I can remember the tentative steps around the couch and chairs. Newly discovered skills of being upright on little feet. I would watch both my kids do this and think they will walk soon on their own. I remember we had been home to visit parents when my daughter – our oldest- was 10 months old. And in the airport my Mom and sister were hoping to see her walk before she and I boarded a plane back to San Diego where my husband John was stationed. But she kept holding the chairs and/or sitting down after one of us would let go. She was not going to do it. Either she just wasn’t ready or didn’t really want to, I am not sure. My son did much of the same but in our townhouse in Ann Arbor, MI. Why do we so want our babies to walk before they are ready? Is it the sharing of a new milestone with them? The visible proof of progress? Something to share with family and friends?
I thought about this when I had a conversation with a friend about healing as a sexual abuse survivor and, eventually, a thriver. We are wounded and in shock or angry or just trying to not self-destruct. No one knows but us and the perpetrator of the abuse. Time passes and we share it with one person we trust – taking the risk of not being believed or validated because we just can’t go this alone one more day. Then you share it with another trusted person. Time goes by and nothing changes. You are afraid of spreading this too far because of the repercussions to family and friends and the perpetrator’s standing in community. You have thoughts of, “Why do I have to know this ugly secret that has forever wounded my identity as a woman and yet feel like I must protect others whose lives might be devastated by what I share? Aren’t I the one who needs defending and protecting?”
As you move forward you stuff it and hide it within you – the bomb of truth- thinking it is better for everyone if I just move on and forgot it. But it seeps to the top in your marriage and parenting, friendships and family gatherings. Edginess, defensiveness, depression. It is time to share this with a larger group that has no contact with the perpetrator, but needs to know their wounds can heal and that God wants into their agony to work to build trust – in Him, others, and self. You share and it gives THEM permission to to tell that first trusted person. They are on their journey now toward healing. You are freed to explore more of this sharing your story in a an even greater way – a way that lets the story out into the air of public knowing, without the identity of the perpetrator being outed. God is telling you your story has a place in the healing of other women, so you share it in wider and wider circles.
Eventually after years of tears and anger, bitterness and almost insanity, you go to coaching school and begin writing a blog. You share your abuse to the widest audience ever and find some women engaging, hear of others it is helping, and still others that are sharing it with their friends who have abuse in their past. Your coaching practice has moved from helping others journey forward in their walk with God to teaching women how to be whole, learning to trust God’s goodness, letting go of vengeance, becoming who God intended them to be in Him THROUGH the lens of a past that was horrible, unstable, terrifying. Forgiveness begins – or at least a heart that is open to letting God be the judge of their perpetrator- along with less fear in intimacy and more confidence in who they are as women with a particular mission from the Lord. He is using you to help others take baby steps.
But it all starts with pulling yourself up on that couch to test your legs, leaning against that couch – a support person – who has been where you are and knows that this first act of courage needs encouragement. Then letting go of the couch to take a few steps toward a chair that requires you to leave the couch’s support, but leads you closer to your quest to walk free of the past’s chains that had previously kept you on your fanny, glued to the floor. A healing journey is not about leaps and bounds, headline breakthroughs and getting where you never think of the abuse again. It isn’t amnesia or great spiritual feats before audiences in auditoriums.
It is baby steps. A desire to heal. To find community that walks with you through it. To discover a God who can be trusted – even when we ask Him rough questions. He helps us as we seek to be whole. He wants to use our story in that process. He wants to point others to Himself for wholeness through our healing and baby steps forward. It is a messy walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but He is with us, never leaving us or forsaking us. He stands at the end of that chair cheering us on to take that first totally free step toward Him, knowing it will grow our confidence in Him and help us live forward for Him without fear of what our future holds.
My couch and chair support are here for you should you feel the pull of the Lord to stand up and strengthen your feeble legs, testing the waters toward healing and wholeness and confidence. I know it will happen when you are ready. My babies walked and now they are adults that are out on their own – independent. This is what God wants for you. To walk free of the past into a future He has prepared for you as you walk toward Him on those shaky legs that will soon be strengthened to journey farther than you could have ever imagine when you stood up next to that couch. Learn to trust Him. He is faithful.
- How can I pray for you as you make the decisions to move forward?
- How can I be that helpful “couch” or “chair” in your journey?
May 2016 be a YOUR year of baby steps in Christ!