We can do better.

“It’s sadly the most unoriginal hurt.” That quote was the one that stung me the most this week, when I watched an interview of a woman talking about her rape when she was a teenager. And I’ve continually heard the quote: “We can do better.”

And I’ve mostly heard that quote in relation to having Brett Kavanaugh sworn in, but I don’t believe it in relation to that. He’s in the Supreme Court, and that’s happened. I say, we can do better with the way we put light in these dark places. We can do better at supporting men and women who come forward with their stories of sexual assault. And when the man holding the highest position in all the land can stand before everyone, literally everyone in this nation because it was broadcast everywhere, and mock a sexual assault survivor, regardless of whether or not the man who assaulted her was who she claimed it to be, that is a hell of a shame. I wish I had a stronger word for that. It’s bullshit. It’s absolute bullshit.

You can disagree with me. That’s welcomed here. But I’d venture to say we live in a culture where it’s more normal to raise your voice and assert your self-righteousness than it is to actually do what’s right.

I think we need to step back and see both sides. Can you imagine, just for a second if there was a man in your life falsely accused of sexual assault? The hurt that would affect not just him, but would cause an earthquake in his life, affecting every person around him? I had a very humbling moment this past week where God gently but firmly reminded me that my idea of justice may not be God’s definition of justice, just like so often my definition of good is not God’s pure definition of good. I do believe in times like this, I think of two verses most, and I’m tearing up as I sit here and write this from bravery and from the pain this past week in the news has dredged up.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:20

and

I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.” Joel 2:25

Let’s chat about this Genesis passage. It was really easy for me to sit through those hours of hearings and within the first few hours be filled with so so so much anger, what felt like righteous anger, when I listened to Dr. Ford testify. Someone has wronged her. Someone has traumatized her for the rest of her life. And that is heartbreaking. And it’s heartbreaking that we just throw around words like “trauma.” That is a pain I know very well. The anger also came when I found myself on Twitter, looking at the feed of the man who took advantage of me, seeing he stood in firm defense of Dr. Ford. Where the hell was that when I was being taken advantage of in high school?

And then I listened to Kavanaugh’s testimony, over and over again. If this isn’t the man that has assaulted her, his life is ruined. And yes, he was sworn in to sit on one of the most prestigious seats in the nation, but his family, the view his wife and his daughters and his parents and his cousins and his aunts and uncles have toward him, they are forever changed. So professionally, obviously his life isn’t ruined, but this may have ruined so many relationships for him. And relationships are our most valuable and safe space. And that breaks my heart.

I don’t blog about this as someone who has all it all together and knows exactly what they’re talking about when it comes to politics because I don’t. Take that in first, I don’t like politics. I don’t like the division and the hostility and the pain it causes during this season in our country. I don’t like the hatred it sows among us. I don’t come here to talk politics. I write because this has struck something in me. Maybe a hunger for justice and goodness, but mostly to tell a story of restoration that came from pain.

God’s heart might not be breaking because Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in this week, but it is breaking because of the hatred this has invoked for so many. What makes me really sad is people’s apathy when they assume they can’t do anything but this might be news to you, prayer works. It changes our hearts when we decide to choose love and communicate with God before we freak out and yell our political beliefs at people. Also, on another note, you have a voice, and it’s my prayer that you would use it for good. So please, freakin vote.

So right now in our current political climate, it doesn’t look good.

I’m choosing to believe that there are still things that God’s heart is breaking for, but what man meant for evil, God meant it for good, that there would be restoration and freedom for every sexual assault survivor who needed a voice. Men and women everywhere would be able to stand in solidarity and speak into the night that they too have been pained and mistreated in a way no person should ever have to endure. God’s voice is louder. His love is louder.

If you have an ounce of empathy running through your veins, you understand Dr. Ford. But you also understand Judge Kavanaugh. There is pain on both ends, whether from a false accusation or from a reckoning, I don’t know. And you don’t know either, let that humble you. But there is obviously pain.

So yes, I have to imagine how she felt when she ran from the room and locked the bathroom. While I might not have felt that panic after physical encounters with a man I thought cared for me, I can assure you that’s what I felt the day he turned and everything came undone.

I wasn’t prepared to think about it, though I knew I wanted to watch the hearings. I never thought I’d think about my past when listening to Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh speak on the alleged assault.

I want to challenge you with something though: take those verses and remember them as you navigate this week. You don’t know the aftermath this has caused for some people. You don’t know the pain. You don’t know the depth of the hurt. But you can choose to be kind and love the people in your sphere well and remember that you have the ability to use your voice for good.

And I have these two questions I had to sit back and ask myself, to humble myself when self-righteousness and “I know what’s best in this situation” crept in:

Why does this hurt me?

Why should it hurt you?

So when it comes to the phrase, “We can do better.” Yes, we can do better. Support the people around you with stories of sexual assault because we appear to live in a divided society when it comes to support. You can come out to find the love and support of family and friends, or you can come out to be told you’re not believed and should be silenced.

The choice isn’t whether or not you should come forward; you should. The choice is which person you will be when someone comes to you. And we get to say in this respect, we can do better.

Stop trying to yell louder, that your political opinions may be heard in anger. But instead, let us strive to shine light into dark places and show people their voices are heard. Let’s choose kindess instead of hate, and I don’t say that in some sort of happy-go-lucky way.

If I could speak to the man who took advantage of me in this moment right now, I would hope to speak forgiveness and kindness. It’s awkward to talk about. I still am not clear with the wrong, though I’ve heard the word victim spoken over me in those years. I wasn’t raped. I was taken advantage of. I was being used by a man twice my age and in authority over me to meet his physical and emotional demands, and I called it a relationship. Did he choose actions that ruined his life? Yes. Did he ask me to claim that responsibility? Yes. And did I for many years? Yes. And he gets to live with the ruin he’s caused. It’s not my job to bear his burden anymore.

And I don’t want to compare this situation to Dr. Ford’s but the reality is that our political climate forces many people to relive traumatic instances in their stories. And their stories are important. You can’t tell me they’re not. Our stories form the way we live our lives. My story has shaped the way I receive love, trust people, and receive physical affection. I know that for certain. And many people have learned other “for certain”s from their own stories, and you have no right to disregard those.

You can control your actions. You can vote. You can speak. You can love. You can sow kindness where there is hatred. You can do better.

We can do better.