Recently as I prayed the Lord led me to write about the storm I faced as I ended my tenure as Chief of Police at a major university. After three and a half years of achieving great success, I found myself facing an incredible storm. An employee who I considered a close friend, filed a sexual harassment complaint against me.
You can’t imagine the devastation you feel when someone files this type of complaint, especially when you have always tried to lived a good Christian life. What made this even more devastating was that it came from someone I called a friend; a brother in Christ. This was a person that often greeted me with a hug and told many around us what a great friend I was. A person who joined me during fellowship meetings, who greeted my wife with a hug and kiss, and who often shared a meal with me.
Never would I or any of my peers have imagined that this person would file this type of complaint, especially in light of the way he behaved whenever around me. The hurt I endured was unbearable and was only tempered by God’s presence in my life. I could not understand, why something like this would happen to me. I faithfully served the Lord, never used profanity, and treated this individual and everyone else with a great deal of love and compassion. So then how could this happen? How could something so devastating, embarassing and painful happen to me?
There are many who have argued that this was a planned effort, the great conspiracy theory. There are others who hypothesize a variety of theories all of which involve a an intentional evil attack. But in the end, I believe it really comes down to the fact that their is an evil one, an enemy who is a liar and does come to steal, kill, and destroy. He creates confusion in the minds of many, leading to actions that are often unexplainable and out of the ordinary for certain individuals. In my case, the person who filed the complaint was always a good person and before resigning my position, I conveyed my sincerest apologies to him. If he believed that my comments and actions were intended to harass him, he was wrong as I would never do that to him or anyone else. But if my comments and actions led him to feel harasssed in any way, then I was wrong and thus the reason for my decision to move on. It is also the reason that I carry no ill will towards that person and remember him often in my prayers. In the end, it is not so much about what I intended as it is about what he perceived.
What does one learn from such a devastating experience? Should I change who I am, cease all joking, refrain from befriending employees or co-workers? Many who know me have insisted that this person was wrong for never bring his concerns to my attention and that I should not change who I am as this is the person they love. These words are greatly appreciated but the reality is that while I will always be who I am, I still must ensure that who I am does not end up hurting others.
Today, I recognize that as I laugh with others, I must assure that they never feel that they are being laughed at. I must measure my comments so as to not cause anyone hurt and remember that the words that precede out of my mouth must reflect the love of Christ at all times.
Despite the time that has past since this storm, I am still learning from it. Learning that we cannot simply go through the motions of being a Christian, but must become disciplined in our walk with Christ so that we live lives that reflect Him at all times. It really often comes down to recognizing when we make the mistake of having moved into it being all about us, instead of it being all about Him. We must all learn that this life is all about our walk with Christ, not about what he can do for us but about what we should be doing for Him. We must surrender it all to Him, setting our pride and egos aside so that He might be honored and glorified. In the end, the storm can help you grow into a better person if you simply remember that Christ is there to see you through the storm. Trust in Him, always!