Sunday, December 5, 2010

More Than A Conquerer

I can not remember a time when I didn't know Jesus.  I grew up in a Christian home, my parents were active members in our church and small town community.  I was the fourth child and only girl and I adored my three older brothers.  I craved their attention, so if there was an occasion when I got to spend time with them I jumped at it, especially if they weren't treating me like I was annoying to be around or a pain in the butt or - in general - an inconvenience.

Then it all changed.

I always remembered, there wasn't a time when I forgot, but I did not understand until I was much older.  I knew what had happened was wrong but I didn't know why.  I knew it was wrong because we stacked up books behind the door and the vacuum cleaner too.  

I remember those books because they were a set and when they were all lined up there was a picture on the spine that ran the length of the set.  There were lots of them and they were heavy and I remember helping to pile them up behind the door.  Its as if by that very act of helping to place the books behind the door I was complicit in the abuse - that's how I genuinely felt for so long.

So here was an occasion where, at last, I wasn't an inconvenience, in fact I was part of the game and I got to spend time by myself with my big brother.  I remember actively seeking him out to play this game again.  I know that that memory caused me to believe for a long time that I had been the one to instigate the abuse and that I must hold myself accountable for the consequences.  That was a lie!

My life didn't change from the outside.  From the outside we were a close knit family.  We moved to the city, Dad went to Bible College and I got a new baby brother, although I had specifically requested that God give me a baby sister.  I adored my family.
I never forgot what had happened but I clung to denial with a tight fist. 
I began stealing food and sneaking snacks.  I felt the same thrill sneaking food as I had piling those books behind the door.  I felt the same mixed desire to get away with it and be caught at the same time.  I have used food as a comfort and a cover and as a slow form of suicide.  
I developed a sense of humor to shield my heart. A well timed joke or pointed sarcasm have become my weapons of choice to keep people at arms length.  The ready smile and hearty laugh covered over my pain.
Denying the truth to myself I refused God entry into my pain.  I refused to allow healing.  After all if I was to heal, I was going to have to acknowledge and accept the truth.  And if I acknowledged the truth to myself I may risk losing the people I loved the most - my family.
But God broke me.  I got sick.  I stopped sleeping and if I did sleep I had to sleep with the light on. I suffered from chronic back pain and nightmares.  Depression set in and I was in a dark hole I couldn't get out of. "O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?" 

I was at an emotional breaking point and I felt I had only two choices left: tell my parents and confront my brother or die.

7 years ago I began my journey of healing - timidly stepping into the light.  God does not break his promises.  "I have made you and I WILL carry you.  I WILL sustain you and I WILL rescue you." Isaiah 46:4   

Clinging to that promise I told my parents, I confronted my brother and I finally let go of the burden of responsibility I had been carrying for 15 years.  It was not my fault, and it is not my shame to hide.  

I adored my family and when I spoke the truth they showed no grace or compassion.  My father was my hero and he broke my heart by calling me a sick liar and a disappointment.  I can understand why he said those things but it doesn't make the pain go away.

Jesus knows what I've been through, what has happened to me.  He knows and he understands.  He is no stranger to pain, no stranger to being rejected by his family, of having friends disappoint him, of being abandoned and suffering great physical, emotional and spiritual abuse.  Of being called a liar and crazy.  Of being humiliated, hung naked on a cross and enduring extreme pain.  We are not alone in our pain and hurt and brokenness because Jesus has walked the path before us.

Isaiah 51:3
The LORD will surely comfort Zion
       and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
       he will make her deserts like Eden,
       her wastelands like the garden of the LORD.
       Joy and gladness will be found in her,
       thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

I am not my abuse.  I am not dirty and unloved.  I am not alone. I still struggle with fear, I still push people away, some nights I still sleep with the light on, I still struggle with using created things to comfort me rather than the Creator.  But slowly, day by day, I hold firm to the promises of my heavenly Father.  Joy and gladness WILL be found in me, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

I am a redeemed child of Jesus who was chosen before the world was created and I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I am my heavenly Father's precious daughter, clothed in Jesus' love and being transformed by the Wonderful Counselor.  He is feeling my hurt, pain and rejection and having compassion.  He is rebuilding me one precious jewel at a time.  And because of Christ's love for me I can stand up and sing: I am not a victim any longer, I am not just a survivor.  I am more than a conqueror through Jesus who loves me.

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

The healing process is messy, hard work, there will be tears, sometimes its excruciatingly painful but its totally worth it. We are not alone.