She shuffles into the café, holding the white linen headscarf across her mouth and chin, so only her hazel eyes peek through. The woman’s beauty couldn’t be hidden under the fabric and I guess her identity in an instant.
Tamar—the woman abandoned in her hour of need.
Strands of her dark brown hair fall forward as she nods and approaches the table.
I stand and extend my hand. “Thanks for agreeing to meet with me.”
Tamar releases her grip on the scarf and shakes my hand. “My pleasure.”
The conversations around us hush as the patrons stop to stare at the dark-haired beauty.
She notices, ducks her head, and sits.
Interesting. This king’s daughter was clearly not a spoiled rich kid.
I take out my notes and recorder, getting my questions settled before I press the button. “Tell us what it was like growing up in David’s Kingdom? Did you get to run and play like most kids? Or were you expected to be prim and proper?”
She smirks. “Oh, we were supposed to sit by the throne and behave, but we didn’t. I used to hide behind the royal drapery and pop out and scare my brothers and sisters. They hated it.”
“Were you close to them?”
Her eyes darken, age lines gathering in an instant. Or had I missed them before? Years of loneliness and abandonment had taken their toll on the beautiful woman.
“I grew up and others noticed.”
“You mean Amnon.”
She turns and looks out the window, sighing. “Yes,” she whispers. The pain in her voice comes out loud and clear in that one soft-worded answer. “If only I’d known his true intent. I never would’ve gone to him that day.”
My stomach lurches as I can almost see the scene playing out in her mind like a movie reel rolling. Images I don’t want to imagine pop into my head. I shut my eyes to block them out but can’t stop the tear from escaping.
Her pain resonates after all these years. I reach over and put my hand over hers. “I’m so sorry you went through that horrible crime.”
She turns back to me, eyes glistening from unshed tears. “Thanks.”
The barista brings the chai tea lattes I ordered earlier. We both sip.
A pause passes over us. I let it linger before asking the next question.
“I’m sure it was hard for you when your father and Absalom barely acknowledged what happened. Where was your mother, Maacah?”
She sighs and puts her mug down. “She did what every mother in our time era would do. Be submissive to her husband and stayed quiet.”
“That must have been tough. Not being able to talk to anyone.”
“I tried but no one would listen. It was as if nothing happened.”
No one would listen. How many times have I done the same thing? Not taken time to stop and really hear what a family member or friend was going through? We live in an age when everything is done through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and texting. No real face-to-face contact. I’m not talking about Skype or FaceTime, but being in the physical presence of someone.
When was the last time we stopped and listened?
I bring my focus back to Tamar to ask one last question. “What was the hardest thing you had to endure to get through this pain?”
Her face contorts and she pulls her headscarf forward. “Shame and guilt. I hate the way people look at me. They make me believe the rape was my fault.” She peeks at the tables around us. “And that it stole any hope of a normal life with a husband and family.”
My heart breaks for all that could have been. Why wasn’t anyone there for her? Why did she have to face this pain alone? I clench my fists.
I sit back and cross my arms, pondering a question. Is this what all rape victims go through? They think it’s their fault?
Lord, heal her pain. Heal the pain of all the women out there today going through this.
I pop forward and take both of her hands in mine. “This was not your doing and if others place the blame on you, then shame on them. They will answer to God one day. He loves you just as you are.”
She smiles as a tear trickles down her cheek.
This subject is one we don’t often talk about. Some victims remain silent for fear of shame and guilt. That’s not how God wants us to handle pain. If we know of someone in need—no matter what that might be—we should be reaching out to help.
Let’s put aside the texting, Facebooking, and meet that person face-to-face. Tell them they’re not alone. We care. God loves them. Encourage them to get help.
And most of all . . .
Show them their hearts aren’t tainted but perfect.
Just the way they are.
Do you know someone going through a similar pain? Any ideas on how we can reach out? Share your thoughts.
Psalm 34:5 (NIV)
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.