read the tragic story of David's daughter, Tamar - a beautiful young girl.  One of her brothers (Amnon), fell in love with Tamar. The Bible says that Amnon was "frustrated to the point of illness on account of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her."

A friend of his suggested that he pretend to be sick and then ask for Tamar to bring him bread and care for him. Amnon did exactly that, and when his sister was close and tenderly caring for him, he grabbed her and raped her. Tamar begged him to not do this "wicked" thing, but Amnon defiled his sister.

After the rape, Amnon looked at Tamar who was lying next to him and the Bible said he "hated" her. Wow! Amnon had allowed the sexual fantasy to take over his thought life to the point that his thoughts finally gave way to action. But as is so often the case, the very thing he thought he wanted, became something to be scorned. A guilty heart grows a hateful forest! Amnon pushed Tamar out of his bed and told his servants to bolt the door so he would never have to look at her again.

Tamar had been wearing the ornamented robe worn by the virgin daughters of the king. When she left Amnon's room, she tore the robe, put ashes on her forehead, and ran weeping through the halls. Her brother, Absalom saw her and said, (vs. 20) "Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet now, my sister; he is your brother. Don't take this thing to heart." The verse ends with these tragic words, "and Tamar lived in her brother Absalom's house, a desolate woman."

We never hear from Tamar again.

Sometimes it seems the easiest thing to do is to quietly sweep sin under the rug. We know of abuse, or neglect, and we turn a blind eye. This happens all the time in society, and just as often in church families. We don't want to make waves. We tell ourselves it's better to not ruin the reputation of a CEO, church deacon, teacher, or pastor, so we ignore the weeping woman running through the halls. We tell the offended to "be quiet now".

Of course abuse doesn't have to be in the form of sexual battery to be abuse. Gossip, lying, stealing, and manipulation are all offenses that are too often kept quiet, but the victims of these evils are still victims. Tamar's pain was never affirmed, and no one came to her defense, and so she lived the rest of her days a "desolate woman".

I know a young man who was sexually assaulted by a trusted mentor. For a period of time the incident was ignored and swept under the rug. The young man suffered in silence. Then one day a courageous pastor affirmed the young man's pain and promised to defend him, even if it meant personal loss to the pastor. There was public scrutiny and eventually a trial. The offender went to prison, and today the young man is emotionally healthy and serving the Lord. He had someone who affirmed his pain and came to his defense. Without the brave pastor who walked with him, that young man might today be living in desolation.

Make 2014 the year that we speak light and truth!  Defend someone today! If you know an innocent person who has been the victim of an assault of any kind—whether it is physical or emotional (gossip, judgmental words, etc…)—be brave enough to affirm their sadness, and then defend them if necessary. Do you know a "Tamar"—someone whose pain has been hushed in order to save the reputation of her abuser? Run to her (or him) today.  Your affirmation could save that person from a life of desolation.