Confession time. I haven’t decorated the house for Christmas since 2010…Brandon is the Christmas guy, so it made sense when the boxes appeared on the evening of Black Friday and he and the kids began decorating the tree and bookshelves. What didn’t make sense was my simmering resentment…
Have you ever experienced a moment where your world just broke?
Most of us have, to some degree or another.
For me, I had two such moments very close to each other. They changed my world, redefined almost everything I thought I knew about God, and through that, changed me.
The first, unfortunately, is not a story I can share publicly, because other people’s lives would be impacted. It’s enough to know that the moment happened on February 11, 2015, and triggered the deepest grief cycle of my life up to that point.
A little less than four months later, I was still deeply in mourning when my youngest son (who had just turned three) was killed because he’d thought it would be clever to dash out behind Daddy’s truck to “hide” as my husband was backing up.
The pain of what happened is gone, but healing continues. Because relationship continues.
I’m still learning to trust God—really trust him. No matter what happens. This one is hard for me. You see, I was always where I was supposed to be when the bad things happened (and not just sexual abuse)—in my classroom, in my house, with family, at church, at work, at youth camp.
Not that I was perfectly behaved, but most of my foolishness took place after all the abuse and betrayals had occurred. Evil sought me out. Hunted me.
(Not that a woman’s foolishness or wisdom justifies or condemns the wrongful actions of others. Assault is assault, no matter where she was when it happened.)
At times, bad things happened because I did the right thing. Doing the right thing usually comes at a price.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are the weak people.
I often forget this Kingdom truth, so central to Christ’s life and teaching. All my life, I’ve been at war with my own weakness. But weakness is the only way to glory.
We see it in Christ’s coming. King of the Universe comes as a tiny infant needing his diaper changed. He grows among us as a peasant—an ugly peasant, no less. He experiences our griefs, cares, sicknesses, and burdens. He lives as a homeless vagrant, preaching forgiveness and repentance, healing the sick, casting out demons, ticking off the upper and religious classes. And then he lets his own creation murder him. Because that was the plan.
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.
What you believe matters.
A belief is like a seed. Throw it into the soil of the mind. Wait. In time, the belief yields the fruit of behavior. As the nature of the fruit depends upon the nature of the seed, so the nature of the behavior depends upon the nature of the belief.
All beliefs bear fruit eventually, no matter how deep you bury them.
All healing is a process. It usually doesn't take place overnight. I've found that even instantaneous healings often include substantial backstory.
The reason for this is that healing isn't about healing. Healing is about relationship, as is everything in the kingdom of God.
Read 1 John. You'll see. It's all about God loving you, you loving God, and us loving each other. God is about relationship, so everything he does is about relationship.
Before I had this revelation, I knew the truth of it instinctively.
When I became so sick after the birth of my daughter, I clung to God for dear life. Inside of me resided this deep knowing that I would not survive without God. I needed him. More than I needed food, water, or sleep.
At age 10, I was caught in a tug-of-war between light and dark. God had delivered me out of childhood sexual abuse and experimentation. He pursued me and loved me. But the stain of what happened lingered in my soul.
I became an angry child. No one understood my outbursts of temper or why I was suddenly in trouble at school. Thankfully, Mom decided to homeschool my sister and me.
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.)
I turned five the summer before I entered kindergarten, making me the youngest in the class. I didn't care. I was excited to go to school. I'd loved pre-K.
The only blemish on the previous school year was the hailstorm that had made the sky go black, the windows break, and the teachers panic as they herded small children from the temporary buildings outside into the main building where we would be safer. I still remember that day and the cabbage patch doll I held when the teacher's face went white and she said we must do as she said and quickly. And while the hailstones that rained from the sky had been big enough to kill a small child had they hit her just right, I think I was in less danger that day than I was the day I entered my kindergarten classroom.
Those who have followed my blog for the last several years know that I don't spare my readers from the dark moments, and neither do I leave them there. We always find our way out again. Until recently, I couldn't have led anyone very far in this particular darkness, which is why I haven't told this story in the past.
If you choose to read this series, I'm going to take you to some places that may bring you to face your own darkness, but I'm also going to show you where God's light was in mine so maybe you can find him in yours. I'm going to tell you how he healed my deepest wounds in hope that yours might get healed in the process. If you're up for that kind of journey, keep reading. If not, file away the web address for a later time.
Before I begin, I feel it's important to state that my story isn't unique. In fact, it's tragically common. Furthermore, my personal experience isn't even close to the worst version of this story I've heard. I'm friends with people who have experienced much worse. You, reader, may have experienced worse.