The other day, I allowed my two youngest to take our dog Lucy around the block for a little walk. Armed with the required walkie-talkies, I watched them meander down the street together. They turned the corner and I turned up my walkie-talkie.
I sat on the porch with my laptop and opened my email. *sigh* Peace and quiet.
“MOM, CAN OUR FRIEND COME OVER TO PLAY?”
Isaac always yells into the walkie-talkie. It’s like he’s not sure he can trust the thing to carry his voice.
“Sure, honey.” I said.
In about 2 minutes they came galloping my way with a little boy I’d never seen before. According to my boys (and confirmed later by my guy), they’d met him before during other walks. They arrived happy and ready to play with their new buddy. Levi reached for the door and I stopped him.
“Baby, we’re gonna play on the porch. I don’t know your friend’s parents yet. It’s for safety.”
He complained a little but I offered up Legos on the porch. Challenge accepted!
The boys began to talk and build. They negotiated for pieces and created storylines. They came over to show me their new creations and to tattle. Eventually, things got personal and Levi told his new friend,
” My mom’s name is Tasha and she’s a Fireworker.”
I giggled a little inside wondering what that translated into in the mind of my little one and his friend. I thought about Firemen and Fire eaters. I thought about jugglers with torches burning bright and welders. And then I thought about my work with The Firecracker Foundation.
Our first vacation of the summer was spent near Charlevoix at Fisherman’s Island State Park. Some families have Disney, some go to concerts. We go to Fisherman’s Island. While I was there making memories with my boys, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar sat down with Megyn Kelly for an interview.
I read about it and gathered three main points:
- Consent is not required if your victim doesn’t really remember what happened.
- The Duggars’ were okay with giving Josh time to get right with God while sacrificing the safety of their daughters and a family friend. Favoritism much?
- And it’s all fine because forgiveness, you guys. Be cool.
I took a few deep breaths and then set about writing a response to 7 main points in this article. By the time I was finished unleashing the fury, I had nearly 3,000 words. Many edits later and I was ready to offer up 1,000 words to xoJane.
I was really excited to be published on such a wonderful site. But I was over the moon to be able to offer some insights on the appropriate ways to respond to child sexual abuse – especially to communities of faith.
My perpetrator and father was a Christian and even served as a youth pastor for a short time. My faith has been complicated, lost, challenged, found and restored through the process of healing. As I delved deeper into the world of advocacy for child survivors, I witnessed the victim-blaming, slut-shaming and outright protection of perpetrators carried out my so-called houses of faith.
It makes my blood boil.
I don’t expect to agree with ever tenet of the many diverse religions that make up our beautiful world. I do expect that we can agree that no one ever deserves to be assaulted, it is never the victim’s fault and perpetrators should have legal and social consequences for their actions.
I will not lower my expectations. I expect the Godly to raise theirs.
My favorite Bible verse has remained with me throughout my life. It’s actually kind of a violent passage all about the Lord’s vengeance against the wicked. Psalms 10:17-18 declares that the God of the Hebrews ‘defends the fatherless and the oppressed.‘
As a fatherless child and one experienced in oppression, it feels good to know that the Judeo-Christian God, the God of the Duggars, is a self-described, violent defender of the abandoned and marginalized.
Don’t mistake me as someone who believes that violence is the answer. I don’t but like most, I enjoy the idea of a God willing to kick a few asses for the children. Similar to how I love Iron Man for being both a hero and a narcissist.
I feel like this section is going to give us both problems so I’m going to move on.
When I told my family about this new milestone for my writing, they decided it would be appropriate to set some things on fire in my honor. Fireworks. They wanted to set off some fireworks.
Lucky for them, I purchased a red lantern while we were on vacation but we never used it. My husband and I walked down to the park holding hands. Lucy came with while the boys biked ahead. It was windier than we expected so we settled the bottom of the lantern into the hollowed out section of a stump and lit it up.
We struggled to hold it down until the heat could fill the inside but the wind kept blowing the sides in. We were afraid it would catch fire before it could get over the trees around us. I realized the problem was our grip. We had to let it go. We had to stop struggling against its need to soar.
My story has resided in the gentle hands of a loving family and then a supportive hometown community. I have always been a little worried awaiting the trolls. Maybe that’s why I’ve never submitted anything before. If I never cross the bridge, the trolls won’t be compelled to attack me.
I’ve been protecting the brave little girl in me from the strangers.
My story, who I am and what I do is important. It’s important and it’s growing faster than I can handle or control. It leaves me breathless and overwhelmingly grateful. It leaves me shaken and filled with sorrow. It leaves me exhilarated and exhausted.
It leaves me like a little red lantern, blazing and ready to soar.
I suppose Levi has given me the most appropriate title of all.