I'm not sure we do. I strongly disagree. I don't passively agree to disagree.
It is about "Dick". The Dick who chose not to believe me when I asked for help, and kept asking for help for the last eight years. The Dick who ignored me and told me that I was exaggerating or that I was simply lying.
Actually, I'll let you in on a little secret. It isn't Dick that I have such a problem with. I've forgiven Dick... the type of forgiveness where there is not a restoring of a close relationship through the mutual solving of a problem. More the type of forgiving where there is a writing off of a debt. Where you realize that he will never pay, and you can not afford to carry that debt on the books. So you write it off. I will likely never be good friends with Dick. But I am quite capable of being cordial, of working together with him in the mission, of seeking his good. I honestly doubt that Dick is actually capable of realizing that he did wrong and should have done better. Interpersonal skills, especially those which involve women are not his strong point - not because he doesn't have a brilliant head knowledge of interpersonal skills, but because he lacks the ability to pick up on the feelings of others in situations.
So what DO I have a problem with?
I have a problem with people saying that what Dick did was not a problem. Or more exactly them saying that stepping in to help was not his responsibility.
Ok, now I actually want you to weigh in on this topic. Tell me what you think. Tell me what your mission's policy. Tell me what your experiences have been - what have you seen as practice on the field. What do you wish practice would be.
I had someone say that Dick, the team leader of our team, and his cohort "Harry", the director of our field are not responsible if someone under them is asking for help because that is a "personal problem" and not a work thing.
Ok, perhaps if I was selling Coca-Cola, I should not expect my boss to care if I was living in an abusive situation and was asking for help.
But I wouldn't be at all surprised if even then, they offered some help.
I'm not selling Coca-Cola. We're serving God. We're trying to disciple others. We're trying to live out the Christian life.
And I came asking for help. Telling them that we - the kids and I - were suffering. That we were living under anger that was abusive.
I'm angry that I am being told that it wasn't their responsibility to step in. It was a personal problem.
Who is supposed to step in and help those being abused if not God's people??!!!
But they didn't help. For eight years we suffered. For eight years, my children grew under anger. For eight years, my mission leaders turned a deaf ear to our cries.
I have less problem with Dick himself, because I can see his limitations in picking up on emotions in others... it is as if he has to be prompted to how people feel. But I have a problem with people and a mission who can say what Dick did was normal practice or acceptable.
As if people's use is more valuable than their spirits. My husband was useful. Despite what was happening at home, he was a "good missionary", so why care what is happening at home. They are only the family.
Dick doesn't anger me much anymore. What angers me is the attitude that this is ok in missions. It's late and I'm being lazy, but there is a verse somewhere that says something about if you hear of or see evil happening and you don't step in to defend, then you become guilty, too. Sharing in the guilt.
Other verses talk so much about defending the weak, speaking up for the helpless.
It's taken me eight years in this to grow enough to be strong enough to speak up for myself. Living in emotional abuse is crippling. What would have life been like if people were not so willing to say, "well, it's not my problem.... it's not work, it's personal"?
I have a problem with a Christianity that can sit by and not help the abused. Who else is supposed to do it? Perhaps it is a pacifistic mentality that can say, "well, I wouldn't defend myself if someone was hurting me, so why would I defend others?" I don't know. But it angers me. I do not want to be part of a Christianity that can watch abuse and say "It is not really my job to step in."
But I admit I am biased. I would have liked to be believed, to be helped, to be protected eight years ago. I would have.
I am sure that in it all, God has a beautiful plan, and He will use my scars to comfort others.
But that does not excuse either the making of the scars or the ignoring of my pain! It doesn't.
So, I'm asking you to crawl out of your woodwork, anyone reading this blog, and help me out here. Tell me how cases of abuse are handled in your organization. What is the "protocol" if you know it, and what is the practice? I've heard some horrible things about how child abuse has been mishandled. But what would happen in your mission if a wife came with a request for help for severe emotional abuse. I'm not talking about the husband who occasionally has a bad day and loses his temper and shouts for five minutes and then sulks for a day. No. Real, serious, emotionally abusive situation. How has it been handled? And what do we tell people when we hear this type of story? How can we get help.... even with surrounded by "Dicks"?
See, I somehow, somehow have maintained my belief in God, at times despite His people, and I firmly believe that God will see me through this and I will still be valuable in His eyes despite what happens, and that I will choose to take my hurt and instead of looking for others to hurt, I will choose to take my hurt and look for others who hurt in order to comfort. Only I don't want to bring the "soft" comfort that sits beside and holds a hand. No. I am more like the comfort of having a trained guard dog beside you. I am an advocate, and whatever has hurt me, I am all the more determined that I will not sit by and let the same happen to any other. I can be gentle, too, but I'm not afraid to speak.
You see, it is so much easier to speak up for others than it is to speak up for yourself.
Only people chose not to speak up for me. And that hurt. What hurts even more is that people defend that position. I don't agree to disagree with that. I vehemently disagree with that. And my disagreement is not with "Dick". He is only a person who was an idiot once. We've all been idiots once. We've all done things that you look back and say, "wow. I was an idiot." My disagreement is with people in missions who say that what he did was fine. That it wasn't any of their business, it was personal.
(excuse his nickname, but I've learned that a bit of humor goes a long way in enabling me to cope with severe pain, so if I have to choose a name, at least I will chose one that makes me laugh.)