Let’s not be flippant with someone else’s trauma. I thought I was *fine* when I returned to the locale of my yearlong rapes (I was 5 when it happened, went there over 45 years later). I smiled in pictures. Thanked God for the victory. One hour later I could NOT STOP throwing up. For hours.
Diane Langberg has written that …
And I believe she is right down to my core.
The church has been guilty of being so uncomfortable with trauma that we cannot sit with people, cannot lament alongside. It’s too raw. If we do, we have to admit that bad things happen on this earth, and sometimes those bad things happen within the church.
I have been shut down too many times to count with (well meaning) platitude and cliche sledgehammers, some laced with un-contexted Scripture. God DOES allow for more than we can bear. He doesn’t always rescue. Forgiveness is not a simple formula. In fact, trauma and its aftermath is messy.
Here’s what I would love to see: Empathy. Active listening. Getting angry at the injustice alongside. Prayer.
This is a tender, heartbreaking world, where people have done awful things to each other. We can no longer deny the reality of that, especially in the church.
Remember, too, that looks can be deceiving. Everyone bears a heavy story. Be kind. Bear burdens.
If you look at this picture, you would think I was totally healed from those rapes, standing proudly in front of the scary woods where so much darkness happened. The next day’s picture would be me vomiting–hardly a shot for social media.
If you are a victim of trauma, I believe you. I ache alongside. I wish I could take it all away. I will not whisper a platitude over you about how that was so long ago, and time heals all wounds, and God has good plans for all this. I see your tears. I receive your emails and feel the weight of your stories in my gut, the same gut that couldn’t control its trauma on that fateful day.
I am a hurting healer. But I do see you. I join you in your story.
I believe it happened–even when others push against the truth of it all, or ask questions about what you were wearing (I was wearing kindergarten clothes), or why you took so long to report it or fight back in the moment (as if they would do it differently), or question whether your memory is accurate, or point to the fact that we all sin, we just need to forgive and forget, or proudly proclaim the fact that they never experienced predation by that person, so it must not be true.
I am so sorry someone made it their priority to shame, harm, and steal from you. I am so sorry the church has played a role in secondary exploitation by trying to silence your story for the sake of their “reputation.”
All that to say: You are not alone. Your story matters. Even if the world chooses to shun you or try to silence your story, the truth has a pesky way of forcing out darkness. Keep your light. Keep shining. Keep bravely telling your story.
You are loved. I’m sorry you weren’t protected. I’m amazed at your tenacity and grit.
I hope you can rest there for a moment, friend, knowing that you probably have no earthly idea that you have helped others find the light even as you’ve fought the darkness with uncanny bravery.
Have you encountered a predatory person?
One of the friends in The Seven Deadly Friendships is called Predator Paige. Another is Narcissist Nolan. You may have experienced abuse in the past, and now you tend to gravitate toward relationships that are not good for you. I did that too. So many times. It’s the reason I wrote the book–to give us all insight into why we chase (over and over again) relationships that are not good for us.
On Tuesday, the book released into the world. Would you pray it reaches into the hands who need it most? I would so appreciate it.
Mind if I pray for you?
Jesus, I pray for my friend reading this today that You would bring new aspects of healing. Thank You that YOU SEE each person. I pray for those who have hurt my friend either by preying or by being insensitive in the aftermath when they told their abuse story. Help us all become empathetic healers with others. Help us all to listen well. Deliver us from cliches, please. And heal our hearts so we no longer chase after people who are not good for us. AMEN.
I’m praying through relational verses in my daily podcast, Pray Every Day. You can be prayed for about your toxic relationships here.
If you’d like to find out which of the seven deadly friendships you’re currently experiencing, take this helpful quiz.