I remember the deafening brief silence in the room after she told her story.
Our worlds rocked by the horror of what she not only endured, but rose above, not only put all of our own personal challenges into perspective, but completely shredded any notion of perfection in families.
Awed by her resolve, her bravery, and inspired by what God had done, the entire class erupted into applause, and honored her with a standing ovation.
She is the woman whose story is told in Dare 39, in The Respect Dare.
Her story of incest, rape, abortion, and hope inspired all of us in a Daughters of Sarah class.
Once in a while, someone will email us or fill out a feedback form with the cruelest comment of all, that the stories aren’t real. These are moments where I experience something I can only label as, “righteous anger.” Yes, I get angry at other times, but honestly, most of those times, my anger is SIN. But there are the above moments, the anger boils at people who should understand and don’t, who shouldn’t judge, but do. And because I knew her, because her story is worthy, I want to defend her.
Over the last four weeks, I received a few comments about Dare 39.
Normally, I’m able to sort through feedback with discernment, but after a week of criticism and personal attacks aimed at me (thanks to a controversial blog post - be sure to check the comments!! Especially the 3rd with the link, it’s excellent), the most recent of the comments caused me pause. Asked to change the content of the dare, I began to wonder. And because the nature of the request was polite, I began seriously considering it.
I even started to doubt that I had done the right thing in the first place when I wrote it…
My resolve to obey God actually wavered.
(coincidently, our family had also fallen ill with a bug, my husband was out of country again, and I was getting little sleep, little time with God, and became distracted by physical illness and pain, and voices that were not His)
At any rate, somehow, I forgot that I adamantly experienced tons of “coincidences” and “miracles of memory” (those of you who, like me, are pushing 50 or are older know what I’m referring to here… J) and confirmations that the stories in The Respect Dare were chosen by Him.
I forgot the few hours it took to actually write the book as the stories and questions literally poured onto the pages as fast as I could type them.
I forgot the confirmations of what I felt led to do and how to do it that actually came from His Word. (Did you know that the phrase, “publish ye,” is ONLY in the King James? J)
I forgot how certain I was that it was His doing in the first place (while I was happy to take ownership over the typos and other errors).
I forgot the reverence and awe I experienced when it was finished, just in knowing that I had been a small part of something He was doing.
And I forgot the other “coincidences” and “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me!-strange-happenings” that have the book being published by Thomas Nelson in December.
I forgot, because I spent about four days consumed and distracted, living life at the last minute, instead of by plan, with the first and most important thing of the day consistently NOT happening: spending time with Him.
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly our focus changes when we lose daily time with Him. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – nothing impacts our faith journey more than daily time with Him (or the lack of it).
And I’m 100% certain that starting my day alone but with Him, studying His Word, dwelling on its Truths, focusing on His will, and listening for His instructions make those days radically different than days spent indulging in the tyranny of the urgent. It is a small sacrifice to make time for Him…it’s always so much easier to get up late and rush to wherever we’re “supposed to be.” Might I suggest that the first appointment of the day is earlier than the rest, and the most important?
Don’t really want to get up early and spend time with Him? Ask Him to help you ache for Him like Isaiah does here.
At any rate, I somehow managed to follow the Bible’s advice, and asked for suggestions from those wiser and smarter than me.
And the end result was an outpouring of support and gentle reminders of what I was supposed to do in the first place – and a very specific direction on how to help those who can’t relate or find the story disturbing. I stand back in awe at what women I’ve never met have shared with me to encourage me to leave the story in…the original woman of Dare 39 is in good company. There are many like her out there.
Sacrifices of transparency, confessions and testimonies of healing have filled my inbox in the last several days. I weep for their pain, and I celebrate their bravery, and rejoice with them at what He is doing in their lives.
Some things that happen to people are meant to be disturbing because they just are.
I can no more water down their pain than I can the testimony of the Cross. And as we become tougher as women, knowingly walking into stories of hardship and suffering, we can choose to also encounter those in the trenches that Jesus hung out with more of His confidence, His love, and His impact. And we can marvel at the tsunami-sized hope that He provides to those suffering storms of unimaginable proportions.
So yes, even though I’ve been repeatedly told that the story isn’t graphic, I am going to add a small disclaimer in the way it was suggested to me by the women who have earned the right to talk about these things, to help those who might be upset by the raw truth of their experience and pain.
But the story needs to stay.
Their ability to live, love, and forgive should inspire us all, and put our own lives into perspective. God used the woman of Dare 39 to change me, to bring me perspective on suffering, to help me realize how weak I really was, and give me hope of what was possible in me and my marriage, because of what He had done for her. He called me to an action that changed so very much in my marriage and all my other relationships – and I know He is doing the same for others, too.
And so many women who are suffering with similar issues have found a voice, healing, and hope as a result of God’s choice to put it in there. We offer supporting resources to those who want more information here. What is neat, is that even those who had negative comments about it inspired action on our part – without them, we wouldn’t have had this dialogue about Dare 39, and as a result of that discussion, we put up the resources page, and will be adding to it in the coming days. Please feel free to share your story and/or resources on the above link. One of the reasons we suffer is to provide encouragement to those enduring pain now and help them grow closer to Him. I find that so inspiring!
Dare you today to ask Him to help you spend time with Him every morning. When I first did this, He started waking me up at 5am. J He wants to be with us, wants to us to learn to hear His voice…Double-dog-dare you to share or join the conversation by commenting or click on the Isaiah link above…Triple-dog-dare you not to waste time condemning yourself (or others) for wandering away – just go do the right thing.
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)
Thank You, Father, that You are this way. Oh, Amen.
Glad to be on the journey with you – the company is awesome!
Love to you,