On Saturday, something happened to me that I never thought would.
“Nearly two thirds of college students experience sexual harassment” – NSRVC
I never could have thought this statistic would apply to me, especially in the form it took.
If you know me, you know I’m a goodie-two-shoes and always try to do the right thing. I avoid sketchy situations and always have my guard up — I’ve always heard that things like this can happen to you regardless of who you are and what situations you put yourself in, but I always “knew” that those things could never happen to me.
Well, I was wrong.
At the football game on Saturday, my friends and I were all standing on the hill, (an iconic Clemson-football-watching-spot) cheering on our tigers. We were enjoying ourselves, more concerned about inching our way to the front than about the people crowding behind.
As many know, people at football games like to get incredibly drunk before kickoff even begins. The hill always has plenty of those people, which are mostly just clumsy and confused, but on occasion there are the loudmouths who like to yell out vulgar things to the team. Being accustomed to college football, I’ve learned to ignore the voices and focus on having a good time. However, Saturday was different.
The voices this time around were incredibly cruel and foul, bashing the team and women. I heard one guy telling his friend about bets with girls regarding pictures of whatever the other asked. I was completely disgusted and glad to know these voices were far behind.
However, what I thought were voices a good ways back turned out to be voices a lot closer than I was comfortable with. I noticed one of the guys was behind G, sitting on the ground, close to where she had been sitting previously. Noticing, I warned her not to sit down because of how squished in everyone was. (I didn’t think much of the whole thing because of how packed the hill always is) Shortly after I told her, I realized the guy’s friend was incredibly close to me as well. I pulled down my dress and inched closer to C.
I am sad to say that wasn’t enough.
I turned slightly around to see the guy behind me’s phone camera facing up my dress.
My heart stopped as I saw the reflection of my own butt (thankfully covered by my Clemson Nike shorts) staring back at me.
I bolted — I ran right into G, having a panic attack as the situation came crashing into my understanding. I didn’t know how to feel, how to react, or what to think
I was angry at someone for looking at me in such a way, for thinking so low of women. I was disgusted, thinking of what his end goal would have been with that picture–who would he have shown it to? what would he have said? I was anxious about what else he could have / would have done. I was mad at myself for being so naive and not noticing how close he had been. I was anxious thinking what would have happened if I hadn’t put on shorts that morning. I was upset at myself for breaking down in the middle of a football game in front of everyone. I was overwhelmed thinking of how I would tell my mom and what my dad would say. I was scared of what my guy friends would do if/when they found out — would they beat him up and end up getting in trouble? I was sad that the rest of my day was going to be ruined. I was angry that something like that had to happen to me after all I had tried to do to prevent it.
Yet despite all this pain and distress, all I could come back to was “I forgive him”
Now, let me tell you… I wanted to beat him up, cuss him out, and break his face with the heel of my boot. I wanted to scream and make him feel terrible for what he had done to me.
But I couldn’t ignore what was being said in the very back of my head — “I forgive him”
After the ordeal, I talked to the police and pointed the guy out to him. (I have no idea what he looks like under his visor and glasses) The police talked to him, checked his phone (no picture present👍), but didn’t make him leave the game — I was just relieved to be away from him and back with my friends. I enjoyed the rest of the day, but couldn’t figure out what God was trying to do with my situation.
I tried not to think about it the next couple of days / I tried to make little of it and laugh it off. But in reality, what happened was a big deal and could have been a lot worse. So finally, Monday morning, I sat down with God for the first time really acknowledging what had happened and asked him to show me what the point of that bad thing was.
In my quiet time, I just happened to be reading about Jesus’ crucifixion in Luke 23. Nothing really stuck out to me until I got to verse 34. Jesus says to God,
“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing”
As Jesus is hanging on the cross, suffering because of what human, sin, darkness, and I did to him, — that’s right, MY sin put him on the cross and made him suffer; I tortured and abused him — he’s thinking of me and asking God not to look at the abusers as they deserve to be looked at. He wants God to forgive those who abuse because of how foolish and ignorant they (& all of mankind) are. Jesus wanted God to look at abusers with love — he wanted him to have mercy on us.
Jesus was betrayed, hurt, undressed, and humiliated — he was feeling all that I was on Saturday. He had been through it. Yet all that came out of his mouth were words of forgiveness, mercy, and love to those who had wronged him in the worst and most unspeakable ways.
After being astounded by how God had spoken to me, I flipped to a random spot in the Bible and found John 9:3. [In the context of a man born blind] Jesus said,
“This happened so the power of God could be seen in him”
As I was asking God what the purpose of such tragedy and sadness could be for someone, I read this and thought of how it could be applied to my life.
Whatever happens can be used as an opportunity to reveal the power of God.
So, here I am. Telling my story… about how God allowed me to show someone forgiveness … about how God has grown me closer to who Jesus is … about how God has given me peace in following him … about how has God strengthened my friendships since then … about how God has given me a way to connect to others and hopefully show them love in a way that only someone who has gone through something similar can understand
I hope that someone can see the power of God through my story
Because through this, I feel so much closer to God’s heart and hope you do too
If anyone needs to talk about anything, I am available
I love you & so does Jesus ❤
“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you”
– Ephesians 4:32