For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
How do I believe the words “plans to prosper you and not to harm you” when at age eight I was molested by my thirteen-year-old brother for one year? I don’t know what started it or what stopped it but what I do know is the profound affect it’s had on my life and relationships.
I grew up in a suburb of Minnesota with two parents, three siblings, a dog, and a brown fence. Quite the ideal and normal family from the outside. On the inside, like so many families, we weren’t normal. Our biggest uniqueness was that all four of us kids were adopted with each one of us dealing with abandonment, identity and belonging issues. My only experience of unconditional love came from my dad. He would tuck me into bed with my favorite stuffed animal and give me a butterfly kiss on my cheek. He had such empathy, compassion and concern for me which was in contrast to what I felt from my mom. I never felt loved or accepted by her. There was a lack of affection and emotions from her and even though I was only eight I knew I couldn’t tell her what happened to me. I knew she wouldn’t believe me or worse blame me for it. So I kept silent for many years.
We were raised Catholic and went to church every week. One Sunday during communion the song On Eagles Wings began to play. As the chorus was sung I began to cry. My cries became sobs. My sobs became wails. I was uncontrollable and inconsolable. As if a dam broke inside me I couldn’t stop crying. The words and melody soaked into my soul like rainfall in the desert. By the end of mass I felt peace within me. A seed of hope was planted. After that experience I began to talk to God like an imaginary friend. There wasn’t anything imaginary about Him. He was very real to me and I regularly gave him all my thoughts and feelings.
During one evening chat I asked God why my brother abused me. For the first time I heard a voice say, “I understand your pain. I have a purpose for you. You will speak about abuse when you grow up.” Unsure about the voice I heard he confirmed it was Him, “Yes it’s me. Trust me. I won’t ever let you down.” As I drifted off to sleep I realized that something good will come of the abuse. I felt reassured that I was destined to do something with it. This was the beginning of my indomitable faith and walk with Jesus.
This was also the beginning of many more years of physical, mental and sexual abuse including a rape by an employer. The rape devastated me. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t function. In utter pain and despair I screamed at God, “What do you want from me. You’ve taken everything. I’ve got nothing left.” His reply was simple, “Surrender.” It became obvious that the way I was living my life wasn’t working so I surrendered every part of my life to Him after all He did promise to never let me down.
Since my surrender God has freed me from the bondage of abuse. No longer am I a victim. No longer am I a survivor, I’ve become a Thrivor. I’m confident that I’ll rise above the hardships of life and the lies of the enemy because of my relationship with Christ.
Ten years ago God told me my ministry would be to build a bridge between those who offend sexually and the community. He has changed my heart from hatred towards those who’ve harmed people sexually to an unusual compassion and empathy for these modern day lepers. He has blessed me with a ministry called You Have The Power.org that helps people prevent and heal from sexual harm.
I pray you’ll continue this journey with me in the coming months as I share the biblical tools that God’s revealed to me on how to thrive through any challenge change or adversity. Until next time, may God fill you with His peace.