Last week I wrote that calls to the National Sexual Assault Hotline went up 57% when Christine Blasey Ford’s claims about Brett Kavanaugh hit the news. The number of calls the hotline received jumped from a 57% increase to a 201% increase on September 27th, the day Ford testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
I don’t think we’ve ever lived in a time that’s as tender as today for survivors of sexual assault.
One in six women and one in 33 men is the victim of completed or attempted rape. Which means we have hundreds of thousands of people whose nightmares reawaken and memories sting and panic rises and hearts ache with each headline, each news report, each #MeToo story, each retelling of a night a victim can never forget.
We’re living in a tremendously tender time and yet, instead of treating each other with extra care, we’ve become more angry, more violent, more rude, more intolerant, more heated than ever.
The vitriol spewed out in the snarled, angry, yelling, contorted faces of Lindsey Graham and Brett Kavanaugh during last week’s hearing. The hostile nature of the climate we’re living in showed itself in Kavanaugh’s asking a senator if she had a drinking problem, if she’d ever had an alcohol-induced blackout, instead of answering the question himself.
It played out on social media, too. I experienced it personally when a person who didn’t agree with my post asked me in the comment section of my post if I’d ever been sexually assaulted, as a way of minimizing my concern over the violent sexual culture we’ve permitted (and in some ways encouraged) as a rite of passage for young American men.
In this tender time, it’s utterly important, particularly as followers of Jesus, to remember that we’re called to go to radical depths and lengths and heights to share Love that is gentle and patient and kind and empathetic and compassionate and merciful. Love that is slow to anger. Love that gives gentle answers that diffuse wrath.
We’re called to transcend artificial boundaries constructed by human beings — like race and economics and politics — to see that we’re all related, we’re all in this together, we’re all part of the same family, and we either heal together or together we bleed out from our anger-inflicted wounds.
Today. Right now. In this moment, choose to be someone who treats others tenderly.
When everyone else is yelling, choose to whisper. When others take a defensive posture, open your arms in embrace. When others are fighting, choose to make peace. When others are grabbing greedily, practice generosity. When the world is falling apart, use Love to glue it back together.
Realize that he cashier who checks you out at Target, the Lyft driver who takes you downtown, the passenger sitting next to you on the subway, the worker who collects your cash at the toll booth, the barista who blends your frappuccino, the young parent whose toddler is melting down in the cereal aisle, the colleague in the next cubicle, the students on your kid’s sports team, the customer service agent on the other end of the phone, the driver who cuts you off in traffic, the pokey post office employee, the homeless person begging for change, the patron sitting alone in the bar — have each lived a story that, if you knew it, would break your heart.
Live tenderly in this collective night.
Be the calming, peaceful, loving presence of Jesus in a world of hurting hearts.