SURVIVOR OF ABUSE
“Abuse is abuse. It cuts the soul. You cannot heal yourself. I tried marriage, sex, alcohol and cleaning the house. None of them worked. Only God, through Jesus Christ, can totally heal us.”
A Severe Gift
There is an unusual phrase that I really like, because it sums up so much of what I, and so many others, have lived through. It is “severe gifts.” A severe gift is a very difficult situation that God, with all His love, can actually use to create something good in your life. There are some situations that are so bad that only God, the creator of the whole universe, maker of you and me, could ever heal them.
I grew up in a home with a father who sexually molested my sister and me whenever he had the opportunity. My mother’s response, the only one she knew how to give, was to warn us to keep away from my father. “Don’t be alone with him!” she’d say.
My mother didn’t think she had any other options. My father physically abused her. It was a very volatile situation between my parents, and a horrible situation for my sister and me.
On the Run
Finally, my mother gathered us up and we fled the home after years of abuse. We lived in fear for years that my father would find us. He did eventually. But we were grown then. The damage had been done.
I married for the first time at 19. He was a distant man. It’s funny, as an adult you somehow try to look for ways to repair your childhood by the choices you make. I chose a man who was remote and cold.
My father re-entered my life after I had my first baby girl. I saw the way he looked at my daughter and knew I was looking at a man who had not changed, and who could hurt the most precious thing in my life. I told him I had to end our relationship. “You know why,” I said. He stood there and cried.
The next time I saw my father was years later on his deathbed. His hands were soft and old, harmless. My heart broke. “I hope you don’t hold it against me,” he said. I told him I had forgiven him long ago. And that was true. But forgiveness does not come overnight.
Before I could forgive my father, I had to encounter a divine forgiveness like no other. The forgiveness offered to us all through Jesus Christ.
But first I had to hit rock bottom.
It is so often when you are at the bottom that you realize how far you have fallen—and that only God can lift you out of that deep pit. For me, the pit was alcohol.
I started drinking heavily as my first marriage was falling apart. I numbed the pain with alcohol. All I thought about was getting that drink. I knew I had a problem. God knew too, and He had the answer. I told God I was afraid. I actually cried out “Help!” And the phone rang. It was my brother-in-law, an alcoholic who went to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). God heard my cry.
During my time in AA I realized that, although I believed in God, I hadn’t really turned my life over to Jesus Christ. I thought that I had nothing to give Him. But then I realized it wasn’t about what I had to give Him, it was about what God had to offer me. And that was everything.
I wish I could say that at that moment everything in my life got better, that I never made another mistake. It doesn’t usually work that way. We are human. I followed the Lord closely for a while and then I wandered away again. I divorced my first husband, remarried and then divorced again. At that point I knew I needed more help. I entered into some excellent Christian counseling that helped me truly focus my attention on the Lord.
Eventually I met a strong Christian man who would become my partner in the Lord, my husband. We read the Bible together and prayed. We were married for eight years when he died of cancer. I still miss him.
I now need to depend on Christ totally and completely. I think of my journey with God as a constant unveiling of the pain I experienced as a child and the scars I still carry with me. You just keep turning that pain over to God. He takes it from me, again and again. I worry about finances: I turn it over to God. Eventually you become good at it.
As humans we will struggle until the day we die with all our scars. Loving God, and being loved by God is a slow release of these things. Abuse is abuse. It cuts the soul. You cannot heal yourself. I tried marriage, sex, alcohol and cleaning the house. None of them worked. Only God, through Jesus Christ, can totally heal us.
This article is used with permission: Thoughts About God website www.thoughts-about-god.com