I believe our church has about 5 to 6,000 members. Give or take. And every Spring and Fall, it offers healing classes and support groups for those who have experienced deep, soul-altering wounding. One of those classes is for women who have been sexually abused.
Did you know that stats say 1 in 4 women have been sexually abused? My friend pointed out that in a year’s time, we only see about 10 women in our class. That means there are literally thousands, just in our corner of our small community, who are not seeking help. You know what I thought of as a response?
It takes courage to face trauma in your past and ask for help to heal it. LOTS and LOTS!!!
My first meeting in such a class challenged and encouraged us to prepare to face the “battle ahead.” I thought it was strange that they referred so much to healing as a battle. Turns out…it is! I thought it was going to be warm and fuzzy, like being wrapped up in a blanket on a cold winter day. I was wrong. It’s more…painful. Like salt in a wound. Although I hear salt is good for healing, it burns like HECK when poured into an open wound. It makes you want to scream, jerk your arm away and slap the doctor. Your only thought is, “Make it STOP!” But genuine, deep healing as God intended, is a paradox! (also see the Healing Path and Trusting God when it gets worse or Hugging a Cactus.
Why avoid dealing with past pain and hurt? Fear of pain. Fear of losing control. Many of us chose instead to turn away from the salt and let the wound be, hoping it will heal just fine on its own.
The painful truth about the trauma of the past (including but not limited to sexual abuse) is no one likes to or wants to talk about it. It’s a “downer” in conversations. Many have hidden it as a secret for so long, they don’t know how to talk about it and bring it to light. Just the thought of sharing their story brings heart-stopping anxiety. Most have gotten so good at stuffing all their shame, guilt, hurt, and pain so far down, they appear to be independent, “strong” women (and men) who have it all together. Others have learned to stay silence from the experience of sharing: it made everyone else around uncomfortable. Those they trusted to listen shut them down altogether and told them NOT to talk about it: “
Be strong and just to deal it. It’s the way it is. Talking about it isn’t going to change a thing.”
As a result, many function normally and sit in silence and allow the untouched, unspoken shame of the pain they carry to slowly erode at the life of their souls and rob them of genuine healing and joy.
Facing the battle means having the courage to take a RISK on people you trust, be it friend, family member or a new support group. “Facing the battle” means that this secret may hurt you on it’s journey into the light, especially if you’ve never allowed yourself to express or feel the pain and anger that is stored inside. “Facing the battle” means facing the truth of what this has done to you, who you have become and being committed to the work it will take to change.
Facing the battle of healing takes courage. To those who have taken that step, I applaud you! You are stronger than you feel right now! You have done what few (FEW FEW FEW) have the courage to do.
And to those of you who are freaking out at the thought of talking about it or taking the next step, I encourage you… the pain is nothing to fear. It lasts only for a moment; a season, really.
Then…relief. Victory and a healed heart. The promise of living life fully is very much YOURS to have but you have to play a part in it. You have to make some choices. So make that choice. I bless you with the courage to step out of silence, into the light and be free! I bless you with the courage to heal and the perseverance to contend for the life that was always your destiny! Face the battle, my friend. Because the truth is, the battle is rigged. Victory is already yours. God is for you, not against you. Favor is on your side! It’s just a matter of walking it out and discovering the hidden blessings along the way.
Blessing your journey! -Ang