A good friend of mine once said something I will never forget.
“Sexual abuse is the gift that keeps on giving.”
How right he was.
Here I am, five decades after the last time I was sexually assaulted. Due to the identity of the perpetrators, I managed to repress all memory of those events. I wondered why I couldn’t remember anything from those three years.
I began having flashbacks in my mid-forties. I was stunned by what I was seeing (and re-experiencing). The missing pieces of the past had slipped into place. My life suddenly made sense.
I can now look back and know why I behaved the way I did at times, why certain relationships fell apart, and why I struggled so deeply with certain fears and anxieties. Even today, I wonder how many of my thought patterns were shaped by that early sexual trauma.
Yes, sexual abuse is the gift that none of us wanted or signed up for. And it just keeps giving. It keeps popping up everywhere – in our thoughts, fear, doubts, and behavior.
Much has been stolen from us.
Our sense of safety.
As survivors, we got well-acquainted with shame. We felt dirty, impure. We were damaged goods.
Who would want us now?
We felt beyond repair and unlovable. Worthless.
The good news is that there is someone who has always wanted us.
God is in the business of redemption. He is the ultimate Liberator. He rescues us from our own sin – and the sin of others. He forgives. He cleanses. He heals. He transforms.
If this were left to us, we would be in big trouble. There was no way I could have pulled myself out of the pit that my perpetrators and the world constructed for me. Lies surrounded me and wormed their way into my heart and mind.
I didn’t need help. I needed a Savior.
I still need Him, every moment.
The Savior is here. He tells us the truth.
Here is the truth about you.
God thought about you and knew you before He ever created the universe (Ephesians 1:3-4).
You are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). You are one-of-a-kind in human history. There has never been another person exactly like you, and there never will be again (even if you’re a twin).
You were personally formed by God in your mother’s womb. You are of priceless, eternal value (Psalm 139:13-16).
You are loved by a perfect God. His love is perfect. In fact, He is love (1 John 4:7-16).
You are never alone. God is always with you. He can handle it all. He will leave or forsake you (Joshua 1:9; Hebrews 13:5; 1 Peter 5:7).
God restores what has been stolen. He frees what has been imprisoned. He repairs what has been damaged. He heals what has been broken.
He has done this for me. He has done this for you. Now the challenge is to walk in what He has already done and allow Him to bring it to reality in each of our lives in His own time.
In conclusion, here is my encouragement to you – fellow survivors:
Knowing and walking with Him is what life is all about. You can’t know yourself without knowing Him. Only He knows who you truly are. The closer you walk with Him, the more you will discover the true you.
Know the truth.
“What has God said?” is perhaps the most important question I ask myself. There are many opinions out there. Lots of messages, noise, and static. What has God said? What has God said about life, the world, and you? Lock onto that. He is the truth (John 14:6).
Know that now is not forever.
One thing is always certain: things will change. Your past does not determine your present or your future. Keep your eyes on the big picture. Rise from that old pit someone dug for you and refuse to down it anymore.
Know that healing is coming.
Ultimate healing will happen when we see Him face-to-face. Until then, we heal a bit at a time. This is a walk of faith. This life is trust-training.
Close your eyes and look ahead. Know that one day you will be completely healed. Now, open your eyes and take the next step toward that healing today.
Life is about overcoming. The Lord said that in this world we will have trouble. We’ve experienced that. Then He said, “Take heart. I have overcome the world.”
Take heart, my friends, fellow survivors. You are far more than what happened to you. He has overcome the world, and He lives in you.
Here’s to overcoming…
Gary Roe is a trusted voice in grief recovery who has been helping wounded hearts heal and grow for over three decades. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including the bestsellers Grief Walk: Experiencing God After the Loss of a Loved One, Shattered: Surviving the Loss of a Child, and Aftermath: Picking Up the Pieces After a Suicide. Gary’s books have won four international book awards and have been named finalists seven times. A former pastor and missionary, Gary has been featured on CBN, 700 Club, Dr. Laura, Choose Therapy, Thrive Global, Belief Net, and other major media. Known for his engaging style and sense of humor, Gary is also a popular keynote and seminar speaker at a wide variety of venues. He likes Hawaiian shirts, Japanese food, hockey, and good puns. Gary and his wife Jen and family live in Texas. Visit www.garyroe.com for more about Gary, his resources, and his ministry.