I had such an ugly experience on Wednesday. It colored my entire day. I even made a chocolate cake (I have not been eating cake or sweets in awhile) because chocolate usually helps. I also showered… twice! Did you know they make Godiva Chocolate Liqueur? So good.
I was sipping my morning coffee and perusing my newsfeed on my Facebook page. I came across a disgustingly vivid photograph that apparently a friend had “liked,” that was in fact, pornography. I was so shocked. I immediately made sure my son was nowhere near me. Then I proceeded to complain to FB admin. If you have any knowledge of FB, you know how ridiculous their administration of their pages are. They will remove photos of women breastfeeding as being too offensive, but they allowed porno on my wall. And trust me when I say that this photo was so bad, it made me sick to my stomach. After I complained to FB and requested it be removed, I also did the same to those who had posted it. I was then verbally assaulted through instant messages by the owner of this particular photo. The verbal tirade made me sick to my stomach, again, and caused me to shake. Literally. I also cried at one point. No one has ever used such vehemence combined with such horrible terminology towards me – ever. I finally figured out how to block the person from my FB wall, as well as from instant messaging me. (They are two separate procedures). I never heard from FB, but when I spoke to my friend who had supposedly “liked” it, we could no longer see the photo; I guess FB pulled it. We both decided to change settings and passwords and move forward. But it really got me thinking.
I will be 60 on my next birthday. I just never thought of myself as 60 years old. The friend this happened to, well, we share the same birthday and have been friends since High School. I have 4 grandchildren and my baby is almost 17 years old. My oldest son is almost 30 years old. I go to church at least weekly, if not more often. I read a lot. We watch a little TV, usually things we have TiVo’d, or DVDs we have purchased. I choose my entertainment carefully. I do not have interaction with pornography, nor even profanity (at least not of my choosing). We just don’t cuss. I have gray hair, for heaven’s sake. I cannot fully express to you how horrid this experience made me feel. I felt sick and dirty, somehow. The worst thing was the verbal tirade this man assaulted me with. I felt vulnerable and kind of scared. His words frightened me. I shared with with my youngest son, who still lives with me. I even called my husband, who is off traveling this week. I know they listened. I told a couple of friends. I know they listened. But I don’t think any of them appreciated how I felt. And I know it’s silly, but in a way it is not. Can you imagine how women who are physically abused or assaulted feel? Women who are brutalized in war zones and through ethnic cleansing in war-torn countries? Women who are forced to be sterilized, impregnated, or mutilated simply because they can be? All that happened to me was I saw a pornographic photo of a woman, and then had a man verbally harass me because I complained about it. It was not in my face, but on my phone. But I felt that assault and that vulnerability and I was frightened. I was able to lock him out and change passwords for access by anyone else. But what about those who are vulnerable and cannot change a password or privacy settings? What about the thousands of children who are attacked on a regular basis, who have no options, no control over it? I cannot help but think of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25:31-46:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
How do we help those most vulnerable around us? How do we comfort and clothe and care for the sick around us? This hit home yesterday, when I felt somehow violated and unable to protect myself. In reality, I am perfectly safe. But emotionally? Not so much. God is good and the shower, the chocolate, and some great movies with my son helped me feel much better. And when I went to bed, I prayed and thanked God for keeping me safe. I tried to forgive the man who verbally assaulted me. I prayed for the woman in the photograph, hoping her life is better than that now. And I prayed for all the vulnerable around us. I do not want to ever feel helpless and vulnerable again – and I certainly don’t want anyone else to feel that way, either. How can we all buckle down and really, truly, and honestly help those around us who need it? Sometimes it’s just listening. Or a smile on a bad day. Letting someone cut in front of you on the highway or check out line. Taking cookies or coffee to a friend who needs it. Saying “I love you” even when it’s not necessary. Or saying “thank you” when it is unexpected. Saying a simple prayer and letting God put it to its best use. No prayer is ever wasted. The difference in our world has to start with each one of us. We have to protect those who cannot protect themselves, especially the innocent in the womb, our most vulnerable. It has to start with me.
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”