My survivor friends will never forget the disbelieving look on my face:
“You actually want me to talk to a male minister?”
I thought they had all gone mad. We were all in a therapy group for survivors of incest – female survivors. At the time, there was no way I was going to trust any man and especially one of the cloth. I also lacked trust in organized Christian religion because that involved embracing a God who killed his son for my sins. A God who equated to another abuser was not a God of my understanding.
Yet, one by one, my friends were getting spiritual counseling and guidance from this most unlikely Methodist source. And one by one, they came back raving at their newfound insights, the depth to which they felt heard, and the ability of this minister to make sense out of the senseless. According to them, this guy was performing the miracle of bringing meaning to their suffering.
Hmm…finally, I had to see for myself.
I felt like there was a metal rod up my spine as I stiffly walked into a church. Yuck! I then shook hands with a plump, balding, middle-aged man who looked every bit the part of the Midwest Bible Belt. What could he possibly offer me?
I immediately told him that he was the last person I ever wanted to talk to and I was only here because of the prodding of my friends. He had no qualms with that, and he reassured me I was free to leave at anytime. There, I put him in his place.
Then I just started to talk. I do not know how or why, but he had an aura of goodness and safety that melted the wall I threw around me. I told him of my trials, of the horrific things I had experienced, of the way I felt deeply different from everyone else. I told him that when I looked out the window on a sunny day, I see more than just the beauty of the flowers and grass. I have felt the true depth of the ugliness and evil that hides in the shadows. I can never really enjoy a nice day, not like everyone else. I just know too much.
He listened intently through my story, and then said one sentence that changed my whole world:
“I feel like I am in the presence of something Holy.”
I had been called crazy, “dramatic”, over-reactive, and too sensitive. I had been given diagnostic labels for insurance companies to pay therapy bills, but never, ever in my life did anyone suggest that my experiences equated to holiness - that I was brought to bear the same burdens and knowledge as prophets. Prophets are on a mission, and so was I.
My suffering finally, finally found a purpose, and I had a male leader of an organized religion to thank for making it all clear. Unbelievable.
I think I was the one in the presence of something Holy.