When we deny our struggles, they define us. When we face our struggles, we overcome them. When we walk back through them, God uses them for His glory.
There is a movement across our country, called #metoo that started filling our social media network news feeds on Monday October 17th. From Harvey Weinstein to a journalist, a former President and a USA Olympic gymnastics team doctor, new accusations surface every day. Since then, we as women have been given the chance to consider, acknowledge and speak up about how we have been affected personally by sexual harassment or sexual assault. Many of us feel like we finally have a voice. Others have simply been triggered, and that’s understandable.
Whether the memory is fresh in your mind or hiding deep inside, I’m writing this to help you reveal and heal the wound. I’m not writing to blame, shame, attack or point fingers. I’m not writing it to get attention or blame men. I’m writing it to help the one who has been most affected, who is still holding onto the pain and wants to work through it.
You probably wonder if I’ve been affected. Absolutely. Multiple times. I know what the shame feels like and the fear of telling anyone. I know the lies the enemy tells you about it. It’s painful. The longer no one knows, the more painful it is.
So – to you that have been personally affected, I want to say…
I see you. I’m sorry for what you’ve experienced and the pain it has caused you to carry. You did not deserve it. You did not cause it. You are not less than because of it. You are way more than it.
But I want to add one more thing…
Whatever happened to you, however it made you feel emotionally, physically, mentally, even spiritually – you need to know that God is right there. He is close to you and wants to comfort you because you are His child and He knows you are hurting because “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed,” says Psalm 34:18.
He wants you to lay your burdens down and let him carry the weight. 1 Peter 5:7 NLT says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
As far as my history, I was blessed with an amazing father who would travel hundreds of miles just to see me for 24 hours. But, he also left when I was a young girl, so I struggled with abandonment and guy issues for a long time. My 20s were when I experienced this sexual assault the most, because I was a young, vulnerable girl working in Washington D.C., desperate for love and attention. Many of us were. So I had a bad picker for a long time.
Eventually, God let me to this amazingly good guy, but not without some work before and during the beginning of our relationship! Because, no matter how awesome he was or is now, he couldn’t fix those wounds from my past. I had to work through them myself.
You have to do the same. Your spouse can’t take it away. Keeping busy can’t take it away. Focusing on your kids cant even take it away. It’s yours, and you are the only one who can feel it to heal it. I know we all have different levels of experience around this, some extremely tragic and unfair and that breaks my heart and most likely yours. But we can’t afford to stay stuck there. That’s the beauty of #metoo. We can support each other in the process of healing. No matter what you’ve been through, we’re right there with you.
Nelson Mandela said this: “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
We’ve all had resentments. This kind of resentment is deep because it’s personal and painful. The sad part is, whether the offender is sorry or not, their conviction or apology won’t fix our wound. Of course we want to blame. But at some point, we have to claim our pain in order to get beyond it. Holding onto the resentment will only hurt us. It will hurt our minds, our souls, maybe even our bodies.
So we have to release it. If we don’t, we’re going to let that person take up space in our minds and our hearts. I do not want that for you. Trauma has a way of of making us react to situations as if the first one is happening repeatedly, until we deal with them. I don’t care what the enemy in your mind tells you – you ARE a survivor. You are here. You made it out. It’s just now it’s time to remove the power you’ve been giving it.
That’s why I believe accessing that deep pain is an opportunity for your breakthrough. It’s a chance to receive God’s grace. It’s an opportunity for change. It’s an opportunity to make a choice. It’s an opportunity for you to finally overcome the pain. You were once the victim, yes, and it may be claiming your heart and mind today. But it doesn’t have to tomorrow. If this is your deepest, darkest pain it’s not meant to be avoided or stuffed. It’s meant to be brought into the light and felt. There is no shame in releasing them and working through them. There’s actually power in it. There is power in bringing the darkness into the light, because then it’s not stuck inside you anymore.
Does it hurt to work through it? Yes. It hurts like hell! But our deepest pain has even deeper roots and if we address it, it’s often our deepest pain that God uses as the launching pad for our greatest calling.
No, you should not have to deal with this. No one should. But you should also not have to let something that happened years ago keep impacting your life today. You deserve more than just an acknowledgement of #metoo on social media. You deserve to heal it. I get it. It’s painful to bring up those memories. But you CAN get to the other side of this mountain.
In fact, there is a Scripture that has helped me through multiple wilderness seasons of my life. Maybe you are in that space right now wondering what to do with this, now that it’s come to the surface. So I want to share with you a Scripture that has helped me in those moments where I need the courage.
It’s in the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 2, vs 2-3 and Moses says it after the people of God have been wandering around in the wilderness for almost 40 years.
“Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north.”
The Lord wanted them to stop wandering around the wilderness and just head where they needed to head – north. How often do we avoid things we don’t want to deal with because of the pain? But the Lord promises in Isaiah 43:19, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
What we think is that he won’t be there. But he’s RIGHT there. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us, “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you or abandon you.”
So in this case, of working through the pain, I believe God gives us what I refer to as, “walk back through moments.” It’s when we’re giving the chance to walk back through something that hurt us – sometimes literally, sometimes emotionally – to gain deeper healing. This is where God gets the chance to restore our hearts and recover from the pain. But we have to let him.
YOU are the only one who can confront it. No one can fix it for you and certainly whoever did it to you, cannot. It’s about working through it for you, no matter what they do. It’s not about them. It’s about you. You have to get past this regardless of what they do.
If you are in a place where you are saying, “There is no way,” that’s okay. You aren’t ready. You have to be the one ready and willing to walk through it. When you are ready, know that you will be okay and that God will use it for His glory if you let him. This quote always reminds me of how God wants to use us, “You have been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved.”
There is one more thing I want to write and that is for those of you who have a child going through this. I know we all want to protect our children’s heart from having to endure pain. But I have to tell you, from experience, that putting off the pain only makes it worse. The sooner you let them acknowledge the pain, the sooner there is a chance to heal. You can’t be the one to fix it. No parent can. But you can be present to them when they are ready to see it, without judgment – and let them feel the pain so they can be ready to work through it. Then give them the space to work through their pain and you work through yours, because it affects you too. Don’t block your kids from healing. They deserve the chance to work through it. They may be resilient, (as are most children of trauma), but it doesn’t mean the pain is gone. You just can’t see it. So don’t pretend that everything’s fine, because that will make them keep it all inside. Give them the okay that they can feel, and it’s okay to ask for help.
Pain is meant not meant to be concealed. Reveal it, so you can heal it. You are a warrior my friend. You are better than this and God is greater than this. He is right there with you, reaching out his right hand telling you that he wants to give you a better life. Take it.