God Stories: Amy's Response to Taylor


God Stories is a weekly segment where people from every possible location on the spectrum of faith tells the story of how they got there. They do not necessarily represent the views of the blog as a whole. If you would like to share your story, please see the submission guidelines here.

{The following is a response to the God Story posted on May 12th. You can read that rather beautiful story here.  Amy, the author of this response, has also written her story and you can find that here.}

Dearest Taylor,
Reading through your submission, I cried. Finishing it and thinking back on it, I’m sobbing. Thank you for your vulnerability. I admire it.

So much of what you shared breaks my heart for all the wounding you received by people who were responsible for representing God to you. Whether it was well-intentioned or not, you were still wounded...and wounded very deeply. I am so sorry!

When I read stories like yours, I am reminded of how extremely prevalent it is. I feel very much as if I am standing in the aftermath of a war zone with heaps of rubble, the dead, dying and wounded strewn over their devastated homeland, loved ones weeping over bodies, fires, smoldering ashes of what was, lingering wisps of smoke...I feel so helpless to put things right. What can one person do? And yet, I cannot sit idly by, shrug my shoulders, turn and walk away from your pain.

Though we do not know each other and I may not have been one who was directly responsible for what was inflicted on you, as a Christian, for this moment in time and in humility I want to stand in proxy of those who did cause you so much pain. (And anyone else reading this who has been wounded by representatives of God, please include yourself as well.)

Where do I even start with such devastation? “I’m sorry” can never undo the damage! You came into this world reflecting in your own distinct beauty, a facet of the image of a loving Creator Who delights in who He created you to be. Perfect and with untapped gifts, instead of celebrating and cultivating the beauty you were uniquely bringing to the world, we focused on legalistic dos and don’ts and warned you to tow the line in order to be accepted and loved. Little by little we squashed, belittled, demeaned, weakened, scorned, betrayed and shamed you to such an extent that you had to have questioned your worth and talents. What an atrocity you underwent! As Tullian Tchividjian said, “I’m not sure there’s anything worse than causing those whom God loves, to question whether God loves them.” We have perpetrated this horrible thing against you. We are guilty. I am so very sorry!

We made you to feel there was something inherently wrong with you. We made you to feel that your body and your desires for sexual intimacy were shameful. We made you to feel the weight of other’s shameful thoughts and actions were your own fault. When you were brave enough to confide in us your struggles, we reacted to you in rage and self-righteous disgust, as if we ourselves were immune to sin or did not struggle with our own issues. In doing so, we burdened you further with weights of condemnation that were not yours to carry. We only wrongly proved to you that you need to carry guilt and shame in silence and to try harder to be a “good person” on your own. This was such a grievous act against you! I’m so very sorry!

We indoctrinated you to think that because you were a woman you were less than men. Less powerful, less valued...even though if we had paid attention to how Jesus treated women - going so far as to break religious rules by demonstrating how much He valued women - we could have seen how we were binding you with chains of subservience and misogyny He never intended to be put on you. As a result, we took away your beautiful voice. We silenced you so that our image wouldn’t be tainted and the men who violated you could continue to hold their guilty heads high. This was a barbaric offense against you! My heart cries for you! I am so sorry!

We pointed the finger of accusation at you and labeled you a murderous outcast for considering terminating a pregnancy, when you must have been sinking in a whirlpool of fear, confusion and chaos, grasping at any log or rock of stability that you whirled past. Instead of rallying to help pull you out, you were met with faces of disappointment and disapproval looking down on you from the safety of the banks. That was cold-hearted! My heart is truly broken! I am so sorry!

We did not acknowledge that, like us, you had questions and ponderings in your spiritual journey and that likely you, in the integrity of your heart and the best way you knew how, were “working out your salvation with fear and trembling”. We did not see the value of you seeking out an answer for believing what you believe. We treated you as blasphemous and vile for questioning what you were taught. We are guilty of not supporting you during your times of struggle and questions. We did not applaud you for using the mind God gave you and instead we ridiculed you and pointed out where we felt you were erring and failing. I can only imagine that we made you to feel you were fighting a battle you could never win or achieve an image of being a “good Christian girl” you could never attain. I am so sorry that we did not come alongside you, encourage you and were not vulnerable with you in our own questions, ponderings and weaknesses.

I would not blame you for not wanting to associate with us. I wouldn’t either and, to be honest, in times like this I really don’t want to wear the label “Christian” because of how we’ve tainted it. Much of what we are known for is not AT ALL what God is like and is not what Jesus portrayed.

I am very much in the thick of asking questions, struggling with weaknesses, recognizing and correcting erroneous views of God I’ve carried of Him being disappointed, only accepting of me when I meet a certain standard, etc.

Still standing as a representative of those who shamed and wounded you, and as a very flawed fellow reflection of a loving God, I humbly hope that you will allow me to speak to the beauty I see in you and your character.

The first thing I recognized is that you were presenting your vulnerability with authenticity and without haughtiness. I saw in your writing that though you were wounded, you generously cut slack for the ones who hurt you - aware of human tendencies to make mistakes. I also sense that you have a very soft and tender heart and you desire to be the best version of yourself that you can be. I so appreciate your heart! You are, without a doubt, a pearl.

Your sensitivity, perceived by those who have none as weakness, is rather a gift that is to be treasured and you are becoming more attuned to and proficient in using it to bring healing and comfort to those who need it. I celebrate that gift in you!

Your voice is crucial! Never be intimidated into silence! Your voice brings insight that this world needs to hear, exposes injustices and stirs empathy for the plight of those who suffer. Simply through what you have written you have impacted me deeply.

You, dear Taylor, are a beautiful and unique reflection of Divinity this world has never seen and will not see again. You ARE shining. You are incomparably valued!

In humble sincerity,

Amy

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