Particular consequences follow early childhood sexual abuse.
I remember always having a heightened sexual awareness--a sixth sense for anything sexual in conversation and entertainment. I could sniff out sexual lyrics in a song by age 6 or 7. Sex scenes in television and movies drew me in like the tractor beam on the Death Star.
I began to withdraw, carrying guilt and shame--not only because of what had been done to me, but because of my resulting interest in sex and accompanying sexual behaviors. (Forgive me. I have a strong aversion to the "m-" word.)
But I was six years old. The abuse had stopped for the moment. I would be 17 before I would begin to process the events of my kindergarten year and even older before I would make connections between those events and my sexual awareness and experiences afterward. And older still before I would be able to call what happened "abuse." After all, it was my fault, and I deserved it--a lie the enemy continued to reinforce.
After my kindergarten year, my family moved into a small neighborhood across town that was home to several girls my age. At first, I was excited by this. I would have friends!
And I did. But those friendships were extremely conditional. One day, I would be good enough to be someone's friend. The next day, I wouldn't. All the girls would play together, but I would be left out.
As we grew older, most of the girls became too popular to associate with the likes of me--except one.
Our friendship began innocently enough. We played Barbies, performed plays for my parents, and pretended my pet kitten was our baby.
But then a new girl moved into the neighborhood. My friend befriended this new girl, and suddenly our play wasn't so innocent anymore. I was suddenly exposed to new information and experiences.
While I did not go looking for these experiences, I became a participant in them.
Why didn't I tell my parents as I had before? Age nine is too young to be very self-aware, so I can't be certain of my reasons.
Here are my best guesses:
1) What I believed.
What you believe matters. That statement is one of the most important things my friend Tim has ever taught me. What we believe dictates our actions. Always.
I believed that something was wrong with me. I was dirty, ruined. I attracted this kind of thing. It was my fault. I deserved it. And if I didn't participate, I would lose my only friend. Which brings me to #2.
Fear of being alone. And probably a fear we would move again.
I knew it was wrong. What we did made me feel sick and dirty, and I didn't want my parents to know how horrible I was. If they knew, they might not love me anymore.
So this all continued--I'm not sure how long--until God intervened on my behalf.
An Unlikely Rescue
One day, I was riding in the backseat of my friend's car. Her mom was driving. The car stopped, and I unbuckled. When the metal part of the buckle snapped back, it somehow broke off a chunk of the inside of the door. I was horrified. My friend's mom was furious. She yelled at me, and I was never allowed to play with my friend again.
It felt terrible at the time. Today, I'm only thankful.
Around the time of this event, the Holy Spirit was drawing me to himself. I sensed him powerfully during one particular revival meeting preached by David Uth at Cedar Crest Baptist Church. A holy weight settled around me. My heart raced.
I knew it was God.
I had actually experienced God's presence like this before when I was six...right after my first introduction to sexual perversion.
I responded both times by walking an aisle, praying "The Sinner's Prayer", and getting baptized. Because that's the only way I knew how to respond to God at the time.
Back then, I didn't understand the functions of the Holy Spirit beyond conviction of sin. I thought both times God was telling me that I needed to be saved. But that wasn't what God wanted to communicate at all.
Look at how precise, how precious his timing was for that little six year old...for that broken nine year old.
In the darkest moments of my life, God wanted me to feel his presence. So I wouldn't feel alone. So I wouldn't feel rejected. He wanted me to know I was loved and accepted beyond anything I could comprehend or imagine. Despite what had happened to me. Despite what I had done.
He wanted to exchange the lies for the Truth.
He wanted to shine His light on my darkness--not to shame me, but to heal me; not to expose my nakedness, but to clothe me in his glory.
A lamb had been lured from the fold. She'd gotten lost in the darkness. He was coming after her. And he wouldn't stop until she was home.