I'm writing this post to encourage anyone who has experienced the jagged hurt of sexual assault or abuse.
There is healing in Jesus.
There are a few things in the world that are so ugly and horrible they seem unredeemable. Sexual assault has to top that list. Pain, hurt, shame, brokenness, ugliness, sin, vile, penetrating hurt.
Yesterday, for the first time since the incident I saw the man who caused so much pain in my life. I was at a conference when I saw him. I did double take, my stomach dropped, my hands started to shake. I pulled my husband away and immediately said, "thats the guy. The guy who did that to me."
We walked back to our table and right there, in front of friends we barely knew, Michael laid hands on me and prayed. He prayed one of those absolutely necessary in the moment heaven shaking prayers and God met me. He washed me again with his Spirit and I was given clarity and peace. My feelings towards this man weren't anger or rage, but worry that he would hurt someone else, probably has. I felt for those women.
We left for lunch and when I came back I knew I needed to tell my new friends why I was upset. I felt the creepings of shame. The creepings of being a wounded victim, someone who should be ashamed and hide. I know that is not who I am, and I spoke the truth aloud to myself and my friends.
I told them, "At 17 years old I was sexually assaulted and the man who did it is over there. Thats why I was acting strange. But I am not ashamed. I did not ask for what happened to me and I will not own this shame today."
Their faces dropped. And then with perfect God timing one of them asked me, "what was it that helped you to heal after something like that?"
"I went through gestalt therapy, I went on a week long heroines journey, I tried a lot of things and nothing brought healing... I was made whole when I realized how much Jesus had forgiven me, and because of that I can forgive too. I prayed for God to help me forgive him, and myself, forgiving myself was actually harder. But Jesus has given so much to me freely, and He made me whole. I am not ashamed, I am not broken, He made me whole through forgiveness." And in that moment I knew more than ever that it was true. One of my friends looked so upset that she was going to cry. I actually held her. She said, "I should be comforting you! I just feel things for people so deeply." And as I let go of her embrace I told her again, Jesus has made me whole, He is so good.
And then, we all prayed, YES, we prayed, for God to protect women from being hurt by him. The other friend used Jesus' name, And then I prayed, for God to redeem this man, to change his heart and save him.
It seems impossible, but God has made even this beautiful in His time. I stood, radiant with the Holy Spirit, as Jesus was glorified by sharing the truth of what He does. He saves, He transforms, He binds up the broken, He makes us whole. He makes beauty from the ashes. AMEN and amen.