Shed tears today over an old, old hurt. It never fails to surprise me on the rare occasion these memories appear; I forget for long stretches that the hurt ever happened. The a news story, an article, a magazine cover crosses my path and it's all laid out there once again.
The grace of a merciful God means I am not defined by the bad thing that happened to a little girl, decades ago. I'm so thankful for that. But that mercy doesn't mean the assault doesn't affect me in a hundred ways, many of which I'll never even consciously identify. And now the wound, once superficially healed, is open and gaping.
It does affect me. The proof is the wetness on my face all these years later as I try my best to will away the urge to speak my truth, to process it as an adult, with the precious balm of the Holy Spirit's embrace.
I want so badly to put it out there and let it GO. But there are so many reasons to just put a bandage over it and wait for it to form a scab again. The ingrained habits of silence and shame reach across the years to stifle my fingers on the keyboard.
Months pass and I cannot write. Not about this; not about anything.
He depended on my silence to hide his sin.
I cannot seem to escape this thought. The silence is the key.
Eventually it all explodes. Not being able to write is a death sentence for anyone who loves words. I have to write. And if this is why I cannot, then this must be dealt with first.
Oh, but this will hurt the ones I love.
Sin taints everything it touches, everything it breathes ugly sulfurous breath upon, and so we all suffered for what one random man chose to do to a helpless little kid.
I know it will hurt you to hear it. It hurt me, too.
But "to tell you my story is to tell of Him."
And though it starts with sin, it ends with mercy. All God's stories do.
So here it is. Familiar details. Similar pain. The same old story of shame. For some reason, this time, when the abuser's face is paraded across the screen, I don't turn away. This time, I look back into my eyes in the mirror. This time, I don't brush off the tears before they have time to even fall.
This time, I tell my husband I am not ok.
This time, I call my mother and ask the questions I have been asking in my head for thirty years now.
And this time, I pick up the pen. Because the silence is the key.
I've come to see that staying silent means I'm still in his power. It reduces my level of helplessness to that of the child I was. It robs me of the precious outlet of writing, it robs me of whatever message God wanted me to share with my readers, it robs me of whatever ministry I could have had if I was vulnerable enough to share this brokenness with other silenced, broken women.
He's still stealing from me, you see. He's taking away what comfort and encouragement and honesty I have to share when I look into someone's eyes and recognize the secret that seals her lips. He's still robbing me of the courage I could have, to do them the honor of hearing their story and not flinching, not murmuring platitudes, not being part of the culture of "sit down and shut up."
I can't let that continue. You see, there are so very, very many of us. And it needs to end.
I took my husband to a beach one day soon after our engagement and looked away across the water as I told him the wretched story, because I wasn't sure I could handle what I might see on his face. My courage did not extend to eye contact. But he deserved to know his bride was not without baggage, and the grace that rained down on both of us that day when he cried for a little girl that he would not even meet for another decade, was worth the speaking aloud.
All these years past, if anyone had even known to ask, I would have said I had forgiven the molester. But the truth is, I have not. God makes it clear as He lances the boil and putrefaction pours forth. I have accepted that this happened to me; that it was handled as well as anyone possibly could by my horrified and heartbroken parents; that my life is neither "ruined" nor any less blessed because of it. I have never considered myself a "victim."
But no, I have not forgiven.
Last month I shared how God had placed on my heart a single, very special verse for the year: Micah 6:8. Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly. Those three things, and nothing more. I thought the "walk humbly" part was probably where I needed the emphasis. I usually do.
Instead, my Father whispered to me that that my first lesson was going to be about mercy.
That He was going to show me in new ways, using my deepest and most secret hurt, that His great grace was sufficient. That there is NO sin in this world, past, present or future, that is not covered by the blood of my Savior.
I am going to learn about mercy, not just as an abstract concept with head-knowledge that I am the beneficiary of a fully righteous and holy God's willingness to pardon my sins.
I am going to learn to love mercy. To learn to live it in my very flesh. To look upon the very worst thing that anyone ever did to me and say, I forgive you. And I can only do that because of mercy that was extended to me.
I am going to learn to choose mercy, every single time Satan dredges it up again. That is something entirely different.
Father, the heart I thought healed breaks anew as I face the doorway to this classroom of Yours. I feel arms of grace reach through the frame to pull me in. I look up and Your face is wet with tears for my hurt. The path is plain, as is the choice. I choose mercy. Give me strength to always choose mercy, to keep on choosing mercy. Amen.