I was twenty-something years old. Perhaps that fact alone bought my silence. I was old enough to know better, big enough to enforce a “no.” Instead, I didn’t know I had any options. Doubted I was worth it. Thus, I stayed silent. After all, he never touched me. And he dressed his words with just enough power and deception to make me wonder if I was the one in the wrong.

The dismantling of my confidence took minutes.

For weeks I’d been negotiating a contract between our company, a customer and a vendor. It was a huge deal, my biggest to date, requiring missed lunches and extended hours. I didn’t mind, because I loved my job. And, as a young single mama, I desperately needed the commission.

However, the closer I came to closing the deal, the more the {married} vendor started crossing lines. Friendliness turned to flirtation. Flirtation turned to near-constant phone calls. And our conversations morphed into something centered less around our immediate business dealings and more around his personal appetites and how I could satisfy them.

Uncomfortable, I stopped picking up the phone, limited our interactions, talked in short, clipped tones while still trying to do my job and close the deal.

Then one day the boss made his way to my cubicle. Not my boss, but THE boss. The big guy in charge. At six-foot-five, he towered over my desk and invited me to follow him out of our office and into the building’s expansive foyer for a quick chat. It didn’t occur to me to question his motives or say “no, thank you.” He was an executive, in charge of dozens of people and millions of dollars. I was a young and up-and-coming sales rep. It wasn’t until we were alone that I knew I was in danger:

Simply, he said I needed to do whatever it took to close the deal. Whatever it took. Two-million dollars sat on the table, and if the vendor required something from me in order to make it happen, I was to give it to him. No questions asked.

Are we clear?

His eyes bore into mine, making sure I received his message. I did.

Now, years later, I’m able to call it what it was—sexual harassment. At the time, however, my young and confused self hid in the conference room and wept. I was a failure, a weak and incompetent woman who didn’t know how to hold her own in the workplace. Besides, didn’t I bring it on myself? Wasn’t I too friendly, opening myself up to those kind of liberties?

It’s been two decades since that incident. I’ve not really talked about it until now, haven’t felt the need to. Until the last week as I’ve watched the unfolding news stories and watched the #metoo threads on social media. The truth is I always felt a slithering shame and culpability whenever the memory popped up. Besides, I know many who have suffered far worse treatment. Does mine really matter?

Historically, I’ve resisted anything that that sniffs of faddish campaigns or glorified victimization. These situations are serious and require more than flippant social media posts that are sometimes shared as much for the attention they gain as the truth they disclose. I’ve played that game myself, albeit without intent, and try diligently to avoid it. I don’t want to see myself a victim; I see myself an overcomer.

Even so, I no longer believe it’s wisdom to be dismissive or silent about gross abuses like these, especially ones that so deeply compromise a man or woman’s sense of boundaries and personal dignity. Perhaps this is a result of my growing confidence and security in who I am, who God has created me to be. But I suspect it’s more the result of my fairly recent role as a mama of girls. I don’t want them to end up weeping in a lonely conference room because they didn’t know they were worth more.

So to my sweet girls who don’t yet fully know the dangers that await them, and to the scores of women and men who have found themselves publicly (or privately) whispering #metoo this week, these are the truths I would tell the twenty-something me, the one crying alone in the conference room.

And these are the words my heart wants YOU to hear, too.

  1. You were intentionally created by a God who crazy loves you. Exactly as you are.
  2. You are more than your job. No job is irreplaceable. You, however, are.
  3. You are more than your relationships. No man, woman, child will make you complete. God alone holds the key to your wholeness.
  4. You are more than what you do. No amount of achievement will add to your value. No lack of achievement will take it away.
  5. You are more than the most recent critique or affirmation. Your worth is not subject to anyone’s opinion. Not even your own.
  6. You are human. That means you have made—and will make—mistakes. But you are not an accident, misfit, nuisance or problem to be solved. Your life is a gift worth savoring. And respecting.
  7. Your mistakes do not diminish your value. Or your right to dignity and respect. Period.
  8. You don’t deserve shame. So let it go. It’s not yours to carry.
  9. You are worth protecting, fighting for, defending, nurturing, loving. Always.

[reminder]If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you tell her (or him)? [/reminder]

Get the Relentless Verse Download

When you need to know God is near, grab this free download of verses compiled by Michele and inspired by her new book, Relentless.

Thank you! I am excited to have you on board.

Get the Video Series in Your Inbox

You'll receive one video in your inbox for 7 days.  

Done! Check your email to confirm.

Get the 7-Day Video Series Delivered to YourEmail

You will receive one video per day for seven consecutive days.

Great! Check your email to confirm.

Let's Stick Together

 By subscribing you are agreeing to receive Michele's occasional blog posts, videos and newsletters in your email. Subscribers get exclusive access to her free premium resources.

Yay! Thank you! I am excited to have you on board.

Skip to content