I am an imperfect person. There are things in my past that I feel guilty for. There are things in my past that I should not feel guilty for. Years later, I am still processing and dealing with the physical and emotional damage from choices I’ve made and things that have happened to me. I am coming to terms with things about myself that are just part of me. I don’t typically talk about these subjects, as they relate to me. I don’t know how opinions of me will change. Some of these conversations have the potential to hurt others.
But I watch as other people, particularly women, get condemned and criticized – their character and even their very personhood called into question. And I know the truth in myself, so the pain grows. The election, in particular, has brought out the fight all over. Both sides have a lot to say (and I’m in there, too, I’m aware). We tend to say a lot about situations and events we haven’t experienced firsthand. But we are contradictory, complicated people. We are imperfect. We are human.
Do you want to know what helped me through this stuff? Not government laws and regulations. Not 6-foot posters outside Planned Parenthood. Not comments about “no one likes a quitter,” while handing me a shot glass. Not a Facebook rant or an oversimplified meme. Not name-calling and finger-pointing.
What helped me was people. People knowing the truth and loving me, regardless. The church leader who hugged me and said, “You’re not alone. I’d have a 14 year old by now.” The boss who called me into her office to say, “This is abuse. How can I help?” The doctor who, on his vacation, made calls to get me into quality psychiatric care, and called me daily to check in until I could be seen. My mom and sister who, when I finally acknowledged past assault, reassured me that the guilt was not mine to hold on to. The friend who, from across the country, told me, “If that’s you, I think you’re just as gorgeous, amazing, and brave as ever.” The college friends who sat me down to say that they were worried about me and how much I was drinking and wanted to help. My family who prayed for me and loved me, no matter how scared for me they were. And Jared. Jared, who loves me in spite of, and sometimes even because of, these things. It’s not easy. Some of these things affect our marriage, and it’s a struggle. But he sees the truth of who I really AM, imperfections and all.
Love encouraged, supported, held, and challenged me. Fear of shame and condemnation only pushed away. I am imperfect. I am human. I am scared. And so are the nameless and faceless others that we so easily judge and condemn.