The Question That Changed My Life

I remember it like yesterday.

It was the day I “spilled the beans.”

There I sat in the gazebo.  It was late afternoon.  The warm sunshine brightened the landscape around me.  The birds were singing cheerfully.  But I didn’t notice.

I was dead on the inside.  I had died years before.

How I got to this place in my life where I wanted freedom is still a mystery to me.  But, in God’s time, I saw a ray of hope.  I clung to it.  I wanted to be free so badly.  I realized that I needed to tell someone.  Someone who could help me.  Mysteriously, a loving Father steered this broken little girl to people who pointed her to Him.

I proceeded to rid myself of everything I could think of that made me feel dirty, unlovable and used.  Though there was much about the abuse that I didn’t remember at that point, there was still plenty of junk that needed to be released.  Things that had been done to me.  Things that I had done.

There was no emotion as I hauntingly told of the fantasies and masturbation.  The magazines.  The cursing.  The pictures I took.  The attention men had given me that I both hated and craved.  I couldn’t make eye contact with my dorm mom.  I tried, but it was impossible.  I was too ashamed.

It wasn’t pretty.  Rather, the things I disclosed that day were ugly, evil, and vile.  I felt like I wasn’t worth fighting for.  In a way, this was my last hope.

The dorm mom listened with rapt attention.

Finally, all the ugly was out.  Out of the dark and into the Light.

There was a moment of silence.

And then came the question that changed my life: “Ann, do you believe that God loves you?”

My mind instantly kicked in.  “Of course!  I was taught that before I went to Sunday School!”, I was about to say.  But I stopped.

Did I?  Did I really believe that Jesus loves me?

Suddenly, the realization swept over me.

“No,” I managed to stammer shamefully.

How could He?  I was ugly. Dirty.  Worthless.  Besides, I had done terrible things!

A wave of emotion caught me off guard.  I began to weep in earnest.

In that moment, I met Jesus.

jesus-hug

I felt His arms go around me.  I saw His tears mingle with mine.  I heard the compassion and love in His voice as He gently whispered, “Ann, it doesn’t matter.  I love you.  I always have, and I always will.”

I’ve never been the same since.

Instead of pushing God’s love away, I began to choose to receive it.  What a difference it made!  It changed everything for me.

Oh, I’ve had plenty of ups and downs.  I still do. (Just ask my husband!)  It hasn’t been an easy road.  But the answer to that important question marks the beginning of my journey to freedom and healing from sexual abuse.

I don’t know where you’re at in your life.  Maybe you too, feel emotionally dead.  Maybe you are the little girl or the little boy who feels worthless and dirty.  Or maybe you feel like you’ve done too much evil and that there’s no hope for you.

Let me tell you:  There is hope in Jesus Christ.  Not only hope, but also healing.   He loves you more than you know.  He loves you no matter what you’ve done or what others have done to you.  I beg you to believe that with all your heart.

It’s safe to come to Him.  He won’t turn you away.  He does not despise a broken, contrite heart.  Tell Him everything.  Spill it all.  Get rid of all the filth.

Maybe you want to meet Jesus, but you feel incapable of coming to Jesus.  If so, find someone whom you trust who knows Jesus and has experienced His love in a personal way.  Then, spill the dirt and grime.  Don’t hold anything back from the Light.  Choose to begin your journey of healing today.

And so, I ask you: “Do you really believe that Jesus loves you?”

Your answer to this question could change everything for you.  Just as it did for me.

 

 

 

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My “Why”

If you’ve been following my last few posts, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been writing a lot about sexual abuse.  Maybe you’re wondering why.

A few weeks ago, I found myself asking “Why?” What is the real motive behind my writing about sexual abuse? Suddenly, I felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to write. So I sat down at the computer.  Within a few minutes, a poem was formed.

little girl in white dress

The Little Girl*

 

Once there was a little girl,

With pure and childlike trust.

But one day this girl became

An object of one’s lust.

He told her she was pretty;

That what he did was love.

How that must have hurt the heart

Of God in heaven above.

The little girl believed him.

Even though this “love” hurt.

It made her feel so yucky,

And like a piece of dirt.

The pain became unbearable.

She blocked it from her mind.

It lay there many years until

Jesus she did find.

He beckoned her to come to Him.

She came with shame and fears.

Her dress was dirty and torn

Her eyes were filled with tears.

“May I carry all your pain?”

His voice so gently said.

“I’ve been waiting all these years.

It was for you I bled.”

She began to cry great heaving sobs.

Her chest hurt with the pain.

She lifted her eyes to His

And saw they held no blame.

“Yes, I’ll give it all to you,”

She uttered in reply.

And so He lifted all the pain.

She felt like she could fly.

“This is for you,” He said with love.

And handed her a dress.

“This is what I think of you-

Pure, clean and spotless.”

And so the little girl did dance

While Jesus held her hand.

And happy circles they did make

Their feet upon the sand.

I know this little girl quite well.

This little girl is me.

Redeemer, Saviour, Healer, Friend –

For you, He’ll gladly be.

This is my “why”. 

I cannot be silent about the redemption my Saviour has brought me.  I refuse to stifle His glory by being quiet when He, in His mercy, touched my shattered heart and literally healed my broken body, soul and spirit.

I realize that sexual abuse is a subject that is not culturally acceptable to talk about in some Anabaptist circles.  This saddens me, because there are so many people, who, like me, carry horrible secrets with them for years and have no idea how to rid themselves of them.  So they struggle.  They cover them up and try to forget.  But it doesn’t work.

It never does.  I’ve been there, and it’s not a fun place to be.

Just a few short years ago, I felt like no one knew how to help me find peace and healing.  I wondered if I was just a hopeless case.

And then, I met Jesus.  He changed everything.  Not in one day, because He is still healing me.  Has the journey been easy?  No.  Is it worth the pain?  YES.  A thousand times, yes.

Do I understand or know why I was abused and raped?  No.  God never answered Job’s questions of “why” either.

But there’s one thing I am choosing to believe:  God has a purpose for everything.  Even for a little girl who was brutally abused at the hands of men who professed to be sons of God.

I don’t know exactly why it happened to me.  My husband reminds me often: “Ann, God doesn’t waste pain.” Sometimes God uses pain to help others find healing.

And so, I want to be a voice for those little boys and girls who find themselves wondering if they are a hopeless case.  My heart aches for them.  I long to take their hand and lead them to the foot of the cross to meet my Friend, Jesus.

The truth is, no one is exempt from needing Jesus and His redemption in their lives.

Brothers and sisters, this, and this only, is my “why.”

 

*This poem is dedicated to my dear husband, Ben.  Thank you, Sweetheart, for leading me to Jesus, helping me forgive, and showing me over and over what love really is. I love you and I trust you.

**Photo credit: Ali Brown Photography