This week, memories lay heavy on the heart, tears come easily, and I grieve. I grieve over what was lost, what was taken, and what never became.
Last week I met with my church counselor.. I meet with him every 2 weeks. I was telling him about a dream I had had the night before about a very close friend from Texas that I had a falling out with right before we moved back to KY almost 4 years ago. The first few months back here were busy and I had John-Marc shortly after moving so I hadn't called her for several months, and she hadn't called me. Over the next couple years I tried to reconnect and it didn't happen. I will think of her and then grieve for days and weeks at a time over the loss of her. I was telling my counselor about a dream I had the night before where my friend surprised me and came to visit and things were wonderful like they had been years ago. When I woke up I was deeply disappointed that it was just a dream. As I told him, that pain stirred up more emotion about several other important deep relationships in my life that for whatever reason we grew apart and/or the relationship was lost, and how deeply it still hurts.
I told my counselor in tears that somehow I have to come to peace with this stuff, and with the things in my past that others had done and things that I had done. His response: "you need to become familiar with a word spelled g-r-i-e-f.
And that unexpectedly brought yet even more things to my mind that I had lost or had been taken from me. Memories began to unravel..... memories that started on a dark night long ago where satan tore out a part of my heart and tramped it into a million pieces. That night started a slew of losses in my life. A lot of those losses revolved around that specific experience I had as a young teenager.
I feel compelled by Jesus to share my story, partly for my healing and honesty, but also to speak out for people so broken that they still haven't found their voice to speak out and are still bearing wounds deep in the heart, alone. I want others to know that no one is alone, and that there is hope for healing in Jesus. If God uses my story, my pain, to bring just one more person closer to Him, to finding His love, to knowing His comfort and healing, it will have been a gift to have opened up my heart and laid it wide open. Either way I share it for Jesus, and if He is pleased then all is good.
I think one of satan's tools is to use this hush hush we can't talk about such terrible things mentality to isolate us and keep us bound in darkness, tormented by fear, shame, and memories of the past. Satan doesn't want to chance people speaking about deep personal hurts because he knows that if we open up and start facing our hurts there is a chance the light of Jesus might pier into to the broken cracked places of our hearts, and we might one day just walk out of his dungeon of his lies and into God's freedom. (John 10:10... The thief (satan)comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (God) have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest).
What satan means for evil, God can use for good... and even amidst the hurt of remembering and grieving, He has, He has over and over. (Romans 28:8 And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.)
So here's my story...
I grew up in a christian home where we went to church every week unless we were puking; and my parents volunteered with youth group and other ministries. They had hearts for Jesus, but they also had issues with each other and fought a lot. I remember when I was around 9 years old or so a few times where I would write a note with something to the effect of "we love you, please don't fight"... and then I would force my brother to take it and slide it under their door. I remember a couple times where my mom would say to us the next day something like "we love each other, we were just fighting but we love each other." I accepted Jesus one night probably around 5-6, I can't quite remember, in our living room with my parents after my dad did family devotions. I remember crying and not wanting to go to hell and wanting to love Jesus. I also remember a night (before I was 10 because we were still in PA) praying and it was the first time that the Holy Spirit moved in me, while I was praying for people and family of a plane that had crashed. I remember where I was sitting in both instances. As a little girl I was sensitive to Jesus and loved life to the fullest. I was a happy little girl that loved make believe and playing outside with my little brother, and anyone and everyone around me. My heart knew Jesus loved me, and despite some hard things at home, I still had a sweet little heart that thought Jesus was just grand. I remember lots of wonderful times as a child and knew I was loved. When I was 10 we moved from our very comfortable spoiled life in PA to KY where we went from a beautiful house,to a tiny little farm house. I really didn't mind though and I thought the house was just fine (now my very upset about moving 13 yr old sister would beg to differ and thought it was far from pretty). I was excited for a new adventure and other than missing my grandparents so much I could hardly stand it, I loved it in our new house and town. We moved so my parents could go to a christian college there in town. Things were stressful and it really took a toll on my parents. Moving on a few years...
When I was thirteen I had a friend that I spent all my time with. If she wasn't at my house I was at hers. We did everything together. She had a terrible childhood and was very poor. I remember sleeping on the couch at her house one time and found a nest of baby mice in the foam under the mattress. Her living conditions freaked me out but we were so close I just wanted to be with her. You know, at that age friends are everything. :) My other favorite thing to do was go to youth group so before long she was tagging along. One day at youth group I got the beautiful privilege of leading her to Jesus. We continued to be close. During a month or so of the summer she went to stay with her dad in another state. While she was gone her mom asked me to babysit my friend's baby brother and her other brother that was about 5. That night it got late into the night and they still hadn't come home. I started getting afraid. I hated the dark and I didn't feel safe alone so late. Finally around 1-2am they came home. My friend's "step dad" (really her mom's boyfriend who also was the father of the 2 little boys), said he was taking me home and we left. My house was on the edge of town and I lived in a house at the top of a hill that leads out of town. As we drove closer to my house he began to drive faster and faster, and even with me frantically telling him he had passed my house and to please take me home he just kept driving. Driving around bend after bend, and finally parking in a little deserted area off the main road. He raped me, violently. After it was all over he drove me home. As he drove he threatened me that if I ever told anyone he would kill me. I was obviously afraid to tell my parents. That night I went into my parents room and told them I was home and went upstairs, hid my clothes in a back of a drawer and went to bed. My friend came home 2 weeks later and I told her what had happened. I remember not wanting to tell my mom or dad what had happened because I felt like I would cause all of our fun times to be over. It was summer and it seemed like things were a little better with my parents and I didn't want to stop the fun things, like boating and tubing and camping which we had been doing. I also wasn't sure what would happen if I told and so I figured it would be better to not tell. Throughout the rest of the summer I became more and more afraid that someone was going to find out and tell my parents.
On the first day of 8th grade, I met my English teacher. She was a warm caring woman that had told us all on the first day of school that if we ever had anything we needed to tell her or were in trouble etc. we could come to her. I loved that she loved Jesus too. One day she gave us an assignment to write a paper about 3 things we wished. I wrote first about wanting everyone to know Jesus, 2nd that there would be no more wars, and 3rd I wrote with handwriting that became almost illegible that I wished that the rape had never happened to me. I waited a week or more and kept asking if she had read our papers.. finally I couldn't take it and confided it all to her. She was precious with me. She cried, she held my hand, she listened, and she asked me questions. She convinced me that I had to tell my parents. She called my mom and dad from the school. My dad had a dentist appt. so he went to that and my mom came in to the school. My teacher told her and she and I went home and told my dad, and it went on from there and my parents pressed charges. Later that English paper became part of evidence in the trial. Once the man was arrested and taken to jail, my friend became very angry with me. She passed horrible rumors around my school lying and calling me names. A long with what had happened to me, I was hurting so much from loosing my best friend. The next year was a nightmare. By the time we actually came to the time of the court trial (there had been some delays with our lawyer who was working on a murder case) it had been 9 months since the event actually happened. I remember looking over to the man in the court room and I actually felt sad for him. He was so alone and lost. My English teacher that I had confided in was there for me as well as my family and a woman that was one of my church youth group counselors. My teacher also walked through many scary times with me that year. A few times a detective and police men came to the school and we met in a conference room. One of those times I had to tell the detective etc. all the details of what had happened to me and my teacher was right there by my side holding my hand. She really was a deep part of my healing and support during those times. 8 years after the experience she was a part of my wedding. She read a poem that I had written to Marc for me. Her relationship is one of the handful of special ones that God used and now I have lost connection with. I do grieve her friendship at times but I know that God used her deeply for the time that I needed.
During the several years that followed things with m parents continued to deteriorate. With family life mixed in with the trauma, things were confusing and hard. I spent many years asking God why, why had He allowed it, why was I so confused and numb, why why why. My youth pastor and youth group counselors were a life-line for me during my high school years. I had a few youth group counselors who really invested time their time and energy into me listening and caring for me. If I had not had my youth group and leaders, I don't know if I would have survived. I think God used them all to keep me going, to keep me from turning on God, and to tell me I was going to be ok. One of those youth group counselors was a woman who listened, loved and prayed with me over and over for years. She is still to this day a very precious person in my life, as well as one of the hugest influences on my healing. The other 2 people that also contributed the most time and love into my life were a married couple that kind of took me in as one of their own. The husband (now a youth pastor of 20+ years) was the first person I met when I walked into youth group the first night ever in 7th grade. The wife was like a young mama to me and the husband like a dad. They supported me and comforted me in ways I can't describe. They were always there, always praying and loving me and supporting me. She was the other woman that went to the court the day of the trial. I felt loved and cherished by he and they are still among my most treasured gifts. I thank Jesus that I am still able to be in relationship with them.
Starting in 10th grade I went to counseling. I didn't sleep well during those years so I would read my bible and journal to God late into the night. God was faithful to me and He was very close. I had this connection with Him because of my pain that went deep. Sometimes it felt like I could reach out and touch Him, other nights I would beg and cry for Jesus to please just come in person and hold me. One night as I was crying out to God at a little reservoir by my house (I went there often at night to pray and talk to God) God showed me a vision that helped me to forgive my offender completely. Youth group retreats were one of the places I did a lot of questioning and hurting. I began to expect that God would show up there and do something big for me during those trips and He did. By the end of high school God had done great healing. I would go one youth trips with our youth "leadership" team and share my story and God would really use it to touch others. There were a lot of supernatural things that God did to show me again and again that He was still there. In college God would tell me things about people and I was able to pray for them and help them. Going to a christian school with chapel gave me the chance to go down and pray for people at the alter occasionally. I enjoyed mentoring a couple younger youth group kids and had a strong desire to comfort people who were hurting.
In college I met my precious husband Marc. Through him God has done much deeper healing in my heart. He is an amazing man who takes his call to love me as Christ loved the church very seriously. He has stuck with me through the darkest most hopeless times, and (next to Jesus) he is the biggest blessing and example of the love of God for me.
After marrying Marc and I started having children right away. My one desire in life was to become a wife and a mother. Once I became pregnant with our first child, things became complicated. I was very sick with all my pregnancies (all 6) and I spent a few times in the hospital, or in the ER to get IV liquids, and with my first pregnancy, IV's at home because I threw up so much and got dehydrated easily. During that pregnancy I was so sick I really didn't talk much with my husband, I was too sick. I also didn't spend a lot of time reading my bible. I prayed less than I normally did. My first pregnancy was traumatic on my body. I was very sick with pre-eclampsia and my son was born 7 weeks early. Then 13 months later our second was born. After his birth I had Post-Partem Depression and things felt desperate and I had severe anger issues. During this year my parents of 28 years of marriage divorced. I didn't deal with it a whole lot at that point because I was already struggling with juggling 2 little ones under 2 yrs old. It did feel like a blow to my faith though because I faithfully prayed that God would keep them together and I really believed He would. I felt God didn't answer my prayers. It felt like with the loss of our family being intact, the loss of my dad became more real to me. I had prayed all my life that God would save my parents marriage and I really believed He would. I now know that it was something my parents chose and not God. God isn't a God that forces us into one thing or another so with that freedom comes the ability for failure. That was just one of those things.
Over the years the depression became worse. I would also have bouts of "super" good times where I would be active and energetic either physically or mentally. I would spend days hyper focused one something, it was like I became obsessed with something. One that was common was being on the computer all the time, sometimes (a lot) it was shopping, another was sewing for days and wanting to do nothing else. My mind would get so busy that I couldn't process something before the next thought came. I would talk fast and I would be so excited about things. A lot of the time though I was depressed. The depression let up a good bit for a couple years and I felt better mentally with the 3rd and 4th pregnancy than I had before. Over time though the depression came back. But by the time our fifth child came I was in severe depression and life was overwhelming. Two years later our last child came, which I call my bonus baby :)
By the time he was one I was sleeping often and slowly I was unintentionally detaching from my family, even sitting out on the couch with the family was sometimes overwhelming. Neither Marc nor I knew what was happening or what to do about it. We were basically just surviving and hanging on. I began having migraines off and on that were so bad that Marc would have to miss work to take care of the kids. One day I heard one of my kids run through the door and ask Daddy, is Mommy awake? That's how often I was sleeping, they expected me to be sleeping. My heart sunk. Every time I came out of the room or was up when they came home they were so happy; they would come running. My precious husband and kids, they were all I wanted, God had given me the desires of my heart, to have a husband and 5 children (which is why I call our 6th our bonus baby) and yet I couldn't enjoy them, and knew it and couldn't help it. I wasn't able to be the wife I wanted to be nor that Marc needed. It was breaking my heart.
Finally after prodding from several friends, Marc went with me to a Christian Psychiatrist that was highly recommended (and also highly expensive. ha!) Marc now says it's the best money he's ever spent. I was diagnosed with Type 2 rapid-cycling Bipolar Disorder. We walked out of that Doctor's office that day with hope, hope that we hadn't had in years, that maybe, just maybe I might one day be ok. We couldn't trace back to the beginning of the symptoms, but we did start seeing them more and more as we looked back. Things made a little more sense. The Dr. said bipolar can often be triggered by traumatic experiences, as well as genetics etc. So maybe the experience I had as a teen contributed, maybe not. It's also possible that the traumatic pregnancy and birth of our first may have partially triggered it too. For those who don't know, Bipolar simply means that at times I experience times of being overly excited, at times I may feel deeply depressed, and sometimes I feel balanced and good. The rapid-cycling means that there are times when I may cycle through the hyper moods to the deep low moods back and forth very quickly. Sometimes within one day. The type 2 means that I have deeper lows and my highs aren't very pronounced. When I'm in a depressive episode I can't logically see things. God feels really far, things look differently than they really are. I'm learning though with God's great grace and love to accept during those times that even though things feel horrible and unbearable, that doesn't mean things are. I'm learning a lot about this "choosing to believe God's truth" during hard times. It took months to get the right combination of medications to help me function and feel good again. And there are still plenty of ups and down , but when the right meds. came together it felt like the light came on. Next month marks 2 years since I've been diagnosed. I've had some really good long stretchy of feeling really good and healthy, and I've had some times that were really hard; but overall I am amazed at how much better I am. Becoming healthy with medication has allowed me to to begin to work through things and begin to heal. The progress that I have made (and my family) in the last 2 years is absolutely incredible. God is so good. God has used so many things and people as channels of healing, my counselor, close friends, my renewal support group, and most of all prayer and His Word. (the bible). God has and is and will continue to heal all the broken places of my heart and life. It's hard to look back and realize what my family and I have missed out on, but God is helping me to work through and let go of that stuff in His timing. One of my favorite verses years ago as a teen, and over the years to now is (Joel 2:25, God will restore the years the locust have eaten).
The night when that man took my innocence and a chunk of my heart with it, God was there. He hurt with me, he cried with me, he felt all that I felt. He knew me inside and out. He had formed me and had given my little heart it's first beats, and as I was being torn and trampled He scooped up every little piece of my heart, He's held my mangled heart so gently and over time He has been mending and repairing, piecing back together those shards of broken. The biggest pieces, He grew those back together over the next few years that followed.
It's the tiny sharp pieces. the ones that have been hard to identify, those He's taking His time on. Painstakingly (for He and I both) He gently sands down the jagged edges,re-shaping as He sees fit and placing them gently over the weak places to make me stronger. Sometimes that requires God bringing certain things up so He can heal me more deeply. This past year has been a year of walking back through so that I can walk through and beyond, and He is moving me forward.
God has told me that as He heals my heart, He's making it even more beautiful than it was before it was broken.
Healing like this takes time and meticulous detail, Often requiring stretching and tweaking. It's a painful process, but if we resist the pain we resist the healing, and in return we resist the Healer. It's like we are telling God that He's not or He can't do it right, that we could have done better.
God knows what our shame and despair is, He knows what it feels like to be beaten, to be shamed and violated. On a dark night, He hung on a cross, alone and abandoned, stripped naked and ashamed, He truly knows what being abused, violated, abandoned feels like, and He endured it even unto death (Hebrews 12:2... Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame...) (Romans 8:8 God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.). (john 3:16-17...For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.)
God went to the cross and gave Himself up for us, so that we might have life, and in hopes that we will have a love relationship with Him. His one desire is to have a relationship with us, to be our friend and companion, one that shares in our joys, rejoices in our victories, to jump in mud puddles together and tell us stories when we need to laugh. He wants to be there for us in the hard times too. He'll go into the valley with us, walk along side us in the rain. He'll carry our burdens and share in our pain. He's there to hold onto us when it's dark and He'll lead us home if we've lost our way.
If we ask Him to come into our hearts, to forgive us and to help us, He goes into relationship with us with reckless abandon, with no resistance, reserve or walls of protection. He doesn't have expectations that we may or may not be able to meet, He doesn't ask for anything back, He comes as He is, and He doesn't mess with facades or masks, He doesn't worry about looking good or sounding right, He is real and He doesn't keep anything hidden. All He really wants is to love us and be loved by us. Isn't that what we really want in a relationship... to feel free to be who we are and not have to cover up our messy places? To not have to worry about being accepted or looking like we have it all together? With Jesus we are safe and accepted exactly as we are. No matter how deep the pain goes, and how much satan rips into our hearts, Jesus's love is stronger and we can have hope that He is with us and He will heal us. In Him, in His love, lies our hope, our being set free and our promised victory.
God is showing me some of the ways that the sexual violation has taken from me. He's showing me some of the losses that have been born out of that scary painful night. I'm realizing that I lost a lot because of that man. I lost my best friend. I lost part of my childhood. I lost the ability to learn who I was as a teenager without this ugly hurtful experience sucking all the understanding out of me. I didn't feel like a carefree girly girl anymore, it was replaced by feeling of being dirty, ugly and ashamed. Satan took some of my christian guy friendships away. I just couldn't trust or relate to guys anymore. I spent my highschool years trying to understand how God could allow this and trying to deal with the deep pain that I was going through. I had all this junk from satan in my mind and heart and I couldn't figure out who I really was. And from there as the years went on the list just grew. Marriage, having babies, depression, so many things that haven't worked out the way we had hoped.
Right now, I am hurting, and I'm remembering, but it's ok. I'm not alone and I have hope. So if healing means grieving for a time in order to move forward, I'll go there with Jesus. God knows who I am and He has love and healing that He's dying to pour out on me. I know my Savior and I know I'm safe with Him. I trust and know that I can do this with Him. (phil 4:13...I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength). Jesus won't leave me hanging, and He will carry out His work of healing and wholeness in me until the day I die and am reunited with Him and become completely and fully healed and whole.
There will be a day, a wonderful day when it's finished, when the scars have long fade away and are no longer. The memories gone, the affects broken, no more sorrow. This day, when we meet Jesus in all His glory, on this day we'll all get new hearts, and we will be given a new life, a whole and perfect life. That's when all the hurting, all the waiting, all the growing, all the living will have been so worth it. But until then I hold onto His promises in the bible, because The Promiser keeps His promises. He made a commitment to us to us in His Word to never leave us alone (Hebrews 13:5....I will never leave you nor forsake you, And Matthew 28:20... I am with you always, to the very end of the age.)
Other verses that have meant a lot to me over the years…
(For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. Plans of good and not of evil, plans to give you a future and hope. Jeremiah 29:11)
(The Lord your God is with you, He, the Mighty One will save. He takes great delight in us and quiets us with His love. He rejoices over us with singing. Zephaniah 3:17)
(For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you. Isaiah 31:13)
(Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One, your Savior. Since you are precious and honored in my sight and because I love you.....Do not be afraid, for I am with you..Isaiah 43:1-5)
(I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt. Jeremiah 31:3)
(Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask for or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Jesus Christ throughout the nations. Galatians 3:20)
I love the psalms because I can relate so much with David. (psalms 23,24,27,31,40,91,121,138,139)
I want to say to those who have maybe read this and have hurts and pain that is hidden in secret, You are not alone. God loves you and He wants to help you. And even though I don't know you, I love you with God's love and I'm here if I can help. Please tell someone if you have things in your past or present that you are bearing alone. A trusted friend, a counselor, a spouse, a pastor etc... It's ok to hurt and need help. I'm here too if anyone needs or wants to tell me anything. You can reply, message or email me... (firstname.lastname@example.org)
And obviously, if you know anyone you would like to share this with please do! ;)
Continueing on counting 1000 love gifts from Jesus that I am thankful for. #417-457
A husband that is committed to finding out my emotional love needs and loving me in those ways.
Redemption from past regrets, hurts and sin.
Growth and healing
God doesn't waste anything in our life.
God will never leave nor forsake me.
Children that light up my soul and also stretch me in ways I didn't know were possible.
Family and friends who are willing to go to the "basement" with me.
Grace, grace, and more grace offered to me every minute of every day, forever.
Struggles that make me stronger.
Suffering that brings me to the foot of the cross.
The gift of prayer and intercession for others.
Being a part of a recovery group, renewal.
A gracious husband who is patient with me.
A warm house and a little fake "fire place" that hubby got me for christmas.
Time in the evening alone with just Marc and I.
Kids who sleep through the night.
The power of confession and repentance.
The Word of God.
The armor of Christ.
The fruit of the Spirit
Laughter from children as they slide down the steps in slippery sleeping bags.
Girls that make believe.
First ballet classes for the 3 girls.
A musically gifted husband.
Being able to start over every morning.
Today, the present moment.
Food in abundance.
Courage to speak out.
Marriage class that has put us both in tears the first week. ;)
God ordained time.
Holy Spirit's leading and whispering of God's heart.
Healthy active wild little 3 yr. old boy.
Church family and a preacher who speaks straight from the heart of God and the Holy Spirit.
Everlasting love of God.
Seeing my husband walk up the side walk after a long hard day's work.
A generous God that enjoys blessing His children.
The fact that I could go on for days and still have so much to be thankful for.