My heart has been pierced with an even greater understanding and love over the course of this past Easter weekend. On Sunday, Fr. Alfonso said in his homily that he (paraphrased) “Is always questioning which allows him to grow deeper in his understanding and faith.” He made the comment that he couldn’t do the same homily twice because by the time he went to give it a second time he would want to say something different because he would have learned something new by them, something more to he could offer.
I nodded emphatically as he said this because I have noticed in the 13 years I’ve been doing ministry work my understanding and knowledge is expanding with each rich experience and with every person I meet or listen to I learn from them as well. One of the greatest gifts to date was in listening to a young woman who traveled with me on Friday to film a I Have a Voice video.
The I Have a Voice videos were an ‘idea’ that I felt the Holy Spirit put on my heart to help with the mission of Hopeful Hearts. We needed to give survivors a VOICE and allow other survivors all over the world to know they are not alone. To speak out. To be healed. This young woman, Tamara, was a last minute candidate as one woman had to drop out due to illness. I didn’t know Tamara’s story well so on the way to Dallas she told Caitlin and me what she’d survived. I’m going to retell only a small snippet of what she has to share because I would be doing her story injustice by trying to retell it in full detail. However, I must share how God showed up to me in one aspect of her story. I am certain he will show up for you.
She lived through years of emotional and physical abuse by both parents along with neglect by her mother. When left alone to live with her father she then suffered through sexual abuse for years. Her father imbued evil in his actions, even telling her what he was going to do to her when she got home. She would cower in fear and anxiety at school not wanting to go home, feeling invisible every where she turned because no one would see the torment she suffered and save her.
Years later when Tamara was finally was free from her father and her mother she married, had children, and found her way into a bible study. It was at this time she listened to a woman who stood up to pray and thought to herself “I want to know and love God the way she knows and loves him.” Yet, she struggled with God ‘the father’ when she could not rectify ‘love’ and a ‘father’ image. Alone in a sanctuary she sat down on the steps and rest her head in prayer. She cried out to God to show her the love of a father. He embraced her and she felt him wrap her in his arms.
As she continued to study and learn about God she couldn’t deny the anger that kept intruding. “Where were you, God?” She recalled the many days, months and years of torture and couldn’t rectify this God she was coming to love and know with the evil she endured. “Where were you when he was hurting me?” Tamara said she heard and felt the response seep into her spirit. I was with you protecting your ability to love. Without the ability to love you could not live.
Never before have I been given such a gift of understanding. I have allowed my anger toward God to subside when it came to the abuse I endured but I did this with the understanding that God did not want the evil to be done to me. He did not choose it, but the men that hurt me did. I respect and appreciate our gift of free will and I know that it is the same gift that leads many to suffer. I have also known that God will bring a greater good from the most horrific situation and suffering.
But to hear God protects our ability to love made complete and infallible sense. God is love. In the face of evil He will protect our love.
I am indebted to Tamara for sharing her personal revelation with me because it healed a deep wound within. I pray this truth helps you do the same.
Stay tuned – the two I Have a Voice videos will be released one by one this summer.