In my role as a Safe Church Associate in the Christian Reformed Church, I have the weighty opportunity of listening to people as they come forward to share their #metoo stories. Recently there was a one week stretch that I heard three different stories all with very different outcomes, each story had the common theme of victimization.
These stories aren’t from the worlds of Hollywood, Wall Street, or politics, these were all local people sharing their stories of sexual assault and harassment in the #churchtoo.
The power of story is unquestionable. The power of multiple stories told together sharing a similar pattern of victimization in our society will create waves of change. So far we have witnessed a cultural tipping point, a movement take place, and our society will be forever changed. There is reason to be hopeful for the future. As Ruth Everhart, author of Ruined a 2017 Christianity Today book award winner, states: “As difficult as it is, I believe this cultural movement is a gift to the church. We have the opportunity to lead boldly rather than to trail timidly or argue defiantly.” The opportunity is a weighty but hopeful one.
As the church takes on this opportunity it will need to listen to its own #MeToo stories with the story of Jesus, the cross, and the resurrection as the bedrock. Jesus’ story is one of humility and of giving up power, which leads to new life and restoration. It is out of humility that the church must continue to listen and lead. This is the place where transformation and tangible steps forward begin. We must lean upon The Story that gives us strength, hope, and will fuel this cultural moment. We also need to live into our stories, without shame.
Over the past few years I have learned more about what it looks like to be a male ally in a world that is dominated by competing narratives. I grew up as a male in a farming community and certain aspects of what I’ve been taught suggest that I need to be strong, to be the rescuer, the fixer or the savior—and that isn’t true. I've learned that there is strength in my weakness. Its really good to ask for help and its actually quite part of our human nature to need saving. Further, that is where the story of Jesus connects—its out of weakness that God gives power. It is is out of humility that change takes place. This is the place in which we are able to listen and hear the stories, name the patterns, and have conversations full of grace and truth. This is the place that I have realized I need to begin.
With every change that happens there is also loss; with every loss there is also grief. As we face resistance we do not grieve without hope, there is meaning to every breath, every story, every moment. It is our sincere hope and prayer that lasting change continues to happen so that in every community the value of each person is honored; and each person lives free from abuse; and where abuse has occurred, the response is compassion and justice that fosters healing.