I am an over – comer.
Through the struggles of a traumatic childhood and an abusive marriage, and entering another abusive, albeit brief, relationship 13 years later, I discovered a set of attitudes and mindsets that had conditioned me to accept abuse as a normal circumstance of my life.
These attitudes and mindsets had been taught to me as a 7 year old, and continued to be enforced throughout adolescence as a victim of childhood sexual assault. The circumstances of my childhood/adolescence carried over into my adult life and continued to be the driving force behind my actions and reactions. After my second failed relationship, a wonderful thing happened as a result. God allowed me to finally understand the answer to my question, “Why?”
The prevailing attitude of the heart is one that believes what the lie teaches. My abuse taught me a distorted perception of truth. It gave me a false perception of value and worth, but since the circumstances of my life seemingly upheld what I percieved, I believed it to be a fact. The Proverbs teach, “As a man thinketh within his heart, so he is.” Or in modern day language, “You are what you think.” Unfortunately statistics prove that 1 in 3 girls will be, or has already been sexually assaulted by the time she reaches 18 years of age. That is a staggering figure, and that doesn’t even include those assaults that go unreported. My own assault had crippled me emotionally, as well as spiritually, for well over 30 years, and robbed me of some valuable things; the right to remain innocent and the right to have a childhood.
The truth is some of these women who are labeled, “Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Assault” will seek help in one form or fashion. Sadly, and realistically, many of these women will never find release from the past. They will continue to fill the pews in their prospective sanctuaries on Sunday mornings with a smile pasted on their face, while inside they wonder what is so wrong with them that they are kept an arms length away from God. Like the woman with an issue of blood for 12 years, these women will continue to believe they are unclean, and unworthy, of God’s love and help.
My purpose is not to simply bring up horrible memories from the past, but to simply bring the promise of hope for those who remain locked in the emotional prisons of their past abuse. To declare their freedom, here and now, from those things that keep them shackled to the past emotions. My purpose is to let women know their lives are worth so much more than just what they can do for someone else. My purpose is to inform women they can find freedom from the past, not just a cover-up. My purpose is to bring women into health and healing within their hearts, minds, and souls so that they too can understand who they are in Christ Jesus, how much their Heavenly Father loves them and how much God does care about what took place in their childhood. I am here to tell them the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
How long ago was that?
I didn’t think I would ever forget the year I escaped your grip and shattered on the floor. It seems like yesterday. I remember the tears that flowed from each shard. But, I could not stay with you.
You did not love me.
You did not honor me.
I tried to please you. To make you happy. I tried, with everything I possessed, to make you feel secure. To prove how useful I was to you.
I was already flawed, and you knew exactly how to take advantage. You played the game well. I fell for it… for a while.
I know better now.
I know who you really are.
I know what you are capable of.
I know that I deserve better than what you gave me. I deserve God’s best because I am a vessel, crafted by the Master Potter. Though I am broken, He is piecing me back together.
I am no longer a vessel of dishonor, but a vessel redeemed and repaired.
Even though the repairs are visible to anyone who looks, I am useful. This vessel, once shattered in pieces has been restored. I am placed on the table of the King, and I know this is where I belong.
Though I am simple, I am willing to be used for His honorable service.
~Walk in Truth Today
He walked into my life one day
A friend of friend was he;
And all that I’d been hoping for
With him, it seemed to be.
The answer to my years of prayer
The one I waited for;
I walked right in, expecting grace
While Satan locked the door.
No, I didn’t see it coming
I thought that I was strong,
I thought my heart was planted firm
In Christ – but I was wrong.
So blinded by a need for love
Accepting what I knew;
Believing he was sent from God
Though there was work to do.
Performing to his own desires
And dancing to his song;
Soon left to wonder what I’d done
Deserving what was wrong?
“Am I so bad You’ve kept me from
True love here on this earth?”
“Abuse and suffering I see
The purpose of my birth?”
I didn’t seem to understand
The root of all my pain;
Just where it all was coming from
And who was I to blame?
But planted deep within my soul
A weed and tare were sown;
Unknown for years; the lies that choked
This life that I had known.
A life that’s guided by the wounds
Imprisoned by the past;
Can’t see beyond the circumstance
Or grasp free life to last.
But oh, another plan was set
Before the dawn of time;
A plan to open prison doors
The plan of Grace Divine.
The Son of God stepped down to earth
From woman He was born;
And offered up a Sacrifice
His Body broken, torn.
That through His willingness to die
Atoning Blood to give;
The Son of Man broke Satan’s hold
Restoring pow’r to live.
Not by the chains that bind our hearts
Or by the wounds of old;
But by the Grace of God’s own Son
This story is now told.
Of understanding reasons why
He walked into my life;
Revealing attitudes of heart
Required the Surgeon’s knife.
For through the Incident I found
Desire for a change;
For honor, love, and purity
Beliefs to rearrange.
To operate within the heart
Remove the sin, and shame;
As only God Himself can do
I’m different; not the same.
It’s all around us. Everywhere we look we can find someone who has been hurt, is being hurt, or will be hurt in the future.
Pain is a fact of life. We deal with it in adolescence, and we deal with it in adulthood, and moments in between. From the time we’ve squeezed through the birth canal, it’s guaranteed, we won’t get out of this life without shedding a few tears of hurt, heartache, disappointment, sorrow or loss.
Recently, someone very dear to my heart was forced to face deep heartache. A relationship ended and devastation occurred. There were many questions. Tears. Lots of tears. Deep sorrow. Pain, almost too unbearable to handle. There was depression too. Lack of energy. Not wanting to think.
Why do we have to face pain? Is it because of something we did, or did not do? Is karma biting us in the butt? No. Personally, I think pain and heartache are a normal part of this life we live. A symptom of the fallen-ness of our world. It is not, however, something we should dish out to others.
There are lots of hurting people in the world. Someone will hurt us, just as my dear one found out. But, the question is: When we are hurt, do we hurt back? The answer is no, we don’t. Oh, the natural instinct is to hurt the offender worse than we were hurt. To validate our pain by causing pain. That’s what our flesh wants us to do. Cause them pain and make it hurt so good. Right?
The problem with wounding those who are already wounded is, Jesus isn’t in it. He told us, in Matthew 5:44 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;” (KJV).
Our flesh doesn’t agree with that scripture, but, restraining ourselves from adding insult to injury is the road we are to travel.
Apparently this life isn’t about us. I don’t say that to make light of what has been done to anyone in the past. Some of us have experienced major violations against our bodies and souls; sexual abuse, marital infidelities, violence, rape… the list could go on. But, if we were to look backwards, we would see that Jesus has already taken care of those things, and because he did, we have to move forward. We need to be about the business of the Kingdom of God.
We need to do his work.
Again, I don’t make light of what you, or any one else, may have had to endure in this life. This blog is dedicated to helping women and men recover from the effects of childhood sexual assault. But, if, because of the atrocities that I was forced to endure as a child–until I was 15 years of age–I remained angry and vindictive, seeking ways to avenge myself, my honor, continuing to wish and pray for an opportunity to kill those men who treated me wrong, I would not have started this blog. I would not have written Whispers From My Heart. I would not have started a page for my book on Facebook to encourage women and men who struggle with the issues of sexual assault. And, I would not be in the position to help people overcome the trauma of sexual abuse. If I remained wrapped up in my pain and did not move forward, I would not be of use to you because I would not be able to get over me.
This life isn’t about me. It’s about you.
The focus of my life is now helping others. It is my job to proclaim that freedom from an abusive past is available through Jesus Christ. It is my job to shout from the roof tops that God is still in the business of healing the wounded soul. I can’t do that if I am focused on me. I have been where you are at. I’ve experienced the places of despair from which you came. I have cried those same tears. I have felt those same fears. That same pain.
Pain is useful.
My pain, as bad as it was—and it was extremely bad—has become the very avenue by which I now counsel others. My pain has afforded me compassion where I might not have otherwise acquired it. The pain we have suffered in the past, once we have allowed healing to take place, becomes useful in the work of the Kingdom of God. People who have deep wounds want to talk to people who understand their pain. In that sense, pain is turned into something glorious. Something beautiful rises out of the ash heap.
Can you see that?
I love what Romans 8:28 says. “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.” What once was life stopping pain, God turns into something that will be for our good and for his purposes.
I wrote a poem about the abuse I suffered—it’s entitled “Mercy Heard and Mercy Saw.” In that poem I wrote, “What Satan meant for evil child, I’ll use for good this day.” It’s true. Satan meant to destroy my life by the rape, molestation and incest I endured until I was 15 years old. For the better part of my life, he accomplished that goal. But God came to heal me and deliver me, and now I use my past for his glory.
Pain hurts. But, pain can be good tool in God’s hand.
Use your pain for the glory of God.
We’re all in the same boat.
We all have a part in this journey we call life. Some find the journey easy, light, carefree, while others find the journey hard, difficult and full of drudgery.
I don’t know if the view of the journey is based on our attitude — I know bad attitudes don’t help — or whether some are just destined to live a life of ease and others a life of hardship.
Even when Jesus walked the earth there were those yoked to the cost of daily living; those who were lost in the every day happenings that it took to live, and there were those who dined in palaces with royalty.
I’m not making a distinction between the rich and the poor, because that line will always be hanging around. What I am pointing to is the choice of the journey itself. Life. No matter where your journey began, and how it is playing out on the grand screen called earth, each of us have a choice to make. Do we choose to walk out our journey of our own accord, or do we grab onto the hand of Jesus Christ and allow him to lead us to our eternal journey?
Many years ago — when I was young — I made a choice to grab onto Jesus. Back then, I chose to walk this particular path because I was afraid of ending up in hell. But, because life continued to happen (IE: Bad things happening to good people), the choice to continue to walk on this same path — holding the hand of Jesus — took on a whole other meaning.
Pain has a way of inserting itself into your life in unexpected ways. Buried things get dug up. Scars are ripped open. Memories emerge. Suffering begins… and continues. Abuse. Job loss. Marital disharmony…. Real life. Sometimes, hardships are so intense, so difficult, that we are tempted to throw in the towel. Give up.
It is during these times of immense suffering we must ask ourselves a few questions. Does pain and hardship quantify the goodness of God? Or, are the circumstances surrounding our lives indicators of God’s pleasure/displeasure?
No matter how the questions are answered, one has a choice to make. Do I continue this journey with Jesus, even though the path has become difficult? Even though the walk has become a climb, or a crawl?
I faced extreme difficulties in my journey.
My 3 & 1/2 year marriage was over. I had 2 little boys, and one on the way, when I left my abusive marriage. I faced financial devastation, not once, but twice in my life. I have lived in extreme poverty, and barely made a living. I’ve worked for the same company for 15 years, then found myself unemployed. I’ve struggled with body issues, image issues, weight issues, peer issues; I’ve been a loner and a single mom for 25 years.
It was easy to follow Jesus when things were going good. But with each hardship; as the journey became difficult, my journey with Jesus became more of a statement of faith than it did a way to escape hell.
Through each and every hardship & difficulty I was able to overcome, I noticed something. I became stronger. My faith deepened. My journey with Jesus became a deep relationship. Good came out of bad. Order came out of chaos. Peace was found in the midst of the storm.
The following poem is my statement of faith:
I’ve chosen to walk down this path
This journey that’s called Faith
No matter what the circumstance
No matter what the fate.
I’ve made my choice, I make my stand
My heart is fully set;
I choose to follow Jesus Christ
And there is no regret.
Although the road gets steep and long
And jagged is the path;
When walking becomes difficult
I’m tempted to go back.
Or when the road, at times, descends
Into a valley low;
Through muck and mire I trudge along
Each labored step is slow.
But onward is the task at hand
Regardless of the cost;
In spite of rising obstacles
This path I have not lost.
I’m led by Hands I cannot feel
And Hands I cannot see;
And when I stumble or fall down
These Hands will carry me.
For God has never promised us
A journey free from pain;
But promised if we did walk on
With Christ we then would reign.
So when this journey finally ends
By Faith, in Him, I rest;
No matter where my path has led
This journey’s for my best.
One day, while pondering why bad things happen (especially to me) this poem began to form in my mind. When I finished, I realized I didn’t have a clue, if God is so good and is as loving as the bible tells us he is, why he allows bad things to take place in our lives. But, I do know that through it all, God receives glory and somehow, in spite of the chaos, his will is done and faith is increased.
I DO NOT KNOW
I do not have an answer to
The questions asked of why;
Why circumstance cause hearts to break
And sorrow eyes to cry.
I do not know a reason for
The suffering of man;
Nor can relate how grief and pain
All fit into God’s plan.
I cannot fathom depths of God
I do not understand;
How tragedies merge gloriously
In triumph through His hand.
For reason’s that I’ve yet to know
Or fully comprehend;
Because of love He does allow
The pain where faith begins.
And yet through suffering we see
His mighty hand of grace;
Reflected in our character
And written on our face.
While human understanding fails
To give the reason why;
Each one can rest and be assured
It’s not escaped His eye.
Our God in His great Sovereignty
Has all things in control;
And through our faith and trust in Him
He calms our troubled soul.
And this is what He’s promised us
Before our trials began;
His Power is perfected in
The weaknesses of man.