Before I continue my story, let's review a few important steps on the path to inner healing.
No one goes anywhere with God unless first invited by the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, every healing story begins with God's desire for our wholeness, not our desire for wholeness. Apart from him, we don't even know we're broken.
We have to agree with God that we're broken. Sometimes, we have to speak this agreement aloud in the presence of other believers. James 5:16 says, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed."
I'm not saying my sexual abuse was the result of my sin. That's crazy. I didn't choose that. Nevertheless, it opened me up to darkness that eventually yielded sin.
Confession brings the light in.
Forgiveness begins with a decision. Most people can't forgive an atrocity quickly or all at once. I can't. For me, it happens in layers with the help of the Holy Spirit.
I determine to forgive, no matter how I feel. I speak out forgiveness. I verbally refuse to judge the motives and intentions of the offender's heart (i.e. "That person did that because they are ______.")
I do this out of obedience to Christ because Christ forgave me of a much greater debt. Eventually, my heart engages with the act of my will and the confession of my mouth.
Forgiveness doesn't mean what happened is okay. What happened to me was evil. It will always be evil. Forgiveness doesn't eliminate consequences or justify the act. Justice and righteousness are the foundation of God's throne. One day, my offenders will have to give an account for their wrongs. As will I for mine. My only plea will be the blood of Jesus.
To refuse to forgive is akin to drinking poison and expecting the offender to die. Do that, and your offender will leave you dead on the ground and forget you ever existed.
To forgive is to release yourself from the power of the wrong and rest in the hands of a sovereign God. These days, I take a wild delight in forgiveness. It's my way of dancing on evil's grave.
It's important to identify and address the lies we believe. This requires a supernatural component because we aren't aware of the lies we believe. If we were, we wouldn't believe them. The Holy Spirit has to come in and correct us, whether he does that through scripture or a word he speaks to our hearts (which will always be aligned with the truth of scripture).
This one usually occurs early in the process, but I saved it for last because it makes people uncomfortable. Because--yes--I'm talking about deliverance from evil spirits, which is a normal part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's part of the Luke 4 mission statement. It's part of the Great Commission. (Many believers don't know this because they only read the Matthew 28 version and skip the Mark 16 version to avoid the awkwardness of not engaging in deliverance and healing ministry.)
I mentioned my deliverance from a spirit of lust in an earlier post. That deliverance changed my life, as have other deliverances I've experienced.
The final stage of my inner healing from sexual abuse began with another (and hopefully my last) deliverance.
Bring on the Light!
Here's the thing about light--it exposes darkness and helps you see more clearly. I didn't notice the darkness before the light. My spiritual eyes had long ago adjusted to it. But when God turned on the light--wow! Pain!
It was as if God reached down from the heavens into the depths of my being and pulled up a dead tree by the roots. Sure, the dead tree was gone, but the ground was left a mess.
I was left a mess.
Until that moment, I had operated under a well-kept system of denial, packing down the pain until the surface of the soil was hard and smooth. All at once, 30 years of unaddressed pain lay exposed before me. Of course, God knew it was there all along.
Remember, God is about relationship. He wasn't going to force his will on me like my abusers had. He wasn't going to sneak in like a ninja and take it from me while I looked the other way. Not while I held onto it like a comfort blankie. He wanted me to see it so I might bring it to him. So we might work on it together. So I could know him better in the process.
So I could realize the people I was maddest at weren't my offenders...but us.
Me and him.
...to be continued...