This year’s January Interim (J-term) class is on domestic violence. Since coming to the Seminary and hearing about this J-term, I’ve known that this would be a class I’d want to take. All the comments I’ve heard from other classmates and graduates have only reinforced this feeling. Now that I’m in the course, it’s even more apparent that not only do I want to take this course, but I need to take it. From day one, I have been intrigued by the material. It feels horrible to say that I’m excited to be learning about domestic violence, but I can’t help but think of how much it will help me in future ministry and interactions with others who have suffered from domestic violence in one form or another. What has surprised me is how MANY people have been impacted by such a horrible thing.
Our class just returned on Friday from a three day trip in Chicago, talking with people who work with shelters, those voicing concerns about this issue, victims of domestic violence, a social worker working with the Cook County Police on responding to DV calls, someone who works with human trafficking… the list goes on. Even more, we’ve heard one another’s stories as to how this has affected each of us in our own lives. Some of us have been more closely affected by domestic violence than others. We have shared tears, hugs, stories of violence, despair, loss, hopelessness, hope, community, encouragement, faith…
As one portion of this course comes to a close, I feel like this has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Whenever I thought I had finally overloaded on emotions and wouldn’t be able to feel, yet another voice managed to break through and make me feel again. My heart broke so many times, and just as many times was made new by the knowledge that there are people out there who are working to make this right, there are people who have survived the violence, people who have found the courage to leave, the strength to move on. There are so many reasons that people stay in these relationships, sometimes even willingly. I only hope that God will use me to get through to even one person and help them find freedom from the hurt.
May God’s presence be made known to all those suffering from domestic violence, victims of hate, that they may find a way to escape such situations and find the resources necessary to survive and be free. And may God use my being to help those in need and to share the Good News. This is not their “cross to bear,” nor should they “suffer gladly for God.” Our God is one of hope and love, not suffering and pain.