Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Very Moment

Excerpt from a book I just finished entitled "The Light Within":
"The restraints or limitations that trials place on our lives and the pain, mental anguish, or heartaches that accompany them can sometimes last throughout our entire lives. We know that God has power eventually to deliver us out of bondage and totally free us from our trials, but we know he also has great compassion and mercy for us in the midst of our suffering:'I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.' (Mosiah 24:14)"

When I was a young pre-teen, enduring regular sexual abuse, I knew that God was often with me. I had many deep and precious spiritual experiences, even when I was in the midst of my bondage. I never blamed God for what was happening. I knew, had a testimony, that God was never the author of sin. He was never responsible for a child being sexually abused. He was never responsible for murder and untimely death. He wasn't responsible for war or any other hideous action taken by man. He gave all of us the gift of free agency, free will. If a person chooses to use this free agency to destroy, to sin, God cannot stop him. That would be in direct contradiction to his gift of letting us make our own choices. If he did force us to act righteously and destroy us if we performed evil, that would be Satan's plan. The fact that innocence is often abused, molested, or decimated is one of the prices we pay in order for everyone to have the freedom to choose. This was an innate knowledge within me, even as a child, and I never found myself shaking my fist at God screaming, "why?" I knew the Lord wanted my abuse to end. I knew he wept with me and gave me moments of overwhelming comfort and compassion. Even in the moments of waking to find my brother-in-law's hands pulling down my covers and slither across my tender flesh like hungry serpents, I knew God wanted me to use this experience in the future. He would help me turn this evil into something precious.

There were even times when I felt the Spirit prompt me to tell someone what was happening. I clearly remember sitting in my family's living room, alone, rehearsing telling my parents. I whispered to the chair across from me that Mike was molesting me, imagining my mom sitting there. I whispered this shameful news many different ways, trying to find the least embarrassing way. I wanted to force myself to just do it. But each time I found myself wanting to blurt out this information, my heart raced, my hands shook, and a feeling of nausea overwhelmed me. I felt intense shame. I felt dirty and soiled. I would remember my abuser's words, that if I ever told anyone, I would ruin the family. I would ruin everyone's lives, including the lives of his little children, whom I loved dearly. The years of mind games and the memory of the shameful acts he performed on me silenced my tongue. My psyche was damaged and no matter how much prompting I felt from the Spirit or the outrage of my own soul, I was too brainwashed and fragile to overcome my forced vow of silence. Even so, I knew God was with me. Looking back, I can see that during that most harrowing time of my life, I felt the Spirit's presence more than ever before or ever since. He loved me and would not abandon me, even if he couldn't stop the abuse.

Reading that passage from The Light Within has helped me be more kind to myself. I often get frustrated with myself for still having moments of intense heartache and mental anguish. I need not be frustrated with myself or feel myself weak for feeling those things. As it says in that quote, there are some limitations with trials that may last a lifetime. Of course! Of course, I will have those moments for the rest of my life, and that's ok. It doesn't mean that I'm not righteous or forgiving. It means I'm human and am living with the effects of childhood abuse. I was abused during a very formative time in my life and I have been betrayed and mishandled by most of my family. I will always mourn that, just as I would always mourn if someone I loved dearly died. The important thing is that they are just small moments. They do not constitute the whole of my life now. Most of my life is spent in the joy I have found in marrying a loving and loyal husband, of being blessed with 4 children, and in pursuing my passions and talents. My life is not spent in obsessing about the pain and abuse. Of course I hate that I continue to live with post-traumatic stress disorder, but just as person who has lost a limb learns to work around that challenge, so must I and I have and will continue to do so.

I have also learned that in those moments of weakness, those moments of pain, when my legs buckle under the heartache and tears spill like waterfalls from my eyes and I feel that I cannot endure and I cry out to my Heavenly Father, those are the very moments when the Spirit whispers to my soul that I am loved and am of great worth. Those are the very moments when the Lord takes the burdens which are upon my shoulders so that I can no longer feel them on my back. It's the very moment my anguish is transformed into overwhelming peace.