After writing the post that celebrated the resurrection of Jesus, such joy and peace flooded the depths of my soul. It was confirmed to my heart that Jesus is truly alive yet today, He is always with us, and He will get us through anything. I felt that with my God I could level mountains.
Then one night I woke up with such vivid memories of my abuser. The scene was so real. Frightening emotions overwhelmed me. I cried, “Why, Lord? What is triggering this now?”
Then I realized it was probably because I was thinking of going to church again. I had felt so bolstered up by the truth of Jesus’ resurrection, I figured it would be a breeze. It had been almost a year ago since I last tried, only to end up staying home at the last minute. And now the more I thought about trying it again, the more fear and anxiety grew in me.
The next day I was telling my husband about it, and he said as he has before, “That man has ruined your life.”
And as before, I quickly replied, “No, he hasn’t. Jesus is with me and has helped me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Him.”
I’ve been pondering this, and I wonder – Even though it’s been over 40 years since a pastor abused me, why do I still so easily deny that he ruined my life? Is it because I think it would be an insult to all the love and care Jesus has shown me?
Every time my husband has told me this, I don’t think I have ever said, “Yes, he did ruin my life.”
It’s true. He has. My life has never been the same, and it’s okay for me to admit how much damage he has inflicted to every part of my being. And even though I have come a long way on this healing journey, I still have a long way to go.
If someone has abused you, he or she did ruin your life. It’s okay to acknowledge the extent of devastation our abusers have caused us. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to admit the three D’s abuse victims often carry with them haunts our lives, too. Dirty. Damaged. Different.
Abuse damages the soul, the very essence of one’s being. The deeper the damage, the longer the healing process takes. Often a lifetime.
I often forget it’s a process. Sometimes I think I should be past it by now. And I heap self-condemnation on myself that if I would have more faith, I would be totally free by now. And the negative voices again taunt me like a stuck record in my brain – “You’re not enough. Not enough. Not enough…”
Then the uplifting truth of Jesus’ resurrection becomes elusive. I can’t capture it again. I know it in my head, but my heart doesn’t grasp it.
It is true what I told my husband though about how I would not be where I am today without Jesus. He suffered unspeakable cruelty. Devastation ravaged every part of His being – body, soul, and spirit. No one ever has or ever will suffer like He did. He took upon Himself all our sins and the sins committed against us. And He conquered. He gained the victory. Even death could not hold Him. Because He wants us to have life in Him. He wants us to be healed in Him. He wants to take all the ugly, shattered pieces of our soul and restore them to beauty in Him.
Restoration may not happen immediately or even in this lifetime, but some day when we may be with Jesus, we will be fully restored. Radiant in beauty. Forever rescued from all painful memory triggers. Meanwhile, Jesus has promised to be with us through the process, and He always keeps His promises. And every time we go through a rough spot, we can come out stronger when we lean into Him.
So let’s take His hand and let Him lead us on our journey of healing. And let’s support and strengthen each other in this battle of life. Because of His unfailing love, we will survive and gain the victory.
“Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak.
Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
I am sick at heart.
How long, O Lord, until You restore me?
Return, O Lord, and rescue me.
Save me because of Your unfailing love.”
“For I will restore health to you
And I will heal your wounds, says the Lord,
Because they have called you an outcast, saying:
This is Zion; no one seeks her and no one cares for her.”
Jeremiah 30:17 AMP
“And provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of His splendor.”
“Healing Hand of God”
by Jeremy Camp
“I have seen the many faces of fear and of pain
I have watched the tears fall plenty from heartache and strain
So if life’s journey has you weary and afraid
There’s rest in the shadow of His wings…”