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Focus on today.
As survivors of abuse, we are easily tempted to look at our past in a way that can drown us in feelings of regret, resent and remorse—especially during the holidays or special milestones. Although I recognize the importance of looking back in order to move forward (I talk about this process a great deal in both of my books), I want to challenge you today to focus more on the present than on the past.
If our focus is always on what’s behind us, we could very well miss out on what is available to us today. And if we can’t see what is around us now, we will put our good relationships and potential opportunities this holiday season at great risk. We have to shift our vision to that which is right here, right now: the life, relationships, opportunities and hope which are sure to be in our immediate path.
So remove the mirrored goggles placed on you from your past and focus in on the present, while looking toward the future.
The pain of yesterday may never go away completely, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy tomorrow. And if tomorrow is going to be anything different than yesterday, we must make a decision today to shift our eyes off the tiny rearview mirror and pay closer attention to the path before us.
I believe there’s a reason your windshield is so much bigger than your rearview mirror—it’s because your future is so much bigger than your past!
Who has God placed in your life recently that gives you life and hope and encouragement? Don’t ignore them.
Who has He placed in your life recently that needs your life, hope and encouragement? Don’t neglect them.
What responsibilities do you have now? Who or what is counting on you to live and engage in the present? Where can you make a difference today?
May our prayer be this:“Lord, what does it look like to love and serve you…TODAY?”
Today we hit the road… Day 1 of our Fall 2012 University Break The Silence Tour.
Super excited to raise awareness, spark prevention, engage conversation and bring hope to thousands of college students on the issue of sexual abuse, trafficking and everything related!
Pray for this mission. It changes lives.
Here is a small video snippet captured during last year’s travels to Letourneau University, and a brief explanation of why we do what we do:
Many survivors of sexual abuse wish they could be normal when it comes to vacations and family gatherings… but what we survived wasnt normal.
I find that many abuse survivors expect time and again that we will be able to join in the excitement leading up to a getaway… whether it is a time of reuniting with family and friends for fun, or a quiet, relaxing resort away from regular life. But it can be a letdown when you find that your true window of time to be present and engaged with those around you is minimal and the anxiety level is steep.
Some of us prefer to paint on the smile and tough it out, just as we always did, even during abuse.
Don’t speak. Don’t rock the boat. For the sake of everyone else, keep it together, enjoy as much as you can, but just get through it.
Others don’t even try. They just stay home.
Why is it so tough? I’ll be honest; I am still navigating this one. Still trying to understand my idiosyncrasies. (And my idiot-sin-and-crazies…healing is a lifelong journey, right?!) Yes. But I can tell you this as we relate to vacation:
We struggle when our boundaries are stretched or breached. We struggle with the feeling of a loss of control. We struggle sleeping in new places. We struggle relating to new people in our living quarters…or when we are temporarily living in theirs. We struggle when we don’t get space and solitude. We struggle when we feel caged. We struggle when those around us seem moody, sensitive or controlling. We struggle when we feel like we have to walk on eggshells, when when we feel we are to be the peacemakers and keep everyone happy, or when we feel we aren’t living up to expectation. We struggle with our beach bodies. We struggle because our normal routines that help us feel safe are still back at home. We struggle because our daily support system is not operating in its normal way and, worse, sometimes technology isn’t accessible to keep us connected. We struggle when we are dissociated. We struggle when we are apart from those who help us survive on a daily basis. And we struggle because the reality is: many of us were abused, molested and/or raped while on vacation. And we struggle because we remember.
Vacation triggers us.
And as hard as we try to not allow it to, oftentimes we just can’t stop it from happening.
So a note to those who relate… you are not alone. Care for yourself. Even if it means going against the grain. Find your VOICE. Share your struggle with someone you trust and allow them to help protect you while you are with them away from your home… and share your struggle with someone you trust who will help support you from a distance while you are away.
And a note to those who don’t relate… try to understand. It’s not about you. Don’t make it about you. Just love the survivor in your life. Listen, support and allow healing to take place along the journey; it is for the better of all of us.
God bless you all! Hope you are enjoying your summer!
Keep it cool,
What struggle do you relate to? What can you add to the discussion?
My 3 year old son is sick. Sore throat. Fever. Runny nose. Tonsils swollen so big they look like two sumo wrestlers going at it. He struggles to breathe, sleep, talk, eat. I can barely get him to taste a popsicle…and this kid loves popsicles (click for video).
The other night during the 4th quarter of the NBA Finals game (or 11pmish for you non-sports people) he woke up, crying for me. I ran to him and his body was so hot it felt like it was covered in liquid magma. Fevering, sad and scared, through his tears he commanded, “Mama, get your blanky and lay wiff me in my bed.”
I did. I scratched his back, held him close, prayed over him, and whispered in his ear how sad I felt that he was hurting. I told him I was sorry he had to go through all this, but that I believed he would heal. He needed rest, so I asked him if he wanted to lay against me. He said yes; I propped up our pillows and snuggled him into my left armpit. His whimpering and crying eventually died down.
Soon it was silent. I thought for sure he was sleeping there on my chest and I determined not to move an inch until morning. Then I felt his head lift up a little. In a sweet, soft voice, he said to me: “I hear your heart.”
It reminded me of our relationship with the Lord. So often, in suffering, we cry and whine and scream to Him and others about our pain; we ask why? or when it will stop? or we simply get angry and demand change; but we think very little about the Lord’s heart in the mess. It isn’t until we quiet ourselves and our spirits and choose to humbly nestle into our Father’s armpit, that we truly hear from Him. Only then, can we hear His true heart. Only then do we begin to feel the truths that His heart beats toward us…truths like:
Cast all your anxiety on Me because I care for you. 1 Peter 5:7
I go before you and will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:8; Hebrews 13:5
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. I am gentle and humble in heart, and in Me you will find rest for your soul. Matthew 11:28-29
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for I will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
I am close to you and care about your broken heart. Psalm 34:18
I will help you. Hebrews 13:6
I will help you every step of the way. Proverbs 3:4-5
I am not distant; I hear your cries and count your tears. Psalm 22:24; 56:8: 116:1-2
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalms 139:17-18
I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28-30
I will be your hiding place, your shelter, your refuge, your safety. Psalm 46:1; 27:4-I will be your comforter. Matthew 5:4
I want to comfort you and comfort others through you. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
I love you. John 3:16; 3:34
It is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1
I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am for you. Romans 8:31
I knit you together in your mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. I am the perfect father. And I am so delighted you are my child. Matthew 7:11; 5:48
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
I am doing something new in you. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Nothing can ever separate us. Romans 8:37-39
My grace will carry you through this. It is sufficient. 2 Corinthians 12:9; Psalm 91:15
I will take care of you and supply all of your needs. Philipians 4:19
I want to give you the power and strength you need right now. I desire to see you soar! Isaiah 40:29-31
…and thats just a few thumps of His heartbeat for you and me. Dig into His Word today to hear more.
Please join me in praying healing for my son Jude and let’s find time to rest in the Lord’s armpit as much as we can.
What breaks my heart most about childhood sexual abuse, besides the abuse itself, is that very few mothers are willing to come to the aid of their child after discovering he/she has been sexually abused. After hearing countless testimonies of victims, it is obvious that this parental betrayal becomes more difficult of a wound to heal than the sexual abuse itself. We are the number one person, designed specifically by God, to nurture, care for, and protect our young. The rejection of a parent, especially the mother, is the largest stumbling block toward healing. I am in awe of the power of our position as mothers.
Moms/Dads, I know that your heart is breaking too. You have been victimized along with your child. The sanctity of your home has been violated. You’ve been robbed of something so priceless, so intimate that it can never be replaced or retrieved. However, you and your child can be healed. And, both of you can be used by God to bring hope and healing to others. It won’t be easy. It’s not the road anyone would choose. But, I can also say that ignoring it will not make it go away. Ignoring it will only allow it to eat a hole in your soul. Ignoring it will create a lifetime of emotional pain and unhealthy coping strategies for your child. Ignoring it will create a huge chasm of bitterness to destroy your relationship.
So, how do we move on from this trauma? Here are three areas that may help you regain your focus on life.
Cleansing the Temple
Picture your home as a crime scene: vandalized, personal belongings scattered and broken. The carpet is soiled. Maybe there is writing on the walls. It’s obvious that in order to reclaim this space as your own, you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and get busy. Cleaning up the mess, the debris. Painting, redecorating, getting a fresh new start.
This was one of the first decisions I made as Nicole’s mom. It was a powerful step forward for both of us. We painted every room and prayed through every room, cleansing it from the filth that had taken place there. New carpet in our bedrooms, even new furniture, were tangible ways of announcing, “We refuse to live in the ruins and remains of this crime. We are moving on!”
A new environment created space for cleansing our inner temple: our hearts, our minds. But our inner healing required us to look back and to look ahead.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking: “Who wants to look back? Let’s just get on with it!”
But, if you’re very far along in this journey, you know that just trying to forget and move on does not work. It doesn’t go away that easily. Instead, you’re just delaying the process. Ten, twenty, thirty years later it will come back to bite you. Then you will be forced to look back and it won’t be as fresh in your mind and you’ll also have that many more years of self-inflicted pain and denial to process. Soooo…you get the point, right?
Review your journey, Mom. How did you get here? What was it about your specific situation that may have allowed this to happen? Don’t be afraid to ask the deep questions of the heart. Retrace your steps. For me, the steps took me back to my own childhood, discovering that I had been sexually abused. I was still a wounded child.
Make an honest assessment of your life. This not the blame game or a guilt trip. It’s a journey of self-discovery. What can I learn from my past? How can I change the outcome of my life story now that this has happened?
Learn from Hindsight. Where was God in this? Ask Him! He can handle your questions. He wants you to come to Him. He wants to heal you. Allow Him to. List steps that you can take toward healing, reclaiming your life, starting anew.
You have been cheated, lied to, deceived. But you can move on. You can heal. Your trust can be restored. In that first year, I clung to this promise in Proverbs 3:5-6:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on our own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”
I was fortunate that I knew and trusted God. It was a giant leap in my healing and in Nicole’s also. This was a time when the only one I trusted was God. But that turned out to be a good thing. It created my need to totally trust Him; and that allowed Him to fill my heart with the love I had always craved.
Keep God first. He sees your past, your present situation, and He knows your future. He loves you and forgives you. Receive all that He has to offer.
Chart a new path. What are your dreams? Your goals? What do you love to do? How do you want to spend the rest of your life? Don’t lose sight of who you are and what you want to become. Be adventurous. Hang on to hope.
Keep Growing and Keep Going! You’ve experienced an incredible loss. Realize that you will go through the stages of grief. Life as you knew it has died. Your bubble has been burst. Your heart broken. But you must learn from this and move on. Determine that this will grow you into a better person, not a bitter person.
Honestly? You should go buy yourself about a dozen journals! The best way to unload all of this baggage is to write, write, write, and keep writing. I know you’ll want to burn it. You’re worried that someone, somewhere, someday will read it. But, who knows? It may be just what someone else needs to know in order to embark on their journey of healing too.
Mom, if you are reading this and living with the guilt of not having believed your child or not having done the right thing: do it now. Pray for your child. Seek God’s timing and go to him/her. Tell your child you are sorry; that you believe her. Ask how you can help him/her to heal.