For those who read this blog that aren't LDS, twice a year we have what is called "General Conference." It's a huge meeting that is televised/broadcasted for all members of the church where we get to listen to the prophet, apostles, and some of the other leaders of the church speak. It's an amazing opportunity to learn and to feel the love the Lord has for us.
This year we have cable, which includes the BYU channel. We offered to have 2 families with young kids come over and watch with us on Sunday. It's a lot less stressful to watch at home than to go to the church building and try to keep kids in line for 2 hours in a semi-dark room! I really enjoyed listening to the talks that were given. There are actually 5 sessions of conference. Saturday morning and afternoon, a special Priesthood session Saturday evening, and then Sunday morning and afternoon. Brett and I were at a wedding on Saturday afternoon/evening, and I forgot to record the session, but we have the other 3. So I went online to read the talks I missed.
One talk in particular really stood out to me. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, whom I had the privilege of seeing in person in June of 2011. The title of his address is "Protect the Children."
Obviously our church teaches that child abuse is horrific, etc. But I was really touched that he chose to focus on it. Child abuse seems to be a rather taboo topic in society. We see commercials on TV all the time about saving the poor, defenseless, abused animals (not that I'm advocating animal abuse, either!). We see advertisements encouraging us to feed the starving children in Africa.
But what about OUR children? What are we doing in our nation, in our state, in our city, to protect our children? This issue is so close to me. My heart aches for the millions of children I KNOW are out there that are being abused and/or neglected. My heart breaks to think of these poor, vulnerable children who feel, as I used to, that they are unwanted, unloved, and unlovable. That the abuse they endure is somehow warranted. That surely they must have done something to deserve it, and therefore, they do not merit love or affection.
It's hard for me to write about this. I struggled with these feelings for years, even after being adopted by a wonderful, loving family. Even after being in counseling. Sometimes in my weak moments, these thoughts and fears, however irrational, STILL creep into my mind. That is how deeply my abuse affected me, and still affects me.
To be honest, I don't know the exact details of what happened to me. There are conflicting stories. But it doesn't matter. I was abused. I was not protected, not even by the one person on this earth who should have given her very life to keep me from harm. I endured things no person should have to, especially no child. I bear more emotional and psychological scars from it than I do physical, and that's saying something.
I encourage you to read the talk I linked above, or read it again even if you already have. I especially liked this quote from Elder Oaks' talk:
"We are all under the Savior’s command to love and care for each other and especially for the weak and defenseless."
How do you show your love?