“I Can’t Carry It! But, I Can Carry You!”
Toward the end of Tolkien’s book “The Return of the King“, Frodo says,
“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back? There are some things time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep that have taken hold.”
Because of my past sexual abuse, I have a few things from my past that the hurts go rather deep. I’ve thought…could they ever really mend?
My pastor, Tom Gibbs, once told me that, “By giving into the fear of darkness, it will only compound the pain and evil of what has already happened. By you keeping things hidden it will gain power over you. Remember, that God is Light and there is no darkness in Him.”
The hope in my brokenness is through the Light of Jesus; because through His Light all darkness shall go away.
My pastor also told me that I had been standing–waiting in the dark.
I have ignored the Light for many years. While I had been waiting in the dark, I remembered that there was a light that had been behind the “door of my heart”. I had been longing and hoping for the Light of Jesus to be shed on me.
Come to find out–Jesus’ Light had been there the whole time. I just needed to turn around, truly see Him, and let Him into the dark places of my heart.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” ~Psalm 34:18
Looking back, I suppose Jesus allowed the memories of my past abuse to resurface because it needed to be dealt with. Maybe the Lord was reopening these wounds, so that I could truly forgive my self, and others.
For years I felt intense anger, and had tried to ignore my emotions. I was angry at my stepfather for the sexual abuse he had committed. I was angry about the memories that I had been left to deal with. I also felt guilty about being angry.
After studying Psalms, and learning about God’s emotions, I began to learn about my own emotions. It helped to see some examples of how God felt about certain things; therefore, I was better able to understand, and was able to let some anger go as well.
It has been a slow process; but, I have made some progress.
I’m not going to lie, opening wounds, is a lot of my own fault! No one makes me hold onto the past. The last few years I have been searching as to why I have harbored so much pain deep within. I don’t want to pick at my wounds keeping them fresh; but, sometimes I find myself doing just that. While keeping them open, it has caused pain for myself, and others. It’s a vicious cycle that had potential to consume me.
In my desperation to find out answers of why others could not understand me…I began hurting them. I hurt the very ones I cared about. I might verbally be abusive, and this only compounded the feelings of guilt that I already felt. I began to feel that I was not worthy. I felt that I was a mistake, or a disgrace, to all that were around me. Once again the cycle was in place and continuing to gain force.
Sometimes, I couldn’t stand myself for what I had done; thus, on occasion I hurt myself. I felt that if I hurt myself–there would be some restitution for hurting others verbally. However, most did not know that I had sought restitution…within myself.
I began isolating myself. I thought that isolating my self from others–would “save” them from me. In my mind this is how I thought I should “handle” this type of situation. But, in isolating my self, it caused much pain of feeling abandoned…even if I was the cause of my own abandonment.
I have a friend Joey who recently told me that, “the one who abuses is usually the one holding onto their own personal wounds. They never really heal because they keep picking at the scabs, re-opening the hurts of the past and keeping them fresh. Then they lash out at whoever is closest to them, because the ones that originally caused the hurt are usually long gone. The wounding then becomes transferred to another victim. It becomes a vicious cycle unless the abused can short-circuit the circle of pain; thus, the need for a professional counselor to help me. His name is Jesus and I thank Him every day!”
These were some words to mull over. These were strong words of wisdom.
I began to continue picking at my wounds–keeping them fresh and open. I felt few seemed to understand me. I felt others didn’t believe that there was great suffering in my past. I felt I had to defend myself to others so they could understand. I felt since they had not experienced that kind of abuse…that they may feel how that could have happened. I also felt worse when some didn’t want to understand my past at all…to be discarded. I felt they were extremely insensitive. I let these feelings cause great confusion within me.
Now, pondering what my friend said…I realized that Jesus is the best counselor. My pastor and I had also talked about how the Lord had given me His Holy Spirit–to be my counselor/comforter. He had been with me always, even when others were absent. He walks with me right now!
I definitely need to hold onto this truth, even when my way seems very dark. I know that there will be brighter days!
Knowing this I began to feel safe enough to take steps forward toward healing, and understanding Him. I have learned that I could trust, and not all would judge me—no matter my mistakes. I was beginning to understand that I was not a misfit.
I tend to see things in night or day. I am a perfectionist about some things and lack concern about other things. My pastor told me that Jesus was less interested in me being perfect than in me knowing His mercy and grace. The very mercy and grace that covers all of my mistakes.
Through great wisdom of many, I have begun to replace my thoughts of guilt with thoughts of His joy, truth, and grace.
Finally I am beginning to feel that I am loved, valued, and treasured.
I know there have been many prayers for me, some like “Lord, keep Beth from lying to her self. Pray that she will begin to see Your truth—Your Light. Prayers like, “May You be a beacon of Light for her in dark places, when all her other lights go out.”
Right before Jesus died on the cross he said, “Into Your hands, Father, I commit my spirit”.
I need to commit my spirit to Him. I should no longer be powerless or broken from my past guilt. Through Jesus, I have the same power to resurrect myself from my pit of darkness, brokenness, and despair. I should no longer feel guilt over my past.
Physically, on Earth, God could not carry my guilt; but, He told me to release it, let Him carry me, and finally be rid of it.
One of my favorite parts from “The Return of the King”, is when Samwise and Frodo are at the bottom of Mt. Doom. Samwise begins talking to Frodo about the ring and says, “I can’t carry it for you! But I can carry you! Come on!”
The ring had caused open wounds around Frodo’s neck because of the weight of the ring. Frodo needed to get rid of the ring; therefore, Samwise carries Frodo up Mt. Doom. Eventually, Frodo was able to throw the ring into the fires…where it was destroyed.
God is telling me that He will carry me. God would not have brought me to the abuse, and then back to the memories of it, or healing of it, if He could not bring me through it. His eyes are fixed on me. Like the “refiner’s fire”, God begins to purify me of my past guilt, so that I can be made new in His Light.
Praise Him for His great strength, and Light!
A Beautiful Kind of Broken
Over the years, I tried to mend my wounded heart by myself; unfortunately, I did not seek help in the most appropriate way. I have learned that I can’t be, nor anyone else can be my savior; thus, often resulting in feeling rejected which created a low self-esteem…leading to despair…because in my mind, I could not be fixed or saved. Therefore, I must come to the conclusion (on my own & my own time) that no one can “fix” me; except, for Jesus.
My Pastor, Tom Gibbs, once told me that I must learn to let Jesus love me, and I must love Him in return. If I don’t do this…it will be impossible for Him to pull my weeds and replace them with flowers. I have really come far despite my abuse and lack of knowing a lot about the Good News; but, I can cultivate a bigger garden if I let Him help me, and others are willing to continue to mentor me.
I will say that learning to relate to God as a new creation is a difficult concept for me. I want to attempt to hide my very being from Him. I am ashamed of my past. I feel guilty. I don’t feel safe. The safety issue brings several things to my mind…how could He let all this abuse happen (past and present)? What kind of sick dad sends His only Son to be killed? That is no way to protect, or make someone feel safe. Because of my past…these thoughts have crept up in the back of my mind. How can I feel safe knowing that He will take care of me…when these things have happened?
The Biblical truth is that I can feel safe with Him. I am safe to succeed or fail. I also understood that there is truth to making individuals feel safe in church, or community. Through communities the restoration for my brokenness can take place. For people like me, I may think that others do not have problems that they have it all together because of the hiddenness within our community. Often times the ones that are struggling–try to become more hidden, or withdraw, from the community because of fear that their secrets might be “found out”. I finally understand that. First, I was told to tell my secrets, and now…don’t tell them except to one who claims he can’t help. So what is the point? I am so confused! Telling my secrets only brought more pain with no outlet to deal with them.
Unfortunately, telling past secrets doesn’t get rid of the pain …it actually just opens the door (which is not understood by most) to help begin the process of healing. When left undone, it causes much more pain and anxiety. So what’s wrong with learning the process of helping others? That is what I want to learn how to do, so that I can use this brokenness as a gift to help others. Unfortunately, I have been discarded as “too needy” and not worthwhile to nurture to bring out such a gift.
There are lots of beautiful broken Christians that are at battle with a real war inside of them. I know that I did not originally want to reveal my past with a select few for fear of rejection, and not feeling safe enough to be forgiven when my sins of my past were exposed. I almost felt that because I screwed up with trusting some that the lesson I learned is not to confess my sinful past, or abuse, because now I no longer feel safe. I keep telling myself that it would have been best to have kept things hidden; although, hiding would not have changed any of the abuse, then or now.
I feel this safety issue is a very sensitive topic. Is there a question that some may take advantage of this thing called grace? Should one be walked through the healing process of confessing, being forgiven, and eventually being restored? Could there be a difference between immaturity (lack of understanding Him) and someone’s sinful nature of worshiping idols? Or is it a combination? Should they be forgiven or just discounted as a failure to abide by certain rules or time frames?
Being safe doesn’t always mean to feel safe to fail. It can also mean to feel safe to succeed. I want to be encouraged to be the Bride of Christ, to be His Beloved, to be that Oak of Righteousness like I have heard in some sermons. There is a difference between righteousness and holiness. If I understand correctly, we become righteous when we accept Jesus into our heart as our Savior because of His death on the cross. Grace enables us to pursue holiness, once we are made righteous, by seeking His Godly character & applying it to our lives.
I must tell you that most individuals who have been abused have a hard time trusting anyone, especially Christians. There are some who would be quick to judge the abused without knowing the whole story…my story (or anybody else’s story for that matter). That was why a support system was needed to be in place, to help me learn to trust. Yes, I know I have a hard time breaking away from dependency of others; but think about it…I have had to depend on myself for years (since I was a child), and look where that has gotten me.
Why can’t some dependency be considered for wanting to truly understand His love? The support system should be built out of love & compassion; not out of pity for the abused to be labeled as a project to be worked on. Especially, if the project goes awry it could cause the building of the structure to be idled. A safe and stable place should be built for the broken and for them not to worry about performance expectations…or trying to be healed sooner because of someone else’s time frame.
Remember, the abused person is trying to heal, and for this reason one should step back & say it is not about me…it is about the child of God who carries this pain. No one really wants to be sick! I never wanted this pain of abuse, or the memories of it that often triggers horrible feelings within my soul. Far from it! I never desired to be taken advantage by a perverted man who was supposed to love and protect me…be my trusted parent.
I needed to get to a place where I could trust God and feel safe–because of what had been done to me in the past, and even what is happening now. I also needed to trust God with what I had done. People who have been abused have lost their identity, and often need to be validated by those who believe in them. It’s important to talk these things out, in my case the abuse, to be able to remove my wrong perception of the present and what might happen in the future. Yes, specialized counselors (such as mine…Clifton Fuller) are great for this; but, humor me to read on.
Abused victims, or survivors, don’t necessarily know who they are. Over the years I took on different identities as a form of protection. Many worked for me as a child; but now it is a problem as an adult. Sometimes there are those who can & will victimize the abused. They will plague them with chores, verbally abusive words, until they are completely sleep deprived from over exhaustion and utterly worn out. This allows the victim to become more easily moldable into a certain state of mind by the abuser. Does that make sense? This is when the victim “freezes up” during certain situations, and does not respond or handle the current situation with finesse. I know this tactic all too much. I have continued to live in this state of confusion for most of my life.
In searching for my true identity (in the image of God), I needed to know that I was of equal value as any other human. My brokenness may come across as being “too needy” or “desperate” for some; but in actuality, I needed to understand my value as a person–which I don’t always see in myself. For this reason as well, I feel that God might use me in other’s lives to learn how to build meaningful relationships with certain kinds of broken people like me.
In essence, my survival thus far, should be a blessing to others, and build confidence that His Kingdom can be furthered by understanding the certain kind of brokenness found within me. Those survival strategies that I learned as a child could be used as gifts to help reach others. By recognizing their strategies, or walls they built up, I might be able to be help some of them; unfortunately, I am still unlocking some of those gifts to be able to be helpful. It would be easier to unlock those gifts with encouragement.
In losing my identity, I also lost the true identity and nature of God. In a sense, I am a child (a new creation), and I need to start over with the faith process. I may need to have the basics of faith told to me more than once. I will need to have Grace explained in depth. I will need to understand God’s characteristics on an intimate level. Truth is that because of my abuse, even though others may find it hard to believe, I can trust that I am in a safe place and I will not be rejected for my past, or sins.
We are all unique, and each one brings a different gift to the table. In fact, I want to be a blessing to the community as well, and not be treated like a project. I don’t want others to feel they have to help me because God would want them to help me; but, to help me because they have a real compassion to help me for who I am…and not knowing of what or who I could become in His Kingdom later.
I need to stop hiding behind my mask and become a beautiful kind of broken.
“I shall heal your broken heart with My words of love. My truth shall prevail over all your trials and tribulations. I see your fears and sorrows; your struggles, your pain and suffering, and I shall not abandon you in your hour of need. My mighty right hand is already stretched out to heal and give peace and abundant life. I am at work. I am Jehovah – I AM THAT I AM.”
When Did My Faith Become Real?
When did my faith become real? I believe receiving faith is never-ending; therefore, my faith becomes more real with each “real” season I experience. I recently told a friend that my current season of tribulations was like a bad reality TV show, and that I sincerely hoped that it would not be picked up for another season.
All joking aside, one of the worst trials I have ever had to go through was when I was a child. I was sexually abused. That terrible season has left many battle wounds and scars that still have not completely healed.
That experience led me to live a life that was not always conducive to spiritual growth. I lived in fear of others…especially men. My relational skills were lacking, and thus my communication skills followed suit. Because I let my anger get the best of me, I became one who began to contribute to the pain of others. The pain I caused was mainly due to my own selfish idols, and of my own making.
I was like a horse wearing blinders. I could not see the pain I was causing others because of the pain I harbored inside, or even the pain I was causing myself.
As a result of my past abuse I have carried a backpack full of idols, pain, and fear. I lack self confidence. I am a skeptic when it comes to thinking that my Father could give me the grace of forgiveness that I so desire. Even though I did not wish this abuse on myself, in the back of my mind I always wonder if I deserved it.
My husband, Sam, has explained his take on the situation. If I had gone into the doctor’s office to get a physical, and several days later I got strep throat…did that mean I wanted to get strep throat? Of course not, nor did I expect to get it. Strep throat causes many to become quite ill. In fact, I usually get a headache and nausea along with it–making it a triple whammy! Under the circumstances, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I never asked for the strep throat, and I certainly never asked for the abuse. My friend described the abuse like an illness that was given to me. I couldn’t help it! It was given to me. I was so very young, and the abuser had no right to pin the abuse on me as my fault. To threaten me with harsh words, and fists to body…warning me to never tell or he would beat me up. No child deserves to be treated with such disrespect. To be made to feel like scum, and then told that no one will ever want them because they were tainted.
I believed him!
I have always wanted to run in a race; but, definitely lacked the passion to train. Trust me, I am no runner. When I was at Baylor University I was on the track team; but, as a javelin thrower. Running was definitely not my forte. In fact, one year I did not qualify in the javelin for the Texas Relays, so I had to run the 10K. It took me an hour and six minutes to run that race. The man who ran the half marathon passed me up. BTW…now I would be lucky to walk a 10K.
Now I am remembering that I have this awfully heavy backpack, and I am thinking how do I run with a heavy backpack? I see the military, or fitness gurus running with heavy loads to train; but, I don’t want to train with a heavy backpack. I am not a fitness guru, and I definitely don’t want to train with a heavy load. It would be extremely hard!
So how do I lighten the load in my backpack? I have carried the load for many years. I have become quite attached to my many idols, and I don’t know which ones should stay or go.
Then my Heavenly Father suggests to me to give Him my backpack. I asked Him, “Why do you want my backpack?”
He answered, “Because, I love you, and I want you to run to me. I want you to fix your eyes on Me. I have made a promise to carry your heavy burdens, and I want you to run the race that is set before you.”
Okay, so even if I were to give Him my backpack, how would that help me to see Him? How would that allow me a clearer vision to be able to run to Him?
I know now that I lacked a true passion for recognizing my Father, and his promise that He made to me. I lacked faith and hope in the words He was telling me to obey. I must really enjoy my bad reality TV show because that’s where I was headed…back to “seasons gone bad.”
I tried to focus on Him; but, I could not see Him at all. I only recognized my stepfather, and all of the horrible things he had done and/or told me. He was no father to me. He did not protect me, or love me. I became scared…so much so, that a couple of times during the race I considered suicide as an alternative to facing my fears. Truth is, my own hindrances of my own idols were causing me to lack the faith I needed to run the race…to run the race with patient endurance.
I wanted to hurry up and train for the race my way. I wanted to be in control. In the back of my mind I wondered if I could run the race by myself? Did I really need my Father? Could I train without any help, because asking for help might mean I was weak? I certainly did not want to look weak and unworthy to anyone. I mean my stepfather did say that no one would want someone as worthless as myself. I wanted to believe I could prove my stepfather wrong.
I learned quickly that training, and running alone, did not seem to be working for me. Training by myself, I noticed that I seem to fail every time. I was extremely out of shape.
I wondered do I really to need the “Author and Finisher” of my faith to help me train for this race? Does He really know what path to take to get to the finish line? Would He really be the only One who would be able to keep me from “jumping the gun” at the start of the race, and would certainly keep me from facing disqualification? Would He do this for me just because He loved me?
I had to really dig deep inside to see what I really desired. Did I want to continue carrying my heavy backpack, or give it freely to Him? My faith was lacking; but, He told me, “Come ye who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” He was telling me to cast my burdens upon Him, and He in turn would help me cross the finish line so that I could rest. I definitely need rest. I look horrible!
With His help, I found the faith, hope, and strength to go the distance…even when I could not always see the finish line. I knew that I would be able to reach the prize–which had already been fulfilled by Him. I knew that He would give me rest.
I have decided that my faith in Him should not be just wishful thinking, but having a true passion; a trusting confidence that His promise of grace is for me–despite my past secrets, my present idols, or my future mistakes. Through faith, God’s grace gives me freedom to be me—broken and scarred.
So when did my faith become real? Every time I step out the door and experience various seasons. Just putting one foot in front of the other, and walking out the door. Now that’s having real faith to me!
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.” ~ Hebrews 11:1