Whispersfrommyheart's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘shame

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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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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.

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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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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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You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed
Psalm 139:16 (NIV).

It was a struggle for me to understand.
Before I was ever born, God knew what would take place in my life… and he let it happen. He knew what those men would do to me, even before they were ever born… and he allowed them to be born. He allowed them to grow into men who would sexually abuse little girls.

Why?

That question plagued me for years. It was the source of my discontent with God. The wall that separated us.

Why? God seemed distant. Cold. Uncaring.

Why became the reason of disbelief.

Why? You must not love me. If God loved me, he wouldn’t have let this happen. He would have protected me. He would have answered my pleas for help.

Why became my reason for rebellion.

Why? If you don’t love me enough to keep me safe, then I won’t love you. God doesn’t deserve my devotion. I will live my life for myself. I will do what I want to do. I will use men the way they used me.

Why became self preservation and protection.

Why? Since you don’t love me enough to protect me, then I will live for myself. No one will get close enough to hurt me that way, ever again. I will keep relationships at an arms length. I won’t be vulnerable again.

Why became the fuel for my anger.

Why? You don’t care! God doesn’t care, so why should I? God doesn’t protect people, he is a distant, angry, uncaring deity that doesn’t deserve me. In fact, I hate him! If I could, I would slap him in the face for tricking me into thinking he did care about me.

Funny, even in my anger I didn’t deny God existed…

It’s hard to reconcile a loving, caring, personal God with the bad taking place our lives. One who knew everything there is to know before we even existed. We associate love and protection together. We love our own children and we protect them… or, we love our brother, sister, spouse and we protect them. We do everything we can to make sure they do not suffer. So, when bad things happen to good people (especially) we can’t wrap our minds around it. It is almost unfathomable to us that an All-Powerful God, who certainly has the ability to stop bad things from taking place, doesn’t.

It’s taken me the majority of my life to come to terms with it. Why? no longer haunts me. Sure, I still have questions, but those questions don’t stand in a gulf between God and me. God really doesn’t mind the questions.

In all of the days God saw for me, before even one of them began, just as our verse states, some one else was making plans. Someone who did not have my best interest at heart. Someone whose plan was to destroy my life with God before that relationship ever had a chance to begin.

The scriptures tell us, in 2 Corinthians 4:4, Satan is the god of this world.

Look at what I John 3:7 & 8 says:

GOD’S WORD® Translation
Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you. Whoever does what God approves of has God’s approval as Christ has God’s approval. The person who lives a sinful life belongs to the devil, because the devil has been committing sin since the beginning. The reason that the Son of God appeared was to destroy what the devil does.

By his Word, we know those who are not following God — obeying his commands — follow Satan, whether they accept it or not. Those men and women under Satan’s power are influenced to behave as he would have them behave, to accomplish his end. He [Satan] used those men, in their sin, to create havoc in my life. The ultimate purpose was to destroy my relationship with God (See John 10:10). To thwart the good plans God had for me (See Jer. 29:11).

God gave those men in my past a choice. They chose to sin against God by disobeying his command. And, they chose to sin against me by giving into their sin. Their choices had no bearing whatsoever on God’s intention for me and my life. Not then, and not ever.

Does that make sense?

One of the greatest things God gave us, other than his Son dying for our salvation, is the ability to make choices. We aren’t robots. We have a conscience that should help control our actions. But, when sin has such a grip on us — and child molesters are definitely held in the grip of that sin — personal control may or may not be that easy.

In my opinion — and this is just my opinion, I haven’t done any research to back this up… yet — Sexual sins are harder to control because of the physical pleasures they produce. The chemicals exploding in our bodies during sexual pleasures are very intimate and personal, and once they begin, are hard to get back under control. This is how I view my rapist, and my molesters. Men, so deeply trapped in their sexual sin, unable to resist the urges that plague their minds and their bodies.

Even though I understand what happened back then, it neither excuses their behavior, nor does it absolve them. I believe, with every fiber of my being they will be held accountable, and if the blood of Jesus has not covered their sin, that particular sin of rape and molestation will be the nails securing the lids on their coffins. They will have to stand before the Living God and answer to him.

Yes, God saw every one of my days, including the ones where terror and pain existed, before even one of them ever came into being. He saw them and provided the way in which those days could be overcome.

Isaiah 61:1 Jubilee Bible 2000
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to preach good tidings unto those who are cast down; to bind up the wounds of the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those that are bound;

That is the message today. God saw every one of your days, before they ever began. He knew the pain and terror that would fill some of those days, and he provided the way for you to overcome. He provided Jesus, not only as salvation for your soul, but as healer for your heart.

Be Blessed and #WalkInTruthToday

Boy, it’s hot!
Are we there yet?
I’m thirsty.
The sand is burning my toes!
It’s really hot.
And, I’m really thirsty… and hungry.
Why can’t we go back?
I want to go back!
We should have never come!

The children of Israel had witnessed miracle after miracle in the few short weeks since they left the confines of their prison. The land of Egypt. Pharaoh. Forced labor. Cruel taskmasters.

God showed them his might and power. His strength. He had parted the red sea. He went before them in a cloud by day, and a column of fire by night. In this time, he had provided them and all of their livestock with enough water to keep them hydrated. God went over and beyond what was necessary while leading the children of Israel around in the desert for forty years.

And yet, they grumbled.
They weren’t satisfied.
They were hot.
They were tired.
They wanted a Big Gulp.
Well, okay, there weren’t any 7-Eleven’s back then, but they were thirsty.
They wanted to go back to Egypt.

Wait.
Why would they want to go back to a place of slavery? A place of turmoil and hard, cruel labor? A place of sadness? Where taskmasters beat them for any and all reasons? It certainly couldn’t be for the pots of meat they said they missed. Ok, well, maybe the did miss the onions and the leeks… they didn’t have a garden in the desert. And, Safeway wasn’t even a thought in anyone’s mind at this point.

They grumbled and complained.
They weren’t satisfied.
On a trip that should have only taken them ten days, they wondered for forty years. Round and round and round they go…

Why?

Why wouldn’t they make a straight B-Line to their land of Promise? Why drag over a million people through the desert sands?

Deuteronomy 8:2 tells us:
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way these 40 years in the desert, to humble and test you in order to make known what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. (ISV)

Ew.
We have the privileged of hind-sight for the Israelites.
I’m pretty sure they flunked that test.
With flying colors.

Egypt, and its paganistic way, was revealed to be deeply ingrained within the heart of the children of Israel. It’s idol worship — as evidenced by Aaron making the golden calf so they could “worship” a god they could see, even while Moses was on the Mountain receiving the ten commandments. You can read the account in Exodus 32.

The children of Israel may have left the land of Egypt, but Egypt did not leave them.

The bible goes on to tells us an entire generation perished in the desert because of their disobedience (See Numbers 32:13 – the NIV states: until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone). They were not allowed to enter the Promise Land. Only those born in the desert, save a few (See Numbers 32:12), were allowed to cross the Jordan. They grouched and complained that Moses had drug them away from Egypt… the entire forty years. They held on to their idols… they complained… they demanded to go back to Egypt…

They couldn’t let go.

I liken the prison of Childhood Sexual Assault to the slavery of the Children of Israel in the land of Egypt. CSA is cruel, harsh, and demanding to the one who is enslaved by it. It becomes ingrained in the heart of its captive. A parameter of what is known. A way of life. Those of us who are survivors learn to adapt to our surroundings.

Once we begin to walk away from our cruel taskmaster, and believe me, God wants us to walk out, everything that once was taught to us as normal or acceptable must be released. God will deliberately take us through our own desert in order to reveal all that is in our hearts. We cannot allow even a remnant of ground for our former taskmaster to gain another foothold.

We must let go.

The length of our journey depends on us. Our attitude. Our reluctance to let go. Our idols.

What did we pick up along the way?
Fear?
Low-self esteem?
Anger?
Hatred?
Bitterness?
Pornography?
Identity issues?
Sexual Promiscuity?
Prostitution?
Or, the fear of the opposite sex?
The list could go on.

What idols do we trust in more than God?
Self?
Ritual?
Jujitsu?
Revenge?
Religious practices?
Christian books?
Whatever we insert into the place of God becomes an idol to us.

When God begins to work on our hearts, to reveal everything we hold on to and trust in, our job is to let go. Let it go.

It hurts.
I’m afraid.
I don’t want to re-live that nightmare.
I don’t want to cry.

But, in letting go you become free. There is an entire land flowing with milk and honey on the other side of this desert…

I don’t want to let go of my anger.
I don’t want to release my bitterness.
I want to hold on to revenge…
I’d rather stab him in the eyes…

It’s hot.
I’m thirsty.
I wanna go back.

Let the children of Israel be a lesson to you.
Don’t be like them.
Don’t hold on to the past so tightly that you can’t enter into your Promised Land.

It’s going to be hard.
It’s going to be tough.
It might take you longer than a few years to get there, but with each step forward, you will get there.

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Pain.

Sorrow.

Heartache.

Tears.

Many of us have experienced these things at one time or another during our lifetime.

We’ve prayed, and have not received an answer. We have confessed our faith, and then experienced loss during our first trimester; the child we so desperately wanted. We’ve believed, and watched our spouse lose their battle with cancer.

Every day, throughout the entire world, people suffer. Most of us turn our eyes heavenward and ask the question; “Why?”

“Why me?”

“What have I done to deserve this?”

“Why is God punishing me?”

Each of us has had these thoughts enter our mind. It is part of human nature to want an answer for the things that bring us such pain. To validate it and to give it purpose. We do not want our suffering to go unnoticed.

But is God the cause?

Has God orchestrated events that create pain just to teach us a lesson? Would he cause heartache in order for us to grow? I believe God is very much aware of the circumstances that touch our lives, and he allows them to happen. I don’t pretend to understand the reason fully, but I will attempt to offer some explanation.

We live in a world that is fallen from the original glory in which God created it to be. Because of sin, even the earth groans underneath its weight. As long as this is true, there will continue to be symptoms of sin; i.e. sorrow, pain, heartache and tears.

Our world will continue to fall apart. Our hopes will continue to be shattered. We will experience death and destruction in various forms until God calls us home, where the stains of this world can no longer touch us, or, Jesus comes back, and the corruptible puts on the incorruptible.

God never promised us a life free from sorrow or pain. What he did promise is that he would always be with us. He promised to be there in the bad times, just as he is in the good. We can count on him.

Jesus reminds us we are not of this world. The symptoms of this world may touch our lives—such as the loss of a baby during pregnancy, or in my case, rape and molestation—however, those symptoms do not have the right to touch our soul.

Forgive.

Forgiveness goes both ways. God forgives us as we forgive him. I know it sounds weird to say, “God, I forgive you,” but, in our unanswered questions is the emotion of anger. We hold anger toward God because he did not protect us from pain. Our anger rages for the loss we have experienced. In that anger is ill will. We feel like God owes us something and we’re angry because he doesn’t pay up. Forgiveness relinquishes that “right of repayment” we feel we are owed for our suffering.

Romans 8:28 reminds us that God causes all things to work together for good to all who love him and are called according to his purpose” (NKJV)

The pain we experience, though it feels like the end of the world, is not the end. It is the beginning of the rest of your faith walk. It is at this cross road, if you chose to walk forward, that your faith, rooted and grounded in a faith that could only be possible by the things you suffered.

Are you still holding on to God?

Have you entrusted your future to his hands?

If you aren’t there yet, don’t worry. There are still processes you have to go through, emotions you need to vent, but in the end, where will you go?

One verse resonated with me through the years of my struggle.

“Where else can we go, LORD, for you have the words of life.”

Peter uttered those words after following Jesus became hard to take; after the crowds, disillusioned by his words, abandoned him. Jesus asked the twelve, “And what about you?” (See John 6:60-68).

He still asks the same question today.

I am 7 years old and it happens.

There isn’t a thing I can do to stop it.

I am too young.

Too weak.

Too frail to stand my ground.

Too afraid to call for help.

Afraid of getting in trouble.

Tears fall hot onto my cheek. I silently scream.

I am 15 and it happens.

I feel so alone, like no one in the whole world will help me.God doesn’t rescue me, so why would anyone else?

I am not worthy to receive help.

I can’t tell anyone; who would believe me?

They would think it is my fault; that I started it. They will blame me.

Tears fall hot onto my cheek. I silently scream.

I am 40 years old and it happens.

I kept it bottled inside for too long. The turmoil kept me defeated.

I wanted to die.

Does God care?

Where was he?

Why did he let this happen to me?

Why can’t I just get over what happened?

God must be disgusted with me.

Hot tears fall on my cheek. I silently scream.

I am 50 and it happened to me.

It wasn’t my fault.

God was there the whole time. What happened grieved him deeply.

He held me while I cried.

He soothed me in my anger.

He understood me in my frustration.

He heard my heart, when words failed.

He gave my abuser the choice to obey him, or reject him.

His Spirit comforted me by taking my mind elsewhere. To help me cope until I found his healing.

He guided me to the path where true forgiveness is found.

He redeemed me from my ruined past and began to rebuild my heart and life.

He delivered me from the prison of emotional and spiritual abuse..

He saved me and called me his own.

He called me worthy.

His child..

I belong.

Tears of joy fall on my cheeks. No more silent screams.

      Shame.

      A painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness or disgrace1.

      What causes you shame?

      Do you have a painful past?

      I used to look at my past as a dirty secret. One that produced great shame. I didn’t want anyone to know what happened. I was embarrassed by the sexual abuse. Like, somehow it was my fault. Maybe I had encouraged it. Perhaps, I had brought the abuse on myself. Have you ever felt that way?  

      For those of us who deal with the trauma of childhood sexual assault, there is a certain dirtiness that creeps into our hearts to keep us under condemnation. Even though we were the victim, it is my belief that Satan—also known as the deceiver of mankind—uses our assault to his advantage. Feelings of guilt and shame become tools in his hands to convince us we are dirty; unclean. Shameful.

      Shame is something victims of abuse identify with. It is easy to associate ourselves with ignominy because of the value our abuser gave to us. That piece of deceitful information must be replaced with the truth that comes from the One who judges our heart and soul.

      Jesus Christ made us worthy the day he died on the cross. Shame has no place in our lives. Isn’t that good news? ” But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NIV The bible also tells us in Romans 8:1 that there is no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus.

      Let shame fall like a blanket from your shoulders. Let it crumple at the foot of the cross.

            

  1. The American Heritage ®Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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