Only Jesus. Only Jesus – Trusting Jesus in the Hurting

Journal 1.12.14

Dear Cheryl,

It will be easy for you at this time to feel utterly forsaken, because the abuse, that is the reality.  You have been forsaken in an awful manner, and your perpetrators haven’t even begun to see what they have done.  That makes it even harder…. Don’t forget the awful, blinding power of sin when it goes deep into a life, and it goes deep into all of our lives.  Such sin cannot endure suffering.  They have admitted that they cannot endure suffering, and they have made you suffer so terribly.  So now you suffer for them, and we suffer for them.  We die at the sight of their blindness, and yet in all of it is so profoundly rebuked by the same blindness in ourselves to God’s surpassing love in Christ.

The whole thing makes me hate sin, mine, your dads and everyone else, as I see what it did to my Lord on the cross and in Gethsemane.

We do not mean to urge you to take your identity from your suffering, and having been made a victim….  That is what has happened to you, but that is not your identity.  Your identity is defined in Ephesians as being in Christ. You are first of all forever defined by your being in union with your most faithful friend, even the Son of God, who saw you perishing in your sin and blindness and then gave His precious life for you.  He sees all of us as betrayers of His love, grace and laws.  And yet He found it in His great, loving heart to die for the treasonous, faithless ones.  For me and for you.

Do remember your identity.  Soak in Ephesians if you will.  See yourself as a new person.  Hurt and wounded, yes, but not controlled by that hurt, but controlled by your Savior in whom you live and move and have your being.  I don’t have any great counseling formulas, only Jesus.  Only Jesus, Cheryl.  Only Jesus.  Remember Jesus and see yourself, your dad, your family, and all of the rest of us from that standpoint.  See the abuse through Jesus’ eyes as you pray for them.  See how desperately needy they are….

Only believe, only believe, says Jesus.  Dear sister, we love you.  Pray for us.

adapted from: C. John Miller’s The Heart of a Servant Leader, 288-289.

I changed and personalized that letter because it spoke to me. It’s not really any different than anything Emily has been saying. A year ago, I never would have guessed I’d be at this place with an identity problem. I had made it my prayer to not be content in my current place, spiritually speaking, so that I would not grow immune to the need for Christ – and yet here I am. I don’t believe I am immune… just unworthy? No, that’s not the word. Perhaps I am too ashamed. Guilty, beyond acquittal.

I’ve picked up the identity of having been made a victim. I’ve sat, and watched with horror, over and over some of the things done to me. I’ve felt it all over again. I’ve seen things I had forgotten, or didn’t quite understand. Now, I understand all too well. I understand why I chewed tacks and staples when I was a kid. I understand why I always wet the bed, why I sucked my finger through middle school… why I knew of sexual things in the first grade. I understand why I felt so alone, and why I felt so sick all the time. I get why ice cream trucks freak me out… and why I’ll never ever be able to forget the smell of scotch.

I feel the disappointment with each night that passed by that each prayer went unanswered. And I feel the tension between being in that place of fear and terror, in front of a man who said he loved me and wouldn’t do anything to hurt me, accused me, lied to me, and the place of being in front of God, who says he chose me; adopted me; redeemed me, and has forgiven me.
Which cloak do I put on? The dirty, tattered one which shows my sins – his sins – their sins? The one that displays a childhood stolen – the one that serves as a memory of the little girl who died in the process that I so grieve for. The one that will never ever become clean, not matter how many times it’s washed.
Or do I wear the new cloak, clean and worth far more, but feels so uncomfortable – unbelonging. Like a mask, it covers all of the dirt, and smells, and fears. Do I wear that one even though it feels as though it doesn’t belong to me? Like I’ve stolen it. It’s new, and never soils. But, it’s a cloak that is made for royalty. Not someone who came from the depths of where I came from, who did the things I’ve done. I don’t deserve that cloak. I deserve the one that will never be clean, because I will never be clean.

Your identity is defined in Ephesians as being in Christ. You are first of all forever defined by your being in union with your most faithful friend, even the Son of God, who saw you perishing in your sin and blindness and then gave His precious life for you.  He sees all of us as betrayers of His love, grace and laws.  And yet He found it in His great, loving heart to die for the treasonous, faithless ones.  For me and for you.

I’m completely missing the point. I’ve been sucked into the trap. I’ve been on this downward spiral listening and believing all of the lies. What does Jesus see when he looks back at all of that deep dark abuse. I wish that was an easy question for me to answer. I don’t know what he sees. A child being raped? And he didn’t intervene? And why? Because it was best? I think that’s kind of sick. I don’t understand that and yet I’m defined by him. I’m sure that’s inaccurate. I’m sure there is more I’m not seeing, not believing.
We die at the sight of their blindness, and yet in all of it is so profoundly rebuked by the same blindness in ourselves to God’s surpassing love in Christ.
And yet, I am just as bad as they are. Those who hurt me. I’m just as blind. Just as sinful. Just as evil. How then can I wear that royal cloak? I’d get it dirty, stained.
And yet the only answer is Jesus. Over and over, Jesus. Only Jesus.
How do I reconcile this? Just close my eyes and take the leap of faith risking everything to see if it’s right? Just step…?
Hurt and wounded, yes, but not controlled by that hurt, but controlled by your Savior in whom you live and move and have your being… only Jesus. Only Jesus, Cheryl.
I am being controlled by the hurt. I don’t want this to take me over, it’s not who I have grown to be. Being free of this for 22 years has been an awesome time of rest, and not I have simply succumb to it. I’m so disappointed in myself for doing that.. for letting it rule my days, and putting me in this pit. I don’t know how to crawl out. I don’t know how to take away it’s power. Maybe speaking it. Maybe just letting it out, no matter what? Saying the words? Finding my voice? Try on the stainless cloak? Trusting Emily… and my husband and close friends… Trusting what they say, and tell me to do? Just trust? That’s simple… trust.
Just trust.
JUST trust.
Only Jesus. Only Jesus.
Help me, Jesus.
Help me to trust.
Help me, to trust:
Only Jesus. Only Jesus.

SHAME “A hemorrhage of the soul” (Trigger Warning)

(Trigger warning: This means that there may be words, scenarios or subjects that survivors may find triggering to their own experience. I would ask that you remember to provide good self-care for yourself if you choose to continue to read on.)
SHAME – “A hemorrhage of the soul”
Boy, if that doesn’t describe it, I don’t know what else will. So many times, I feel like I’m bleeding out. That there is no suture, no bandage, no staple that will hold it closed enough to allow the clot to form and the bleeding to stop. I feel the bleeding pulse of a broken heart within, and the ache of a damaged soul longing to be whole.
I do feel naked. If anyone knew what I had done, exposed me, my dad, the others, in their denial, I’d be the only one standing.
Much like that day the high school counselor called me into her office, and there he was, my dad, sitting with a fake look of concern on his face. I was naked. I was exposed. I was accused. I was punished. I kept the secret for so long, for him. I protected him. I feared him. For what? I trusted him, I did what he said and he betrayed me. Again.
I feel naked talking about it, what was done, what I did. I feel naked in Emily’s office, exposed. I don’t want her to know. I don’t want her to see me that way; naked; exposed; doing what I did.

I know, adult speaking, that Emily wouldn’t gasp, or wag her head, or punish me, or condemn me… I know that… but I can’t let her know, I can’t… I want so much to get it out, to talk, to use words,  to take it’s power away.. but Emily…. that’s like.. like telling my husband. I can’t. I like them too much, and I don’t want them to see me like that.

I remember the first time going to the psychiatrist. I had already made up my mine I wasn’t going to talk, after all my dad was paying her, probably to feed him information. He probably paid her double since he’s so rich and likes to throw his money around. Hide the problem child. Accuse her of lying, fantasizing, enjoying it. Send her to a shrink, she’ll  never be the same again. Instead week after week, I just went away for an hour. Win win. She got paid, I got an hour of peace and quiet – and safety. I was the perfect target client.
I always felt like I didn’t belong. I was the one hanging in the closet on a coat hanger. Or, on the back of a door, on a coat hook, thanks to my older brother. Sometimes he hung me on the doorknob by my underwear. I’d be the one hiding in the corner of the closet so I could cry and not be accused of being a cry baby or “too sensitive”. I’d climb a tree and pretend I lived there, and not in the house the tree was next to. I’d run away in the woods and stay gone all day… no  one looked for me.
I would sit on the roof top of our house for hours, or go to bed early and no one sought me out. No one missed me when I would disappear. They didn’t care. They only cared when they wanted something, when they wanted to use me or show me things or make me do things I didn’t want to do.
I enjoyed solitude, being alone, the quiet, the safety, but I didn’t enjoy the teasing. The name calling. The unlove. The hitting. The feeling like I couldn’t sit down at school because it just hurt so much “down there”. I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to hurt that much but it made me sit along the wall, in the back, in places I wouldn’t be seen. No one else seemed to hurt like I did, maybe  I was doing something wrong. It made me do things I didn’t know I shouldn’t do, and made people not like me. They would come to my house and then never come back. Some came, but spent more time with my brother than with me, with the door closed, and locked from the inside by a moved dresser.
I was a loner. I was a stoner. I was a drinker. I liked to be numb. Numb made me not care if I was an outcast in my own family, and doing drugs gained me many friends. They especially liked when my parents would go away for a few weeks, and we’d have a 2 week keg party at my house. I got popular pretty quick then… but then I learned fast that the football players that came, were not only looking for free beer. I wanted to be numb. All I cared about was the numb part. It was great until I overdosed. I did that on purpose. I couldn’t live. It was the only way it would stop, to get so high I’d never come back. I remember the ER doctor asking me if I wanted to go home after I woke up. I said “no”, but he didn’t believe me either. He sent me home. With him. Again. I should have doubled the drugs. I should have smoked more. Drank more. I should have just finished it off.
God adopted me when I was 21. When I was 15, II was informally adopted into a real life family. I could go to their house any time, day or night. I could sleep there, I had my own room. It was a safe house. I used it often. They were so good to me.  I cherish them for being a picture of Christ for me. They let me cry. They held me. They talked to me, and they listened. For the first time I had someone listen, and believe, at least I thought they did. I think they did. I’d come home from college and go to their house instead of my parents. The only thing that kept me going home was my dog. Dillon was my on-earth savior. And so was this family. They were both for me. They didn’t call me names, hit me, hang me in closets, lock me in the attic, or have sex with me. It was so weird, but God gave me that. I still have that family, and I so love them as if they were my real natural family. I think God gave me them to show me how he would eventually adopt me.
Have I forgotten that HE has adopted me?
I would wake up feeling so gross. Sometimes I’d still have vomit on my pillow, or my pajamas. I threw up a lot. I tried not to because usually that landed me at home, alone with him. I’d be fine, so  he’d take me on errands,  which meant about 4-5 pubs, and a lot of smelly drunk men. I’d want to go to school when he was home, to get away, but I couldn’t help throwing up.
I would always get chastised for taking long showers. I’d make them as hot as I could to burn the unclean grossness off of me. I’d take an hour long shower in burning well water and come out feeling like I needed to just get back in. I could never get clean. I could never get rid of that smell, or that taste. That feeling. I still feel it and I still scrub, and I  still take very long showers. I think about what they did, and I feel the grossness all over again.
I know Jesus makes sin whiter than snow… he makes it clean, but I never felt.. or saw.. or realized this could be made clean. I know, in my mind, in my adult mind, that this applies to me,  that he will – has made me clean; and yet I still feel so dirty. I still feel so gross. I still feel like I have this label on me – she had sex with her dad. Not the other way around mind you… Freud would say that is poignant, the order in which that sentence came out. I suppose he might be right. It was the other way around, but I was there, I was a part. I didn’t stop it. I didn’t scream. I didn’t tell. I just went away. That  makes me guilty, and no one was afraid to point that out.

Fear of exposure
I’m so scared to tell. I’m so  scared to let the voice be heard. I’m terrified for the words to come out of my mouth. You can’t take them back. They will be out, exposed. I will be out. Exposed. Everyone will know, and will look, and will stare in disbelief. Fingers will point and I will be accused. Again. I will be laughed at. Disbelieved. I will be naked. Unclean. Thrown out. I will be known, and he will know I told. He will know, some how. And when everyone  learns who/what I am, I will be left alone.
LIES — I KNOW… but lies I believed and they keep repeating on the tape and I need to re-record the tape. I need to be exposed, to expose the sin, against  me and against others. I need to be free. I and so enslaved to this and it’s got to stop. I can’t live like this and if I keep living like this it’s like Jesus doesn’t matter – doesn’t mean a thing, and He does. He is everything… but my life doesn’t reflect that right now.
Father “Redeem me for the sake of your steadfast love”. Make me like new snow. Heal me. Help me. Please, I beg you. Shower me with your grace and mercy, and help me to see it in a tangible way. I need you, your light, your forgiveness. Please, Lord, help me in this sea. Help me..
“On the cross, Jesus felt shame but was innocent. He suffered the shame of others that was placed on him.”
“Jesus… based on his belief and trust in God and his delight in that joy before him; he was not controlled by the shame he endured.”
Psalm 109