Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The hidden joys of touring

With Trista (left) and Karol (right) of the Diocese of Lafayette Office of Pro-Life Apostolate, July 21, 2012

Speaking aboutMy Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints at parishes and the diocesan headquarters in Lafayette, Louisiana, last week was one of the most beautiful experiences I have had since my summer tour began. I wish I could say more—but I can't.

If you follow The Dawn Patrol, you may notice that I share very little about what it is like giving talks about My Peace I Give You. There is a reason for that. The most profound experiences I have in sharing the book's message are those of meeting my brothers and sisters in Christ who, like me, have suffered childhood sexual abuse. These people are very often saints of our time; their stories testify to their deep level of cooperation in the Lord's work of healing and forgiveness. I could fill a book with the stories they share with me, many of which are truly miraculous. But I can't—because their stories are not mine to tell. Those who share them do so confidentially, because they see me as a kindred spirit. Some have kept their abuse secret from nearly everyone close to them—even their spouse.

One thing I have learned very quickly since commencing the My Peace I Give You speaking tour is that, very often, people who were sexually victimized—myself included—think that others who suffered such victimization endured far worse sufferings than their own. I think such minimization of our own experiences is a kind of defense mechanism we employ because it is too painful to contemplate the enormity of the evils we endured.

So it is all the more humbling when people trust that I will empathize with their own story. I am thankful to be able to help them locate their own sufferings within those of the Body of Christ, and it works both ways; again and again, my listeners and readers do the same for me.