“Inside every women is a little girl. We must have the courage to go back and let her tell her story.” ~ Nancy Houston
They fell slowly, each word suspended in air until the weight of their simple truth radiated through my heart in waves.
I was sitting in a classroom when I first heard those words from Nancy as she taught a class called “She Rises—women rising from the ashes of sexual woundedness”. My chest was turning red, and man was the room getting hot. My eyes were getting glossy as my mind began to recall her … years have gone by but my mind could recall her exactly as she was. I saw her clearly, her clothes, her wispy straight hair, her forlorn looks and the way her demeanor would become insecure when she was nervous. I had grown older, but she had not changed … it was crazy … she had not changed at all.
I had looked back over my past before but something was different this time, the Holy Spirit was resting on my heart saying, “It. Is. Time. It’s time to have this talk … baby, it’s time to hear her story.”
I faced lots of challenges growing up. I also experienced a lot of love and great times, and I am adamant about separating the two. I will not let the dark moments rob me of my happy memories of being loved. Although I’ve had to visit certain memories to deal with pain and confusion in my little heart that I didn’t understand, I also celebrate every fond memory that adds to the mosaic art piece I am today. Nestled in the mortar of my life’s design is both pieces of broken beautifully colored glass and rough edged broken pieces of marble. He has taken all my broken places/pieces and made something beautiful. Now He wanted to add to this progressive artwork some precious stones; precious, because that’s how He sees healing wounds that deal with our sexuality.
We, (men and women) were created in God’s image, we were given our sexuality as a gift. It was never meant to be taboo or something dirty. It was meant to be a life giving expression of intimacy that mirrored how we were created to interact with God. In truth and simplicity, we were created as sexual beings, and we were made to be at peace with our bodies and the beauty of our sexuality.
There is a sad second truth that also exists. We live in fallen world where there is an assignment of the enemy against our sexuality. The enemy desires to pervert something meant to be a life giving expression of intimacy into a secret place of pain, shame and condemnation. It’s clear when you read statistics like these:
- Globally, approximately 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10-20 men report being sexually abused as children. (WHO Child maltreatment Fact sheet N°150 August 2010)
- Every 2 minutes someone in the U.S is sexually assaulted according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey – the country’s largest and most reliable crime study — there were 248,300 sexual assaults in 2007 (the most recent data available)
I believe we need to become more comfortable about talking about this as Christians in the church. The church should be a healing and safe place where we talk candidly about both healthy sexuality (within marriage; it is God’s design for Christians to have ah-mazing sex lives that are full of knowing, and being known, intimately) and sexual woundedness (that we would shamelessly deal with the sexual wounds of this generation, extending the hope and healing that are in Jesus). The world has no problem being saturated with wrong sexual influence; this generation deserves that we, as bearers of truth, raise our voices louder than the voice of this world. If we all began to give voice to the importance of healthy sexuality … we may just be on the brink of a sexual healing revolution.
Although the enemy lurks in secret dark places where he preys and abuses innocence, we serve a God full of light, love and perfect redemption. I am not just a number hidden in the masses of statistics. I am a daughter of a good heavenly Father. This is my story …
I was fifteen when a boy I had the biggest crush on raped me. He was not a stranger in a mask pulling me from a parking lot into a white passenger van. I knew him, and I liked him. We were in a relationship. It wasn’t completely innocent, but I had said that I did not want to go all the way. One day it came back up. I fought. I lost. It was my first time.
I was probably in my late twenties before I called it what it was. You see, I blamed myself for being somewhere I shouldn’t have been. I wasn’t kidnapped, I didn’t know the statistic that states, “73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger”1; I just knew I had walked through that door on my own volition. I believed for years as I dealt with the aftermath of that night that I had betrayed myself.
The story didn’t change much over the years, because the storyteller remained fifteen—with all the reasoning of a wounded fifteen year old with a secret and lies she believed about the preciousness of her sexuality. Years of confusion, anger, promiscuity and self-destructive behavior followed (like using drugs to self-medicate) which led to other hurtful situations that served to validate the lies that had been believed.
A year later, the boy apologized (with little understanding) because we began to run in the same circles. I forgave him, and because with or without the Lord the power of forgiveness is a universal principle, I was able to walk away with his face no longer attached to the pain of the incident. After accepting Jesus years later, I went on to pray that he would come to know Jesus. It was ok if I never knew; that seemed awkward.
But ten years later, after I was married, I received a random phone call. It was this (now) man letting me know that the night before, he had received Christ with his wife. They had stayed up that night confessing all their sins to each other, and she was now sitting next to him while he apologized with full awareness of what had happened that night. There was no sting in my heart toward him; I had forgiven him years before, but this was healing for him.
As hard it may be for some to hear, God loves the perpetrator as much as the victim; He wants to deal with, and heal, both hearts. Most perpetrators are victims of some type of abuse themselves. (Hear me, though—that doesn’t give excuse to what perpetrators do or have done, it is wrong. The truth remains the same.) There is no shame my God cannot lift. No pain He cannot heal. I honor the courage of this man and wife. I’m in awe of the healing power of humility. I have not talked to them since, but I pray only blessings find them.
Although I forgave the person, the Holy Spirit was leading me back to deal with the lies I believed and judgments I made about my sexuality that started and grew from that night.
I had to go back and let the girl I was then tell her story, and give her permission to grow up from that night where darkness had her in a time capsule. It was in that moment the Holy Spirit gave her the gift of light (in light the works of darkness lose their power) and a pen to rewrite the story.
Recently I was in Israel, and my husband bought me a ring with my name in Hebrew on the front and my favorite scripture, Hosea 2:16, on the back.
“But then I will win her back once again.
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her there.
I will return her vineyards to her
and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there,
as she did long ago when she was young,
when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.
When that day comes,” says the Lord,
“you will call me ‘my husband’
instead of ‘my master.’
It’s my favorite scripture because Jesus had come to speak tenderly to me, calling Himself my husband, restoring what intimacy looked like to me. I believe this scripture represents a prophetic call back to intimacy for the people of Israel at the time and a promise to sexually wounded women. He will make the valley of her trouble a gateway of hope!
After we returned from Israel, I left my ring at a spa an hour away, where we had gone to celebrate my husband’s birthday weekend. I called the spa, and they placed my ring in a special envelop with my name on it until I got there. We finally made the trip back; I retrieved my envelope, got back in the car, and heard the Holy Spirit say, “Sometimes you lose things; you must simply go back and get them.”
I lost my voice about sexuality in a room when I was fifteen … I simply had to go back, listen to her story, let light in, and take back my voice on the matter!
From the statistics, I know I am not alone. I believe God wants to heal and restore us in the area of our sexuality so we can walk in intimacy with Him, and enjoy sexual intimacy in the preciousness of marriage. He is a God that can restore all purity.
If your life has been touched by any source of sexual abuse (the spectrum is wide—child abuse/molestation by family or stranger, rape, incest, unwanted sexual advances at any age, and violation of purity by pornography at any age), I want to tell you I am so sorry. What happened to you was not right. You were wronged, and for that I’m so sorry. It was not your fault. One more time, hear the Father speak it over you … It was not your fault.
You may not have a sexual wound, but you have not gone untouched by pain in your life. What story do you need to go back and hear? What have you left that you simply need to go back and get?
Let’s ask for it together!
Would You put your hand on my heart’s greatest need right now in this area? Show me where I stopped growing because of pain. Lord, would you empower me with the strength to go back and hear my young person’s (male or female) story, so I can grow into the wholeness You desire for me to walk in? I know You’ve called me to fullness of life; help me come into agreement with that by giving You access to every part of my heart. Thank You for being good, thank You for going with me into my past! May your emancipation bell resonate unhindered through the entirety of my person—including my sexuality. Let my life be the expression of freedom’s ring for Your glory! In Jesus Name! Amen!!
1 (U.S. Department of Justice. 2005 National Crime Victimization Study. 2005.)
The rose picture posted with this article is a contribution by Amy Pennington Photography.