Baby Steps: His light breaks my chains.

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Something really big happened in me during that facedown laid flat prayer time.  He lifted me and He gave me a voice, but He also filled me to the top with courage, boldness and passion.

Something shifted inside of me. 

In my group therapy session, she gave us each a small box, magazines, scissors and glue. Our assignment was to cut out and glue words and images on both the inside and the outside of the box.  

The words and images on the outside of the box displayed what we were comfortable with others knowing about us. The outside of the box represented how others see us and what we are willing to show others. This was mostly public information. 

 Whereas, the inside of the box was private information.  The inside of the box was how you saw yourself and what  you did not want others to see or know about you. The images and words inside of the box made us uncomfortable especially if others knew about them.  

The room filled with the noise of the magazine pages flipping, scissors cutting, and pages ripping while music played softly in the background. 

Words started to pop off of the pages.  Some were just seemingly harmless words but they were very significant to me.  

We took the boxes home to finish them, and I continued to cut and paste away. I found a slightly bigger box to hide my box in, because I didn’t want anyone to see it.  I decided to cover the outer box with words of healing and truth.  These words represented what I truly wanted for myself and this truth covered all of the messiness that was inside.  

 I was afraid to share my box with the group. I shared the outside, but not the inside. I brought the box with me to my individual session and showed my counselor the inside and explained what each side represented. 

Creating this box was so powerful. I continued to bring it to my sessions and it helped me to find words to share how the abuse had affected my body, mind and soul.  

The inside of the box was filled with shameful secrets and it was all so dark and dirty. All of those words and images kept me chained to the darkness. I desperately longed to be free.

The box was open now, and His light was shining into the darkness.

His light broke through the darkness and
he led us out in freedom from death’s dark shadow
and snapped every one of our chains. Psalm 107:14 TPT

This is post #26 in the Baby Steps series.  To start at the beginning, click here.

Darkness into Light

You have taken from me friend and neighbor—
    darkness is my closest friend. Psalm 88:18 NIV 

“Darkness creeps into my life,
and robs my passion to live.
It swallows me whole and takes my breath
no kindness will it give.
I’m falling deep beneath the sea
and drowning in my despair
can someone take this away from me
Does anybody care?”

That was the beginning of a poem I wrote in college. I truly felt like darkness was my closest companion. Darkness wouldn’t leave me alone. No matter how hard I tried to be good, I wasn’t. I went to Bible Study, and then I went to clubs. I couldn’t get numb enough. The ache was always there.

Childhood Sexual Abuse causes extreme isolation. I couldn’t get too close to anyone because I didn’t want them to know.  It was too risky.  So, I kept all of the secrets to myself.

I had to wear a mask and pretend all is well.

But behind the mask, I was writhing in pain. My head hurt, my stomach hurt, and the voices were screaming…

The darkness is so very dark.  

The shame would crash over me at unexpected times. Maybe it was a comment someone made. I would read more into their comment and replay it over and over in my mind. Do they know? Can they tell what kind of girl I really am?

How do you hide from the darkness?
How do you run from the darkness?
How can you escape the darkness when it is your constant companion?

Shame’s raw aroma lingers far longer than the abuse.

The darkness says you are bad.
The darkness says you are guilty.
The darkness says you deserve it.
The darkness says God made you that way.
The darkness says there is no hope for you.

All of the secrets and memories fester in the darkness. The wounds ooze behind closed doors and eyelids.

And then there was light.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:5

Finally, in counseling I was able to use words to describe the darkness. As I continued to step into the light, the darkness started to lose its power over me.  The light brought me Truth, community, and love. I was no longer alone in the dark.

The Truth says you are wonderfully made.
The Truth says there is no condemnation.
The Truth says you are worthy.
The Truth says God made you in His image.
The Truth says there is hope.

There is hope, and His name is Jesus. When I gave Him access to my story and the darkness – His light and Truth healed me.

God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16

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Eclipse

Let light shine!

As yellow changed to red, I had a moment with God in the pause.  I was gripping the steering wheel belting out lyrics from Bonnie Tyler:

 “Once upon a time there was light in my life

But now there’s only love in the dark

Nothing I can say

A total eclipse of the heart”

I was trying to hold back the tears as I sang. It took me back. It was as if an old best friend jumped in the front seat with me and said, “Remember? I was there!”

When no one knew my secrets and no one knew my shame, Music found me. Songs allowed me to whisper words that related to my very dark struggle. I would watch MTV and VH1 all the time, and this was back when they actually played videos and had images to go along with the words. I would record songs from the radio on cassettes and play them over and over, writing out their lyrics and memorizing their words. #onRepeat took a lot of effort back then! Song lyrics gave me words that were hard to find for my pain.

No one talked about sexual abuse. It wasn’t talked about in church, or even in school. I knew about stranger danger…. but sexual abuse? No!  I didn’t even know the words existed. I simply believed, “Something is wrong with me.”

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You are worthy.

You are worthy.

She’s a wife. She’s a mom. She works hard. She has a home with a white-picket fence. She has a dog.

She smiles and nods in light conversation. She listens intently as those around her speak. Her eyes stare as their mouth forms shapes and sounds.

She says very little. She laughs at all of the right times. She appears to be strong and determined. She can multi-task and juggle much with a smile.

She is in church when the doors are open, and she is willing to help wherever and whenever. She signs up.  She shows up. She cleans up. She sits in her usual seat with her eyes fixed ahead. Her lips move in worship with just the corners of her mouth turned up ever so slightly. She opens the Bible when prompted and follows along word by word.  She stares at the letters and words. She exhales deeply when she exits into the fresh air and sunlight.

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