The Restoration of Truth

Every once in a while I like to go back over the years and read journal entries from this day to see what things have changed since then and see the growth and progress I’ve made. Last year, I posted several songs that really spoke to me, so I thought I’d write an entry touching on how it impacted me and the process I went through and where I’m at today with it. God has done so much inside my heart this year. He’s so amazing.

Try by Colbie Caillat ~ I’ve never been great at doctoring my physical appearance to be what I came to believe was beauty. I struggled with brushing my teeth and showering regularly. I struggled with making healthy diet choices. I struggled with clothes I wore. I struggled with doing my hair. I never realized I didn’t like me, but I could never measure up to being who I thought was a beautiful person. I still struggle with these things, but now I’m accepting that I don’t have to try so hard, I just need to be open and raw about stuff. It might make others uncomfortable because I’m still working through things, but the people around me care enough to love on me through it. In doing so, I’ll overcome these struggles… and I am. I’ve actually come to a place that I like me and that’s how I’ve gotten there.

Because of You by Kelly Clarkson ~ The lies I’ve believed led me to make some choices that stifled my own growth. Wounds I had experienced by the lack of parental influence and presence in my life resulted in me trying to be something that was impossible to be – anything other than open and raw. I tried hard to shut all the pain down so as to not hurt others, but it didn’t heal my own pain. It made me ashamed of my pain, that I felt any at all, that I couldn’t move forward, that I wasn’t strong enough, brave enough, good enough, to get over it. But the reality is, because of it all, I am grateful to say that I may see glimpses of it in my character, but I will never be what happened to me. I am breaking away and I’m free and my children know a different life, and thus I’ve ended the cycle.

Piece by Piece by Kelly Clarkson ~ I needed my father in ways he both had no clue about and was emotionally and physically unavailable to do anything about. As such, I felt abandoned. Each time I tried to approach the subject as an adult, he attempted to validate it, but I was still left feeling like he was justifying it rather than just accepting that he’d hurt me and that his mistakes, no matter the reason they were made, resulted in wounds that he was responsible for. It’s because of this, that years prior, when my husband walked into my life, and he began to provide a kind of love from a man that I had longed for, it was monumental to a point that others didn’t understand. They felt I didn’t recognize their love for me, because of the type of love I needed wasn’t met by them. I in fact needed a man to love me, hug me, tell me I was beautiful and worthy – I needed a specific man – my dad. He didn’t love me as I needed and as a child I found a counterfeit version of it in my abuser. He took advantage of those vulnerabilities, he violated my mind and my body, he stole my trust and betrayed me because my father wasn’t there as I needed him…. and through my husband, those things were restored to me. I love my father… but those scars are still there. Those years are gone. We can build off of what happened, but the tears still surface when I think of what might have been… maybe someday they’ll cease, but for today, there is still pain mixed with my healing.

Catch My Breath by Kelly Clarkson ~ I’ve struggled with rejection for most of my life. I was not as athletic, as pretty, as funny, as cool, as well dressed, as xyz… I’ve spent most of my life trying to play it off as no big deal and trying not to let others know how much it hurt me. I’ve spent most of my life, turning my cheek, shrugging it off so as to not ‘hold a grudge’ or be ‘too sensitive.’ Then when I came to a moment of standing strong for myself I was viewed as self-righteous or judgmental. I felt like I was fighting to just live my life and took a breath. I screamed this song as it played, releasing all that pressure built up inside of me, to release the rocks of pressure I’d gathered up inside my soul… and then I could breath. I had wasted so much time trying to please people who didn’t even notice how hard I was trying to earn their love. They were oblivious to my pain and the struggles I faced on a daily basis… and this moment was a moment of no longer stifling my healing and victories in order to not offend. Not because I wanted to offend, but because I had made my own life less important, my own health, and thus the effect of all that on my kids less important.

Rise Up by Andra Day ~ As a result of realizing I was important and that it was okay to care for myself as such, I declared that I was going to rise up! I was broken down… spinning in circles… fighting an endless battle in all the wrong ways… so I rise up. In spite of the ache, I chose to rise up. In spite of how hard it was to breath, I chose to rise up. And I began rising up time and time again…

Not Ashamed by Abigail Duhon ~ The moment had come… would I live in shame or be bold and as I rose up, I became bold and unashamed. Unashamed of what had happened to me, unashamed of what I’d done or become, unashamed of my needs and my wants… and I looked to the One to manifest His strength in all the weaknesses I was wrought with. I continue to grow in this… shame is not a part of my spirit anymore.

Overcome by Jeremy Camp ~ I laid it all down, taking it all in that The Father would give it all for me… He overcame it all so I could overcome, so we could be together, so that victory would be won. How worthy of gratitude and praise He is… what else can be said? I sit in the awe of Who He is and I’m wrecked by His love for me. I’m overwhelmed by His enveloping presence, overwhelmed by the mighty God He is, overwhelmed by the sacrifice of His Son that He could be near to me. He overcame and thus I will overcome.

It’s Not Over Yet by for King & Country ~ I might still be in a war with myself in some ways as I still journey through the pain and experience wholeness and healing, I know it’s not over yet. I keep fighting and I keep hoping and I keep trusting. I am not fighting a pointless battle anymore… I’m not spinning in circles… I’m coming out of the darkness of oppression and into the light of freedom and life. The voices that tell me otherwise are lies… God is in this and it’s worth pushing forward.

Mine by Hollyn ~ I’m in His hand and He has and will continue to pursue me. He’s the one Who’s gotten me this far. He’s mine and I’m His. He’s my Abba Daddy and it doesn’t matter how many times I mess up, I’m His precious and adored baby girl. I am not a child anymore by the world’s standards, but I’ll always be his little girl and He has always been there fighting for me to protect me and keep me safe, He continues to wipe away my tears and kiss away my boo-boo’s. He’s my Daddy and He’s my home.

Music has been used on my journey towards the restoration of truth to my spirit. I believed lies for so long, but I am finally seeing those lies being replaced with truths. Truly, praise God for that.

Advertisements

God Is Bigger Than What The Abuser Did

“Jesus called a little child to him and stood the child before his ·followers [disciples]. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you must ·change [or turn from your sins; convert; L turn] and become like little children. Otherwise, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. The greatest person in the kingdom of heaven [L therefore] is the one who makes himself humble [and becomes] like this [little] child.

[L And] Whoever ·accepts [welcomes; receives] a child ·in my name [C as a representative or follower of Jesus] ·accepts [welcomes; receives] me [C indicates concern for the lowly; children had low social status]. If someone causes one of these little children who believes in me to ·sin [lose faith; stumble], it would be better for that person to have a ·large stone [large millstone; L millstone of a donkey] tied around the neck and be ·drowned [L thrown] in the [L depths of the] sea. ·How terrible for [L Woe to] ·the people of the world [L the world] because of ·the things that cause them to sin [temptations to sin; L stumbling blocks]. ·Such things will happen [L It is necessary for stumbling blocks to come], but ·how terrible for [L woe to] the one ·who causes them to happen [L through whom the stumbling block comes]!” Matthew 18:2-8

TRIGGER WARNING: Some descriptive abuse that I experienced mentioned along with the emotions I felt.

Is it morbid of me to think of the death of my abuser? How he died, and his last moments before he breathed his last? He was working alone in the woods, cutting down trees, something he’d been doing as a profession for years, when a second tree got knocked down and he was pinned underneath them. Did he encounter the Lord? Did he feel remorse for the things he had done to us little girls? Did he repent and ask God to save Him? Was he able to cry out for help or did he die instantly? Did he confess to what he’d done after all the lies of what he told people about me?

A month before his death, I begged God to help me forgive him. I begged God to help me through the pain and fear of seeing him as I drove through certain towns. I begged God to help me through the panic attacks and debilitating thoughts of what he could do to another little girl – an unknowing victim, someone else he groomed to trust and feel safe with him. I begged God and I felt Him lift that oppressive fear off of me… so a month later, when I learned of his death, I couldn’t help but feel like God was telling me that He’s got me – not that He caused the death to take place, but that God was going to use it for the good in my life. I no longer had to fear seeing him or him hurting another little girl.

I wasn’t without panic attacks and anxiety and PTSD, but I was able to be present for my child whom I’d just recently become pregnant with. I put all of my energy into learning and becoming the best I could be for her. I didn’t dwell on the death of my abuser… in fact I struggled with it feeling real. It was a couple years later that I began wishing I’d gone to his funeral or found it in the paper when it had happened. I began to search for records of it here and there and would attempt to find it every couple years. I didn’t find anything. I knew logically that he was dead. I wouldn’t have been told he was dead if he wasn’t.

Then, as I was searching for something completely unrelated, I found it. It’s since been taken down which is bazaar to me to me… did I actually find it? lol I wish I had taken a screen shot of it… but I know I saw it. I had to have read it about 20 times that week, just wrapping my mind around it. Around that same time, I also found court motions that were made by him as I began the process of pressing charges against him. He’d requested to have contact with me on two separate occasions. He had requested to have my counseling and school records. All were denied. What was he attempting to gain from that?

Was he seeking to discredit me more than he’d already done by saying he never told me he loved me, that he only had sex with me a couple of times, and that it was an awful mistake… an oops? As if he didn’t make very calculated decisions to burst through my boundaries, instill fear, and convince me that he was safe. I didn’t want him to touch me, or even look at me, and yet somehow he was able to have sex with me ‘only a couple times’ without even saying I love you? The claims he was suggesting about me in saying such lies… the suggestion regarding my character that I could have ever, would have ever gotten close to him in any way without the lies he told me, without gaining my trust, without instilling doubt in my instincts, without exploiting and manipulating my vulnerabilities and emotions.

My heart aches that the voice of my sister was distorted because of the lies… her attempts at telling me that no matter what I did, I wasn’t responsible fell on piled up lies. I thought I loved this man. I was so confused because my instincts told me it was all wrong, but my eyes saw something different, and my mind convinced me of other things. My tears didn’t matter to him… he didn’t force me down… but he continued to pursue me despite my evident fear of having sex. Even kissing him was something he had to work for and he noted as much to me once, noting that he got me to watch porn with him before I allowed him to even kiss him. This was noted while I still hadn’t kissed him. It took him 6 months of daily pursuit to break down my barriers and push me to finally give in to him. He wasn’t phased by the trembling, the fear, the crying that I wasn’t ready. He told me it would be okay.

Lies. So many lies. It’s astounding how the mind can believe things that don’t line up with reality. How I began to believe I had asked for it, how I began to believe that I was promiscuous and looked at sex casually and indiscriminately, how I began to believe I was not to be trusted. When you’re told enough times as a child that something real isn’t, the only rational thing to do is to believe what you’re being told and to no longer trust yourself. And that’s what I did…

I was a teenager… trying to find out who I was in the midst of all this. I think I understand now why God says it’s better to be thrown into the sea than to cause a little one to lose their faith, stumble, or sin. Here I am, 32 years old, and I’m still hearing the lies I’ve been believing and realizing how it’s effected certain areas of my life. It wasn’t just sex, and certainly not a couple of times. It was brainwashing my whole being, training my young mind to not trust myself, or at least to trust my abuser more than myself. The perpetuation of this from others around me due to the distorted perception I had, led me to believe these lies well into my adulthood… and no one around me realized I was hearing their words through that filter of lies. It doesn’t matter what I did… but it mattered to me because I didn’t do what he was saying I did. What he did to me mattered because it showed that I wasn’t doing what he said I was. I wasn’t who he was saying I was. It mattered. I wish I heard her and I wish I knew how to voice what I was struggling with. Instead, I began to believe she believed I played my part in what happened to me. I was accused by others that I did play a part – that he was wrong, but so was I. This accusation would be internalized and I began to believe that I should have controlled how it all happened.

Having a teenage daughter now, I see her struggles with being as vocal as she’d like, even with my encouragement to speak up. It’s validating to my own experience and has led to me keeping her a little closer until she feels brave enough to do so. One day she was at the mailbox and was struggling to get it open. An onlooker noticed and offered to help. My daughter was too afraid to say no thank you or to run and didn’t do so until the other person told her she’d have to ask her mom for help. I was watching, giving her an opportunity to handle it as I’ve taught her, and when she came running through the door, she said she was so scared because she wanted to run but was afraid of being rude and she didn’t like that. She didn’t like that she wasn’t able. That her fear had that much power to stop her from listening to what she knew.

My younger daughter, coming up to her teen years, is a little more vocal but I’ve found that because of her age, some adults don’t listen. One woman pulled over near our mailbox to ask her for directions and my daughter told her that she isn’t allowed to talk to strangers twice yet the woman continued to insist that she help her. I was observing from close by, but not close enough that I felt comfortable to allow her to continue to talk to the person I couldn’t see in the car, and when she didn’t walk away on her own, I called out to her and she ran home. When she came to me, she told me what had happened and said she was scared to run because the woman kept insisting, even though she also knew she should run because she didn’t know her. If these two girls, who I’ve taught about personal safety and being careful around certain people, struggle with finding the words, how much more for a young girl who was never taught such things.

Each of them saw how easily it would be for them to be put in a position of doing something they didn’t want and being led to do it based on their youth and fears of speaking out. Each experience teaching me that I couldn’t control what was happening to me. I needed an adult to speak out for me. I’m thankful someone finally did…. and I’m glad I’m aware so I can protect my children from ever experiencing the things I did. I am thankful that despite what happened to me, God used it for good and gave me an understanding of what I internalized so I can help them understand themselves.

The other day, my teenager said to me, “I’ve never hoped to be an adult sooner than the time it will take to get there because I know I will be an adult longer than I am a child.” It blessed my heart. I want her childhood to be just that – a childhood. Knowing adult things in a child’s body and mind steals away from a childhood and changed me. I didn’t grow up too soon, my growth was stunted and despite becoming an adult, I still was so young in much of my thinking… and believing falsehoods only magnified that.

I suppose I’ve derailed a bit…. lol God doesn’t forsake the little ones who’ve been led to lose faith, stumble, or sin. He’s been with me every step of the way and now I see Him working in the lives of my children. I’m so thankful that I wasn’t left to figure things out on my own after what my abuser did to me and that God’s guiding me as I work out what’s truth and what’s lies. I’m so thankful that despite what lies others might have believed or what I thought others have believed about me, it doesn’t change reality. The truth doesn’t change based on what we believe. The truth just is and the truth of who I am is only found in God’s view of me because He sees me as I truly am. Woe to the man who abused us girls for causing us to sin… but God is bigger than what the abuser did.  Amen to that.

I Didn’t Ask For It

I was discussing lies we believe as sexual abuse victims with some fellow survivors. I began to contemplate their stories and as such, was able to view my own in a different light. This is what my realization was: I was abused for over a year as I babysit for my abuser. At times I told him I didn’t feel right about what was happening and he always met it with “it’s your choice.” It would end but he would completely ignore me, reject me, make fun of me, and I was left feeling abandoned and alone until I went to him and initiated the sexual abuse to take place again. I was continually put in a position of emotional exploitation and neglect or sexual violation and I didn’t even realize it.
Shame and guilt don’t touch what I felt about myself coming out of that. I didn’t know the extent of my abuse for a long time, and felt deep sorrow because I literally asked for it.
I was a child. Created with a need to be kept safe, to know love, to feel affection and touch, to be acknowledged and validated. This man filled so many needs in me that I rationalized it to be worth it, despite how gross it made me feel and how wrong I felt it was. My survival was: he has to be safe because it’s too much for my young mind to believe he’s bringing me harm when I have such a trust in his love and safety that he’s convinced me of.
He bought me things, included me in family games, treated me like a daughter when others were around… even encouraging me to call him dad. And I did. I am not to blame. I didn’t ask for what he gave. I asked for love. I asked for safety. I asked for acceptance. I asked to be a part of something. I asked to matter.
I didn’t ask for the perversion, the alteration of what I longed for. I didn’t ask for the abuse.
I didn’t ask for it.

He’s Doing Amazing Things That We Don’t Even See

I’ve been having an interesting day today… a mix between nostalgia and a sweetness, and yet I’ve been moved to tears. I don’t know if it’s hormone related, but there isn’t anything particular I can put my finger on. I’m listening to some music from when I was a bit younger and remembering different times. Hard times, but good times wrangled into it. The pleasant with the confusing, the loving wrapped up with heartbroken, and the fun entangled with fears of rejection and abandonment. It’s amazing how much goodness can exist in the midst of such grief. I was broken and so fully aware of my limitations but so clueless to just how deep my wounds were. I was walking around with gaping holes inside of me and I had no idea. Now, those wounds have been treated in a huge way and are healing well, but still have some time and work to do before they are fully mended and restored to a healthier place.

I recall dating my husband… getting lost in moments with him, lost in each other as we found ourselves in each other, as I found myself trusting and being vulnerable with him, all the while being so unaware of how brave and huge that truly was for me after what I had been through. He wasn’t perfect and a lot of the beautiful things he did wasn’t to help me heal, and yet everything he was, who he was, and His partnership towards a deeper relationship with God was everything to what I needed, to walk through what I needed to walk through.

I must have been a confusing masterpiece to onlookers, especially everyone who had known me up to this point but had no idea of what was working itself out inside of me. I can only imagine how intriguing and contradictory I was to my sisters, to my parents, to my friends. I was finding out who I was from scratch while walking neck deep in filthy lies but believing that the filth could be washed away by the blood of Christ. How confusing to be so wrecked and enamored by my Savior, and indescribable as to how I was found to be so precious to be used or a part of His amazing plan and purpose, feeling so unworthy of such a love that still felt so far away even while being so close to it.

I felt like nothing and I would see glimpses of how He was using me in small ways. It wasn’t to suggest that *I* had done anything in the very intimate and personal walks with Christ around me. I in no way took or take any credit for how God has moved in the lives of my sisters, my parents, or my friends… I simply was so relieved and thankful and honored to be a part of witnessing their love for Him. This was misunderstood sometimes… I was misunderstood sometimes… and I realize now it is because I didn’t know who I was, so how could anyone else have known me?

All these thoughts make me ever so grateful for what I’ve learned through all that… that my daughters and sons may not know who they are, and I may only know so much about them, but one thing I can show them, one thing I can give them is the truth of their value and how they’ve impacted my life, my person, my walk, and my journey. I see now I just wanted to be important to someone… but I wasn’t in the way I had hoped. That’s truly okay. That’s because of what was taken from me, not because of anything they failed at. Impact does not necessarily equal intent and I see now the difference between intention to harm and maim for personal perversion vs. intention in our very human and hurting way in our feeble actions in attempt connect while also preserve our safety; trying to avoid being hurt more than we already were. We can’t love others if we don’t love ourselves and perhaps that was the root issue to all of the hurt – what we all had taken from us had confused our view of ourselves and we didn’t, couldn’t, love ourselves as God did… at least that’s how I think it was for me.

So I suppose I’m at a new juncture of my journey… finding new ways to embrace me as a whole and not just parts of me. Embracing my needs and wants, my desires and longings, my joys and my sorrows, my strengths and weaknesses… God sees me right where I’m at and He will help me to find that wholeness and healing that is already in me, that He gave me when I invited His Holy Spirit inside me, the power and authority to be everything He sees in me. I’m not fully whole, but I’m not trapped in this state – He is with me, near to me. I am not alone and I can love all parts of me, even the broken parts.

You, reading this right now, you are beautiful too. He loves you… and the power of God is inside of you once you allow Him to give it to you, gift it to you when you give your life to Him… or perhaps you already have given your life over to Him, then it’s already there. You don’t need more power, more of Him, you only need to discover what He’s given you and that is my prayer – that God would continue to reveal and make us more aware of His power, His presence, the authority He’s given us, and His awesome grace over our lives as we walk out His best offer for our lives. He’s so good and I’m truly grateful that in my sin, He saw me. He didn’t leave me to figure it out, He’s been with me… and I’m grateful that despite our confusion and the division that can be created in the midst of our hurting hearts, that He will bring people into our lives that encourage love and healing… that despite the division, restoration can still happen, no matter how big the gap, how deep the pain, how lost we are – He is greater and can do mighty and amazing things. He’s doing amazing things that we don’t even see. 

He Calls Me Blameless

If someone causes one of these little children who believes in me to ·sin [lose faith; stumble], it would be better for that person to have a ·large stone [large millstone; L millstone of a donkey] tied around the neck and be ·drowned [L thrown] in the [L depths of the] sea. ·How terrible for [L Woe to] ·the people of the world [L the world] because of ·the things that cause them to sin [temptations to sin; L stumbling blocks]. ·Such things will happen [L It is necessary for stumbling blocks to come], but ·how terrible for [L woe to] the one ·who causes them to happen [L through whom the stumbling block comes]!” Matthew 18:6-7

This has been something I’ve struggled in anger with the most. What David did and the lies that I believed, they caused me to participate in things that I’d not otherwise have participated in. They caused me to sin. Sin isn’t simply disobeying God – it’s participating and accepting behaviors that are against God’s best offer for our lives. The enemy doesn’t care if you’re ignorant to what God’s best offer is, he still wants you to use the evil in men to cause you to sin. He strives to do so through trickery and deception, even using scripture out of context of it’s intended purpose.

I struggled in this truth… I was a sinner despite not knowing what sin was. I was walking in sin despite my best efforts as a child to do the right thing. I was sinful and unworthy because David stole things from me, things I wasn’t even aware of, and I was too young to see the depth of harm such a thing was inflicting on my core. I was ignorant to the evil and without even yet having faith, he blew out the light of childlike faith that was growing inside me; a light the Lord would have to pursue me to light again and I’d have to fight hard to trust again.

You see, a sinner isn’t wicked because of their lack of value. It’s not the offender that is without God’s affection. It’s the act of anything less than God’s best for us. The action. When I see my child hurting because of a choice they made that was outside of my best for them, it breaks my heart. It makes me angry that they’ve had to learn that way. Not at them, but at the evil and pain that is in the world. I think that is a glimpse of God’s heart towards the sinner who sins in ignorance, out of deception, or walking in the lies they have been believing. I think God’s heard towards the sinner who doesn’t yet see Him is that of deep compassion, not of wrathful vengeance.

However, His heart is different towards those who knowingly deceive, trick, and harm others; those who have no repentance or desire to do good in any form. David was one of those men. He tricked, deceived, and harmed several of us girls. We were lonely and vulnerable and he was a predator, preying on our innocence and weakness. He caused us to sin and had no shame… and after he was released from jail, his death brought an end to that. He could no longer cause little girls to sin, to lose themselves, to experience such confusion throughout her life. It doesn’t matter what else he did when that is legacy – violating young girls for his own perverted desires of control, manipulation, and power.

I realize now that the words that I’ve felt attacked by – blamed, unworthy, dirty, sinful, etc. didn’t mean what I had internalized. I was lacking wholeness (blamed), no longer comparable to who I once was (unworthy), robbed of what made me holy (dirty), snared and shocked as I stumbled along struggling in my faith (sinful). I was not a villain as portrayed in movies. None of these were indicative of the value I have in Christ, that God sees in me. All of these only magnified my value: God desired to keep me whole, but would work to make me blameless once again when I was broken; He would lift me up out of the ashes and make me new and beautiful; He would wash me in the blood of His redemption and call me holy; and He would pull me out of the pit of lies I was believing and reveal Himself to me so I could find The Truth and be set free.

My value is found in God’s desire for me to have His best for my life. My value is great and not dependent upon what wounds the evil of this world has inflicted on me but His great goodness that doesn’t leave me in that place. I was angry that I was a sinner before even understanding what sin was – I was angry because it felt so unfair of God to place that on me… but when I realized it wasn’t condemnation He was placing on me, but compassion, that truth freed me from the lies I had been believing about myself and how God sees me. God sees my beauty and seeks to protect it and for that I’m so grateful.

I was a brand new floor, but someone came in with muddy boots and moved things around, scuffing it up and causing destruction. The floor yielded to the invader and allowed itself to become ruined, but the beauty of the Lord is that He won’t leave that floor in such a state. That floor is no longer what it once was, but where value has been lost, He has come to restore to it’s original value that He established from the beginning. What had made seemingly ugly, the Lord renews into His precious and beloved again.

“…there is beauty in destruction and it comes in the form of restoration. Such a restoration comes through the process of discovering where value is truly found, which was established at the beginning of creation in the beauty of a Savior.”

ETA: I forgive myself for not doing something to stop what was happening, for needing affection and allowing that need to permit what was done to me, for not knowing how to stop what was happening and for staying quiet. I was wronged and God has such grace (favor, an inclination towards and desire to be near) to me. He does not desire that I live in shame or guilt for what happened or that it have any power over who I become. As such, if God has that kind of love and kindness toward me, I will not call Him a liar. I will love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength; and I will love myself as He loves me, so that I can love my neighbor as I love myself, as stated in Mark 12:30-31.