Tuesday, November 3, 2015

"What's That on Your Lapel?"

I'm one of those guys who likes to wear a tie and coat. And I was wearing a sports coat on a Sunday when I taught an adult class at our church. After we finished, I chatted with Evan.

"What's that on your lapel?" He pointed to a small safety pin with a yellow ribbon. I had received it at the Oasis Conference earlier in the year, and it was the first time I'd worn the sports coat since then.

"It's for survivors of sexual assault," I said. "I was abused when I was a child and I often speak to such groups."

"Oh," he said, nodded, and moved on.

Years ago I would have felt rejected by his words. (Okay, even before that, I wouldn't even have taken the risk of wearing the pin.) This time I smiled. It's all right, I thought.

Evan wasn't rejecting me; he wasn't comfortable discussing the topic and did the right thing for Evan. For me, that awareness was a decisive victory in my growth.

These days, I'm able to talk easily about my abuse. Had Evan asked any questions, I would have talked freely. He didn't say anything and that was all right.

Others' discomfort or lack of interest isn't rejection. Part of our growth is to be able to get such responses without negative emotional responses.

That experience may seem insignificant, but to me it was a powerful moment. I could hear Evan's single-word comment, "Oh," and not be upset, threatened, or fall into a dark zone. I smiled as I walked down the hallway. A small victory, but those minor triumphs keep me moving optimistically forward.

The more freely I can talk about being molested,
the closer I am to complete healing.

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