“Looking back, it is evident that God’s love is written across the pages of my life, but it didn’t always seem like that…”
I grew up in a Christian home and had amazing parents who loved God and showed me unconditional love and support. I went to church, Sunday School, and youth group every week. I knew all about God from an early age. I read the Bible. I sang hymns and listened to Christian music. I even memorized scriptures. You would think that my relationship with God was always strong. You would think that it has been easy for me to trust Him. You would be wrong.
The truth is, while it appeared on the outside that I had the “perfect” Christian life, on the inside I was constantly questioning God.
I lived most of my life being weighed down by shame and guilt and pretending that everything was “ok.” I lived most of my life doubting God’s goodness. I lived most of my life overachieving and chasing perfectionism, because it distracted me from dealing with reality. I learned at an early age that betrayal takes seconds, but the effects can last a lifetime.
I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and it was a secret that I kept for most of my life. When a close friend shared her story with me, it gave me the courage to break the silence and share mine for the first time. It was then that I learned the power of our stories - the power of realizing that we’re not alone in our brokenness. Breaking the silence was the first step of my healing journey, and it’s a journey that I am still on.
The abuse caused me to question my faith more than anything else in my life. For so long, I couldn’t understand how a loving God could allow someone to experience abuse. If He truly loved me, why didn’t He protect me? I knew in the Bible it said that God would never leave us or forsake us, but I felt abandoned by Him. Where was He when I needed Him most?
Not only did the abuse make it hard for me to trust God, but I had a hard time trusting others. I also struggled for a season with self-injury. I was using pain to cope with pain, and just like the abuse, I hid it from those around me. I didn’t want to be a burden or cause anyone sadness, so I thought by keeping my struggles to myself I was protecting others. Pain tells us to stay silent. Eventually, God gave me the courage to speak. He helped me bring into the light everything I had been hiding, and that is when the healing began.
Through support groups and counseling, God revealed many things to me. I learned that His heart breaks when we experience pain, but the fact is we live in a fallen world where people have free-will. Where was God when I was being abused? He was in the room with me, and His heart was breaking. He did protect me, but in a different way than I initially thought. He protected my heart. Despite the abuse, He has allowed me to give and receive love. He created me with a desire to help others, and that desire still remains. In fact, it’s stronger than ever now. God gave me resilience, strength, and hope.
Life definitely still has its challenges. The abuse I experienced as a child forever changed me, but so has God’s love. Through all my years of questioning, anger, and doubt, God remained. He didn’t just stay. He pursued me. He placed others along my path to reveal truth and love when I needed it most. I lost my innocence, but I found that the one thing I could never lose is God’s love.
The pages of my story which initially caused me to question God the most are now the exact pages He wants me to share. Why? Because God doesn’t want us to deal with pain alone. He has placed specific people in our lives for a reason. When we honestly share our stories, we begin to see all the connections, and we can better support and encourage one another.
I initially shared my secret because someone else had the courage to share theirs. Chances are, someone in your close circle of friends or family has experienced some type of abuse. Maybe you have. Maybe you’re struggling with something else. Pain will tell you to stay silent. Hope and healing are possible. Break the silence. Share your story. It may help someone else.
I'm an ordinary introvert who loves an extraordinary God.