***TRIGGER WARNING*** This post contains potentially triggering content for survivors of sexual abuse.
I’ve now spent a majority of my life actively acknowledging, addressing, processing, and healing from sexual trauma as a child. It’s crazy to think that I’ve been doing this work for over 20 years. The thing about deep pain of any kind – not just trauma- is that it’s rarely ever completely gone. We can do a lot of work and heal, layer by layer, but there are hurts so deep that remnants always remain.
In my coaching work, I talk about this with clients a lot. I’m not a psychiatrist or therapist; but in the course of coaching, old hurts inevitably come up as hidden roadblocks to getting where the client is trying to go. So, we talk about hurt and forgiveness – a lot. The funny thing about coaching is that God likes to take what I’m working on with clients and turn it around on me. Like. Always. And He pulled a doozy on me this week.
Intimacy is a little bit of a touchy (pun intended) subject for anyone, really. And, when you have had sexual trauma there can be some additional complications. I’ve spoken openly about my sexual abuse but have never spoken about my specific struggles that resulted from childhood shit - not with friends, not with partners, not even with therapists. Some things have bound me with so much shame and embarrassment that they seem unable to be spoken and have remained my own secret hell since I was a kid. As I’ve been digging in on deep healing with a particular client, God’s been excavating in my soul and to be honest, I don’t like it. I fucking hate it.
I woke up with tears today and have been steadily leaking water out of my eyes ever since. I went to shower and start my day, turned on my waterproof Bluetooth speaker (I always listen to music), and hit “shuffle” in iTunes. That’s when God went for the jugular. My most recent session with this particular client was on Tuesday (it’s Friday today) and the song “Intentional” by Travis Green had been playing in my mind since mid-session and had stuck with me all week. Well, lo and behold, the first song that came on with the “shuffle” of the many thousands of songs on my phone was… you guessed it…”Intentional.” I quickly shared the song to my client and then moved on. I did listen to it 3 or 4 times in a row before allowing shuffle to do it’s thing. Aaaaaaaand God was just getting started. Here’s what the Royal DJ had in store for me:
- Intentional, Travis Green
- I Will Be Here, Steve Curtis Chapman
- I’ll Find You (feat. Tori Kelly), Lecrae
- Church (Take Me Back), Cochren & Co.
- It Is Well, Bethel Music
If you’re really curious, take a listen to these in that order. Or at least read the lyrics. Once I got to the third song, it was over. Full ugly cry… but in the shower, so it doesn’t actually count, right? I get it, God. Full, neon, flashing sign. God was definitely sending me a message. A strong one and He didn’t want me to miss it so He was blatant. I can’t hide when He does that. I can’t make excuses or pretend I didn’t get it. He knows me so well. Fine. I get it, God. Full, neon, flashing sign. What’s He saying? This:
The shame I don’t want to admit to having, that I’ve carried for over 30 years? It isn’t my fault. The shame and embarrassment may be deep, but they still inform who I am, they tell me I’m damaged, they influence how I show up in important relationships. The hurt that plays, the words that haunt my mind over and over and over are not only lies, they are not what God says about who I am. God says I am worthy because He made me. God says He is always there. God says that His love for me is not based on my wholeness. God is scratching at some very specific ancient hurts in my soul and saying, “these are lies. I’m sorry you’re hurting. You are not damaged or less than. You are mine and you are loved.”
I don’t know what happens next. I’m not magically “all better.” I feel worse, actually. Much worse. The memories that flash thru my mind regularly are forcing me to acknowledge them and they are at war with what God says to me about who I am.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalms 147:3
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
…And my favorite:
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
“God. You are good. So good. Even in this, you have never been anything but faithful to me. You’ve been with me in every situation. You know the things I’m too hurt and ashamed to talk about. You even know better than me where I hurt the most. You know how to take the pain and replace it with peace. Lord, my soul needs your healing. I ask for courage to let go of the wounds that I think can’t be healed. I ask for courage to accept your peace. I want your peace. I want these memories erased. My heart is yours to heal and mold and teach and make new. I want to live the life you created for me; but I can’t do it. I don’t know how. I’ve been arrogant to think you couldn’t heal my hurts. I am trusting you in this thing that seems impossible to me. Forgive me for my disbelief. I am clinging to your promises and knowing you do great, great things. Amen.”