I found myself holding space as she told her story of assisting in the cover-up of a murder.
My heart was repulsed by her complicity.
Why didn’t you break the silence?
You had an opportunity, but you didn’t break the silence.
As she sat on the stand under oath, it felt like there was still silence.
Part of her soul was closed off, not willing to reveal the secret deep within the soul.
I remember waking up at 3 in the morning, tears running down my cheek.
My heart cries out, “Why do girls stay silent?”
Why does silence feel safer than truth?
My heart struggles to accept the idea that for many girls, truth equals anxiety.
Truth equals fear.
Truth equals oppression.
“What do I do?”
“Will anyone listen to me?”
“Who do I tell?”
“Will they believe me if I speak?”
“If I’m quiet, no one can attack me.”
“If I’m quiet, no one can shame me.”
“If I’m quiet, they can’t destroy me.”
We think our silence will protect us.
So we talk ourselves out of being brave.
There is chaos in speaking out, but we forget that we create chaos in our souls by keeping silent.
Secrets make us sick, anxious, depressed, haunted, and isolated.
But if we tell our truth, what will happen?
None of us want to be branded broken.
None of us want to be branded as, “That girl!”
Who wants to be labeled “Troublemaker” for speaking out?
Who wants to be gossiped, politicized?
Keep the peace!
“We don’t actually keep secrets – secrets keep us.” Tiffany Bluhm
One of the most challenging things about keeping secrets is not what we have to hide, but learning to live with what we are hiding and having to think about the secret all the time.
I watch this girl, and I wonder, “Does she feel safest when she keeps her secret?’
I watch women break the silence, and it’s not easy.
Rarely makes the world stand and clap.
Rarely do we say, “Thank you for your courage and bravery.”
I think of this girl isolated now by the justice system. Still, I wonder how long before her crime had secrets kept her isolated. Spiritually isolated? Emotionally isolated? Relationally isolated? Who funded her life? Was she economically trafficked?
I look at how I see her, how the world around me sees her, and perhaps it’s not really surprising that she keeps her silence.
We can think this girl’s life is extreme. She made extreme choices.
But the story of silence is not an isolated story.
I wonder if her reasons for keeping silent are that different from why other girls stay silent.
Protecting the ones they love, protecting their income, protecting…believing silence is safest.
I wonder what it would mean to hold space for women who have been harmed, trafficked, humiliated, shamed, and silenced.
What would it mean for us to hold space for them to find their brave so they could feel free to break the silence?
I wonder what it would mean to lament alongside women who have been silenced?
For me holding space, this week’s listening has meant nighttime tears. It’s not easy. My own heart feels heavy for all I’ve heard and for all I can hear unsaid. Choosing lament is not an easy pathway.
I wonder what it would mean to walk through the messy part of their story.
To help the silenced parts feel safe enough to be seen. We love a healed version of a person, but the years of wading through the mess before truth appear on the scene? How do we walk with women whose story isn’t polished or beautiful yet? It’s still messy, and challenging conversations still to be had.
What would it take to commit to the process of healing and wholeness?
There is no room for acceptance of the atrocities this woman has committed, but I’m not sure silence heals. What does it look like to hold space for healing to occur?
What if silence wasn’t spiritual?
What if listening was spiritual?
Why do girls stay silent?
Because to speak out the truth is really, really hard.
Maybe you have a secret you have never shared. Can I encourage you to find someone safe and to begin the journey of breaking silence?
In the Christian faith, we break bread and drink some wine to symbolize our freedom from being enslaved to sin. Sin is simply anything that stops God’s love and life from flowing through us. We take this bread and wine to symbolize God is coming to set us free, to open up our soul to life and love.
Likewise, when we begin to speak, we break the silence, and our soul opens up to freedom. You don’t have to tell the world. You don’t have to tell your family. Find someone with who you feel safe enough to break the silence and begin the journey towards healing. If you don’t know of anyone secure message me, and I’ll give you some names of some people who can help you begin to break the silence.
For more information, check out#whyididn’treport.