This weekend I received many blessings in being with a group of beautiful women in the Longview, TX area. I presented the Awake My Soul presentation and by the grace of God I believe it was received well. Before I speak I ask God to guide and direct me on what He wants me to say. I have a deep bag of experiences I can use to explain or express a sentiment of what I’ve received from His word and He never fails to use exactly what they (the women) need to hear. There was one moment I shared something somewhat new and still fragile with me and thought out loud, “I don’t know why I shared this…” at the end of the day a woman came up to me and said, “I know why you shared what you did about your and your husband. Because I needed to hear it. Thank you.” (No, thank YOU God.)
Being that it is Child Abuse Prevention month I wanted to share with you all this story from “Martha” who sent this in to me last week. It is an amazing story of courage and strength. One to offer hope to all.
I was 11 when it happened my dad got a new, very stressful job and started emotionally and physically abusing me. Both of my parents are survivors of physical and emotional abuse, and when this happened, it started a new cycle of physical and emotional abuse for me and my brother. It was awful, but when I was 18, my family and I came to know the Lord and through a series of events the abuse stopped. At this point, I thought, “Great, now I can be normal.” But as I went through college, I realized that there were many things “broken” inside of me, and I was very much not “normal”. So, when I was 22 and 23 I went through intensive counseling, as did my father- each of us separately with different counselors. The counseling helped a lot, but counseling is hard. It is hard to bring up painful memories, work them out, while continually acknowledging what is broken, how it makes you feel, why it makes you feel that way, and what the next step is in healing. After 2 years of counseling, I thought ok, I’m better and I’m past this, so I stopped counseling and so did my dad. We wanted to desperately to be a normal, happy family.
For the next 8 years, my dad had stopped hitting us but, because of his hurts from his past, continued to have very volatile emotions. But, our family was tired, tired of hurting, tired of the process of healing, and desperate for “normalcy”, so instead of addressing the continuing hurt, we stuffed it down and walked on eggshells around my dad. I stuffed down every hurt and feeling of anger for fear of aggravating the volatile man he can be until there was no more room to stuff. And then something amazing happened- I found my voice! I confronted him about the volatility, the negative emotions, the effect his abuse has had on me, and the fact that I needed him to acknowledge how much he hurt me and to say sorry. It was an awful discussion that has led to some really awesome growth in my family- including the fact that my brother (for the first time) has become involved in the discussion. Our family has started individual and family counseling- but this time we are working on it together. It has brought a new level of healing with all of the hurt, happiness, difficulties, and closeness that this brings.
All of this occurring has taught me that healing is not something that happens once and then is done. Unfortunately abuse has consequences and reactions- it has left its mark on my heart as well as my family member’s hearts. We have triggers, flashbacks, hard moments, sad moments, and abnormal reactions to “normal” situations. I will never be “normal” in that sense because I will always be a survivor of abuse. But, I have also learned that if at each moment I make the choice to acknowledge the feelings, reaction, and flashbacks, take these to God, my counselor, and my dear friends and family, process it, and learn from it, it takes me one step farther in the process of healing. It takes me one step closer to knowing what it is to be less broken.
So I’ll end with this- a prayer- for the Lord is faithful and never leaves us or forsakes us, even in our hardest moments upon the path of healing.
Dear Lord, thank you for being faithful upon every step of this journey of healing. Please continue to put all of the pieces of my heart back together. Please shine your light upon all of the dark places of my heart. Please give me the courage to face what I need to face. Amen
Thank you, “Martha”, for sharing your story and journey with us. It is in sharing our stories that we not only help in our own healing but help others to know they are not alone and courage to carry on with God. If YOU have a story you would like to share please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org