Inside me deeply part 7 (Choices)
We turn to the next chapter in my life. My past behind me you’re now caught up to the present. You still need some back ground so this will all make sense.
For some years now I’ve been helping at the crisis center for women of abuse, rape and teens wanting to commit suicide. It’s been rewarding for me and I make a real difference. I understand how it is to be broken, to have your faith challenged, your belief people are generally good challenged. I understand it’s important to reinforce their faith and trust. To show them it’s ok to be broken, to cry and to be scared. Most of all that they will overcome this.
I’ve kept track of many of those I’ve lent my aid and I see the good come shining through each of them. One particular story has stood out recently and I’m going to share it in-depth.
So let’s talk about victims of abuse. If they are old enough to have built faith then the abuse will challenge their faith. We all know god is good and he wants what’s best for us. So why would god do this to us. It’s this moment, this exact moment in the victims life where they question god, their faith and everything.
They are shaken, hurt, confused. I think this is the moment a victim needs the love and support of the love and knowledge of whatever will reinforce THEIR belief in their god. His children, his church, his word and his love found through you. They need to know god didn’t do this, he would never harm them never.
Instead of questions it is important they find safety, comfort and love in his house and his people. At this moment your heart may mean the difference between them suffering and spiraling into darkness or seeing shadows vale lifted and gods light restored. If they are hurt a warm hug, a shoulder to cry on and perhaps the right message may guide them from a long walk in darkness.
When their faith is in question their entire being is in question. Everything they learned and believed is on the line right now. Your support now may stop them from asking “Where are you god?”, “Why do you abandon me?”, when in reality god now carries them because they can’t walk in spirit alone. When your faith is shattered only love, unquestioning love can fix it.
It’s also important to reinforce THEIR faith. This is not the time to challnge it more. This is not the time to try and convert anyone. It is the critical time where you will either save their belief in god or destroy it. Your words should be directed to build them up as a person and a spiritual being.
This is the story is a girl name Linda and she is still a teenager now dealing with the aftermath of rape. This is the story of our first contact at the crisis center following her rape. This interaction followed the hospital where the rape victim is once more violated in ways. Though a necessity at the time it fells more violated.
At the hospital they examine your private parts, take pictures, take samples. The police ask questions and try and have a artist come in and draw the man who raped you. They make you recall in every detail all you can remember. When it’s done you feel exposed and raw, all those people seeing you naked, the pictures and everyone touching you after you were just raped.
It’s a horrible and troubling time that follows the rape victims hours after the assault. For days the questions, the calls, and people that visit you often try and be helpful but rarely are. You desperately need to connect to someone. But they need to stay away from your pain so they tell you it will get better, just trust in god, everything happens for a reason. All things meant to comfort at the time but the effect is to invalidate the victim and keep them at arms length.
I know by my experience the victim needs to connect and the only way they can is if you the helper becomes vulnerable. You need to take in some of the pain, feel it so they know they aren’t alone. They need to be validated in their pain, to know it’s ok. I took this and looked for the right words each time.
Linda came in and we are given little information. I knew she had been raped and it was violent. I knew she was Christian and still just a teen. I knew her name was Linda with no last names. This was all I had to work with.
When Linda arrived she wasn’t talking, she was visibly shaken. She had some swelling on her face, recoiled from touch. She was in the moment challenged to everything she believes. She knows her god is good and right now this moment I knew she was questioning all that and more. What to say?
I’ve asked myself what might have helped me. Well the pastor did visit but his words were “give it to god”. My faith was already on the line, everything I knew and trusted was shattered so what good is that advice. I know it came from his heart but it honestly didn’t help. I think maybe had he come and reminded me I am not alone it might have helped better.
That night I went to the rape crisis center as I have so many times before and found a teen who had been the victim of an extended abuse from family members. I asked her if she believed in god and when she said yes I am Christian.
I asked if I could tell her a story. I know right now her faith was in the balance so I had to do something to remind her she is not alone. Something Christian and firm in reminding her she wasn’t alone and god was here.
I had no words but I offered a story? What was I thinking? Honestly all I was thinking is I have to do something to help her and I searched for the words and even prayed for them. The words that came were not my own for I had none of my own.
When she agreed I took a deep breath and looked for guidance from my heavenly father. I knew it had to be a Christian message even though I’m not Christian. It came to my thoughts and I let it out.
I told her about Joshua and the walls of Jericho and asked if she had ever truly heard this tale. She said yes I know the story. I said do you know the history? She became quizzical. I had her attention.
So I began to tell her of the great war general Joshua who had seen many battles, had seen men (good men of god) die for a cause. He knew what battle meant and while in his tent formulating how to lose as few men as possible in any assault on the walls god called to him. Psst. Hey up here. Joshua was an obedient son and answered “Yes my lord”. God said “Joshua pick up your drums, pick up your horns and for seven days march around the city blowing the horns, banging your drums and making noise and praise to your god and on the seventh day I shall show them the power of the one god.”
She had a quizical look on her face and I said bare with me and continued the story. “Now remember Joshua is a war hardened general” I told her. He has to be thinking “Right, I’m going to entertain them to death”. But Joshua did not question god he did as instructed and on the seventh day god swept Jericho from the earth and showed the world his power.
I asked her do you know what this means to you? She said “No what?”
I told her it means you are not alone, god hears you to. He wants you to bang your drums and blow your horns and lift praise to him. He will come perhaps not in seven days, perhaps longer but he will come and he will remove the pain from your world. He will show you the power of your god, the one god.
He will free you and see you on the path he has chosen to your Israel, your promised land. He will make you right. I promise you just have to have faith enough to know you are not alone. He will never leave you, he will never close his heart to you, he weeps with you because right now you weep. He can feel his daughters suffering and he suffers to.
She gave me a hug that lasted forever and we cried. I told her let it out, it makes more room for him and less for pain. And we cried. It seemed a long while we cried.
By reinforcing her faith I knew I put her on the path that will lead to healing the quickest. Belief in a god is very important in the healing process. It heals the soul from the inside out. The body will heal but if the core remains broken you never really heal.
So when you come upon a victim of recent horrible events remind them they are not alone, god loves them, you love them and he will never abandon them. As my friend pastor Bob likes to say LEAN INTO THEIR PAIN. It might hurt you when you do it but that momentary pain will show the victim they aren’t alone and you are there with them in the pain. And as pastor Bobs son pastor Dan would say validate them with example and love and don’t patronize them with platitudes.
Remind them it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to hurt and THEIR god (not your god theirs) will come if they lift up their spirits and make noise to him as he did for the Israelites in Jericho. Remind them you are here and you aren’t going anywhere. You won’t leave, you won’t let go!
At this moment their faith needs to be reinforced not pushed aside. Build it up and they will stay on the path and healing will begin. Don’t let them internalize it (a mistake I made and it cost me much time lost from him) encourage them to let it out. It’s ok to cry and if you feel the need to cry with them then cry. Validate them, god and love.
They need to know god and his children hurt because they hurt. The sin against them affects the entire body which they are a piece of.
Linda remained at the shelter and I got to see her from crying broken girl to a happy girl full of life again. In the months I have seen her many times. I know I did the right thing for her saving her faith. Not pushing mine, not pushing her to arms length to avoid her pain but embracing it. Embracing the things that will make her whole once more. Her god, her faith, her pain needed to be validated then and there.
I am thankful for the words that came. They weren’t my own but they came to me. I shared them and like so many of the girls at the shelter she is recovering. I’ve been happy to be a tool in the recovery of Linda. But alas I am but a piece to the grand puzzle and proud to be used as such.
This was months ago I helped Linda and her story continues today. She lights up every time I come to visit. She thanks me every time though I feel I am undeserving of praises and thanks. I still get a hug and this brilliant smile and I know that the words I was given mattered.
She has remained at the shelter and helps around the shelter. She wrapped all the gifts I brought and put names on them, she stuff the stockings and she helped give the children who are there a Christmas they wouldn’t have had. She has enriched my life and it warms heart to see her smiling.
The continuation of the story is she recently received a scholarship from local churches and will begin college this month. She wants to be a social worker and help the victims of abuse. I couldn’t be more proud of her and I’ve watch in her transformation. One which she still tries to credit me with. I credit my heavenly father for the words, my past for the compassion and understand of her condition.
So this story and many more like it of girls I’ve been an instrument to help as lead me to my current choices. I asked my father in heaven how will I afford this and last week I got my bonus. It was over 14,000 dollars and way more than I had expected. I guess that was the answer I needed.
In the spring I return to school to pursue a degree in psychology. I want to help at the crisis center and the shelter fulltime. I’ve been driven to help and I feel this is my path. Few but those I wanted advice from know this choice. I imagine my parents and siblings will be surprised. Josef will be elated.
I know the war the victims face and I’ve learned by my experience and watching what has helped others what they need. I have the heart for this and I know with the grace of god I can make a difference.
I was also offered a deal to write a book on my life. I’ve chosen to turn it down at this time. There is healing yet to be done for me before I’m ready for that and other things like school and therapy that must be a priority right now. If the book is meant to be it will be offered another time. A time which shall see me ready and able to give it what it deserves and that’s my full attention.
But this is my path the choice I must make. And that is inside me with choices.
~Michelle Styles – January 18, 2014