One afternoon a while ago, I was walking outdoors, enjoying all the lilacs, realizing their blooms were almost spent. Such fragrant beauty- so brief. All the springtime flowers give us their beauty so briefly, ushering in the warm days of summer. I was overcome with a sense of sadness because of the brevity and constant change all around us. I was reminded of the words of the Psalmist, “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it and it is gone.” Psalm 103:15,16 And what will we do with this one fleeting life we’ve been given?
When we’ve suffered childhood sexual abuse the consequences can be crippling. It leaves a wound in our soul, robbing us of our innocence and security. Many times the abuse goes unmentioned for years, or when we did speak up, our words were met with anger, disbelief, or they were minimized. Sometimes the repressed feelings are vented in destructive ways which seem completely unrelated to the abuse.
Often during early adulthood, perhaps after marriage or when we become a parent, the troubling experiences begin to interrupt our thoughts. They seem to come uninvited. Sometimes it feels as though the abuse occurred yesterday rather than years ago. The feelings of fear, anger, shame and helplessness can be overwhelming. It’s at this point that we have a decision to make, we can either stuff the feelings down once more and try to limp along through life or we can give way to bitterness and anger. Another option is to stop along the wayside of life, and give this wound the time and respect it deserves in order to be properly ministered to so that it can heal.
So much hangs in the balance here! Our ability to be the best parent we can possibly be, the spouse we long to be, the ability to develop meaningful and lasting friendships. A wise woman once told me that maybe sexual abuse is like having a little monster living under your living room rug. You’re afraid of it, so afraid and you try to pretend it’s not there but it’s too lumpy and wiggly. Sometimes it sticks out its fingers or a leg, then you panic, and quickly rearrange the rug, the furniture, and try to make it disappear. You’re afraid a visitor may notice it and ask questions. Doesn’t the distraction and worry get wearisome? What if instead, she asked, I hold your hand and we just pull the rug off? All at once, just yank it right off. It might be shocking and ugly at first but the shock will wear off. At least the thing would be out in the open and we’d know exactly what we’re dealing with. The first step to healing; acceptance.
The truth is, no matter how much we want to ignore, forget, deny, and minimize, the abuse DID happen. It happened! And no matter how awful, how terrible, how unjust, how wicked, we survived! We are alive today and where there is life, there is hope. Remember God’s mercies are new every morning? He is a God of all comfort and grace and goodness! He is able to restore, heal, bind up and make whole! He knows every detail of our lives anyway and He has a remedy and a balm.
The psalmist also says that we live our lives as a tale that is told. (Psalm 90:9). Whether we’ve suffered sexual abuse or not, isn’t every life a story of redemption? Like the flower of the field, the locust of sexual abuse can damage and disfigure the beauty of our life, but God is able to restore to us the ears that the locusts have eaten. (Joel 2:25) And wouldn’t God be able to completely restore? Doesn’t He say He will make all things beautiful in His time? ALL things! Even our broken, hurting, secret wounds.
Take a deep breath, let today be the day true healing begins. Or if you’re already on the journey, don’t give up. There’s a bumper sticker out there that says, “If you’re going through hell, don’t stop.” Keep going, work through it. It’s so worth it! A season of hard work and intensity, followed by a lifetime of freedom. Ask God for the wisdom and courage to do what it takes to get there.
A messenger of hope.
“He hath made all things beautiful in His time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11