Not My Pain

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day.  It is etched deeply in my memory.

I wasn’t prepared for the grueling class periods when I signed up for a three week ladies healing group.  I wasn’t prepared for the incomprehensive amount of emotional pain and heartache that I was about to walk through – both in my own life and in walking through other’s pain.

I cannot be convinced that sexual abuse doesn’t affect a person – because it does.   It is the equivalent of emotional murder.  I wish I could somehow explain how it felt to listen to story after story of deep, excruciating pain.  The loss of innocence.  The horrible betrayal.  The utter powerlessness – to keep it from happening and to make it stop.  The ambivalence.  The shame.  The contempt.

woman-crying

I wanted to run out of the room – away from it all.  Somewhere…anywhere.  I instinctively shielded my growing abdomen with my hands as I tried to protect my unborn child.

At break time, I found myself at the window.  It was a beautiful summer day, but I didn’t see that.  Tears blurred my vision.  I only felt the deep pain.  My whole body hurt.  Through my tears, I managed to talk to my baby: “It’s okay, child.  Mama will be alright.  It doesn’t feel safe right now, but it is.  I’ll protect you, little one.”

Sharing my own story of sexual abuse was harder than I had ever imagined.  Oh, I had talked about it before.  But this time was different – very different.

I cried as I told of the brutality and total powerlessness. I shared details that only a select few people knew. Deep sobs that I had bottled up inside of me spilled out and tears ran down my cheeks.  I found myself surrounded by the dear ladies in my class.  They cried with me.  It wasn’t my pain – it was our pain.

As the tears flowed from our eyes, I felt the presence of Jesus.  In my mind’s eye, I saw Him.  He was weeping with us – weeping for the little girls who’d been hurt so deeply.  Tears ran down His cheeks and fell to the ground.

cross-silhouette

And then it hit me.  Our pain is His pain.  There is no pain or abuse that Jesus hasn’t experienced.  When He carried your pain and mine, our pain became His.  “He was despised, and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief… Surely He hath borne our grief and carried our sorrows…” Isaiah 53:3-4

Dear hurting soul, Jesus understands your pain and He cares.  His tears fall with yours.  Because He makes your pain, His.

Advertisements

Stripped of Control

Some things are impossible to forget.

I can still hear the sound of his boots on the wood as he raced up the stairs after me.  I can hear the door slam.  But the loud beats of my heart nearly stopped when he grabbed me and I looked into his eyes.

They were the eyes of evil.

There are very few words to describe the horror that followed.  I was stripped of all dignity and control.   I couldn’t get away.  I was trapped.

In the semi-darkness, I instinctively cried out to the only One I, in my little girl heart, believed could rescue me.  To this day, I’m not sure if the words were audible or not, but my spirit cried, “Help me, Jesus! Help me!”

As my body was being ravished and my spirit broken, I begged Jesus to save me.

But He didn’t come.

I was completely alone.  Alone with evil.

For years, I didn’t have any words for the terror I felt.  I just knew I was scared.  Very, very, very scared.  I lived in fear – fear that that terrible feeling of terror would eat me alive…next time.

Recently, I was able to name it.  Its name is Powerlessness.

In those horrific minutes as a little girl on the cold, hard floor, I experienced complete loss of control.  I could not get away.  I could not make it stop.  I could not even control my body.  I was completely powerless.

And, to top it all off, I felt abandoned by God.  Because He didn’t answer my prayer in the way I was expecting, it felt like He too, was powerless against that kind of evil.

I blamed myself for years.  I deceived myself into thinking that everything bad that happens is my fault.  I knew in my head that what happened to me as a little girl wasn’t my fault, but I couldn’t seem to shake the blame and guilt I subjected myself to on a daily basis.

It got worse as the years went by.  I blamed myself for the wreck my family had when I was thirteen.  I blamed myself when the alarm clock failed to go off and my husband was late for work.  I blamed myself every time the children were disobedient.  I blamed myself for anything and everything.  I apologized frequently for the stupidest stuff.

Why?

Because if I could convince myself in powerless situations that “it is my fault”, I didn’t have to experience the awful feelings of terror that reminded me of the little girl at the hands of evil.  It was my self-defense against feeling powerless.

It wasn’t until I came face-to-face with the reality of the scope of the powerlessness I faced as a child that I was able to truly believe in my heart that the abuse was not my fault.

Does Jesus understand powerlessness?  Does He know what it feel like to be stripped of control?

th

Yes.  He chose to experience powerlessness.  He wouldn’t have had to subject Himself to the limitations of a human body and allow His creation to crucify Him on the cross.  He could have stepped off of that cross at any point.  But He didn’t.

He loved you and I too much to do that.

It is not wrong to feel powerless.  It’s part of being created.  After all, we are, in and of ourselves, powerless.

God is in control; not you, not me.  Do I understand why He sometimes allows evil things to happen?  No, I don’t.  I can’t – because I’m not God.

But if Jesus loved me enough to choose powerlessness over powerfulness, then I believe I can trust Him with my life.  And I can rest in the fact that He is good, even when I don’t understand His ways.

Cried Dry

Have you ever experienced the kind of gut-wrenching pain that leaves you completely breathless and weak?  You know what I mean –  when your heart literally feels like it is being cut into hundreds of pieces?

I have.  I’ve even wondered if I was going to physically survive the emotional pain.  Death looked like a welcome relief.

I was given the following poem by a friend of mine who is quite familiar with emotional pain.  I am still in awe at the beauty and simplicity of the words.  My friend so graciously granted me permission to share it with you.

 

“It seems to me that sometime

The world must be

Cried dry.

 

That tears cannot flow forever

Even from humans

Like I.

 

But tears have a way of passing on-

Recycled by generations gone.

 

But someday God will wipe away

All the tears from

Our eyes.” *

 

cute-little-girl-crying
Photo credit: myria.com

 

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for that day.

 

*The author wishes to be anonymous.  Please do not copy this poem without contacting me first so that I can get permission for you from the author.  Thank you for understanding.

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