Against you, you alone, have I sinned. – Psalm 51:4a (NRSV)
Psalm 51 used to be one of my favorite psalms. Maybe it’s because of a religious upbringing that had me constantly feeling guilty, apologizing, confessing.
Now I find David’s words to be a little trite. His apology lacking. His confession too private. Where was the apology to Bathsheba? The public confession to Uriah’s murder? The guilt over the baby’s sacrifice for his sin?
Halloween used to be a favorite time. Wearing masks and pretending to be someone else was fun. Until it wasn’t. Until wearing masks was a daily practice of self-preservation.
But on this last day of October, the month for Domestic Violence Awareness, I am done pretending! I am taking off the mask and telling the truth!
I was seven when my uncle treated me special. I was about eleven when my dad blackened my eye. I was a 16-year-old runaway the first time my boyfriend slapped me. Our babies asleep in the room next door didn’t keep the threats from coming when I tried to leave years later. They simply got softer. Scarier.
It this time where girls are sexualized and taught how not to attract a possible assault, I will no longer wear the mask of silence. I will no longer wear the mask of shame. The mask of blame. The mask of toxic positivity.
It is time to take off these masks and let the world be uncomfortable with our bruises and our pain. To face the price of its lust for violence and domination. It is time—it is past time—to let our survival be a public witness to our true courage.
Loud, so all the Davids of the world can hear … and take heed.
Thank you for a steadfast love that acknowledges the hurt and seeks to heal, Gracious God. Thank you for knowing us deeply and caring for us fully. Help the church to be a place of refuge and advocacy, healing and justice making, love and compassionate power. Amen.
Marilyn Pagán-Banks (she/her/ella) is a queer womanist freedom fighter gratefully (though not always gracefully) serving as executive director of A Just Harvest, Senior Pastor at San Lucas UCC, and adjunct professor at McCormick Theological Seminary. She is a joyful contributor to The Words of Her Mouth.