Why I Didn’t Tell:  This Is Why 

I was sexually abused throughout my childhood and I kept the secrets until I was 38 years old.  I started seeing a counselor and one by one the secrets finally came out like pieces of a puzzle.  It took over three years of weekly sessions to process it all.

I still cringe inside and out when I hear anyone ask, “Why didn’t you tell?”

Or “Why didn’t you say something sooner?”

“Why are you just saying this now?”

“Why now?”

While it was incredibly difficult to even admit that I was abused, it is even more complicated to explain why I didn’t tell. 

But, this will be my attempt to try.

Why I didn’t tell:  This is why

I was terrified.

I didn’t want to be in trouble.

I didn’t want the police to take me away.

No one would believe me.

I believed everyone would be angry with me.

One of them said he would kill himself.

I believed really bad things would happen.

It would be all my fault.

I would lose everything and everyone.

I saw pornography which reinforced the idea that this is what women are, it’s what we do. It’s normal.

It also made me hate my body and everything about it.

I heard conversations about rape that would include discussions about what the victim was wearing, whether or not she was drinking etc.

I heard at least two other children speak up about abuse and they were promptly silenced, even dismissed.

No one said it was wrong or bad.

All of the shame made me feel like I was wrong or bad – like it was my fault and there was something wrong with me that made it happen.

I was groomed, brainwashed and manipulated into silence.

I dissociated, which is like an out-of-body experience.

I thought it was just me.

Again, no one said it was wrong or bad.

I did not know it was abuse.

As complicated as that can be to understand as an adult, can you imagine carrying the weight of all of that as a child and at the same time desperately trying to appear okay?

The only conversations I had about what was happening to me went on inside of my little mind, with it’s very limited understanding.

As hard as it was to endure and survive, it truly seemed easier to stay quiet and never tell because too much was at risk and it was up to me to hold it all together.

Fear, lies, shame and denial kept me quiet for many years.  

And today, lots of people are coming forward like never before and saying #metoo.

Before you dismiss any of them, or minimize their experience, or offer your opinion on whether or not you think they are telling the truth – please consider that someone you love may be suffering in silence and longing to whisper “me too” to you. 

Be a safe person and lend an ear to their pain. Listen. Believe them. Thank them for trusting you and sharing with you. Ask them what you can do to help them.

Don’t be upset with them for not coming to you sooner.  Eventually, they will share their own #thisiswhy with you, but for now just let them know that you love them, and tell them the abuse was never their fault.

Let them know they are not alone, anymore.

Eternal One: As a woman fiercely strains to give birth, I will gasp, pant, and cry out.
        I have been quiet for a long time; I have held back in the face of it all.
    Well, no more.

Isaiah 42:14 VOICE

If you experienced abuse, what kept you from telling?  Share your #thisiswhy.

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Pink Elephants & A Faithful God

IMG_09302016 was a rough year. It was also the year I was intending to put a lot of energy into my ministry, Journey Pink.  I wanted to write a book, which I affectionately called my Pink Elephant. Pink because I loved the idea of it so much, and elephant because it seemed so ginormous and overwhelming.

I’ve been to conferences and I have taken online writing classes, but the reality is writing and speaking about Childhood Sexual Abuse is taboo. It’s off limits. It’s too dark. It is not a popular topic. It is not encouraged.

But, like the Samaritan woman at the well who finally found THE living water in her life, I have tasted that living water and I want to share it with others who are thirsty and longing for refreshment from the mud and the mire of shame.

This pink elephant was HUGE, and my mind was filled with doubt and insecurity.

Me: God, you have picked the wrong girl! This is Bigger than me. This is elephant size BIG… but it is also pink.
God: How do you eat an elephant? 
Me: One bite at a time.
God: My grace is sufficient

Just when I started to take small bites, the big pink elephant was suddenly surrounded by baby pink elephants.  These baby elephants needed my immediate attention. Baby pink elephants like my daughter getting hospitalized and the months of unknowns and recovery that followed.  Or, the stalker situation that landed me in court and on Amazon purchasing Pink Mace. Fear hit very close to home with those baby elephants and He was  faithful to show me how to take one scary step at a time with Him.

When the intense fear was at its peak, I spent a weekend in Charlotte at a conference and the keynote speaker shared about overcoming fear.  She had experienced a similar year with an injured child and a stalker. I knew God was speaking to my heart. I longed for peace and healing from my overwhelming fears. I rushed to the altar in tears, and acknowledged that I was terrified and tired of being terrified. As the worshippers sang and prayed over us, His amazing love covered me and gave me great peace.

He also brought me confirmation.  That same weekend, at Bethel Worship nights, a man gave a word that there was a pink elephant in the room. I have no idea why he said that and he did not elaborate, but once again – God had my attention. I smiled as I thought, “I will keep going. God is with me.”

And yet, I couldn’t stop the whispers in the back of my mind from that mostly mean voice that demands protection and safety.

“Do you really want to go after that pink elephant?  Look what is happening in your life!  Maybe you should take a hint and just chill out.  Better to play it safe.  You are playing with fire. Who do you think you are???”

Who do you think you are?

Side note – this is a very frequent thought that pops in my head and it can hold me back the fastest. I’ve learned over time that having an immediate answer will shut it down.

Who do I think I am?  I am a princess, and Jesus is my King. I am his daughter, and I am loved, cherished and precious to Him.

Not all small pink elephants are challenges. There were times I wanted to give up, and the image of a pink elephant reminded me to keep stepping, one foot in front of the other.  One day, when I was so weary and full of doubt, my youngest brought his prize from the gumball machine to me and encouraged my heart.

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It reminded me that every bite is worth it.  Yes, God I trust you. I will keep going. Help me to not be afraid.

He knows I struggle with trust and fear, and this tension keeps me from walking in my calling.

But God.

He is faithful, and it all came full circle last weekend when I shared at the Hope Restored Women’s Conference.  At check-in, I was surprised to find out there was a package waiting for me from my friend, Angela. I met her at my very first writing conference in 2014, and when she asked me what I wrote about I couldn’t answer her and finally just said, “I’m not going to tell you.”

She kept asking and I remember how hard it was to finally whisper to her, “I write about healing from childhood sexual abuse.”

Angela knew this was a Pink Elephant weekend for me so she sent me a care package full of my favorites. Besides the caffeine and the yummy chocolate, her gift reminded me of how far God has brought me and how He continues to open doors and give me opportunities to write and speak.

It’s still not easy to speak and write about childhood sexual abuse, but it is so important and worth it! My calling seems so BIG and Overwhelming to me, but Jesus can handle Pink Elephants. I just have to fully trust and surrender, and let Him guide me, one bite at a time. I will savor every bite and remember all the ways He has met me.

His grace is sufficient.

He opens doors no man can shut.

He makes a way when there seems to be no way.

He left 99 for one and He calls us to do the same.

He has brought me this far, and He will not leave me.

I am not alone.

You are not alone.

You are loved, cherished and precious to Him, princess.

Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have! You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way. Your authority is my strength and my peace. The comfort of your love takes away my fear. I’ll never be lonely, for you are near. Psalm 23:4 TPT

What feels like a pink elephant in your life right now? Maybe you have a Pink Elephant Dream? What keeps you from walking in your purpose and calling? Is there an image or vision that helps you to keep going?

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Beautifully Broken

IMG_0092.JPGI sat on the couch with my head down, numb with tears rolling down my cheeks.  She patiently sat with her notebook and pen, waiting for me to speak.  Her eyes were gentle and kind, and I wanted to trust her. But first, I needed her to understand that what I was going to share with her was just between us.  I needed help, but I had no intentions of ever telling anyone else my story of childhood sexual abuse.

Truth is, I’d hidden my brokenness for so long, I certainly didn’t see any reason to ever share it outside of those four walls.  It was too risky and much safer to just stay quiet and keep the secrets.

Besides, who wants to hear about abuse?

Who wants to hear about a darkness that is so dark it is blinding?

Who wants to talk about fear, blame, panic, guilt and shame?

I figured I would just go in on Thursdays at 10am, cry my eyeballs out for an hour and then spend the rest of my week smiling and hiding the pain.

But God…

Read the rest of “Beautifully Broken”

Click here to read the rest of “Beautifully Broken” over at Life In The Spacious Place where I share my real life story of Kintsugi in Lesley’s series: 31 Days of Kintsugi.  

Finding Peace in the Storm

Finding Peace in the Storm
The storm is coming

It forces open the curtains 
and pushes its way in

Heart crushed
Body splintered 
Mind fragmented
Soul ripped 

There is no where to hide 

The storm is always looming 

In the quiet and calm
of smiles and laughter
The storm taunts 
Shattering the peace 

There aren't any No Trespassing signs 
No 'keep out' written in crayons 

The storm wins every time 
There's no use trying to fight it
Just ride the storm out 
Not much longer

In the distance, more storms 
brew in the darkness 

Sound the alarms!
Brace yourself!

Frozen in fear
Yet far away 
So far, I can barely feel the wind 
As the waves crash over and over 

The storm always leaves its mark. 

Battered, torn and scarred
On the sunniest of days 
The storm still hovers. 

Years later and the slightest breeze 
will cause full alert. 
Now there are "NO Trespassing!" signs
"Keep Out" is written in permanent ink

Sandbags are piled high for protection
It's too dangerous to get too close 

Anticipate danger
Find ways to cope

Always be prepared. 

Be aware. 
Fear the worst. 
Alone. 

Just in case the storm comes. 

And it blows in
Again. 

Unexpected. 

But this time it is a gentle breeze  
Calm 

I'm caught off guard
by the blinding light. 

Naked shame on full display
in the brightness. 

My head hangs low 
And this storm lifts it. 

This storm is peace. 
This storm is love. 
This storm is Jesus. 

In His relentless pursuit

He rescues 
He rebuilds 
He restores. 

Safe.
Never alone. 
Loved. 

His house is my shelter
and secret retreat. 
It is there I find peace 
in the midst of storm and turmoil. 
Safety sits with me 
in the hiding place of God.
He will set me on a rock, 
high above the fray. 
Psalm 27:5 

When you face stormy seas 
I will be there with you
with endurance and calm;
you will not be engulfed 
in raging rivers.
If it seems like you're walking 
through fire with flames
licking at your limbs, 
keep going; you won't be burned. 
Isaiah 43:2 VOICE

The Eternal is full of grace
and naturally just; 
our God is compassionate and merciful.
And the Eternal watches over the naive
Whenever I was knocked down, 
He reached down and saved me. 
O my soul! Return and relax. 
Come to your true rest, 
for the Eternal has showered you with His favor. 
God, you alone rescued my soul 
from the grips of death, 
my eyes from weeping, 
and my feet from slipping. 
I will come before the Eternal
as long as I journey
in the land of the living.
Psalm 116:5-9 VOICE 

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