Today at church, on Mother’s Day, I shared how Jesus removed my “Grave Clothes.” The Pastor’s sermon was on the power of Jesus to raise Lazarus from the dead. At the end of the sermon, I shared my personal testimony of how Jesus removed my grave clothes.
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:43-44
When I sat on my counselor’s couch for the first time in 2012, I told her I did not want anyone to ever know my story. I just wanted to heal as quickly as possible. She assured me that I was safe to share with her and that healing would take time and hard work.
I could hardly say the words – childhood sexual abuse. I certainly couldn’t see myself ever sharing my story with anyone, especially my husband and children.
No way. No how. No never.
Fast forward to 2019… I went to Leland, NC for the Hope Run with Journey to Heal Ministries with my mom and daughter. My brother and his family joined us as virtual participants.
It made my heart swell to have them with me. I was no longer hiding in the shadows of shame and darkness. Over time, God helped me to step into the light.
I can’t describe to you what it was like to get to the run, step out of my car and see the people.It was surreal.
In the sea of people, there were survivors and others were supporters, but you couldn’t tell them apart. Everyone gathered together in this one place and it demonstrated: “Your story matters, and we care. This is a big deal and we want to do something. It has to end!”
I truly felt seen and loved.
Childhood Sexual Abuse completely isolates you. The secrets are all yours to hold and manage. It is an incredibly lonely way to exist.But on this day, it was clear: survivors did not walk alone. They were surrounded by other survivors and supporters.
It was a beautiful sight.
It was time for the race to start and they were giving instructions. My daughter was running in the 5K and I felt a slight panic rise in my chest as I thought of her running alone. All the “what if’s” flooded my ‘I need to be in control’ mind.Even as those thoughts pounded, I recognized how far God had brought me and it helped the panic to subside. I used to be THE helicopter Mom, and never wanted her out of my sight. He’s taught me how to let go and to trust Him with my daughter.
When I was no longer able to see her blond ponytail bouncing in the wind, we started our 1-mile walk. As I walked, I was so overwhelmed thinking back to that sofa in my counselor’s office in 2012. I was a frazzled mess, and finally desperate enough to run towards hope. It was painful, messy, hard and scary. I had no idea what healing would look like or where it would take me. I just knew I could no longer stay covered in the muck and mire of shame. I longed to be free.
I ran towards HOPE and He met me in my mess. He washed away my shame. He set me free.
Do you long to be free? Does shame keep you hidden and afraid? Do you feel like you are all alone?
Run towards HOPE.
You are not alone. There is hope and freedom for you.
Step into the light of His love and His hope for you.
Running towards Hope is not always easy, but it is always worth it.
We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go.Hebrews 6:18 MSG
We left after the race and spent the afternoon on the beach. I thanked God for all He has done in my life and He gently revealed the next layers of healing ahead for me. These layers deal with food, health and my body.
I took a walk on the beach with my daughter and shared with her how next year, I wanted to come back and run with her. It will be painful, hard, messy and scary. But, it will be worth it.
She said, “Mom, we have 364 days ahead of us. You can do it! One day at a time.”
She inspires me, in more ways than one to keep running towards Hope.
I remember bringing her home from the hospital and holding her in my arms crying. As I sat on my bed nursing her, the very real dangers she would face as a little girl hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to keep her safe. I had to do everything in my power to protect her. I didn’t want anyone to hurt her. I knew how scary it was to be a little girl.
As I sat there gazing at her beauty and innocence, a fierceness rose up in me and I vowed to keep her safe. I had to keep her close. I did not trust anyone.
As she grew, the memories from my own childhood would suddenly pop up and overwhelm me. I went to counseling to begin healing from the devastation of the sexual abuse and trauma I experienced as a child.
I had not shared these secrets with anyone. I didn’t want to ever talk about them, but memory after memory continued to roll in like waves on the shore. I was at the end of my rope and all I could do was trust Him. It took everything in me to place this sealed away part of me in God’s hands…