What if the Improbable Was Somehow Possible?

Coming to terms with the concept of forgiveness in relation to sexual abuse.

Many of us think of sexual abuse as an unpardonable sin. Its effects are so far-reaching. We have been told repeatedly that abusers can’t change, and recovery means acknowledging that fact while no longer permitting what happened to control us. We hold on to the hope that change is possible for us, but we believe that it is impossible for them. And, somehow we suspect that a just God agrees with us. So, victims become survivors after years of recovery, while we imagine perpetrators eventually end up in hell.  What they did to us and those we love is so evil, we would never want that to happen again to another living soul. Society needs to be free from people who abuse the innocent, we reason; justice demands it!

Now close your eyes and imagine God saying that He wants to give your abuser a new heart and a new start. This new heart would enable him or her to respond to you and the world differently from now on. He or she would never abuse anyone again. What type of thoughts flood your mind? Do you hear, “Hell no!” Do words like “impossible” demand a hearing? Do you feel panic, not wanting that to happen? Does it interfere with your sense of justice? Could you trust a God who allowed that? Continue reading

The Impact of Sexual Abuse on the Fragrance of Life

What is the first thing you do with a beautiful flower? If you’re anything like me, you smell it. Why? Because we expect flowers to smell good! Many flowers produce a pleasant scent to attract pollinators that aid in their reproduction. In II Corinthians 2:14-15, the Apostle Paul says that Christians produce a fragrance too:

“But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”

The fragrances of flowers and Christians are both connected to reproduction. You can imagine my surprise on a mission trip several years ago when a group leader said to me, “You are like a beautiful flower without a smell!” Continue reading

Don’t Look the Other Way!

This week’s post is shorter than usual, but I trust it will encourage you as it has me. In 2018, I am reading the Bible through chronologically. I finished reading Leviticus recently. I must admit it isn’t one of my favorite books. Nevertheless, I noticed something in Leviticus that comforted me because it revealed God’s judgment against idolatry and His heart of justice for crimes against children. Continue reading

Repressed Memories: Why Didn’t I Remember Sooner?

The day my heart shattered was one of those moments frozen in time, much like 911. She was in her late twenties when she told me about the molestation that occurred 15 years earlier. She shared it in snippets over the following year with each revelation cutting deeper than the last. How could this be? How could my older brother have sexually abused “my baby”? How could I have missed the signs? Continue reading

What Prayer for Sexual Abuse Taught Me About Significance

What Prayer for Sexual Abuse Taught Me About Significance

If you have always remembered your abuse and hated your abuser, this post may seem strange to you.  That was not the case with me. For years my abuser was my hero. In fact, I didn’t remember my abuse until after it was disclosed that he had also abused my child! My suppressed memories resurfaced then, and I struggled to accept a brand-new reality. Even after the memories returned, I still struggled with conflicting feelings of love and disdain for my abuser. Continue reading

What I Learned from Snakes in My Bed

What I learned from snakes in my bed: Overcoming fear related to childhood sexual abuse

When I was a child, I had a recurring dream of snakes in my bed! Often I begged my parents to let me sleep in their bed, or I slept with the covers pulled tightly over my head. As an adult, when I finally understood why my childhood bed wasn’t a safe place, I realized it had nothing to do with snakes (at least not literal ones). My fear was due to an older brother who walked in his sleep and visited my bedroom at night. Continue reading

My “god” had No Arms!

My god had No Arms: Overcoming a distorted image of God resulting from sexual abuse

As a prayer counselor prayed with me after my mother’s death, I remember how shocked I was to hear myself exclaim, “My god had no arms!” It came in response to a childhood memory of my mom accidentally scalding me as she washed my hair. Such words would normally never come from my lips, but obviously, the child in me felt unprotected. There were other times the god I thought I knew seemed to have failed me as well, like when I awoke at night to find someone standing over my bed touching me in ways that no preschooler should experience.  And of course, what does that little girl think when she hears a mumbled death threat not to tell anyone? Where is God in such circumstances? Continue reading