“Leave her alone!”
My grandma yelled out these very words from her kitchen one day to my grandpa who was sitting next to me on the couch in the trailer they lived in.
That one day is the day I vividly remember being physically hurt by my grandpa. I was about 6 or 7. I still remember the look of his unsafe hands. I also remember crying silently in fear.
I don’t know if this is true or not but I heard that one month before my grandpa passed away as a result of alcoholism, he gave his life to Christ. I pray that’s true. I pray he had at least thirty days on this earth of experiencing the compassionate love and mercy of Jesus. I’m not unaware of his own suffering that led him to cause suffering.
God’s grace is scandalous, we know this.
I hardly ever think of that day. It comes up on occasion when I am speaking to others who have been sexually abused and they wonder if healing ever comes. I share the story of the time I shook my fist at God and understandably asked, “Where were You?” I then share how He came with healing in His hands and gave me a new identity.
I grew up loving and hating men. I hated the ones who hurt me and I loved the ones who loved me, or at least said they did with my understanding of love at that time. I remember when my grandpa died, I was 10 years old. I had no desire to go to his funeral and thank God no one made me. He did not love and I did not love him.
I decided at a fairly young age that the only way to protect myself was to be in control. I decided that even though I couldn’t physically overpower a man, I could overpower him emotionally that often led to feeling powerful sexually.
I used men just like they used me.
I liked to be told I was pretty, smart and a good lover. It made me feel powerful. What I had no control over as a young girl, I took back control with no regard for who got hurt in the process, including myself.
Sexual brokenness isn’t something we like to talk about but it really is unavoidable if we are going to care about those who need a safe place to go. Even writing this post isn’t fun but I’ve learned I’m not here to make sure everyone is always having fun but to inspire confession and healing. When I look into the eyes of someone who has been deeply broken in their sexuality, my heart breaks with them. Often times we cry together and call on God together.
There are multitudes of adults and children who have been sexually violated and are walking around saying they are okay and have no idea how not okay they are. Confessing we are not okay when we want control means we lose control. It feels easier to believe we are okay. We can get away with this for awhile but our insides eventually get revealed in some way.
I couldn’t see how much help I needed until my early forties. Dang. Why did it take me so stinking long? For years I went back and forth of letting go and holding on, letting go and holding on…until my not okayness was revealed to the eyes of many. My sin and God’s mercy was put on display and those who drew near got hit by the waves of how good God is, even when we’ve done bad things and find true repentance.
I bless the day God’s love went from my head into the deep recesses of every crack and crevasse of my heart during a time it made no sense. It changed me and still does. I never forget and I continue to ask for more. I need more…and always will.
Can I just insert that I’ve met some of the most beautiful souls on the earth in recovery settings? Atmospheres where no one has anything to lose but to be shockingly and gloriously honest? Whether it’s the confession of what was done to someone or a confession of what someone did to someone else, honesty brings something to the table for God and others to work with. What’s denied or hidden doesn’t just go away…it grows like undetected cancer.
If there is one thing I know, God takes delight in an honest confession. Confessions where no pretense taints the reality of how deeply flawed we can be and how deeply He loves us right where we are at. I am learning to authentically love people in new ways…my judgments of old are being repented of and my heart is expanding deep and wide with a love that will enrage the pious.
God’s love changes us. It not only waits, it pursues. It finds us where we are at and it always intends to take us to holy living that gives us joy in sorrow. It shows up in the tension of our lives and emboldens our faith to live for the sake of His Gospel, no longer hiding or needing to parade anything before the eyes of man. Just living in His quiet love while we watch the waves of His Living Water come forth from deep within, giving life to whoever gets in its path.
There’s no sin that can’t be forgiven and there’s no sin that doesn’t need confessed. God’s love makes both forgiving and confessing possible.
Whether it’s the wrong we’ve done or the wrong done against us, honest confession opens the door to a healing that restores our innocence and child-like faith and laughter. Maybe you don’t personally need that but I am certain there are those around you who do.
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Isaiah 55:1