Nobody escapes problems in life. I know I haven’t. I’ve had hardships throughout my entire life. While I’d rather focus on the absence of trouble and the things that make me happy, I write about troubled times, because I know that it’s in and through the dark times in my life that I have learned to trust God. I have learned to trust in His goodness, even in the bad times. I believe He’s allowed my struggles and difficulties to mold and make me into the person He wants me to be. He has an eternal perspective and long-term plans in mind when He allows both good and bad circumstances in our lives.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Vivian Green
I’m not sure how old that quote is, or if that’s even the correct author, but I believe it’s still true today. I would summarize it as “Dancing with the Scars.” While scaring is a natural part of the healing process, dancing is good for the soul, regardless of what scars one may have. Life is a gift.
I was sexually abused when I was young, sometime between the ages of 6 and 8. To those who have not gone through this sort of thing, I understand where you might think, “Get over it.” But to those who have, I say, “You’re not alone. Abuse is traumatic. It affects how you think and feel about yourself and how you relate to people. Abuse also affects how you relate to God.”
I never told anyone about the abuse back when it happened; I was afraid and I was a child. My mind blocked the memories of it until I was an adult. When the memories of it returned in adulthood, I went through a series of faith growing periods in my life, which also included forgiving those who had abused me. While I choose not to go into details of the sexual abuse, I will share about another traumatic experience that I went through when I was around 11 years old:
While babysitting a toddler and a baby, I was held at knife point over a bloody bowl of dead rabbit that was being cut up. I was forcibly held and forced to watch him cut apart the rabbit. I was basically scared out of my mind and was afraid to tell anyone about it. That experience alone was frightening enough but it was made even more scary to me when I learned that within a few months of what he did to me, a woman’s remains were found under the floor board of the very same kitchen where he had traumatized me. He fled the state and within a few months, was caught and convicted of attempted murder of a woman in another state. I was told that he was suspected of murdering several other women while he was on his 18 month run from the police. He went to prison, where he later died, while on a work-release program.
In retrospect, I believe that God placed His hand of protection over me on that awful day and protected me from being murdered. This and the sexual abuse was all prior to me coming to faith and trust in Jesus Christ. I believe God had plans for me and my life even before I was born. His sovereignty and providence is nothing short of amazing.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” Jeremiah 1:5
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
I believe hardships in life, in the right perspective, have a purpose; they develop our endurance, strengthen our character, give us hope, and shape our thoughts about God.
In Genesis 50:20, Joseph told his brothers, As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
God uses the troubles, heartache, and traumas in our lives to get our attention, shape our perspective, and ultimately to make us more like Him. While we may not understand why He allows some things in our lives, we are to trust Him nonetheless.
I have long ago forgiven my abusers, and it was because I asked God to help me forgive them. When I asked him to help me forgive, He gave me the gift of forgiveness in my life. It changed my perspective radically. God’s word tells us to forgive:
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Regardless of what sins were committed against me, there came a time in my own life where I realized that I too was guilty of sin. It was at that point, that my life began to change; and when I came to understand that:
We’re all born with a sin nature.
We’re all hopeless without Christ.
We’re all sinners in need of a Savior.
Jesus took the penalty that we deserve and offers us a new and eternal life in Him, when we come to Him in repentance and faith.
I also believe it’s wrong to see yourself as a victim. While it’s true you may have been a victim, I’m saying it’s wrong to see yourself in that way. See yourself in the light of God’s word:
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24
“All” includes the most vile person you have ever known, up, and including the sweetest person you have ever known.
“None is righteous, no, not one.”
And when you receive God’s free gift of salvation through faith and trust in Christ alone, God sees you and receives you, clothed in the righteousness of Christ. That offer includes you and me, and it includes my abusers.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
So dance, because life is a gift, regardless of our difficulties and scars. God has made a way for all who come to Him in repentance and faith to live here and now, and into eternity. Don’t focus on the difficulties and the scars. Focus on Him who was….
“…pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5