From “Girl, Shamed” to “Girl, Grateful”
I am a survivor of sexual abuse. (I first wrote about it here. )
I can remember the day it finally came out of my mouth. In utter desperation, I had cried out to God. “Why do I have this blockage in (this area of) my life? Why?” And like that, He brought it back.
It was an incident I’d never repressed; had never forgotten. It was a nauseating, humiliating, mortifying Thing that I’d simply never told anyone about. Until that day.
Out on the road that night, I’d mustered up all the courage I had and then some, reaching way down deep for the ‘more.’ And I told it. To my husband, my lover and friend.
I will not share his full response, but I will share the compassion he poured out on me. His wrath on my behalf. His alarm that told me I wasn’t the one who was crazy, or at fault.
His response, which I’d feared, brought Life instead of death.
It is nearly impossible to quantify the amount of shame such abuse brings. Coupled with a religious culture that sought to inhibit sexual sin by mandating dress codes for women (cover this, cover that, and for sure, double cover those!), what I came away with was such a hatred and distrust. Of my own body. Of the bodies of other women and, further, a vast distrust of most men.
Bodies, it seemed to me, were fraught with danger. Largely instruments of lust that made one a target for violation. “Men will look!” That’s what we heard. “And men will lust.” That, too, as though the body itself was pornography. Which could, then, mean only one thing–that God was guilty of making porn.
It was a hideous, insidious lie.
Someday, perhaps I shall share more about my journey to healing. For now, I can testify to the wonderful mercy of a God who reached into my pit; Whose strong, mighty arm drew me out of the clay. Who set my feet, solid and firm, upon the Rock to stay.
He has wrought so much healing in my heart. “For Thou desirest truth in the inward parts,” the Shepherd Boy wrote, “and in the hidden part, Thou shalt make me to know wisdom.”
And He has. Oh, He has.
I know now that my body is not, first, sexual. It’s my house. It’s His temple, and it’s holy. As it is.
I know now that having a body isn’t shameful. That my body alone cannot make someone sin. That no one can make me sin, either.
On a sun-kissed island last summer, celebrating a second honeymoon with The Boy, we visited the little shop of a French-Polynesian tailor. Who handcrafted a beautiful, two-piece suit for The Girl whose name is not Shame. Not any more.
For a girl who is fathered by God. Girl is grateful.