What I'm doing here is important. Speaking your truth is important. When I say 'speaking your truth' I'm not talking about 'the truth according to you' like 'well, I believe 2 + 2 = 5.' No, I'm talking about telling your story. Your true story, the facts...no matter how non-rosy it might be. I'm talking about speaking the truth about what has happened.
It's important. Because more than likely, others will be helped in the process. And, maybe even (concerning the root issues at play here anyway), society at large will be changed.
I said that my next post would be just a compilation of what others have come to me and said about the importance of what I'm doing here and how much it is needed. There has been so much pushback and so many, truly, outright attacks. But, the following just completely silences the naysayers for me.
By the way, I planned for this to only be one blog post. But...even though I'm not including everything, there was still too much for just one post. LOVE!!
I honestly didn't know that there was this entire subculture that needed a voice like this. So, I didn't know that I would be led into this fight...this leftover suffragette-type fight. But, here I am. And the following gives you clues as to why.
It's not just that type of fight being fought here. The fight to get truth out there that people are supposed to know already...that people, the church esp., should know...that's a huge part of it. Things like forgiveness, bearing each other's burdens, empathy, restoration, repentance, kindness, etc.
But, the overall problem we have, I've learned this past year in even greater depth, that spills over into everything (all of the things listed above) is the problem of women not being heard. And that's not only a problem for women...that's a problem for men, that's a problem for marriages, that's a problem for the Kingdom, that's a problem for society at large. It is huge.
Women are silenced. They are not believed. They are thought to be irrational or too emotional. They are thought to be less than. 'Equal in worth'...but less than. ;)
These women are not given a voice. And that's why my speaking out resonates so much with so many people.
I hope that you, too, will be encouraged by what you read below. I pray that eyes are opened to the reality of what you read here and the fact that the things I speak out about are real issues that need reform. And that honesty and vulnerability are good, healing things.
Now, I'm only including personal correspondence here that I myself have received. And even though this is only Part 1, all of the correspondence I've received won't be included in the total (all Parts) of what I share here...that would be too long. Plus, I'm not including all of the many stories of others I've read throughout this past year who have walked similar circumstances as me. That (even just providing links to their stories) would be just impossible to include. But, these are just some of the words I've received personally this past year.
So, on this day that commemorates the 1st anniversary of beginning to speak out, here is Part 1 of some of the encouragement I've received and some of the reasons...some of the stories that represent so many people who are struggling in these issues...that I've been given in the past year to keep up this fight.
Sometimes we get bogged down by the naysayers. Sometimes it seems like their voices are loudest. Today, and in the next post or two, the encouragers and people without voices are getting their turn...
--"friend, this is going to help so many people.... thank u for sharing"
--"your honesty is to be admired."
--"I feel privileged to read your heart on paper. Thank you for being so transparent and sharing one of your most difficult trials. I believe God is being glorified by it."
--"I commend you for sharing & being vulnerable. Confession brings freedom& I'm sure this will be a testimony for others."
--"I always admire your vulnerability."
--"So refreshing and encouraged by your honesty....a powerful thing. I have no doubt The Lord is already using your story to reach out to others. And it's such a great example to open yourselves up like that at the risk of criticism, etc....which is where true community happens. Praising God with you."
--"Thank you for being so transparent. Believing God will use this in many many lives!"
--"Thank you! Your testimony will help so many!"
--"By you sharing and being transparent you will help others!"
--"This is such an inspiration to me. You are one courageous girl!"
--"Your openness and honesty with this whole experience is refreshing. I have no doubt that God is already using it to encourage someone else who is going through some of the same things..."
--"I'm so glad that you share some of the things that you and your family go through. Others may be experiencing something similar or the same thing. We never know when someone else may receive a blessing from it."
--"Love your honest and transparent heart."
--"There will always be those who want or feel free to add their 'helpful' advice. They don't walk in your shoes. Don't throw your pearls to swine. Lesson I've learned!"
--"I've been following your posts...your perspective has had me doing a lot of thinking & a little questioning. I relate to what you've been through...but this post was one I couldn't not comment on! You are SO right in everything you've said. It is much needed confirmation that I'm not crazy or alone in thinking these very thoughts. How can we claim to love each other yet not bear one another's burdens!? Love does that...we as Christians need to walk in more love moving forward. Just simply saying 'I see you. I'm standing in prayer & hope with you.' That's not too hard, but it's devastating when nobody cares to say or live it. Thanks for your posts. They are healing & comforting & I look forward to the next one."
--"This def strikes a chord with me, even though it is coming up on a few years since my husband died. I asked so many friends for help, church friends, nursing friends, friends in general. Oh Lord, I felt so alone but when my 'friends' didn't come along side of me I was so disappointed."
--"Our stories are worthy of being told. All of it. To edit our story conveys shame and also makes our spouse and children our secret keepers which in turn sends a message to them that can lead to feelings of shame. Vulnerability leads to stength and healing."
--"Proud of you both. Too often we act like everything is just fine, especially in the church and Christian circles. Sweeping stuff under the rug and living in a constant state of dysfunction and untruth. Personally, I think God wants so much more for us and created us to "carry one another's burdens". Yet, how do we do that if we don't talk about them? Sure y'all have chosen to go global. And I for one am praying for God to use your story and vulnerability to bring healing and wholeness to your marriage and to countless others who read it, and who recognize they need to seek help and let go of shame."
--"Transparency is one the greatest characteristics a human being can have. I, for one, draw inspiration and hope from your posts in regard to my own marraige. That's a good thing. So you're doing the right thing by sharing, even if it's only for me."
--"No MOPS o tema deste ano é "Coragem para ser você". Entendo perfeitamente quando você expõe sua vida para tentar ajudar outras pessoas. Mas este tipo de coragem não é muito comum, menos ainda pelo tamanho da exposição (em um mundo onde ser discreto às vezes se confunde com usar máscaras para não admitir fragilidades) isso pode causar desconforto. Agradeço a Deus pela coragem de vocês, pela vida de vocês e pelo casamento e família que vocês constituíram. Que a restauração prossiga dando muitos frutos. Testemunho dá frutos e sei que é isso que vocês estão fazendo. Um abração e um beijo no coração!"
--"Michawn, it has already been said by others, but I just want to agree with them. How many things have I hidden from my brothers and sisters in Christ because of the shame that is handed out when we speak up of our vulnerabilities! If we can't open up to our church family then something is wrong with the church. I love your posts. (And I hate soap operas!) They give us so much to think about. I make my husband read them too."
--"Michawn: I appreicate you and Joel for sharing your journey. Sadly, in the church, especially the American church, we are okay with showing up to church wearing our 'Sunday-go-to-meeting' attire, which most often includes thick masks that don't allow the realness to show through, the questions, the doubts, the difficulties. Then, folks are shocked and surprised when doubts or questions are expressed; a couple divorces; a child walks a path of uncharted territory, etc. Where is the level of authenticity and realness? Perhaps sharing your story via blog posts is uncommon, but that's okay. Most people aren't comfortable with the level of authenticity that y'all are expressing. Sadly, this type of authenticity is not often seen in churches today, or amongst Christians. People come to church, sit face-forward, listen to the sermon, but have no clue what the person right next to them is enduring or experiencing. This has got to change. Clarity about authenticity and transparency needs to happen, so that wholeness and healing can take place. As a pastor (and a Christ-follower), I am authentic with my congregation, but transparent with only a few trusted folks. No doubt, you will get pushback for authentically sharing y'alls journey. But keep on keeping on as God directs you. I already know of others who've been encouraged from reading your blog postings. It may be weird or uncomfortable to some, but that's okay. If it promotes healing and restoration, so be it. Personally, I don't think God calls us to a life of comfort."
--"I appreciate your honesty as well. I know it isn't easy or fun, but it truly does help to see that 'church' people deal with struggles too. We usually feel compelled to hide the imperfection in ourselves and our relationships."
--"Michawn, I'm glad you are sharing your story. I honestly believe you both should just put the blog in a book! It would help many other married couples who go though the same motions and similar situations. I will be praying for your family. Thanks for sharing your struggles because we know they are real in every couple's life regardless of what others actually know. Your testimony will be used for greater good to help others!"
--"Oh how I wish we could sit down & share face to face! I don't even know where to start or how to be concise with all that is going on in this head & heart of mine! 2 things I must say: (1) Your 2nd disclaimer about the Love is...scripture - thank you for affirming that! You spoke truth & it was so refreshing to hear someone else say what I've been trying to say for so many years. I can't tell you how much ridicule I've waded through because I just couldn't sugar-coat grotesque wrongs or forget & move on. Love covers a multitude of sin - yes, but some roots just get bigger & more invasive when you cover them up! There is nothing healthy about that! (2) Your posts, because of their raw honesty & specifics, have stirred up thoughts, responses & honestly some sneaky judgements in me that as I've taken these to God in prayer He has used them to begin to answer some big questions that I have had for years. I can't imagine the ridicule you have received (no actually I very well can imagine & it hurts my heart). People will read your posts for many different reasons & therefore will have different responses. For those of us that have walked in similar shoes, have faced the same type of 'counselors' & have always desired nothing more than to get to the root of the issue so that you can all just get healthy & live again! We understand why you're laying your soul bare. I feel like fresh air is rushing in to give me hope each time I process your post. For the first time in 13 years I feel like I'm listening to somebody who understands & isn't afraid to dust off the sugar coating & get to the real root of the problem. Thank you for reminding me that I am not crazy. I am not difficult. I am not unforgiving. I am not alone. Praying for you tonight."