On the morning of November 1st, I woke up around 3AM and could not go back to sleep. I tried a trip to the bathroom and even a cheesy Hallmark holiday movie, but to no avail. So, I got out of bed at 5AM that Sunday morning, went downstairs, made some coffee and lit some candles, turned on some music and opened up Jesus Calling. I figured the Lord must have woken me up early, so I would spend some time alone with Him.
The November 1st devotional uses a scripture out of Hebrews 4, so I opened up my Bible to read the verses in full context. As I read, I was struck by verse 12 that talks about the word of God being full of living power and sharper than the sharpest knife “cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.”(NLT)
Maybe because I was in the midst of re-reading Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning which really drives home the fact that Abba loves me- the real me, not the one I want everyone to see, not the me I wish I was or think I ought to be, but ME- I was really struck hard that morning with the thought that He truly knows me right down to my innermost thoughts and desires. My search that morning led me to so many places in God’s word where He reassures us that He knows us intimately. (I will put those Scriptures at the end of this post.)
So, that morning it became clear to me that God wanted me to get the message that He knows me. I did not know why that thought was so profound, but in the weeks since, it has become overwhelmingly clear.
Later that same morning, I received news that my father, from whom I had been estranged, was dying. My last contact to him had been an email where I asked some tough questions and asked for emotional health and healing for all of us. That email went unanswered and will now never be answered.
You see, for a little background, I ran away at the age of 17 from my outwardly Christian yet inwardly abusive home. At the time, I was a frightened, and messed up kid who did not know how to cope with everything that had happened in my life. So, I shared with my aunt, my grandma and local authorities the details of being molested by my father, but couldn’t share the details and the depth of the physical, emotional and spiritual abuse that had gone on since my earliest childhood memories. The rest of my tight-knit extended family and our church community at the time thought I was just being a rebellious teenager and I did everything in my power to prove them right. I began to drink, abuse my prescription Xanax and became promiscuous.
In the years since, I have had periods of time where I have tried to have a “normal” relationship with my parents. Partly because I wanted the image that they tried so hard to portray of a nice loving Christian family to be true and partly because of what I call “good Christian girl guilt.” But, after years of my own struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD and addiction, I reached the end of me and found my hope and recovery in Jesus. So, I established boundaries with both of my parents that they chose to ignore so that they could continue to be in denial. That choice led to our estrangement.
My father’s death (he died a few days after I received that phone call) and the lack of any resolution have been a really difficult reality to live with – a reality only a few years ago I would have escaped in a self-inflicted Xanax or Ativan induced amnesia. During the days of his impending death and the days that followed, including his viewing and funeral, I mourned from home. In the days during and since, my actions or lack there of have been called into question publicly and privately. Family members have said that I am cold, heartless, prideful, shameful, a disappointment and unChristian-and these are just the comments I know about. To say I have been crushed and heartbroken doesn’t even begin to describe the depths of the emotion I have felt.
Through all of this, I have been drawn back to those scriptures the Lord gave me on that Sunday morning. My family may not know – not know the truth about what happened in the past nor the truth of what is in my heart now – but God knows. He knows that my heart breaks for the loss of what could have been, for the loss my mother is experiencing and the fear she must feel being alone for the first time, for the loss his siblings are experiencing and what I’m sure is a sobering taste of their own mortality. I grieve for them and with them. But, my Abba knows that.
A good and old friend of mine and I were able to go on a road trip to hear Jennifer Rothschild speak this month and God did not disappoint. He is always faithful and always shows up right on time. I was reeling emotionally from some of the verbal attacks. Jennifer Rothschild spoke about the labels we give ourselves versus the labels God gives us. The very last point of her talk was that God labels us “K” – known.
While on that weekend trip, my childhood friend asked me to tell her my story. I did and it was really the first time I have told the entirety of it in one sitting. At the end, she said, “I believe everything you told me, but how could I not have known in all those years?” My response was that my parents were masters of controlling the image.
But my answer now is: God knew. God knows.
So, sister, if you find yourself where I have been, questioning what if no one believes me or even if it is just you because your abuser is or was good to other people. Take heart! God knows you fully and loves you completely!
Scriptures: Psalm 139, 1 Corinthians 13:12, 2 Timothy 2:19, John 10:14, Jeremiah 12:3, Psalm 44:21, 1 Chronicles 8:9