The Past, The Shame & The Present
I have not published a blog in a month or so (well, except the one I publish yesterday). It is not that I have not written any, just failed to publish. You see, I wrote about something in the past, but I felt I could not publish it. The fear of judgment, of gossip, of pity had me in knots. I thought about what others would think more than what God thought. I felt the sting of others judgement (in my mind) instead of feeling the grace of God. I put my family and how what I wrote would affect them before the affect my blog would have on someone else. Fear keeps us from sharing our story, our testimony. Fear keeps us from growing in our faith. Satan feeds us lies and we believe them. What if someone judges me, it is not their place but God’s. So, here goes…
My college years were less than stellar. I rebelled against everything I knew. Yep, I was a little wild. Classes were not what I went to college for, instead I went to get away from the control of my parents. The only reason drugs were never involved was because my group did not do drugs. So that was a positive. I got so far away from where my faith was my life was hardly recognizable. Until one night.
God had a plan. He showed me I needed Him. I made a decision that would change my life. A pastor friend invited me to chaperone his youth group to a Christian concert. At the end of the concert, I made a commitment to change my life. After my decision, I was excited to return to my faith walk. That lasted only hours. I was raped by the youth pastor after the kids left. I then drove home and showered. There is no enough soap to clean the shame I had.
I buried the event after telling my Mother. Her response was brutal, I asked for it. Back then they had not come up with a label for it. Back then it was just a guy being a guy. Conquest is a word I heard. Back then it was an unwritten rule that you just did not talk about it. The shame I felt made me turn away from my faith. I could not understand how God could love me when somehow, I allowed that guy to take me where I did not want to go. So, I buried it deep. Years later, it reared its ugly head. I had to forgive him. The message was clear. So, with God’s help, I walked through forgiveness.
I buried the shame again. Unfortunately, things like shame do not stay buried. Yes, I had worked through forgiving him for his actions. But shame makes you believe that you had a choice. The only choice I had was saying no to the chaperone part of the evening. I guess, it isn’t shame that makes you believe there was a choice, but Satan. Fear and shame go hand-in-hand and they are tools he uses masterfully. “Should have” and “could have” are words that help us believe the lies of shame.
Why now? Well, it is simple, Facebook. Facebook allows friends of the past to find you and message you. I have done it, reached out to people from my past. The night I got a message from the guy, I did not sleep. Have had difficulty sleeping since. But everything I buried came rushing back. The fear that someone would judge me for my rape was so great I could not publish a good blog on forgiveness. Shame grabbed ahold of me all over again. I felt like I could not get clean. And I felt God moving away from me. Reality was that God was surrounding me and protecting me. My shame would not win.
Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Confidence is the opposite of shame; understanding how forgiveness and God’s grace works allows us to be confident. The grace of God I was able to extend to my rapist, but I could not seem to find the same grace for myself. I have started three different blogs with different topics and all three ended with discussing the rape. I just stopped writing. Today I heard God’s message loud and clear. If I did not tell my story, then Satan could continue to use it against me. He could hold me in place and prevent me from moving forward.
I needed to tell my story and the forgiveness that God gives when we forgive others. I prayed for God to remove the shame I felt. And today, I felt the fear of judgment release its grip on me. If we do not talk about events in our lives, we cannot help others with similar events. Let’s look at forgiveness…
God commands us to forgive...Ephesians 4:32
God wants us to forgive others because he forgives us…Colossians 3:13
God wants us to see unforgiveness as a sin…James 4:17
God wants us to overcome evil with good…Romans 12.21
God wants us to get rid of unforgiveness before it makes us bitter…Hebrews 12:15
God wants us to be free to worship Him in honesty and in truth…Matthew 5:23-24
Applying these scriptures to forgiving others is so different than applying them to ourselves. When we allow God’s grace to pour out, then we are able to allow Hebrews 4:16 to be our truth. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”