Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2
The lens of Childhood Sexual Abuse affected my life and my vision. It distorted my perceptions and impacted my decisions. It filled me with fear and paranoia. It absolutely covered me from head to toe with shame. When I looked through that lens of brokenness, it affected how I saw God and how I saw myself.
But when I began looking through the truth of God’s Word, I could see. The truth set me free. Looking through the truth of God’s word will set you free.
The truth is I am a dearly loved daughter. Do you long to live as a dearly loved daughter?
It happened two Sunday’s ago. I walked in a little late to Sunday School and sat quietly in the empty chair directly in front of my friend Tope, the teacher. The four of us took turns reading through Proverbs 29. I had read the chapter before church and verse 25 stood out to me every time I read it.
When we finished reading, Tope sat back in her chair and asked us in her rich accent, “What do we see here?” When she looked at me, I read verse 25 out loud again and explained, “This verse really resonates with me.” As we discussed the verse, Tope said, “Yes, our fear of man can make them be like an idol in our life.”
I am not sure if I said it out loud or whispered it, “I am not afraid of him.”
As they moved on to other verses, I stared at the Bible App on my phone, and started reading verse 25 in other translations.
I was thinking, “I am not afraid of him, but I am still so afraid..why am I so afraid?” when I came across verse 25 in The Passion Translation:
My heart started pounding, and I saw mini-movies and screenshots flash in my mind of the ways he convinced me to NEVER TELL about the abuse.
Can you imagine the amount of cruel intimidation it takes to ensure a child keeps a painful secret? As a child, I didn’t really understand all that was happening to me, but I completely understood that if I ever told, the most awful and dreadful things would happen. And, it would be all my fault because I told. I had to keep the secret.
I could faintly hear them discussing another verse in Proverbs, because I was still staring at my phone and the word intimidation.
I thought about what it was like to live and grow up in fear. Bullied. Terrified. As an adult looking back to that small child inside of me, I felt deep anger and incredible sadness at the same time.
Tope circled back to me and said, “Michelle, what are you thinking?”
I shook my head and quietly said, “It is too soon,” because I felt very small and vulnerable. Yet, I also knew I was in a safe place with sisters in Christ, so I continued…
“When you said our fear of man can make them an idol in our life… I am not afraid of him. On the day I confronted him, he walked in like a Goliath but he left small. It’s not that I am afraid of him, but I am so very afraid. Look at this verse in The Passion Translation.”
As I read it, my eyes filled with tears and with a shaky voice I said, “Intimidation is a trap that holds you back. He bullied me constantly to keep me quiet. I never told.”
As I continued to break down and share more, they moved closer to me. Tope stood behind me and prayed over me.
We were going to be late for church.
A part of me felt like I needed to apologize to them, but I also knew I had experienced relief and deliverance once again and I was so thankful. There are layers and layers on this healing journey, and I’ve learned it is always worth it to keep going deeper and experience more healing and freedom.
This spirit of intimidation has wreaked havoc in my life for years. It has held me back and made me feel trapped.
Have you been bullied? Intimidated? Filled with fear? Manipulated into silence?
It’s a trap, designed to hold you back.
I’m praying you are able to see how you were intimidated and bullied.
I’m praying you are able to grieve the deep pain from it.
I’m praying you have a safe place to process how it impacted you.
I’m so excited to introduce you to my prayer, women’s ministry and writing partner, Tope Keku. I started attending her Sunday School class about seven years ago, just as I was beginning my journey to heal from Childhood Sexual Abuse. She has consistently been there for me, prayed with me and pointed me to the truth in God’s word. She is a master storyteller and the excerpt below is just one devotion from her new book, Weathering Storms: Finding Treasures in the Ruins. Her words always resonate with me and help me to grow in my identity in Christ. Be sure to follow her blog at Hidden Treasures and Riches and you can purchase her book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, WalMart and Christian Book Distributors.
A few years ago, I was thirty pounds overweight. I realized that losing weight meant I had to make changes. I struggled initially to determine the plan of action, but I decided that losing weight required effort and being intentional. My plan was simple. Every night before going to bed, I had a talk with myself as I laid out my exercise clothes and shoes.
It took time to be consistent, but twelve years later I am still working this plan. I have gained physical and spiritual strength, as I now view my exercise time as a way to connect with God in prayer.
In our spiritual life, we may be out of shape and need to “lose a few pounds.” Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:16–19 NLT) is a great prayer to own as we seek inner strength to grow in wisdom and knowledge. #Weathering Storms by @TopeKeku
I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you consistently, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him.
Paul’s prayer helps me to better align my prayers with God’s heart. Often, when I think about my struggles, I want relief. But God’s plans rarely lead to an immediate answer. That’s when I must learn to endure, because “endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:4 ESV).
Cultivating inner strength builds our resilience, perseverance, and character. #Weathering Storms by @TopeKeku
What weights are you willing to shed to gain God’s inner strength? Personalize Paul’s prayer and ask God to help you.
Lord, I praise you for the privileges I have in you. Help me tap into your unlimited resources to gain inner strength and wisdom to pursue your purpose for my life. Thank you for using the very things I kick against to teach me patience, compassion, love, empathy, and speaking the truth in love. Thank you for instructing me in the way of wisdom and guiding me on a straight path.
Dr. Temitope Keku is a scientist, author, speaker, coach, mentor, and Bible teacher. Her passion is to inspire women to discover the hidden treasures in adversity, grow in their faith and embrace Jesus, the true source of hope. You can find out more about her ministry at Hidden Treasures and Riches.
I stood there at the register in Walmart patiently waiting for the cashier to ring up my items, when I felt God impress on my heart to give her the cash in my wallet. What? It wasn’t a lot of money, but I dismissed the thought because I wasn’t sure about handing her cash. As I headed out with both hands on my cart, I glanced back and felt the tug again.
I paused and wrestled with the possibilities, “How do I just walk up and give her cash? What if I get her in trouble? That is crazy! Did God really say…?”
As I walked towards the exit, I noticed there was a bank in the store with a set of envelopes on the counter for deposits. I got an envelope and put the cash in it with a sweet note. I walked back and handed it to her and she placed it in her pocket with a puzzled smile.
Later that evening at a meeting, I shared some things I felt like God was wanting to shift. No one in the room wanted to make any of the changes. After hearing the questions and the concerns from others, I left feeling bewildered. My mind started to fill with doubt, again.
Did God really say….?
This is just one day, but I could go on and on about how often this plays out in my life. Unfortunately, I don’t always get it right. It has tripped me more than once. It’s really nothing new. This is an old trick of the enemy.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?
Did God really say?
I’m learning to pay close attention when I think “Did God really say?” because I know the enemy’s goal is to create doubt, confusion, and disobedience.
His goal is to get me disoriented enough to give up or mess up. It’s the main reason I took a break from writing this series. I started writing this series in the middle of a very stressful time and for deeply personal reasons.
It’s still stressful and personal, but I’m onto his schemes now. I am weary, but I am not giving up.
Did God really say?
Yes, He did.
Jesus, forgive me when I get weary and let doubt and confusion creep in. Help me to be strong against the schemes of the enemy. Help me to abide in you and help me to listen. Jesus, help me to hear you, believe you and obey you. Give me faith to know your promises are true even when my eyes do not see them. Give me strength to obey. Help me to be in fellowship with you at all times. Speak Lord, your servant is listening.
Are you hearing, “Did God really say?”
Is the enemy using his classic tactics to get you off of your game?
What do you do to overcome the doubt and get back on track?
I would love to hear your thoughts. Please share in the comments below.