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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Darkness into Light

You have taken from me friend and neighbor—
    darkness is my closest friend. Psalm 88:18 NIV 

“Darkness creeps into my life,
and robs my passion to live.
It swallows me whole and takes my breath
no kindness will it give.
I’m falling deep beneath the sea
and drowning in my despair
can someone take this away from me
Does anybody care?”

That was the beginning of a poem I wrote in college. I truly felt like darkness was my closest companion. Darkness wouldn’t leave me alone. No matter how hard I tried to be good, I wasn’t. I went to Bible Study, and then I went to clubs. I couldn’t get numb enough. The ache was always there.

Childhood Sexual Abuse causes extreme isolation. I couldn’t get too close to anyone because I didn’t want them to know.  It was too risky.  So, I kept all of the secrets to myself.

I had to wear a mask and pretend all is well.

But behind the mask, I was writhing in pain. My head hurt, my stomach hurt, and the voices were screaming…

The darkness is so very dark.  

The shame would crash over me at unexpected times. Maybe it was a comment someone made. I would read more into their comment and replay it over and over in my mind. Do they know? Can they tell what kind of girl I really am?

How do you hide from the darkness?
How do you run from the darkness?
How can you escape the darkness when it is your constant companion?

Shame’s raw aroma lingers far longer than the abuse.

The darkness says you are bad.
The darkness says you are guilty.
The darkness says you deserve it.
The darkness says God made you that way.
The darkness says there is no hope for you.

All of the secrets and memories fester in the darkness. The wounds ooze behind closed doors and eyelids.

And then there was light.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:5

Finally, in counseling I was able to use words to describe the darkness. As I continued to step into the light, the darkness started to lose its power over me.  The light brought me Truth, community, and love. I was no longer alone in the dark.

The Truth says you are wonderfully made.
The Truth says there is no condemnation.
The Truth says you are worthy.
The Truth says God made you in His image.
The Truth says there is hope.

There is hope, and His name is Jesus. When I gave Him access to my story and the darkness – His light and Truth healed me.

God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16

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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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