If She Told the Truth

I wonder if she told the truth would we really listen? Would we understand the life she’s lived or see only her choices? Her choice to marry a man of means. Because she had a child with a man of power. Her choice to tell us – she is strong.

I wonder if she told the truth would we really listen? Would we ask her what she wore? Or how much she had to drink? Perhaps we would even wonder what right she had to go there? What was she doing out with him? Did she really fight back or tell him “NO?” Didn’t she know “boys will be boys?”

I wonder if she told the truth would we really listen? With words she bravely whispered into a pastor’s ear, with frantic calls only he can hear – would her stories detailing abuse, addiction, neglect, and harm….matter? Would the pastor be too busy to take the call? Or would he hand her a card to AA or a therapist instead of leaning into her fully to hear, understand, and receive her truth with compassion?

I wonder if she told the truth would we really listen? Would the elder board composed of men come together to decide what to do on her behalf? Would they insist she seeks reconciliation – handing her a pamphlet on PEACEMAKING? Perhaps they would sit her violated child down in a room with the same man who’d touched her – raped her and insist the young one speak words of forgiveness over the perpetrator of violence? Would peacemaking be defined as the victim also offering words of apology for their “part” in the abuse so they too can be “forgiven and made right before God?”

Perhaps they would warn her and her child to keep the work of the church inside the church. “Protect the work of Jesus.” “Do not go to the authorities,” they might say to her. Keep this pain – keep this truth silent. We can handle these things in-house.

Would she and her child be safe with what those “wise elder men” have chosen on her behalf?

If she told the truth would we really listen?

As she travels across the sea to make a way towards safety. She has a baby strapped to her back and a decimated home behind her. She has lost sons and brothers and a husband in her country’s unending violence, but forward she has had to move to stay alive.

Her skin is dark. But she knows God. She hears him speak to her in her prayers and she walks until God says, “Stop!”

With her babies wrapped to her body and her children’s hands in her’s, she makes her way to the brick building on the top of a hill – the one with the white steeple rising high into the blue. Even though no one in the building looks like her or speaks like her she goes where she believes God is asking her to go.

The pastor and his wife reach out and hold the children as they come. But for the people in the pews – this is too much. Accepting these refugees as they are is one step too far. The members protest. They sigh as children make noise and roll beneath the pews during the service. They do not mask their indifference. These actions were a decade ago – the insistence on refusing to listen.

If you fast forward to the present you will notice the For Sale sign in the church’s front yard.

I wonder if she told the truth would we really listen?

She needs help. She is afraid. This baby isn’t what she planned on and now the weight of an unplanned and unintended pregnancy is too much. Who will help her? Where can she go?

She doesn’t want her parents to know. They will shame her and express their unending disappointment in her once again.

She can’t go to her friends – they are all as broke as she is – college students with mounting debt.

She hadn’t been careless. All the safe options – hadn’t worked. So, she has an appointment. She’ll cross a line with shouting people protesting her choice. They want to legislate her womb like her body is a machine they have a right to “safety inspect.” Some shout while holding signs of sliced and diced fetuses. Others pour condemnation over her head like oil from a pitcher of prayer.

But she’ll do what she believe needs to be done. No one there is taking her hands and showing her a better, safer way – that she can live with.  They tell her she should be ashamed. They call her a murderer. But she walks it alone anyways. She finds the workers inside the clinic warm, understanding, and safe. They don’t treat her like a whore. And it is finished.

I wonder if she told the truth would we really listen?


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