Silence and serenity…beautiful words at times.
Silence, as defined, is the complete absence of sound and the synonyms quiet, stillness, tranquility all sound peaceful. The thought of a peaceful, quiet moment alone with your thoughts and nothing that is pressing to accomplish.
Serenity, the state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled.
However, silence can also have an alternate state, it can be debilitating in many ways. I am speaking from experience when I say that silence can be deafening. When misappropriated, it can lead you to a place of restlessness and alarm that makes finding peace elusive. You can also find yourself afraid to be alone in the silence and yet also afraid to make a sound. For many, being silenced is an open ended prison sentence of which there is no reprieve. A place that, when you are alone with only your thoughts, you find that the memories and the quieting of those memories and lack of justice leaves you feeling helpless and alone.
Jesus never intended for us to suffer alone, “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” Galations 6:2 and He also never asked for us to cover injustice in order to protect the reputation of the “church” or to protect the roles of “men of leadership”. In I Peter 3:14, we are told that even if we suffer for what is right, we are blessed, “Do not fear their threats, do not be frightened.
In 1991, as a young girl, I made a decision that I now believe changed much of the course of my life. I did not realize that what I was allowing others in power to influence, would follow me the rest of my life. I did not then know the alternate definition of this silence, or of the cost of the choice. Life has taught me a costly lesson and many times I have wanted to unburden myself from the deafening silence. This silence that remains as a loud internal “knowing” that has cost others and that being silenced also sentenced others to the secrecy.
I used to believe that a moment of chosen silence is almost always a good thing, I still believe that there is a time and place and that a word fitly spoken is important. I also believe that people misuse and misquote scriptures and that words and motives are tremendously important in deciding when to address issues. Motives are huge indicators of false teaching.
My story is one of many and certainly of no importance over another, it’s just that I now live with the fact that so many came after me. I see the impact of not warning others, I see the benefit of “men of God” (quoted oh so loosely here, only as a title) choosing to manipulate scriptures and intimidate the abused into silence. Men who choose to tell the abused that their silence is beneficial to the church, when in reality, it only benefits them personally, the cost to the church is greater than many realize. The church is not a building or organization and the church is fluid and is the body of Christ, which means we take it with us everywhere we go. This also means that when we carry secrets and shame never intended by God, but instead is an effective tool of the enemy, we are giving the enemy power to continue to destroy and to bind. When leaders choose to cover abusers crimes, there is a high cost and only the silencer and abuser are protected, for a time. I believe that everything done in secret is eventually exposed to the light, it’s just a matter of time. And now, the world is watching as once again, secrets of the powerful silencing the sheep is being exposed on a grand scale.
Paige Patterson and Jerry Vines became my silencers – but the silence was deafening because I have had to live with the noise it sequestered, and the cost was high. Their motive was only to reduce noise for their own personal rise to fame and influence, therefore it was not Godly, it was not I Timothy leadership.
“…5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned (Meaning genuine; sincere) 6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; 7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;”
I know that God knew the secret thoughts of their heart, that God knew the pride that was brewing there. God knew they had lost their way, forgotten their first love and continued to place themselves as clanging glass and tinkling symbols – just noise with no substance of faith. Two parts of this verse really speaks to me, “faith unfeigned” – unfeigned means genuine and sincere faith…so the very leaders that told myself and so many others to remain silent didn’t have faith that God could handle the fallout from alerting authorities of crimes by a minister. Think about that a moment. They thought they knew better – motives, pride, fear, falsehood. Further, they didn’t trust God to bring them out of it. Is this who we choose to follow?
My story is a bombshell, so much so that nearly 20 years after I was attacked and came forward the first time, when I came forward on behalf of other victims 17 years later as an adult woman, Paige Patterson and Jerry Vines both contacted me to get me to remain bound in my silence. Others joined in as well, such as Mac Brunson, others bullied and shamed using scriptures out of context such as, “touch not my anointed…”. Do we really believe that God allows a big rug to the “anointed” ones to sweep the ugly things under? No, it is not the case and through the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movement, the full exposure is evident and a day of reckoning is here. What will we do with it? I did my Biblical duty and I went to my earthly shepherds for help, and instead of protecting me and others from the predator, they sent me out to the pasture and moved on forward up the mountain and took my predator along with them. They chose to push members of their flock out into open land, unprotected, and they failed to warn others that the wolf was among us. They will all answer someday, in ways we cannot comprehend, that is not my goal. What happens to all of the sheep left wandering unprotected, unsure of whom to trust anymore, without an earthly shepherd, feeling like the little black sheep among the herd of white sheep saints because they were violated in the most vile way? What are we going to do for them? Why do we block their voices and healing in order for the “church” to prosper? Why do we send mixed messages to the hurting and give them life sentences of feeling alone and silenced and yet promote and glorify men like Paige Patterson, Jerry Vines, Paul Pressler, Darrell Gilyard who either know of the predators in our midst, or are the predators in our midst.
For each one of you who is also a #PattersonMeToo and when you heard about his email request asking for time to “break her down” concerning a victim, you know this happened because it also happened to you. Or read his words in which he states “I take exception to accusations that I ever knowingly ignored or failed to follow appropriate protocols in cases of reported abuse of women, students, or staff at any institution where I have served,” as reported in his statement, and everything in you screams because you know this to be a bold lie?
I ask you to stand with me and the others, let’s all break the silence and send a strong message that transcends time and will help protect future generations. We all have an opportunity to make noise in order to lift the proverbial rug up and sweep out the choking dust that keeps us bound and unhealthy. It does not change history, but it can change the future. The future survivors can have a safer place to land and not be bound to silence, and then we have made something good and beautiful from the ashes. God bless each one of you, I carry your pain and suffering with me, and I wish joy and peace over you.
My story in full is coming, and I will be heard because it needs to be told for all of those to come. It also needs to be heard to set the recent records and recent public statements straight and to release me from the burden of silence I have allowed for far too long. I have been troubled and have suffocated in the silence far too long.
#PaigePattersonMeToo #JerryVinesMeToo #DarrellGilyardMeToo