Today’s news

Adapted from what I posted on Facebook:

I just heard the news.

No doubt some of my friends are feeling like dancing in the streets because their guy got confirmed to the Supreme Court.

No doubt some of my other friends are devastated, because this feels like yet another crushing, wounding blow to many sexual trauma survivors — especially to those of us who have to live daily with the fact that, although the horrors of our assaults are seared into our brains, we don’t remember details like dates, times, locations, and exact time lines.

Please don’t comment by arguing the merits or credibility of Dr. Ford. Not here. I was not there at any party she or Judge Kavanaugh attended, and I doubt that any readers of my blog were there either. But when you tell me how you think a sexual trauma survivor should be able to remember things, or how and when she should come forward, or how she should conduct herself, you run the risk of treading dangerously close — and maybe crossing the line — to criticizing and slandering me and people I hold dear… even if you don’t name us by name.

I excuse a lot of what people say because some people are ignorant and don’t know better. Heck, I used to believe a lot of the same sexual trauma myths myself. The lies and misinformation I’d been fed didn’t just hinder my healing, but damn near killed me. Literally.

But these past couple weeks, I’ve heard more dangerous nonsense about trauma than I can stand, and I’m fed up.

To all my sister and brother survivors out there: be gentle with yourselves. Remember, we were not and are not on trial, no matter how things may feel. If you haven’t done so yet, find your “tribe”; find your allies who will stand with you… compassionate people who will sit and weep with you if that’s what you need.

Take a break. This morning I went for a wonderful walk on the beach with two terrific women. Pet a dog. Hug a baby. Take a deep breath. Kick and punch the heck out of a heavy bag. Do yoga. Whatever works for you…

Seek out what is good and true and beautiful. It is still all around us.

I know who I am. It would be nice if the whole world agreed with me and recognized and supported me. But that will never happen. So today I took a walk on the beach, and prayed with some allies, and forgot all about politics for almost 3 hours, and remembered how good my life really is, thanks to the grace of God.

I want all survivors to experience that peace.

More from Rachael Denhollander

Here is a larger excerpt from her powerful victim impact statement at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nasser:

You have become a man ruled by selfish and perverted desires, a man defined by his daily choices repeatedly to feed that selfishness and perversion. You chose to pursue your wickedness no matter what it cost others and the opposite of what you have done is for me to choose to love sacrificially, no matter what it costs me.

In our early hearings, you brought your Bible into the courtroom and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way.

You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen this courtroom today.

In the Bible you carry says it is better for a stone to be thrown around your neck and you throw into a lake than for you to make even one child stumble. And you have damaged hundreds.

The Bible you speak carries a final judgment where all of God’s wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.

I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me—though I extend that to you as well…

…In losing the ability to call evil what it is without mitigation, without minimization, you have lost the ability to define and enjoy love and goodness. You have fashioned for yourself a prison that is far, far worse than any I could ever put you in, and I pity you for that.

Genuine repentance and the Gospel

Yesterday I watched some of the victim impact statements in the sentencing trial for Larry Nasser, who pled guilty to charges he faced as a result of decades of sexually abusing young women and children under the guise of medical treatment. Over a hundred of his victims confronted him in court. One was Rachael Denhollander, who gave one of the most powerful statements about repentance and the gospel that I’ve ever heard:

If you [Larry Nassar] have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way. 

You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen this courtroom today.

Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.

I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me — though I extend that to you as well.

That is my prayer for all who have abused me or my friends or loved ones in any way…that they would (or did before they died) experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so that they may experience true repentance and forgiveness from God.

This is not “cheap grace”. It is very costly indeed. Many who claim to have “repented” have little or no idea what that really entails. Genuine repentance isn’t feeling terrible about what you’ve done, or even making heartfelt promises never to do it again. As long as you are still clinging to one shred of justification for your actions, or minimizing them in any way, or blaming others (“Well, that’s not the way I remember it…how was I supposed to know?… I think she’s overreacting…besides, look at what they did!”) you have not yet faced the truth or experienced the “soul crushing weight of guilt” — what the Bible calls the “godly sorrow that leads to repentance”. One dictionary definition of genuine repentance is “to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life”. It’s not a one-time thing. It’s ongoing. The real repentance is not telling people how sorry you are; it’s the changed way in which you live for the rest of your life.

So if you find yourself tempted to tell the person you’ve sinned against, “I’ve already repented! What more do you want?” because they just can’t seem to let go of the past…maybe you need to get down on your knees and ask for more of that awful truth, more of that soul crushing grief, and more grace to truly repent. [Preaching to myself here…]


Edited to tweak things a bit, correct the spelling of Rachael Denhollander’s name, and add a few things, including the following…

Later in her impact statement, Rachael said some profoundly frightening words:

…In losing the ability to call evil what it is without mitigation, without minimization, you have lost the ability to define and enjoy love and goodness. You have fashioned for yourself a prison that is far, far worse than any I could ever put you in, and I pity you for that.

May God have mercy on all of us. I do not want to be one who minimizes evil, who excuses it, who tries to make it seem less than what it is, especially if it is evil that has touched me — and, even more so, if it is evil that I have perpetuated.

Evil is a strong word, and I am tempted to reserve it for only the most heinous of acts; in other words, the things other people do, not me. But evil is the opposite of good; it is any sin perpetuated against God or against others. My very tendency to make evil someone else’s problem costs me “the ability to define and enjoy love and goodness”. It is too high a price to pay. I would rather suffer the most painful godly sorrow in order that I might truly repent — and walk in the glorious freedom of forgiveness.

I included some more of the impact statement in a separate blog post.

Open letter to the Vice President

In light of yesterday’s events, I felt compelled to email the White House. I’ve met some refugees from both Syria and Iraq, and I’ve heard how difficult it was for them to enter our country. It is a lie that they were not adequately vetted. I know people, who minister to Yazidi refugees, and who have heard — and seen the physical evidence of — the atrocities they have suffered. I spent yesterday reading accounts of people with visas and green cards being turned away from our country and, in some cases — even at least one case where the U.S. had been a person’s legal home for years.

This is the email that I sent to our Vice President:

Dear Mr. Pence,

I believe you are a man of prayer. That is why I beg you to pray earnestly over the plight of refugees, especially the Yazidi who are facing genocide. I pray that God would grant you compassion, wisdom, and boldness to speak truth to President Trump in this matter and the many other matters that will arise in the days, months, and years to come. I pray that your pro-life stance would make you willing to lay down your life — even your political career and vice presidency if need be — on behalf of the least of these, the oppressed, the downtrodden, the sojourner, the widows, the orphans, and all those God has called us to serve.

Call me naive, but I don’t understand why fighting ISIS means one should force their victims to return to where they were terrorized so that they can be further victimized.

As a rape survivor, I can’t help thinking that it’s somewhat like claiming to be anti-rape and tough on rapists while slamming the door in the face of rape victims seeking help: “I know you were promised a safe place to heal, but that was my predecessor who made that promise. And I’m tough on rape! How do I know you’re not a rapist? Go back to where you were raped.”

We’re actually doing that, as a country, to women fleeing ISIS.

May God have mercy. May we have mercy.

Thank you for your prayerful consideration to this urgent matter.

Rebecca Prewett

Dear “Evangelical” Spokespeople:

This has been perplexing and, to be frank, grieving me for months.

Some years back, you convinced me that “character counts” in a presidential candidate, that our government leaders should demonstrate “family values”, and that a man who could not be trusted to remain faithful to his wife could not be trusted to lead our country. You convinced me that womanizers and immoral men were unfit for the highest office in our land. You convinced me that our president was a role model for our children, and that we should not elect anyone whose conduct and speech we did not want our children to emulate.

You were so convincing that I not only  believed you then, but still do.

Now you you tell me that we are not electing a pastor-in-chief, and that I should ignore everything you insisted upon previously. You accuse me of being a Pharisee for not wanting to vote for Trump, and of being ungodly for still clinging to the old standards.

What made you change your mind? Or were you not truly convinced of those things in the first place? Were you wrong then — or now? And, if you were wrong then, it would help me a lot to hear your sincere apology for misleading me, and your explanation for why you have abandoned what I thought were genuine principles and convictions. You have failed to convince me that I should follow your lead in voting for your favored candidate. Simply calling me a self-righteous, unforgiving legalist isn’t cutting it.

Frankly, I’m confused. What is the new “evangelical” standard supposed to be for supporting a presidential candidate? Hold your nose, go against everything you’ve said and believed, and vote for the Republican no matter what? Never vote for a Clinton? Abandon all previously held principles just because a proven liar makes semi-promises about who he may possibly nominate to the Supreme Court?

And what does any of this have to do with evangelicalism?

God have mercy.