I just returned (Friday) from the Gathering of Chruch Bookstores. What a joy to be there and have opportunity to talk about my upcoming book, Redeeming Our Treasures. It was all the more special because my husband, Mike, was able to go with me. He found that he enjoyed being my 'right hand guy' at a book event, which bodes well for the future.
I thought we would have five minutes or so to talk about our book. When I got there my publicist told me we would have 60 seconds.
Sixty seconds! How could I possibly sum up the story of my life, the anguish and the joy, the trials and triumphs of growing up in a violently dysfunctional home in sixty seconds? Even if I could, there would be no time left to tell about learning how to cope with the pain of my past, no time to share lessons learned in the crucible of suffering.
Before I had time to figure it out, I was told I would not have sixty seconds after all, but thirty.Throughout dinner, I considered abbreviated versions of my 60 second monolague, discarding one after the other.
My husband asked if I was nervous, and I answered, honestly, no. My heart burned with the message of hope that I was about to deliver--I just didn't know how to get beyond the first two pages.
Just before the MC called my name, it came to me in a flash of insight. I knew what to say. But did I want to say it? I could give a bland, generic intro to a book that sprung from the depths of a sea of emotions--a tsunami of conflicting but powerful ideas--a baptismal of freedom mongering healing principles--or I could stand before a crowd of 'church-folks' and bare my soul.
Now I was nervous. I have experiened before, the quiet withdrawal of 'church-folk' when faced with an awkward truth that is prevalent but rarely discussed in cultured circles. It is not that peple of the faith deliberately abandon the survivor who dares to defy conventional norms and talk about the unspeakable--it is a matter of not knowing how to handle another persons pain and, sometimes, even their own secret hurts. All of us withdraw when we feel threathened--and the mere mention of sexual abuse, and especially, incest, feels threathening to most of us.
They called my name. I mounted the five steps to the platform and looked out over the gathering. Suddening, an infusion of joy overwhelmed my trepidation and I begin to speak.
"I am Linda Settles, author of Redeeming Our Treasures.
Statistics tell us that one in every four girls and one in every six boys will experience sexual abuse before the age of eighteen. I was one of those girls. When we consider also those who are abused verbally, emotionally and psychologically, I am convinced that the statistics fall far short of the actual number of children victimized by abuse.
I can not believe I am here-- telling this to you. The first thirty years of my life I walked around with my eyes on the ground--and here I am standing before you, looking you in the eyes without a trace of shame. I have discovered that the shame of victimization is not mine to bear. By the grace of a Redeeming God I am redeeming the treasures taken from me during my victimization.
Our God is a Redeemer--He is a redeeming God -- He alone is able to help us recover our lost innocence-- to redeem our lost trust, our hope, our joy and our integrity. Our Redeemer God can redeem anything and anyone. He can help us redeem our treasures and live a redeemed life.
You can check out my book, Redeeming Our Treasures, at the STL booth. Thank you.
This is a close paraphrase of my address to the Gathering of Church Book Stores. The audience grew silent, very silent, as I knew it would when I announced the topic of my book. Everyone was, I am sure, wondering where I was going with this. Within a few moments, the ice was broken and my brothers and sisters in Christ were with me. I knew it. I could feel it. And I could hear it in the amens scattered around the room.
My husband tells me there was much applause when I was done. I didn't hear it. I was focused on geting back down the steps without tripping in front of everyone! (My greatest fear!!!)
While the topic of abuse is difficult, the Body of Christ is ready, able, and willing, to embrace the survivor who is willing to be honest about her past and present pain without traumatizing them with the details of her victimization. They welcome transparency but despise sensationalism. I went away from the gathering, encouraged that the Body of Christ is ready, more so than ever before, to engage in the healing journey with survivors of abuse.