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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Their Words Cut Like Swords

Listen to the filth that comes from their mouths; their words cut like swords. “After all, who can hear us?” they sneer.  Psalm 59:7 NLT

I could barely utter the words to my counselor. Vulgar words were whispered to me in the darkness to describe my body parts and they were playing over and over in my mind like a skipping record.

Who says that to a child?

An abuser.

Childhood Sexual Abuse is not silent abuse. It is incredibly loud. The words cut like swords and leave deep wounds in the heart, mind, body and soul.

Secrets.  Shhhhhhhhhhhh.

Words that were threats to keep me silent.

Words that made me think I deserved or wanted the abuse.

Words that made me feel responsible.

Words that made me feel like something was wrong with me.

Words that filled my tank to the rim with insecurity, fear, anxiety, paranoia, and shame.  

And while I smiled and did my best on the outside to show the world that everything was just fine, those words continued to taunt my insides.

My lips trembled when I spelled some of those words to my counselor with my head bowed in shame and fear. As hard as it was to share them with her, it helped me tremendously to get them out of my head and into the light.

The secrets were all lies, and they were being replaced with new words filled with truth.

I am not alone.

I have a voice.

I am worthy of love.

It was not my fault.

I am wonderfully made.

His truth replenished my empty tank with hope, faith, love, thankfulness, and courage.

Yes, the lies and secrets cut like swords.

But His Truth is sharper.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 NLT

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Shelter me

They have tracked me down, they now surround me,
    with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground.
They are like a lion hungry for prey,
    like a fierce lion crouching in cover.

Psalm 17:11-12 NIV

“Can you please change the station?”

“Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran was blasting on the radio, and I was staring off… remembering what it felt like to be hunted.

Stalked.

We were on our way to dinner, and one song threw me into a downward spiral. Memories were flashing and my heart was exploding. I suddenly felt vulnerable, scared, and sick.

“Can you please change the station?”  

I wanted to change the station myself, but I could not move. I was frozen. Again.

Taunted by the dark eyes. Those intense eyes followed me whether I was alone or in a room full of people. It didn’t matter. They were fearless.

I was terrified.

A new song started playing on the radio, but my heart was still racing.

Later that week, I shared with my counselor how one minute I was fine, and then that song came on and I fell apart!

It took me back again, and this time I was able to process the hot memory in a safe place.

Music would trigger me at times, but it also played a significant role in my healing.  That song was one of many that I would bring into a counseling session with me. Song lyrics and images from music videos helped me to express what my younger self was unable to say.

I was a child, and I was prey.

I was hunted, and it was not a game.

I desperately wanted to forget, but I could not stop remembering.

I was having recurring nightmares of being chased in the darkness. Always running. Always afraid.

Exhausted.

I just wanted to feel safe, and God was providing me shelter in the storm.

I realized He had all along.

I am crying aloud to You, O True God, for I long to know Your answer.
    Hear me, O God. Hear my plea. Hear my prayer for help.
Put Your marvelous love on display for all to see.
    Liberator of those who long for shelter beside You,
    set them safely away from their enemies, ever welcomed by grace.

Keep close watch over me as the apple of Your eye;
    shelter me in the shadow of Your wings.
Protect me from the wicked who are poised to attack,
    from the enemies swarming around me and closing in quickly.

Psalm 17:6-9 VOICE

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I thought it was me.

I thought it was me. 

Maybe there was something wrong with me that caused all of this. Was there a sign on my forehead that said “Abuse Me”?

Maybe something was wrong with my body, or maybe I smiled wrong or was too nice? Was it my clothes?

What was wrong with me?

These thoughts swirled around in my mind for years. My secret shame-filled worries constantly reminded me that I was deeply flawed, used and beyond repair.

I lived like the lie was true.

I had no voice.

I never said no.

I always froze.

Sometimes I just left in my mind and went away.

It was how I survived.

What happens to a young girl like me? She finds herself sometimes with people who make her uncomfortable and maybe they say or do things that are inappropriate.

They keep crossing the line to test her to see how she will respond. Will she yell? Will she run?

Nope. She does nothing because that’s all she knows. This isn’t her first rodeo.

Almost over.

Not much longer.

So much shame.

And finally, as I am sitting alone on the couch hunched over in a therapy session, the truth finally starts to sink in.

My counselor pulled out a big flip chart and grabbed Sharpies and she sat on the floor in front of me. We made a timeline. She was writing it all out as fast as I could say it.

My hidden secrets were all splattered on the clean white page.

And like dominoes falling, I saw how the harm from the abuse blazed a path of destruction throughout my life.

There was nothing wrong with me.

It wasn’t my fault.

It was never my fault.

And with tears falling, I wanted to hug the little girl inside of me. She wasn’t dirty and shameful to me anymore. I loved her.

She was resilient.

She was brave.

She survived.

She was loved.

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