Integrity, Shame & Hymns

It’s been an interesting few days here in the land of The Revolution. Maybe I’ve been stirred up by the full moon, and the eclipse, or maybe it’s just that vulnerability is a risky enterprise which oftentimes threatens those who cling to structures of oppression.

First, over the weekend I was told that I am, through this work, destroying the integrity and honour of my family. It’s not a new rant, that somehow I’m a disgrace because I speak out about being a survivor, but it still makes me sad, and angry. Thankfully I have an amazing group of chosen family who are willing to listen to me rant, and cry, and process my thoughts and feelings, but I wonder about the survivors who don’t have that kind of support system. What happens when a survivor is rejected by their family AND doesn’t have any other community to stand with them? Shouldn’t this be precisely the place the church steps in to be that community, to be a place where survivors can tell their stories, to be heard without judgement, to find the courage to move forward in healing, hope, and faith?

Second, I was at the market this morning. I am in the habit of wearing a button that says “This is what a rape survivor looks like”. Usually the button invites good conversation, compassion, and sometimes I am honoured to hear other people’s stories of survival. Today, however, the woman in front of me at the registers had a different approach. She looked at me, read the button, looked at me again and then said, “you should be ashamed of yourself”. This woman, totally unknown to me, decided to pass judgement, to decide that I should bear the responsibility, shame, and guilt for what happened to me. I get it. I, and most survivors I know, struggle with it already. It’s called survivor guilt, and it needs to stop, today. The woman at the store, the culture around us, all just need to stop. All the responsibility for what happened to me, and to all survivors, belongs to the people who hurt us.

My third rambling will seem unrelated, but hear me out. We need some new hymns that dare to use the word RAPE. I’ve talked with lots of survivors and one of the things we struggle with the stigma around that word, the fact that people don’t want to say it, that it makes them uncomfortable. Guess what – it’s even harder for survivors, but we need you to be brave, to face that which makes you uncomfortable, to deal with your own stuff and support us. I’ll probably write loads more on that soon, but for right now I’m thinking about needing some new hymns, probably to tunes we already know, that use the word rape. No, it won’t be easy to do, to find a way to faithfully, and honestly use that word in song, but I have no doubt the grace of G-d can get us there. Anybody want to try?

3 thoughts on “Integrity, Shame & Hymns

  1. I like the idea of adding new lyrics to traditional hymns to address modern situations. In this case, it kinda seems like this could make a powerful new verse for Amazing Grace.


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