I know the future will hold new challenges and new adventures. I hope to still share some of them with you. But for now, I’m going to take a break.
Thank you for walking with me on this part of my journey. I wish all of you Godspeed in your own journeys.
I hope that, in sharing my own pain, I may have helped someone else. I hope that my story may have served as an example -- an example for survivors of moving forward without shame, and an example for church and denominational leaders of why clergy sex abuse must be addressed in a systemic manner.
I celebrate my survival, because make no mistake about it, there are many others whom clergy sex abuse kills. It kills physically via suicide. And for many who still breathe, it kills them psychologically and spiritually. And for those who survive the abuse itself, the process of trying to report it may yet kill them off, because the complicity of the many can hurt even more than the brutishness of the one.
I am a survivor of something that tried to kill me. I am grateful.
But now, I will walk privately for a while, and I will count my blessings every step of the way, listening, with peace, to the wind in the trees and the birds that surround me.
For those of you who say that this work we have done in Baptistland has been without results and of no value, I say to you flat-out that you are wrong. The value rests on the truth of the work itself.
And for those of you who have struggled with me in this work, I leave you with these additional thoughts. When Martin Luther King, Jr., contemplated the discouragement and bewilderment of seemingly endless efforts toward change, he said this:
The thing that makes me happy is that I can hear a voice crying through the vista of time, saying ‘It may not come today or it may not come tomorrow, but it is well that it is within thine heart. It’s well that you are trying.’ You may not see it. The dream may not be fulfilled, but it’s good that you have a desire to bring it into reality . . . Thank God this morning that we do have hearts to put something meaningful in.For many of us, we have dreamed of a Baptistland where there would be effective clergy accountability systems and where clergy abuse survivors would be received with compassion and care. This dream may not be fulfilled in my lifetime . . . or in yours . . . but it is good that we have hearts that desire to bring this dream into reality.
Our hearts are broken by the abyss of sexual abuse and cover-ups that we have seen in Baptistland. Our hearts are rent asunder by the enormous anguish suffered by Baptist abuse survivors who continue to endure so much hatefulness and do-nothingness, and all in the name of religion. Yet, with the pain of a broken heart, I say, “Thank God we have hearts that break.”
I will continue to wonder about Southern Baptist leaders. Where are their hearts?
Good-bye for now. Happy trails!