The Cinch Review

Knight, DeJesus and Berry: A Statement (and a Message Obscured)

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Michelle Knight statementAmanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were held captive in a house in Cleveland for about a decade. A man named Ariel Castro faces trial for their kidnapping and abuse and also for aggravated murder in the death of a baby which one of the women conceived during that time. I think it’s reasonable to say that most of us can only imagine in our worst nightmares what these women experienced during that decade of captivity. Most of us would also maintain that we’d rather die than face such an ordeal. Today, a video was released which features these three brave women thanking the public for the help and support that they’ve received since being freed.

Aside from being a compelling story on its own merits, it is also interesting to see how their message is being summarized in much of the media, for those who do not stop to watch the full three and a half minute video. In a portrayal that I’ve found typical today, has this:

In an inspiring, yet heartwrenching statement, Michelle Knight, who went missing in 2002 at age 21, said:

“I may have been through hell and back but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and with my head held high and my feet firmly on the ground … I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation.”

What’s interesting to me is what is left out by means of those three dots in the middle (and the same words were left out by USA Today and the BBC and others). Read just as it is there, it seems that Michelle Knight is crediting a personal sense of pride and self-regard for her strength and her survival. But there’s a little bit more to it than that, if you listen to her full statement (embedded at the bottom of this post). Here is the bulk of it, as transcribed by yours truly:

I just want everyone to know I’m doing just fine. I may have been through hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face, and with my head held high, and my feet firmly on the ground, walking hand in hand with my best friend.

I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation. I don’t want to be consumed by hatred. With that being said, we need to take a leap of faith and know that God is in control. We have been hurt by people but we need to rely on God as being the judge.

God has a plan for all of us. The plan that He gave me was to help others that have been in the same situation I have been in. To know that there’s someone out there to lean on and to talk to.

I’m in control of my own destiny, with the guidance of God.

[All bolding is mine, obviously.]

Well, is it just me, or is that significantly different in import to what TIME and much of the rest of the media quoted?

This incredibly courageous and composed young woman put herself out there and made a public statement which pointedly emphasized her deep trust in God, after all that she has suffered. And then the journalists and editors chopped it up in their quotes to make it sound like she was solely crediting her own individual and personal strength. It is fascinating in its way.

Michelle Knight provides here a rare high-profile and public testimony to the kind of strength that ordinary but awe-inspiring people who trust in God display every day, in hospitals, at death-beds, in difficult and tragic circumstances of every imaginable kind. Michelle Knight’s circumstance in that house in Cleveland is beyond conception, but not only did it not vanquish her: it did not even make her bitter. That is genuinely and rightfully amazing. The strength of such unspeakable evil, of her captor’s chains, of his daily and relentless abuse and cruelty, in the end appears as nothing against this woman’s heart, resting as it did in the care of the God in whom she trusted. Believers or not, surely it ought to leave us slack-jawed and speechless (and her testimony to it at least ought not be censored).

Michelle Knight today gave concrete and up-to-date witness to the very same thing which was expressed by someone named David thousands of years ago in Psalm 27.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

But if TIME, USA Today and the BBC had been quoting David, apparently Psalm 27 would instead have read something like this:

[…] Whom shall I fear? […] When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

David would be remembered today (if at all) as some kind of Superman, instead of as someone who trusted in God.

It’s interesting. And it’s a healthy reminder that though you may trust in God as much as you choose, you should never, ever trust what you read in the newspapers.


Addendum 8/1/2013: Michelle Knight’s full statement at the sentencing of her kidnapper and abuser Ariel Castro is at this link. Excerpt:

As you think about the 11 years and atrocities you inflicted on us, what does God think of you hypocritically going to church every Sunday, coming home to torture us. The death penalty would be so much easier. You don’t deserve that. You deserve to spend life in prison. I can forgive you, but I will never forget. With the guidance of God, I will prevail and help others that suffered at the hands of others.

Writing this statement gave me the strength to be a stronger woman, and know that there’s good — there is more good than evil.

I know that there is a lot of people going through hard times, but we need to reach out a hand and hold them and let them know that they’re being heard.

After 11 years, I am finally being heard, and it’s liberating.

Thank you, all. I love you. God bless you.

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