BY TAE GAM
You have been living in a cave for the past several months if you haven’t heard of the #MeToo phenomenon that has gained a lot of attention in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein accusations and investigations of sexual harassment and sexual abuse. Over and over again, women came forward to emphasize how widespread and common these experiences were in every part of society. The movement was started over ten years ago to give women of color hope in healing and communal empathy and gained all this attention currently as news continued to break out about people in powerful positions using their power against those who were weak.
In counseling, when it’s one counselor and one client there can be a lot of healing and break-through for people who want to break the silence of shame and address personal pain, but when you get a group of people together who share common experiences, the result is tenfold. In that space when people share honestly from their place of pain and struggle, and instead of judgment, criticism, or problem solving, they are gifted with “me too” there is an immediate connection and a lifeline that forms. Where the Enemy works craftily to get people in isolation to keep them separated and in the dark, our Loving Father works to get us into a community of other hurting and challenged people in order to see hope, healing, and humility.
This past year, whether with the Women’s Therapy Group that I co-facilitate, at the Women’s Retreat, or simply with a group of good friends I have seen this phenomenon firsthand. The deep dark secrets of inadequacy, shame, anxiety, and failures are brought into the light and people receive them as gifts of honor and dignity. They are gifts because it is through those very weaknesses and challenges that we are made perfect by the power of God. We stop boasting in where we vacation or what new restaurant we ate at, and boast in our afflictions and struggles because it is there that we can see the brilliant light of our Creator and Loving Father.
When our Enemy crafts a plan to steal, kill, and destroy the Children of God, he knows that he must work to separate one out from the rest of the group. He knows that he will need to poke at all of that person’s inadequacies, fears, doubts, and anxieties and amplify them. He knows that the Child of God must never awaken to the fact that he or she has great power and strength within them to refute lies with the Truth. That Child of God must believe over and over again that they are alone, that they must figure it out on their own, and that no one must know with what they struggle. The most efficient way is to do this in the context of relationships. It’s a two for one deal. Sometimes it’s a family plan. The lies I believe about myself are exhibited when you push one of my inadequacy/failure/fear/helpless buttons and I react by being defensive, accusatory, critical, withdrawn, or punishing. Then my reactions help to push your unvalued/worthless/inadequate/out of control buttons and you react by being defensive, accusatory, critical, withdrawn, or punishing. Thus the two of us can perpetuate this cycle for days, weeks, years, even decades – each feeding off the negative coping strategies of the other. The Enemy has laid a brilliant trap and needs only to watch as we keep this going all on our own.
The Good News is that you and I can have a great understanding of the Enemy’s strategies and see them plainly. We can see his craftiness as we compare notes of how this plays out in our lives. We can talk about our “buttons” and how they got to be “buttons” and then talk about how to cope with unpleasant feelings and how that causes another round of unwanted difficulties in relationships. We can do this only when we have kicked shame to the curb and allowed someone access into the deeper parts of our life. We can see our sinful propensities and our thirst for immediate gratification for what they are. Then we can repent and ask for forgiveness from God and from others so that we can find real reconciliation. We can talk about what we need in our relationships and begin to have conversations about helping one another with what we need instead of engaging in a tug of war of whose need is more important. In this way we live out the Gospel of Jesus in our everyday relationships—whether it be with our parents, siblings, children, spouses, friends, bosses, co-workers, and even people within the church.
I believe there is a real crisis in our churches today. The crisis is for authenticity of relationships and a desire to be known and seen and accepted. We want real teaching about the issues that we battle with every day in our car, in our kitchens, in our bedrooms, and in our minds. We want real conversations that begin with honesty and vulnerability and end with “me too” from those we trust and with whom we feel safe. But we don’t want to end with “me too.” Just empathy and a sense of being a part of a larger group is not enough. We desire a community who will challenge us in the lies we tell ourselves and the lies that we believe. We hope for real change to come to us in the form of purity, holiness, and righteous obedience. Then we as the Church can deeply impact the world that we live in—because we are fully satisfied and content in Who we are and Whose we are. We can stop looking to the world to satisfy something in us and offer ourselves to the world as a living sacrifice. Healing from pain and having authentic relationships IS NOT the end goal of the Christian. They are simply the ways to deal with roadblocks and obstacles so that we can more effectively and lovingly engage with our world. We heal so that we can bring healing to the broken. We relate with intimacy and truth so that we can bring these to the lonely and deceived. The first step begins with ME and ends with WE. #MeToo is only the beginning. #WeToo is our testimony to the world.
3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. Titus 3:3-8
For more information on ODPC’s lay counseling services, please contact Tae Gam at firstname.lastname@example.org.