“Hold Us Together”–The Healing Journey

I heard this song for the first time this evening and I’ve fallen in love with it. It’s called “Hold Us Together” by Matt Maher and it’s awesome! 

It kind of reminds me of the journey of healing, “It’s the first day of the rest of your life because even in the dark you can see the light.” The journey of healing is feeling the dark, it’s about facing your deepest darkest scars and letting them heal. It’s about the fight to better.

The healing journey is not easy. The first step, like in Alcoholics Anonymous, you have to admit that you need the help/healing. You have to admit that someone used your body against your will, that someone violated you. That’s difficult. None of us like to remember what happened but the journey to healing is all about letting it out.

I was once asked by a well meaning friend, “Do you have to talk about it?” She was well meaning but her words hurt me. The truth of the matter is exactly what I told her, “Yes! I do!” Your abuser tells you over and over that you can’t tell anyone so when you start telling people you tell anyone and everyone that listens to you until you find the one person in your life who asks this stupid question, “Do you have to talk about it” and you shut up and learn that not everyone is safe. You learn to share with people that are safe.

In your healing journey you have to find safe people, people to share your story with. When I went though my healing journey I had some awesome people around me that allowed me to talk about it. Who let me open the sore and let it into the light, so that it could begin to heal. They let me be open and vulnerable and even weak and they lifted me up. They showed me the light. They allowed me to be what I needed to be so that I could get the healing that I needed.

I also had 5 years of awesome therapists who each taught me something different about myself. I wasn’t a therapist hopper but instead was having therapy done at a school for therapists and they kept graduating on me :). Not that there’s anything wrong with therapist hopping, you have to find the right one for you, the one you can trust with your story.

My healing journey included the following:

1) Love. Love pouring into me from God, from family and some really awesome friends who helped me through an extremely difficult time.

2) God. The Spirit moved heaven and earth to get me to the place I am today and I’m glad for all the hard work  we did together and one day I hope to share it with as many people that will listen.

3) Writing. I wrote my story so many times from so many different angles, looking at it from different places in my journey allowed me to see the whole picture and to place the blame on the right people: my abusers.

4) Music. Music is a huge part of my journey. I’m not a musician or a singer by any standards but I love music. I love to sing and dance and stand with my arms open wide and worship my Maker.

No matter what your healing journey looks like, no matter how ugly it may seem, it is worth it. It is worth the work to see and be in the light, “Cause even in the dark you can see the light, it’s gonna be alright.”

Healing is worth it, trust me!

Cross Making: Contemplative Prayer Practice

This past weekend I went to a Cross Making event. One of my friends was holding it at our church. She read from a Cross Making book and from Scripture. She guided us through a practice of taking broken pieces in front of us and turning it into a cross.

I used sticks I found in my yard and shinny sequins to make my cross. She asked us to turn to a time when we found healing and remember that moment and then to think about what it means to co-create with God. We each made different crosses depending on how the Holy Spirit led us.

When she asked us to think about a time when we found healing I immediately thought of standing on a mountain at a Sexuality retreat. We were given some alone time and I sat facing the sun and trying to drop a weight that had been weighing me down for years. It’s a similar weight that lots of abused men and women carry. I had been thinking for years that in some way I had caused the abuse to happen to me. I was thinking that it was my fault that these people I trusted abused me but that weight was not mine to carry.

God convinced me that it was not my fault and that I needed to yell it out. So me, a quiet person, screamed over and over again that I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG AND IT WASN’T MY FAULT!!! And I was free from the weight I had no need to carry.

That day, standing in the sunshine, on a mountain, weeping and realizing a lie and beginning to own a truth I gained freedom. I heard someone come up behind me but when I turned no one was there but I felt God holding me while I was weeping.

On that mountain I began to feel and believe the beauty that I was and since receiving that freedom I have allowed the light of that truth to shine within me and I reflect God with every person I meet and tell my story to.

I made my cross this weekend and it reflected all of this. A reminder of that freedom.

God can give all of us that freedom we just have to be willing to go there and trust that God will give us what we seek and need.

If you need help on that journey please do not hesitate to let me know, if I can’t help you myself I can direct you to someone who can help you. cross

Highlight Series: Ministries

I started a series a bit ago that I called Highlight Shelters. Since I started that series I have found some churches and other ministries that are working with women who have been sexually abused. The following is a list of links and some information about the ministries:

  • Shelter from the Storm-Abuse Ministry. This is a ministry for women: teens and adults that have been sexually abused. It is a meeting that is held at Watermark Community Church. From the look of the website, it appears that the Spring session has ended but hopefully there will be a summer or at least Fall session. Be sure to check out there webpage: Shelter from The Storm Abuse Ministry
  • Go Fish Ministries. This is a counseling based ministry. This ministry is led by an ordained pastor and seeks to help women receive healing through advocacy and counseling. Be sure to check out the site: GoFish Ministries
  • Acts of Grace Ministries. This ministry works with both men and women to bring about healing from many painful experiences including sexual abuse. They also work with churches so that they can present the Bible Study materials that they have created. Check out their site: Acts of Grace Ministries
  • Mending the Soul: Bringing Hope to the Generations. This ministry has developed a program that they teach to other communities to use for small groups. Be sure to check out their page for training materials and to find a group near you: Mending the Soul
  • Speaking Truth in Love Ministries. This is another ministry that has developed a program that they bring to churches, schools and other organizations. The unique aspect of this ministry is that is was founded by a husband and wife couple. Be sure to check them out: Speaking Truth in Love Ministries
  • Mercy Ministries. Is a live in home for girls ages 13-28 who are seeking healing from life’s complications including sexual abuse. They are a free service and biblically based. Check them out at: Mercy Ministries
  • Beauty From Ashes. A ministry that works with art and horses to bring restoration and healing to victims of sexual abuse, sex exploitation and sex trafficking. Be sure to check out their page: Beauty from Ashes 
  • Passionate Hearts. Is a ministry that is run through RiverLakes Community Church. It is a support group with biblical basis. Check them out at: Passionate Hearts.

This of course is not an exhaustive list of Ministries out there. This is simply a list from a simple Google Search.

Do you know of ministries that are not on this list? Please leave links to other ministries in the comment box!

Those Who were Lost and Now are Found: Girls in Captivity

Two important news stories have been circulating this week that deal with sexual abuse.* The first is the rescue of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight. You’d have to be living under a rock this week to have missed the story. But in case you have been living under a rock this week here is the article from the Huffington Post: Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus Found Alive in Ohio After Being Reported Missing for 10 Years.

The second story is about Elizabeth Smart who has has been speaking out against the churches’ current teaching of Abstinence. She says that teaching abstinence only brings about a culture of shame and makes women who have been abused feel worthless and damaged beyond repair. To see her own interview: go here.

My responses to some of the things in the video:

  • She mentioned that people ask her, “Why didn’t you leave?” And I want to say, “How dare you ask that question? How dare you question her actions or lack of actions? How dare you, a person who was never been in that situation question how a little girl coped with her living situation? Only a person who has been there, a person who has survived her situation can know how they would react in that situation.” Elizabeth’s answer is to say that she was afraid. She was terrified of her captors. She links her inability to fight back to that of fearing that she was too lowly to fight back. This is a common feeling among those who have been abused.
  1.  First, your abuser tells you they’ll kill you, kill your family, and harm anyone you know if you tell.
  2. Then your abuser convinces you that you are worthless and no one will ever want you. Elizabeth in her interview explains that this message was also drilled into her through her religious circles.
  3. Then your abuser convinces you that even if you did tell, no one would believe you.

You begin to believe the abusers “truths” about you and about the things they will do to your family because no one has rescued you. You begin to believe that you are worthless because no one has saved you. Your abuser uses their power over you again and again and again, until you believe anything they say until the time that you are ready to leave, ready to get out. Until the time that you are ready to tell some. Ready to fight.

The girls in Ohio will be asked these kind of questions a lot over the next few years: why didn’t you call sooner, why didn’t you try another escape. They will be asked to justify their actions over and over again. Here’s my question: Why should they have to justify anything? They have survived and that is the best and the most we can ask of them. We can help them get help and healing and do our best to be there for them but we should not ask them to justify themselves we should only be thankful that they survived.

Questions the church, schools, and other organizations that deal with children and adults before and after abuse should be pondering:

  1. When it comes to messages of sex are we only thinking about premarital sex? 
  2. Is shame the only way to teach about sex?
  3. Where is the grace in our messages of sex and abstinence?
  4. Where is the mercy?
  5. Where is the love?
  6. How can we care for those who fall, for those who have sex before marriage?
  7. How can we best care for those who have been abused?
  8. How can we teach survival in horrible situations?
  9. How can we best prevent abuses?
  10. How can we best teach children to fight back?
  11. When should self defense classes be taught?
*Yes I do know that up to this point there has been no sexual abuse reported in the Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight cases, but I think to dismiss that possibility would be a grave mistake. I am lumping these cases together to show that even though the rescue has happened the journey to healing and a normal existence has just begun for these girls and anyone else that has been held against their will for a long period of time.