Trigger Warning: sexual abuse.
While we were on vacation in Palm Beach, we visited Barnes and Noble. I love the Christian section of the book store because it feels like my blog “friends’” jump out of my phone and onto the shelves.
As I scanned the shelves last week, I felt pulled towards a book by John Eldredge called Beautiful Outlaw. I’d never read any of his books but I knew many men had enjoyed Wild at Heart. The book’s subtitle is “Experiencing the playful, disruptive, extravagant personality of Jesus.”
Friday evening there was a big storm in Palm Beach. We were inside, but had the glass doors open as it poured. The lightning seemed to strike across the parking lot at times, and the thunder reverberated loud over the nearby water. Scott, my husband, was watching TV, and I read my new book, trying not to move too much so my fresh sunburn wouldn’t sting.
I had already spent the morning in awe of God. The great expanse of the ocean always evokes such reverence and reading the first part of Beautiful Outlaw reminded me how much I can experience God anywhere.
The storm seemed to only enforce my thoughts of his mighty hand.
I came to a chapter near the end of Beautiful Outlaw called “Letting Jesus Be Himself – Encounters.” It detailed some very specific encounters people had that were clearly experiences with God.
One particular story told about a young man named David who had been experiencing depression. I wish I could just copy and paste the entire few pages but what happens is they pinpoint the root of his depression as shame. There had been a past encounter with a teacher where David had agreed in his spirit that he was stupid and since then had never felt like he measured up.
John is describing his conversation with David and says he had David revisit the conversation. Then John asked David whether Jesus was there. David says Jesus was there, between himself and the teacher–but facing David, as if shielding him. David was so relieved to know Jesus was there and cared. John asked him to renounce the idea of himself as stupid and asked Jesus to take him out of the memory and to give him freedom.
David did. John Eldridge says David left his office that day “more hopeful, lighter, with a sense of drawing closer to Jesus than he had experienced for years.”
As I finished reading this, I bolted for the slippery tiled porch where the storm was just inches away and plopped down on a wet towel stretched across a plastic chair and cried.
I had a memory that I needed to return to, so that I could see where Jesus was.
I don’t have personal memories of what I’m going to describe. My mom told me about this when I was about 10 or 11. She said she had prayed that I wouldn’t remember it, and I still cannot to this day recall any images from that time.
When I was just about 4 years old, I was with a male neighbor in our apartment complex, and he asked me to pull my pants down for him. I apparently said no and bolted to my mom.
Even though technically “nothing happened”, I’d be lying if I said even just the thought of the question hasn’t affected me.
I learned in adoption training that children that are abused as babies may have no recollection of the abuse, but their bodies remember and the effects come out in different ways later on that lead them back to the abuse.
So I asked Jesus to take me back to that memory, or what I have constructed as that memory, and looked to see where he was.
At first, Jesus, was turned towards me and I was overcome with gratitude that he had protected me and given me wisdom and courage to run out of there. But then, Jesus was very clear that he was turning around and facing the man.
Since I don’t have memories, I don’t really know what happened but Jesus was speaking to my spirit that he was taking care of my abuser’s consequences for me. I didn’t need to worry about whether the law was called or whether he felt bad or whether he ever thought of that time again or anything. Jesus was, and is, taking care of it. Of him. Of me.
I felt such overwhelming relief and peace. As I listened to the storm rage around me as tears flowed through my fingers, I could sense Jesus telling me the same power that was moving the storm could take care of it. Jesus had been there and was still there taking care of me.
Every time I recall that image now, Jesus is standing facing the man, blocking my view of him. He’s not moving, not wavering, not even glancing at me. He’s got it.
Jesus was there and even if in your situation something technically did happen, he was there and he hates it. He hates what happened to you. He’ll take care of you and can heal your heart if you let him.
Friends, this is why I love Jesus. Not because I’m scared of hell or because it’s the right thing to do. I love Jesus because he continually invades my life in a very personal way and fills in the gaps that not one other person can fill.
I write about this love because I’m desperate for others to know this freedom and peace. We do not have to live in our past with hurt and pain and defeat. Jesus came to give us victory. It’s not just about defeating death for salvation. The victories are for the very personal, the very specific, the very hidden hurts in our lives.
I don’t want to suggest that professional counseling may not be necessary. I’m no counselor or expert. Jesus just wants you to know that he revealed himself to me and can do the same for you.