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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Please respect my body, mind and soul

As I held my son’s body safe on a boat recently, God showed me something incredibly important. Those hands of mine, in that moment, had much power; power for safety to hold his body from falling into the water, and power to damage him, through inappropriate hand use and positioning.
To some of you, this will seem dangerously obvious; the image I set before you won’t be lost on you at all! But it’s not something as a father that I’d thought of much before. As I think back to my days as a father of my now-grown daughters, I don’t think it ever occurred to me, and yet the world’s focus wasn’t on sexual abuse at that time.
I have never abused anyone sexually, nor have I ever suffered sexual abuse, but somehow it’s always on my radar now; the use of my hands and my observations of others’ hands. I’m easily suspicious of people’s actions with their hands. I have learned something important about how subtle sexual abuse is—or at least how subtly it can start.
What God showed me in this vision was the heaviness in the nuances and subtleties of physical abuse that occurs sexually—those odious transgressions that can seem to sneak up on the victim as they realise just the depth of betrayal a person’s hands (or body) have delivered on them. It’s a mind that believes they’ll get away with it that does such a thing; or, a mind that doesn’t care. Either way, it’s evil.
Every vulnerable person’s prayer is that their body, mind and soul would be respected. And we’re all vulnerable to abuse. We may not know that we’re vulnerable until we’re in a situation where we’re taken advantage of.
Any of us at any time can find ourselves in a situation where we might be taken advantage of; where a perpetrator of abuse would take a power they ought not take and execute a control they ought not have.
Beyond the grooming which is deeply and darkly spiritual, sexual abuse is promulgated initially as a physical betrayal, but it grips us viscerally, takes command of our mind, and rips up our soul.
What everyone deserves—and I do use the word ‘deserve’ cautiously—is respect for their body, mind and soul. Everyone deserves the right of appropriate touch. Nobody should ever be touched or handled in a way that leaves them feeling crossed. Every single touch or contact with others ought to carry with it the kind of permission that leaves you in no doubt whatsoever that the other person feels absolutely respected. Most of the time there is no need to touch another person. So why do some people do it in situations where touch is marginal at best?
Perhaps the greatest blessing we can give people—anyone we interact with—is to ensure we respect their body, and in that we respect their mind and soul. Of course, we ought also to appreciate we’re all far deeper than merely our bodies. Our minds and our mortal soul needs respecting too.
As we respect each other’s bodies and entire beings, viewing each other as the creations of God that we are, we agree to live freely all the moments we’re given, and in this expanse of freedom, we have peace, hope and joy in loving one another.
So, our very first living duty is to respect the being of other people. And others’ first duty is to respect ours. This is first and foremost the respect of our body, our mind, our soul. To love one another is the respect of body, mind and soul.

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