I am really fortunate to live in a city that has numerous resources for those who are hurting. This fall, I am participating in a Bible study that helps men and women heal from past sexual abuse. Though I have experienced God’s transforming power through the surrendering of my own sexual sin, I haven’t fully dived into processing the non-consensual encounter of my youth.
When I teach Awaken-Love classes, I tell women that it is imperative to talk to someone about any past abuse – no matter how long ago it occurred or how small its impact can be rationalize to be. I knew it was time for me to follow my own teaching and pursue the Lord’s complete healing. I desperately want my relationships with God and my husband to go even deeper because I know there is more to be experienced. I want to be even more available to God – for His glory.
Prior to beginning the study, I underwent a quick, simple, but not painless interview. Labeling circumstances, putting them on paper and then signing my signature to attest to their validity gave me pause. It was a heavy moment. I couldn’t hide or laugh-off the past anymore. I wasn’t sure what would be uncovered through the study, but a decades old band-aid was starting to be ripped off. I haven’t hit the half way mark of the study yet, but my world has already been rocked. I can’t image where God is leading me at the end of this. Here are some of my surprising discoveries and reflections so far.
Fighting off doubts is part of the process. Though God’s timing to seek healing was apparent and I am motivated to be whole and free in Christ, I have to admit, I did ask myself why I was putting myself through this agony during the first week. It felt like elective surgery and the journey ahead made me feel nauseous. As much as I want to be completely healed by My Father, I’ve had to remind myself that walking through the muck is good. Walking through pain can lead to comfort. Knowing my Father more is worth it. I’ve gone back to that truth about 483 times so far.
God loves us like no other. He loves us with a fierce, zealous and faithful love. He loves us while we work through our baggage. In the first moments, when I stood in fear of judgment and embarrassment, He loved me. In the more recent moments of trembling, as I’m filled with the profound truth that God’s ultimate justice is a result of His great love for me, I have experienced His love more deeply than ever before. It struck me that if I were the only person to sin or experience evil in this life, He would still right the wrongs – through Christ’s sacrifice and through His final judgement. He loves me that much! God loves you that much too!
Denial and self-preservation are roadblocks. Denying the past has prevented me from being labeled a victim, being viewed as weak or somehow being blamed for things outside of my control. It has also prevented me from surrendering my hurt to the Lord. Looking at the painful past square in the face, and embracing the full depth and breadth of the impacts and losses, is oh-so-challenging, but a necessary step as I go on this healing journey with the Lord. Recognizing that I’ve utilized self-preservation methods is also arduous. Some things that I’ve considered “normal” are not actually how God created me to be. Not only am I working to identify protective measures that are ingrained in my habits, reactions and behaviors, I am faced with the truth that relying on them is the opposite of walking in faith and trusting God’s protection. Repenting of trusting in my own protection and instead increasing dependence on God is an unexpected part of the journey for me.
Healing comes from resting in Him. My hope is secure in God and my healing comes from resting in Him. He calls me to be still, to be desperate for Him, and to trust Him to protect me while He works in me. Knowing that He places a hedge of protection around me as I reveal wounds and am vulnerable is affirming to me. Right now my insights are coming in pieces. I’ll gain some truth or wisdom during my quiet time or in the midst of life – folding laundry or driving to school pick-up. Other pieces of insight I’ve been carrying for years just waiting for this journey. At the proper time, I think God will call me, and moreover, provide a way for me, to sit quietly with Him for an extended time as He shows me the beautiful picture of this puzzle that I can’t yet make out.
The restoration goes beyond me. As I’ve worked through the study, there have been days of great insight, feeling lighter and new joys. There have also been days of headaches, nausea, and being cranky with my kids. I know that victory awaits me. The restoration potential goes far beyond me as well. As I am healed and made whole in Christ, I will know my Father more, I will more deeply cleave with my husband, how I parent my kids will change, my relationship with my extended family will be touched, and all the people that God brings into my life down the road will also benefit. When it gets tough, I remember the ripple effects of me running after my God.
I still have several weeks to go and honestly, I’ve not sure where this is leading because it is much deeper than I anticipated. I’m pretty sure the blessings at the finish line will be beyond my imagination. I look forward to reporting back again soon.
Has God taken you on a healing journey? Do you have any tips to share?
Don’t miss Part 2 of this series.