It’s funny how you can share information about yourself, yet remain guarded. In other words, you can control the amount of information you share and keep the secrets under lock and key while convincing yourself that you’ve shared. After all, you’re the only earthly being who knows the whole story, right? Even worse is when we think we are truly opening up, but sitting in a closet locked in right between the skeletons and denial with a side of cheesecake to keep us company. Good times. *eyeroll*
I have shared my testimonies of God’s works numerous times. Sure, the first time is always tough, but it gets easier when you realize you’re supposed to share those moments. I have given Him the glory when my baby was born with a tumor and required surgery and followups, yet has no residual effects. I have given him the glory when I graduated with honors in the midst of turmoil. I have given him the glory for granting me my dream job. That part is so easy. It’s exhilarating to profess what you’ve always known: our God is a miracle worker.
However, when we have to share our STORY, panic sets in. Sharing why we are the way we are, complete with all of the past embarrassments and shames, we tend to shy away and deflect with thoughts about how no one needs to know or wants to hear such things. This, my friends, is a cop-out to save face. We are afraid of being judged or ridiculed for our past poor choices. We tend to forget the truths we know: a) God’s love is unconditional, b) God already knows, c) shedding light on shame releases the power that darkness holds over our heads, and d) our stories are how God speaks to others. He uses our brokenness, our shame, our humiliation, our struggles, our past poor choices – he uses it ALL – for His good so that we can build His Kingdom. Most importantly, our stories become testimonies.
There are things in my past I have never voiced, and there are other things that I keep to a limited audience (ironically, people with similar stories that will understand).
I am a survivor of abuse. Domestic, verbal, emotional, physical, financial, and sexual. My marriage and other relationships may have failed, but I did not. I’ve never been able to let myself off the hook for those failures, but it is time I confess them so that I can stop looking over my shoulder.
I have had to explain away having not even a dollar to my name because I “didn’t behave” and playing it off as forgetting my wallet. I have had to hide bruises on my arms and legs (it’s not abuse if it’s not on my face). I’ve dealt with the humiliation of being blindfolded and assaulted (it’s okay because there were no bruises or penetration). I’ve walked on eggshells and pleaded for my animals’ lives (yes, people really DO stay out of concern for their furkids; NO, those people aren’t stupid). I have had my transportation taken away, even when someone had no right to take my car. I’ve learned how to function with a lack of sleep because of harassing phone calls in the middle of the night. I’ve had to advise managers and coworkers to call the police if someone shows up looking for me at work. I’ve faced the humiliation of being forced to participate in acts I wanted no part of (and the ramifications if I refused). The bite marks that “branded” me that I had to keep hidden. I have rationalized that at least I didn’t end up in ICU fighting for my life to diminish the impact (didn’t work). I have cried myself to sleep wondering what I did to deserve to be treated so poorly. I have wondered why I am still here. And, yes, I have wondered if anyone would even miss me if I wasn’t here.
The above experiences were not from one relationship. There bits and pieces from EACH of my relationships. I finally realized recently that I am NOT these abuses. My identity in Christ is NOT that I am a survivor of abuse or that someone else didn’t see the value in me. I am Christ’s creation, a child of God, and an instrument of His plans.
Throughout my life, God’s promise has never wavered. He has stood beside me and comforted me when I’ve been too exhausted to keep trying on my own. I was the one who walked away from Him. I tried to do things without Him. Once I turned an issue over to Him, He resolved the problem. When I tried to fix my own problems, I ended up in a deeper mess than I could fathom.
As I have reaffirmed my faith, I remember how comforted I am by His presence. I know He has plans for my future, and I know that these plans are good.
“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” – Isaiah 41:13, NKJV
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11, NKJV
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6, NKJV