The End of a Season in Life

Standard

A couple of weeks ago I finished a nearly two year journey through counseling. I had been anticipating this day since I began counseling, knowing that it was just for a time, but I didn’t know when my season in counseling would be over.

It was painful to stand face-to-face with my pain, to look it in the eyes, to name it, to describe my reactions to it, to forgive it, and then to reflect on my healing. I first worked through my divorce and the toxic marriage attached to it, and then I worked through my childhood sexual abuse. There were other, smaller issues my counselor and I tackled together with God, but those two were the biggies. Am I fully healed? Nope. That will not happen until Heaven, but I am in a good place. Do I still have hard days? Yes. Usually the hardest days are (weekly) on the day my daughter goes to stay with her father for a few days. When she’s gone I struggle with loneliness because I miss her deeply when she’s not with me. I am also forced to acknowledge and hold hands with the fact that I am not in control. That day is also the day I usually battle the most with anxiety and depression, ask God the hard questions, and usually comment on my life with, “WTF?”—except I actually say the words. I say them less than I used to, but it still happens.

GASP! I’m sure some of you now think I’m not a Christian, or that I’m a bad one. I believe in being honest with God, and He knows what I try to hide in my heart, far away from my mind. It’s easier to lie, put on a smile, and pretend that life is fine. But we can’t cast our cares on God if we won’t acknowledge our cares, or if we try to minimize them. Jesus didn’t die for me so that He could make me into a smiling liar who lives in denial of reality. It’s easy to go back to denial or that lying (usually while smiling), but my goal is to be real, continue healing, and grow in God.

Back to my story: During the duration of my counseling I kept a journal in a spiral notebook, and I went through three such notebooks, as well as part of a fourth. Each of my journals had a different color, which seemed to match the place I was at in life when I began it. My first journal was black with a few stickers containing Bible verses of hope; I was in a very dark place that was saturated with hurt and anger. At that point in my life, I regularly battled despair, and in God’s strength, I hung onto Him in hope. My last journal was green, which goes with trees and other growing things: life.

The closing session of my counseling ended with prayer, preceded by me shredding my journals that I kept specifically for counseling (I knew that I would be doing this at my last counseling session from day 1, and I couldn’t wait for that day). Shredding my journals signified a finality to issues that had been thoroughly prayed through, discussed, written about, cried over, and dreamed about. I wrote tirades, letters to others that were not to be delivered (as well as some that were), confessions, descriptions of events and struggles, what I dreamed about at night when I could remember my dreams, my hopes for the future, reflections, lists—just about anything. It’s interesting…as I shredded those journals and my counselor prayed, she played Hillsong’s Empires album on shuffle softly in the background. When I got to my last handful of pages, I heard, “It is done; it is done”—those words were being sung in that moment, and we couldn’t have planned it! After the shredding, my counselor asked me, “How do you feel?” I replied, quoting the song lyrics we just heard, “‘It is done, it is done…’”

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;  a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, ESV).

Advertisements

To the Child Who Has Been Sexually Abused

Standard

I realize this is not a light topic, and I’m terrified to post this. I’d rather just be safe, and not talk about uncomfortable things, but I choose to do the uncomfortable anyway because I want to live differently than I have for my entire life. I want to look at the hard things and speak the stories we’d rather leave unspoken or hidden. I want to acknowledge the darkness, instead of pretending it doesn’t exist, and then I want to shine the Light. I wrote this piece a few weeks ago, and it is part of my story.

To the Child Who’s Been/Being Sexually Abused,

You are not alone. I know you need to know that because sexual abuse makes you feel completely alone. How do I know this?  I, like you, was sexually abused as a child. And because of it, I grew up feeling like I had been abandoned. Even as an adult I struggle with feeling that way sometimes.

I want you to know that you are not your body–it’s just a body, but your body isn’t who you are inside. I grew up secretly thinking that all I was good for was my body and that all men wanted was sex. But it’s not like that. You and I are valuable because God made us worth something; our bodies don’t add to it–we have no price tag attached to us because we are truly priceless. Psalm 139:13-18 says, “For you (God) formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you” (ESV Bible).

For a long time I was mad at God. To be honest, I still have moments when I get mad at Him. In my heart I’ve raged, “How could You let me go through that?!” He didn’t yell back; He just listened. One day, after about a year of counseling, I was remembering one of the times I had been abused as a child, and I saw that God was with me. He was protecting me in the middle of the abuse, and He was whispering to me, “I’m here.” That was the first time I was able to look back at my abuse and not feel abandoned by God. I think one of the reasons He let me see that was so that I could encourage you. You are not alone. God is with you. He will bring you through this, and if you trust Him, He promises to use that evil to bring good into Your life. I think some of the good that came from my childhood sexual abuse is to be able to stand on the other side of my abuse, to hold out my hand and tell you, “Hold on. Don’t give up. Trust God, and He will help you get through this. You are not alone. There is HOPE.”

~Christine

Note: The abuse was someone outside my family.

‭‭