A story about comfort, part four.
For part one, see A Lie That Fell Like A Curse.
For part two, see “That’s Not True.”
For part three, see Mourn The Shame
:: the following may contain triggers for survivors of sexual abuse ::
I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the LORD,
the God of Israel,
who summons you by name.
I “asked Jesus into my heart” when I was three years old, the same year that I experienced sexual abuse. I don’t see any accident in the timing. The Presence of God was a reality I experienced from the wee days of childhood and even in the crippling years of young adulthood, I felt as though I was walking through them with God, not apart. This is humbling to say, because any quick-surface look at my heart would indicate that I was spiraling downward – my choices had the look of sin to them, and all the shame of the adulterating woman who was tossed at Jesus’ feet was mine.
I had been taught that “if I confessed my sin he would be faithful and just to forgive my sin” and it’s true, and he does, and he did. I had confessed again and again, but the shame that drove me, that made me hide, still remained. I didn’t understand. How could I offer him more? Had I not offered him my heart all along? Had he not been the singular aim? Why then this blackness? Why this darkness? Why this young woman huddled under blankets, afraid of the very air in her room?
Where was the power of “repent and be saved?”
Oh you who having ears, never hear, and having eyes, never see. I am not asking you to meet a standard. I am asking you to know me. Know, and be known.
See, even now I want to prescribe a formula. I want to say, “Jesus said mourn the shame, so I did, and then it never returned.” I want to tie up this story with that kind of boxy “praise God!” – but I can’t. He didn’t heal me like that. His rescue from darkness into light was cellular on a soul level. Raw, and real, and mightily strong – but not the kind you can put in to a box (see, now that’s something I praise him for, truly). He invited me into his company for the duration of a journey, as slow, as painstaking, and as lovely as the etching of water through rock. This wasn’t a trickle through sand but a carving through granite, and though there were moments of profound miracle, the breadth of the journey has been one of time. It is, you understand, the story of a life. You are a living soul, too: you must know what I mean.
This wasn’t about turning me from my sin in the salvation-sense (such valiant redemption already had transpired), nor was this a question of my “standing” (if there is such a thing) with God. Instead, this was about Jesus loving me so much that he had set about rescuing me from a mad tangle of sin’s affects – and this rescue now included asking me to go back through each strand of pain (with him), a piece at a time.
My heart was broken and despised, rejected and harmed, by the sin of someone else, and the spiral into which I’d been flung (in my attempt to manage the fallout in my heart) was where Jesus wanted to come. This wasn’t something of which I could simply “confess and be freed” – these were ashes, this was mourning, he intended to comfort me (stop avoiding the inevitable, My Love); he did not intend to pretend it away.
My friend Heather wrote to me this week:
Do we ever truly and completely “get over it?” I don’t think so. I see what happened to us as a grain of sand inside an oyster. The pain causes a reaction that is possibly painful in itself, but the end result is beautiful.
This story of comfort is simply that, a story drawn from the life-long making of a pearl.
It’s a story that affirms: I’m His;
not a story to say: I’m fixed.
And it’s important to me to speak all this before I write a conclusion, because the conclusion is raw and risky so utterly foolish that I don’t want you to read it wrong. You must absolutely know that I am not saying: “God showed up and comforted me and that’s the end of the matter!” or “This is how I was comforted and it’s how you should be comforted, too!”
Comfort means to come alongside, and that’s precisely what God is about to do. He is about to come alongside me in my individual pain, just as he comes alongside you in yours.
The Healer of our souls is Comforter too, and there is a time and place for both.
This post is part of Survivor Songs, a 31-Day series. A full list of posts is found here.