We are on the brink of Christmas. The next few days will be a flurry of activity, jaunting from here to there, spending time with family, giving and receiving gifts. Tis the season to be utterly distracted, frazzled, and hurried.
I try not to lose sight of it...the Christmas miracle; a baby conceived from the Holy Spirit, God made flesh, Immanuel, "God with us". I put myself in her shoes, Mary the mother of Christ. There was a cost for her obedience, but she remained faithful. The others could not understand, to them she had sinned. Joseph submitting to God's plan. They were chosen for this.
In all my wonderings, shame, and guilt trying to be whole, I try to remember that I am not the only one who has suffered. Jesus came to die. He came to die. He, too, was betrayed, misunderstood, hurt. His coming was a gift in so many ways, the biggest, the cross. He walked where we walk, He felt what we feel. His gift an understanding Father who knows injustice, tragedy, pain.
Sexual abuse robs you in so many ways. I lived in denial for such a long time, convincing myself that what happened to me didn't matter. I avoided the memories like the plague. Who wants to remember that? It wasn't until I started counseling that I found my voice for it. The first step was admitting what had happened. The second was receiving validation that what happened mattered. The third, it wasn't my fault. Unraveling the mess internally, understanding for the first time how much it effects, infects everything you think, see, and hear...it was not an easy task. I never knew how chained to it I had become. The very thing I wanted so desperately to run away from became more and more tightly wound within me. It takes time to cut the chains, link by link, yard by yard.
I cannot suggest that my sexual abuse was a gift. Maybe it was, although I'm not sure I'll ever honestly see it that way. In anger I have pounded my fists demanding to know why. I am stubborn and my God is good. What remains from the ashes of our suffering? A chance to learn, perhaps? To grow. To realize how much I need Him? I am not angry (anymore).
What I found in my ashes was a gift, Jesus. He is my answer to why. A baby in swaddling clothes, laying in a manger. A King who didn't look like a King. He was more then he seemed. What if nothing in my life is just as it seems? The abuse, the adultery, the losses, the grief, the disappointments, what if they are spiritual wake-up calls God allows to re-form and refine me? What if things in my life that seem bad to me are actually Graces to help me?
"We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." (Romans 5:3-5)
As we celebrate the birth of Christ this Christmas, may we also understand the depth of this gift.
"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:13-15)
1. This Is My Solemn Vow