Today, I want to talk about an issue very dear to my heart: Healing–specifically, healing from sexual abuse. Healing is another one of those surprisingly controversial subjects in Christianity today. Some people receive healing from addiction or illnesses instantaneously, laying down their cigarettes or crutches without another thought. For others, healing comes more slowly, occurring over weeks or years. Still, some people pray repeatedly but never experience healing. A few Christians believe that God doesn’t heal people today. Obviously, I don’t fall into that category.
It’s difficult to know why God heals some people immediately, while healing others slowly or not at all. But over the years, I may have gained a little insight into this. As I revealed in my faith experience, God healed me of deep emotional pain caused by an act of childhood sex abuse. I’m writing this because I believe He wants to heal others of this trauma. I wish I could say my healing was instantaneous, but it was not. It took many years of praying for God’s help and being rebaptized in the Holy Spirit to finally get free. I want to share my experience and offer encouragement to those who may be walking the same path. There is hope for you!
I was 8 years old when I was molested by a man I knew in his early 30s. For the first couple of years after that, I was confused about what had transpired between us. Something told me that it was very, very wrong. I tried not to think about it.
Around age 11, the full realization of what had happened to me hit me like a frying pan to the face. That’s when the anger came. I couldn’t believe someone had used me in that way. I never wanted to see or touch my abuser again. Unfortunately, that was not an option, and I was too scared to tell my parents. For the next several years, I lived in fear that he would molest me again.
The anger and depression mounted as I moved into my late teens. I finally told a boyfriend about the abuse, then my mother. She confronted my abuser, and he confessed. He later apologized to me. But I still felt angry and hurt. I contemplated cutting myself and committing suicide.
At 18, I realized I could not go on dealing with such overwhelming pain. I began asking God to help me forgive my abuser. It was the only way out that I could see. God began to help me, but it wasn’t immediately obvious. I had become emotionally dependent upon relationships with men to ease my loneliness and shattered self-esteem. In hindsight, I realize those relationships were a form of emotional masochism that hid the pain of my abuse behind the pangs of guilt and depravity that I inflicted upon myself.
I think I was about 20 when a visiting evangelist came to my church one Sunday. Right in the middle of his sermon, he stopped and looked at me. “I’d like to pray with you later,” he said. “You’re dealing with a great pain, and God wants to touch you.” I knew when I went forward to receive prayer that God had revealed to him the exact cause of my wounds. When the evangelist laid hands on me, I felt a great weight of God’s spirit rest on me–like my bones had been transformed into iron. Yet, my soul felt lighter. I could sense God’s healing work beginning in me.
That work was completed this summer, 9 years later, when I was refilled with the Holy Spirit. In those 9 years were many prayers, counseling sessions and emotional setbacks. But there came a critical point when I had to choose: my anger or my healing. For a while, the world had me convinced that I had a right to be angry. And I did! That atrocious act had stolen away my innocence and what precious little I could claim as a childhood. But God couldn’t heal me with all that anger in my heart. To receive total healing, I had to surrender my right to harbor resentment–not an easy task. I believe my healing was slow and gradual because it took me that long to release my deadly grasp on bitterness.
Also, God recently reminded me of something. Whenever people receive treatment for minor wounds, they usually consult a doctor only once. A simple bandage or a couple of stitches takes care of the job. But when people experience extreme trauma, such as being burned all over or losing a limb, they require months or years of treatment involving multiple surgeries and physical therapy. My pain was so deep that the Great Physician had to perform multiple surgeries to heal the trauma. Sometimes the “surgeries” themselves caused discomfort. Therapy wasn’t fun. But the wounds finally closed and the scars faded away. I forgave my abuser completely. I even wrote him a letter and told him so.
Sexual abuse is absolutely devastating. People who have been abused in this manner often live with the pain for a lifetime. But God can heal this pain and wants to heal it. Maybe you’ve been trying to get past the pain for a while. Maybe someone prayed for you and you didn’t feel complete relief. Maybe someone said that you weren’t healed because you didn’t have enough faith. Don’t give up. God cares. You can take your time. You can get free. Ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit. There’s a reason He’s called The Comforter.
Perhaps you’re reading this and haven’t been abused. But it’s very likely you know someone who has been. Perhaps that someone is a mother, a sister, a brother or a friend. Perhaps you’re hurting for them. Perhaps you’re seething with anger. There’s healing for you, too. Just be honest with God. Tell Him you’re angry. Tell Him you need his help to forgive. I promise, His ears are never closed to such cries.