Nearly two years ago to the day, I picked up the phone and dialed a therapist. I was suicidal. My mom had called me three months before with news that my father had cheated on her…again. She was distraught. I was distraught. She called me at work, sobbing hysterically. Dad called me at home, moaning about the mess he had made of things. Meanwhile, my husband worked weekly rotating shifts for the Navy, often off when I was away, completely absent 2 or 3 days out of the week–falling asleep whenever we tried to talk to each other.
Lately, I’ve been receiving emails and messages from readers, thanking me for addressing the topic of sexual abuse on this blog. Despite being a survivor myself, I sometimes feel woefully inadequate to offer comfort whenever people share their stories (though I very gladly do). These feelings of inadequacy come from the place inside of me that is still wounded, from a pain that occasionally throbs so deep that I wonder if healing is actually a thing. I know that it is. I catch glimpses of it at times. It’s the moments when I sink into the dark that I start to wonder.
Today, a reader messaged me with her story. She said she had reacted so badly to her abuse, she now wonders if God has left her. It is a sentiment I hear often. Survivors carry so much guilt and shame that it’s difficult to believe anyone, especially God, would agree to stick around. Continue reading
My next post on the Biblical Counseling Movement will address problems in the movement’s theology. But before I delve into that, another context post is called for. In this post, I want to talk about forgiveness and reconciliation.
Much like repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation are often deeply misunderstood terms. Many people, including some biblical counselors, don’t draw a distinction between forgiveness and reconciliation. They believe that reconciliation is proof that true forgiveness has occurred, and if you aren’t reconciled to the one who hurt you, you haven’t forgiven.
Which, according to the Bible itself, is totally inaccurate. Continue reading
In my last post, I talked about what it means to be a trauma survivor and how difficult trauma can be to heal. Today, I’m going to enumerate the ways in which the Church can respond to trauma survivors to help them find healing.
Before I delve in, let me be clear: This is a common problem. Most pastors would be absolutely gobsmacked to know how many trauma survivors fill their churches every Sunday. Current estimates put the incidence of child molestation at 1 in 3 for girls and 1 in 10 for boys. That means in a congregation of 100 people, 5 men and 17 women are likely child sex abuse survivors. And that figure doesn’t begin to include survivors of other types of trauma, such as rape, assault, mental and emotional abuse, neglect, war, abandonment and accident.
If the Church wants to get serious about helping survivors, this is what is needed: Continue reading
Because of a sexual predator’s recent article in Christianity Today‘s Leadership Journal (which has since been removed, hallelujah!), an important conversation has been taking place online about trauma survivors and the Church’s poor response to them. Some bloggers have suggested that church leaders should be educated on what survivors experience and compassionate ways in which they can reach out to help them. To this end, being a survivor myself, I’m going to share what I’ve learned. Because it’s really important. Continue reading