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An Eye for an Eye and All That, Right??.

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“Me”?

I point my finger at my chest, and question, almost in utter disbelief. “Surely, you don’t mean me?”

“Yes,” He said. “I do mean you.”

I tried to wrap my head around that thought. Me. A Jew asking me, a Samaritan for a drink?

I continue to draw water into the earthen pot. I didn’t expect to see anyone here. Usually, I make a point to come to the well long after the other women have gone. I don’t like the looks they give me… or the contempt – I have enough of that for myself. I really don’t need them to tell me what a failure I am. All I have to do is go back home to a man I am not even married to, or think about the amount of suffering I have endured from the hands of men since my childhood. Men using me for their own gratification. These women only care to see the outside, and they will assume what they want to assume. They don’t care to look beneath the surface. But, this man speaks to me of secret things he could not possibly know about me. His words strike my heart. My soul is set ablaze by the words he speaks. I want to hear more.

As I ponder his words, I offer him a drink. How does this man know these things about me? He doesn’t look familiar. I don’t believe I have seen him here before. Certainly, as a Jew, he is breaking all the rules of the traditions the Jews hold in high esteem. Ha. Ha. Can you imagine what the other women would think about this?

“If you knew who it is speaking to you, you would instead ask me for Living Water. This is the water, that, if you drink of it, you will never thirst again.”

“Are you serious”? The words came out so fast, I couldn’t stop them. I slapped my hand over my mouth. It was the strangest concept I have ever heard! “Sir, are you telling me I could drink this water and, magically never thirst again? That is the funniest thing I have ever heard. You have nothing with which to draw water from the well. How am I to taste of this water, sir? Are you greater than Jacob, our Father, who gave us this well? Please, sir, give me a taste!”

His eyes were gentle. His face kind. “First,” He said, “go and get your husband.” His eyes penetrated my soul with such love and warmth, I felt as though my insides were melting.

“My husband?” I stammered. “Sir, I do not have a husband.”

“You have spoken the truth. You have had 5 husbands, and the man you are with now is not your own.”

I dropped my pot to the ground as his words penetrated my heart, yet again. His words burning my whole being. He bent to steady the vessel for me. “You must be a prophet, sir. You know, our ancestors worshiped here on this mountain, but you Jews claim the only place to worship is in Jerusalem.”

Believe me, woman, a time is coming when those who worship God won’t worship him on this mountain, or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship, yet you do not really know who it is you worship. We worship God whom we know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet, I tell you the time has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth. These are the true worshipers the Father seeks. Do you understand that God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth?”

“I know, sir, the Messiah will come, and when he does, he will explain it all to us.” My heart skipped a beat. For the first time I could see a smile spread across his face. A twinkle lit his eyes.

“I, the one speaking to you now – I am he.”

Such profound words falling upon my ears. I didn’t notice the Disciples walk up. The realization of who I was talking to was still sinking into my heart and soul. Somehow, I already knew. In the way his words cut right through me; straight to the heart.

The Disciples didn’t seem pleased Jesus was talking to a Samaritan, and a woman at that! But they didn’t say a word. They just looked on with eyes wide open. But, I didn’t care. The Messiah was standing right in front of me! The One who was coming to free us all. He was here, speaking to me, a woman of great sin.

I have to go. I must run back to my village and let them know who is here and how he has come to set us free! The Messiah is here! And he has chosen me, a woman of lowly stature, and ill repute, to go and preach the Kingdom of the Gospel of Christ.

Do you see what he has done? He has come, even for the likes of me. An outcast of society, he has come to save. He has come.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you recognize this story, it is from John chapter 4, “The Woman at the Well.” An idea of the conversation that may have taken place on that day.

Award winning, poet and author, Cheryl A. Thompson, has been a single mother to Trey, Charlie and Brett since October of 1989. Through the trials of her childhood, and the struggles of single-parenthood, Cheryl has learned the importance of a heart attitude toward life and God, and how that attitude impacts a person’s soul and their relationship with God. She is a 1983 graduate of Christ For the Nations, Institute, in Dallas, Texas, and a 2012 graduate of Mid-Continent University in Mayfield, Kentucky. Cheryl has been published in the FaithWriters quarterly book, FaithWriters online magazine, and a contributing writer for the Christ For the Nations—60 Years of Service coffee table book released in October of 2009. She has published articles in Heart Magazine 2012 and WHOA Women Magazine 2013. Her first book, Whispers From My Heart – Emotional and Spiritual Healing from Childhood Sexual Assault, was published in November 2009.

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ANGRY1
White hot.

Burning.

Seething.

I pushed my coffee cup to the side and stared out the window. My tears fell easily.

“I’m so angry,” I told my friend. “I just can’t see past the pain.”
I picked at the napkin in my hand. I could feel the simmer of my anger.

“Don’t you see how that anger is holding you back from healing?”

“I don’t know if I can let it go, Ang.”

Angie is right, I know she is. I haven’t been able to let go for years… too many years. Anger has been my motivation. If I let it go, then where would I be? How would I cope? “I’ve held on to this anger for most of my life. I don’t know how to let it go.”

Tears streamed down my face, but I didn’t care if the other patrons in the diner saw me. My pain was real and these tears validated the depth of my pain. Angie reached across the table and covered my hands with hers. Her face etched with my pain.

“I understand how deeply you were hurt, Rebecca, but keeping this anger inside is only going to eat you up inside. It will keep your heart hard, and away from God’s healing power.”

“I know.” I whimpered.

I had been a Christian since I was fourteen years old. I understood why God wanted me to release this anger into his hands. But, I couldn’t. It wasn’t fair of God to ask me to let it go. He, of all people, should understand why I am so angry! He saw the depth of depravity they drug me through. He knows what those men did. God only knows how many people saw those pictures Rick took. I was only eight years old! I deserved to be angry! Don’t I?

“You know, Rebecca,” Angie began, “God understands why you are angry. And, according to the world, you have every right to be. God isn’t mad at you because you feel anger at what those men did. He is angry too. But, your anger is not accomplishing anything. It only hurts you. God’s anger, on the other hand, will accomplish what he wants it to accomplish. He isn’t going to let them off of the hook. They still have to answer for their sin against you. God wants you to release your anger to him, so you can be free from the past. Don’t you see how your anger against those men keep you tied to them? Keeps you tied to their abuse? The longer you hold on, the less likely you are to heal.”

I hate that she is right. I can feel God’s Spirit tugging at my heart; telling me she’s right… telling me to let it go. ‘God, it’s so unfair that you’re asking me to do this!’ as if screaming in my head would change God’s mind.

“God wants to heal you, Rebecca, but you’ve got to let him do what he needs to do in you. If you won’t release your anger, he is at a stand-still. You are literally stopping him from completing his work in you… do you understand that?”

Why is she always so spot on?

“Anger is natural, but you don’t express it. You keep it bottled up inside. That’s not healthy. Not only is it hurting you spiritually, it is hurting you physically. I see some of the signs, already. **Depression. Anxiety. Those are the things I can see. But, what about what I can’t see? There are all sorts of physical ailments repressed anger can cause. You could give yourself a heart attack. A stroke. Abdominal pain. Insomnia. Headaches, and high blood pressure.

Wow. If she only knew my stomach always hurt, and sleep was next to impossible to obtain every night! Oh, wait. God knows! Is that why she keeps stabbing me with her words? God keeps exposing my wound and pouring on the salt.”

“I don’t want to see you suffer any more than you already have, Bec. It’s been a long haul, you deserve some peace.” Angie stroked my hand with her thumb. “You know I love you. I want the best for you. Think how much more God wants the best for your life. Your future. You know his plans are meant for good, right? He would never ask you to do something that would harm you. He wants you to be free from the past.”

Oh, God, help me to let it go! Help me to put this anger in your hands! Help me to be free!

“Angie,” I looked her in the eyes for the first time since we sat down. My heart pounded. Tears rolled down my face again. My breath stuck. “Pray for me…” My voice is barely a whisper. Strong emotion choked my words… “Since I gave my heart to Jesus, I told him the main thing I have always wanted to do, was to be obedient to whatever he asked of me… but I can’t do this on my own. I need help.”

“It’s okay, Rebecca.” Angie was crying too. I’m sure the other patrons wondered what was taking place in the corner booth. I wondered if they could feel the presence of God the way I could. Did they know God was meeting us at Denny’s? Could they feel a miracle taking place?

“Let’s pray now.”

Angie squeezed my hands as we bowed our heads.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

How anger affects your body, here.

For a biblical response to anger, please go here.

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Cheryl HeadShot
Award winning poet and author, Cheryl A. Thompson, has been a single mother to Trey, Charlie and Brett since October of 1989. Through the trials of her childhood, and the struggles of single-parenthood, Cheryl has learned the importance of a heart attitude toward life and God, and how that attitude impacts a person’s soul and their relationship with God. She is a 1983 graduate of Christ For the Nations, Institute, in Dallas, Texas, and a 2012 graduate of Mid-Continent University in Mayfield, Kentucky. Cheryl has been published in the FaithWriters quarterly book, FaithWriters online magazine, and a contributing writer for the Christ For the Nations—60 Years of Service coffee table book released in October of 2009. She has published articles in Heart Magazine 2012 and WHOA Women Magazine 2013. Her first book, Whispers From My Heart – Emotional and Spiritual Healing from Childhood Sexual Assault, was published in November 2009.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
On January 28th, Casting Crowns will release their newest album, #Thrive (See video below).

As I watch the promotion of their album, and the “month of giving” on their Facebook Page (here), I began to wonder, “How can we thrive in life if we live in brokenness”?

We all face brokenness at one time or another in our lives, but for those who have lived through childhood sexual assault, brokenness becomes a way of life. The norm. Many times, just the thought of living outside the realm of “broken” is scary. It’s all we know. But, if we choose to move forward, is it possible to actually thrive while still in the state of brokenness?

I believe so.

Thrive is defined as:

to grow strongly and vigorously, to do well; prosper.

Growing Stronger:
In order to grow stronger one must be willing to seek healing. As long as the past continues to control the present, becoming strong isn’t possible.

When I first began my journey to healing, I could barely speak of my rape and molestation without breaking down. My past would suffocate my words and choke them off in my throat. As I allowed God into those broken areas, something marvelous began to happen. The intensity of the pain began to lessen. I could talk about my past easier than before. Today, as I look back, my past does not hold the same emotions it once did. I am able to speak to a group of women without breaking down. Oh sure, I still get choked up every now and again, but it does not cripple me. I have grown much stronger than I was on day one.

Growing stronger doesn’t mean you aren’t going to have bad days. You will. Growing stronger means, on those bad days, you work through the emotions — cry, journal, pray, talk with your counselor, etc. You aren’t content to stay and wallow in your pain.

During the early period of my healing it was tough. My emotions were out of whack, to the point I could barely function. I viewed myself as an empty shell then. My counselor encouraged me to begin writing down what I felt. She told me to be honest; don’t hold back but to write down everything that came to mind about my abuse (she also encouraged me to find a hiding place so my thoughts were kept private — I encourage you to do the same). I followed her advice. One look at my old journals will tell you what stage I was in. There are a lot of angry entries. Hateful entries. “Why me?” entries. But, there are entries that show improvement. Entries of forgiveness… hope… encouragement. Growing stronger meant, I didn’t remain in my anger, or hatred. I worked through them to forgiveness. I worked through “Why me?” to hope. And finally, to encouragement.

To Do Well:
Part of healing is being broken. Broken enough to allow those emotions to come forward. To seek God, and seek wholeness from him.

This journey to healing isn’t a quick trip. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. Time and a willingness to continue forward is a sign of doing well. Sure, you’ll have setbacks, everyone does, but those setbacks don’t hold us back.

Do you remember this quote?

it doesn’t matter how many times you fall .. what matters is how many times you stand up, shake it off, and moving forward .- Unknown

It’s true.

You can hit the dust 1,000 times, but as long as you get back up, dust off, and take another step forward, you are doing well. You are moving forward. God isn’t looking at how many times you’ve stepped backwards. He isn’t worried that you fell. He is interested in you getting up… He’s cheering you on. He is beside you, whispering in your ear, You can do it! I believe in you!

Thrive

3 John 1:2 says,
Our beloved, I pray for you that you will prosper in all things and be well, just as your soul prospers (ABPE).

God wants us to do well. He wants us to thrive.

In order to thrive, we need to know who we are in Christ Jesus. We can’t understand who God says we are if we aren’t reading his word. Our soul prospers as the word permeates our insides and changes us. Changes our hearts, our minds, our thought process, and our actions.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Cris Corzine, counsels sexual abuse survivors every day. She believes in teaching her clients about their spiritual identity.“Because knowing who we are in Christ is the key to victorious living.” “My favorite scripture for all time” Cris relates, “is 2 Cor 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (NIV).”

We are righteous because of Christ. Accept it. Embrace it.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Each time we allow God into those areas of our heart that are wounded and hurting, we heal. As we heal, we grow. As we grow, we get stronger. As we get stronger we begin to #Thrive…

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Cheryl HeadShot
Award winning poet and author, Cheryl A. Thompson, has been a single mother to Trey, Charlie and Brett since October of 1989. Through the trials of her childhood, and the struggles of single-parenthood, Cheryl has learned the importance of a heart attitude toward life and God, and how that attitude impacts a person’s soul and their relationship with God. She is a 1983 graduate of Christ For the Nations, Institute, in Dallas, Texas, and a 2012 graduate of Mid-Continent University in Mayfield, Kentucky. Cheryl has been published in the FaithWriters quarterly book, FaithWriters online magazine, and a contributing writer for the Christ For the Nations—60 Years of Service coffee table book released in October of 2009. She has published articles in Heart Magazine 2012 and WHOA Women Magazine 2013. Her first book, Whispers From My Heart – Emotional and Spiritual Healing from Childhood Sexual Assault, was published in November 2009.

whispersfrommyheart:

An Epidemic of Rape around the world.

Originally posted on vic briggs:

combinedscaleandsanctionofrape20113

Open up the papers on any day of the week and you are bound to find another article on rape. It is a pandemic. No corner of the world is safe from it.

I tend to get my daily news from the Guardian. The world’s attention is once again focused on rape and violence against women in India. 

Connaught-place-inner-circle-1On Tuesday, a Danish woman was gang-raped near Connaught Place, a popular shopping location in the centre of New Delhi. She was lost and asked for directions. Is this what things have come to? A 51-year-old woman getting beaten and robbed, raped for daring to ask for a helping hand. No arrests were made.

Visiting India had been long on my list of must dos, but I have to admit I will not be making my way to the subcontinent in a hurry. Until the Indian government takes the issue with the seriousness…

View original 1,159 more words

Courtesy of ShutterStock

Courtesy of ShutterStock

“It’s in the past, get over it.”

How many times have you heard that?

Exactly what is meant by “get over it”?

Do they mean:
Stop being so needy?
Quit crying?
Act normal?
Quit being a drama queen.
Stop rehashing the same old story?

Throughout my journey to heal people quoted that exact phrase to me. People, who did not understand the process of healing. Well meaning people who didn’t understand why I couldn’t let go the past. They didn’t understand the underlying issues associated with sexual abuse. I was accused of being a drama queen. Of loving attention. I heard, “It happened such a long time ago, Cheryl, you just need to let it go now.”

They were well-meaning, but they were wrong.

Most of the time, when I heard those words, I became angry. Angry because, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t “get over” what happened. I couldn’t flip a switch to turn off the internal roller coaster. I tried to get better by reading self-help books– I devoured them. I tried talking to myself positively and ended up berating myself for not believing. I did bible studies only to believe God must intend pain and suffering for my life. I did everything I knew in order to “get over” the years of rape and molestation. Yet, my pain and anguish of yesterday still ruled my today’s.

I couldn’t “Get Over It.”

For the longest time I felt as though something was mentally wrong with me. I thought, “I must have some kind of psychological problem, and that is why I can’t “get over” my abuse.” How many times have we told ourselves that very thing? That has to be the reason, right? Otherwise, I would be strong enough to overcome… wouldn’t I?

Isn’t that what we are taught?

Ignore it, it will go away.
The past doesn’t matter, it’s over.
Don’t talk about it, it just brings up bad memories.
The past is just that; past. It’s over, don’t dwell on it.

Those phrases almost sound like good logic. And there are plenty who talk a good game, but you know what? The past doesn’t stay in the past. It resurrects itself in the present. The past creates problems now. It oozes into your relationships, and spills out into every aspect of your life. In reality, your childhood trauma not only affects you, but it affects everyone around you. Maybe that is the real reason we’re told to “get over it.” If Childhood Sexual Assault stayed in the past, where it belonged, those of us who have been abused would lead happier, more productive lives. But the past doesn’t stay buried, does it? The pain of childhood rape and molestation does not understand it should not show up in the here and now.

You can’t just “Get Over It.”

Childhood Sexual Assault is not an illness one recovers from quickly. There isn’t a prescription we can take to clear it up. We can’t wash it away with a few scented baths. We can’t talk ourselves out of the pain. We can mask it, we can cover it over and think we have healed, but unless we experience true healing, our past will continue to affect us. It isn’t easy to just “Get Over It.” It takes real healing, not to “get over it,” but to overcome every single issue of Childhood Sexual Assault.

Healing is a journey — a series of small steps — lasting years. A journey designed to uncover every issue affecting our lives, and one that must be walked out day by day. One step at a time. One issue at a time. One layer at a time. Peeling back each layer and inviting God to deal with the wound.

My hope, through the things I post here on Whispers, is that those who have never been assaulted at any time in your life, will find an understanding into the heart of the one who has. Maybe a post will help you understand your sister, your mother, your friend, your neighbor or your co-worker. Maybe you will have more patience when you hear their story for the one thousandth time. Maybe, by reading this blog, you will find more compassion for the struggles and set backs those who are overcoming sexual abuse face. If nothing else, maybe the words, “It’s in the past, get over it,” will never be said again.

Cheryl Thompson is an award-winning poet, and author, and single mom to Trey, Charlie, and Brett, and “Gammy” to Dillinger. She’s got a few degrees, but most of her learning came from very difficult seasons in her childhood, and adulthood. Through it all, Cheryl learned an importance for keeping a heart tender for God. She is a freelance writer and blogger, who has been published in the FaithWriters quarterly book, FaithWriters online magazine, the 2009 Christ For the Nations—60 Years of Service coffee table book. She has published articles in Heart Magazine 2012 and WHOA Women Magazine 2013. Cheryl’s first book, Whispers From My Heart – Emotional and Spiritual Healing from Childhood Sexual Assault, was published in November 2009 and awarded the Christian Choice Book Award 2010.

You can follow Cheryl on Facebook here: and Twitter here:
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I know. It sounds flippant. But, really, it’s not. I really am sorry. I didn’t mean to do it, again. I didn’t mean to give in to a moment of weakness.

But, I did.

I hate when I give in to sin. It is usually followed by a sense of distance between God’s Spirit and me, and a bout of guilt that continues until I break down, confess myself to God, and repent of my sin.

That’s how it went today. Happily, in short order.

Sin is deceitful. It draws us in by constant bombardment. At times, we are able to stand firm against it, and it lessens the pull against us. However, there are those moments of weakness when we give in to that temptation. It seems so exciting, so good, so inviting, when we are being tempted. But once we have given into the sin, and completed the sin, the guilt and shame enter in. The guilt and the shame create the distance that develops between God and our self. Sin always causes us to shrink away from God. Sin and God cannot stay in the same place.

That’s how sin works.

That’s why God tells us to resist the devil and he will flee from you. – James 4:7.

I can hear you saying, “But, you don’t know how hard it is…”!
Oh, yes I do. That is why I also come bearing good news.

We are all human. While we can learn to overcome sin, we are bound to fail. God, in his mercy, has already made provision for us.

The work that Jesus did on the cross, not only provided us with salvation, but total forgiveness of sin. Total. I mean, everything we did in the past, everything we do today, and everything we do in the future. Covered. Taken care of. Blotted out.

“Are you telling me if I let loose of a string of cuss words, I’m covered? I can do whatever I want?”

I didn’t say that.

“But, that’s what it sounded like.”

No, that is not what I’m saying. Otherwise, the guilt I felt when I gave in to temptation is of no use.

When Jesus died he died ONCE and FOR ALL for ALL sin for ALL TIME, Romans 6:10, he took care of sin for ALL TIME for ALL who come to him.

“You mean, me, too?”

Yes, you, too.

However, if, once we have accepted Christ’s payment for our sin, if we continue to live in sin his sacrifice is null and void for us – See Hebrews 10:26.

A Christian who willingly sins hasn’t died to sin – Romans 6:2.
One who humbles him or herself in the sight of God allows God’s Spirit to work sin out; to conform us to the image of Christ.

As one who is overcoming the issues of Childhood Sexual Assault, falling off the sin wagon is huge. Since control is a big issue, loosing control matters. Not controlling my mouth, or my body, or my attitude, brings about huge disappointments. As soon as I give in to sin, the cycle begins: I retreat from God, and as I make that retreat, I remind myself; “You’re so stupid, you can’t do anything right.” “You are dumb.” “God hates you.” These thoughts take me even farther away from God. They increase my distance from him. Thankfully, God’s Spirit also begins his work, reminding me God’s mercy is new every morning -Lamentations 3:22 & 23. Drawing me back. Closing the gap.

You see, God knows we are going to fail.
He has already forgiven us.
Already given us the way back.
Already closing the distance between us, and him.
Already drawing us back in.

The scriptures tell us in Romans 8:39, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Our failures don’t make us unlovable to God. They won’t cause God to abandon us. He won’t run away from us. We’ll be chastised because he loves us – Hebrews 12:6. We’ll have to suffer the consequences of our choices, but God will never turn away or forsake us.

Don’t hold back.
He’s calling you to turn back to him.
He’s telling you, you’re already forgiven. Already covered.
Even if you are enduring tough circumstances because of your choices, God is still there, right beside you. Waiting for you to run into his arms.

We are human.
We’re going to stumble and fall.
But, you are more than…your sin.

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