Yesterday Trudy wrote: Do you sometimes feel disconnected when or after you tell your story – kind of like you’re another person outside of yourself, not wanting to feel the pain? How do you deal with it? My counselor once said that the more one shares the painful story, the more empowered one becomes. Do you find this true for you?
Yes, there are times I feel that way, and if I really listened to myself talk, I might just cry. Sometimes it’s good to have an emotional distance between you and telling your story. Thankfully, healing has helped me create that distance.
I don’t know if I feel more empowered after sharing. Sometimes I feel depleted, actually, like a part of me has leaked out for others to consume. But I will say that the more I share my story, the more I marvel at God’s grace. I’m stunned that I’m a functioning member of society with a great husband and three amazing kids. This is all God’s grace.
Diana wrote: It has only been in the last little while that I shared my story at all. And while I have felt some relief in sharing it with others, it feels as if the pain will never go away. I have written a journal for years, have stacks of them hiding in my closet. Writing words and stories and poetry has been a way of releasing some of my emotions and story but I still struggle so much. Do the people I share with really truly understand? Why does our God allow suffering? Why did he allow me to be sexually abused as a little girl and then raped at 23 by a coworker? What good can come from that? I sit here now at 36 years old with tears streaming down my face because I truly don’t understand what good can come from such suffering. And yet I love my Lord and know he has brought me through all this for a reason. Thank you for sharing your story. It helps me know I am not alone.
Oh Diana, I have felt your pain, and there are days I still remain in the questions. Not everyone will understand your story. Not everyone will have empathy. And sharing doesn’t always mean benefit. There were times I shared and I felt violated in doing so. I’m not sure of the magic line needed before we’re ready to share. For me it was the difference between having to share with a gigantic need to be understood versus sharing for the sake of setting others free. In between those two margins, healing had to happen.
Part of that healing came through wrestling with the whys of abuse, particularly with a sovereign God. If I believe God is omnipotent, loving and omnipresent, I have a hard time reconciling why He would allow a child to be abused. After all, as a parent, I would do anything to prevent abuse in my kids. So why wouldn’t God? I’ve come to the place where I have chosen to rest in God’s paradoxical plan. The truth is He will redeem it. The truth is He gave us free will, which means He also gave rapists free will.
Another thing that helped was forgiving and praying for those who raped me. I don’t know where they are or what they’re doing. I’ve tried to figure that out, but have only found dead ends. Still I’d like to believe that if I met those boys (now men), I’d be able to offer forgiveness. Actually, I’m in that place where I grieve for them. They must’ve been violated to be violators. And now they have to live with themselves knowing they raped a five-year-old girl. How do you live with that? So I pray for them, that God would set them free somehow.
What good can come from suffering? For that I go back to Job who lost everything–his children, his livelihood, his health, his will to live. He heard God at the beginning of his ordeal, but the scripture says he sees God at the end. That’s what I want. To see God. And, counterintuitively, I see God in the midst of my trials much more than I see Him in my prosperity. Those trials in my life drove me to God. Not finding appropriate love made me long for perfect love. Feeling alone helped me reach my hand to a God who was there. When I think about it that way, I begin to thank God for the trials because they plunge my back into His embrace.
That all sounds so flowery. Please know that what I write has been hard won. I’ve been in those sad places, those questioning places. And please know that I don’t have an adequate answer even today. I truly don’t know why awful things like rape happens to people. On this earth I live in the tension of that.
Mind if I pray for you?
Lord, why? Why would You allow rape in Diana’s life like that? Help her to wrestle long enough so that she nestles once again in Your arms. Be the protector she needs. Help her to work through the questions. I pray they drive her closer to You, not farther away. Lord Jesus, redeem these awful parts of her story. Make them sing. Use her to touch many, many women with Your grace. But first she needs to be filled up with Your grace first. Fill her to overflowing. Right now. In this moment. Shower her with Your unconditional love. Help her see herself as you see her: spotless, beautiful, worthy of redemption. Amen.