One of my favorite books in the whole world is The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. I love the courageous heart God gave to Corrie and her sister Betsy. Together he allowed them to encourage one another and encourage those around them. I love how God uses a family to heal, shelter and work together to bring love to not only those being afflicted, but to those doing the affliction. I connect with Corrie’s anger and yet her desire to find peace, love and forgiveness for the torment she and her family received.
I, too, was abused and tormented. I was molested when I was eight years old, but I did not remember it until about twelve years ago. I had read a book called Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Those who have read it know how powerful of a story it is. In the story a little eight year old girl is sold into prostitution (the very thought makes me nauseous). Shortly after finishing the story I began having nightmares and flashbacks. I first thought it was an emotional reaction to the book, but then the images and feelings became stronger. What the book had done was unleash what my mind had try to hide. From sheer will to survive I had blocked the awful offense agains me to protect myself.
My abuser was known to me. He abused not only myself, but my mom and many others as well. My mom lived in hell, she was tormented in my ways as Corrie and Betsy had been. They suffered not only abuse towards themselves, but witnessed others being tormented and abused.
As I read the Ten Boom’s story I realized one of the reasons Corrie was able to survive the concentration camp was because Betsy helped her focus on the truth of God’s word. When Corrie grew angry or lost sight of the cross, Betsy was right there beside her sister giving her eternal perspective. Together they encouraged the other captives towards Christ and prayed for those who where inflicting unimaginable pain on them. How do you have eyes and a heart of compassion in the moments of experiencing and witnessing torment? The women in the Ten Boom barracks found courage, comfort, love and support. They found security because the Natzi soliders would not come into their flea infested quarters. Perspective, what the Ten Booms had was eternal perspective.
I have tried to forgive my abuser over and over, but to this day, even though he has died, I continue to be tortured and hurt. I suffer flashbacks and nightmares. Mark and I’s sexual life suffers from it because I randomly have a flashback and it is no longer Mark I am with. I can feel my abusers ugly hands, I can feel his stubble and smell his breath. It can take days to calm down from one of these potent flashbacks.
I have desperately wanted to develop compassion for the man who abused me. I wanted to connect with him as a person, to see him as a beloved child of God who inflicted pain to escape his own torture. I am not excusing his choices, but I want to understand to allow me freedom from my anger and bitterness I continually feel towards him. I truly believe I will struggle with my anger and need to continue to forgive him over and over again. New hurts come up, flashbacks and nightmares continue to happen.
Beyond forgiving my abuser, I want the deep relationship the Ten Booms developed through their trials with their heavenly father. The gratefulness they experienced in knowing Jesus died for their sins and the peace the Holy Spirit brought them in the midst of torture. A relationship that abandons all earthly logic and sanity. I have learned to trust the heavenly father in plenty and in want on earth. I want what only he can give me, even if it looks ridiculous to my earthly eyes and common sense.