When the #MeToo movement gained momentum, I praised the survivors who tackled shame and silenced silence. As stories surfaced, I was heartbroken yet surprisingly unsurprised at this pandemic.
Our broken world was begetting brokenness.
Over a decade ago, my story was quite public and my journey to healing quite long. It took years of God addressing layer upon layer of pain. I finally reached a point where I felt whole, no longer defined by the abuse from the men that had taken advantage of me in my teens. I was truly in a healthy place and felt completely unhindered by my past. So when #MeToo stories began circulating, I was grateful others were finding their voices like I once had, but I felt no pressing need to speak up again. God had led me to freedom and my personal story was at rest. It was buried, not in shame, but in an honest act of moving on. While I both ached for and applauded the survivors now telling their stories, I was not compelled to unearth mine.
And in that place of personal contentment, God set off a tremor in my heart and ruffled my feathers. I can no longer sit back and send silent well-wishes to my brothers and sisters who have a #MeToo story. There is yet more work to be done.
While countless individuals have recently found their voices, I recognize this may just be the beginning for many of them. By no means do I want to come across as polished and perfect here. My road to wholeness was similar to turbulence at 30,000 feet: filled with ups and downs and plagued with the thought I wouldn’t survive.
Now that you have bravely voiced “Me too,” what now? You have taken the vulnerable step of acknowledging the abuse, but I implore you to not stop at that. God has a glorious work He wants to complete in you. It may seem scary, but will you accept His call to further freedom?
I know not every story is identical to mine, and I’d be a fool to suggest everyone walk in my exact footsteps. God leads us on our own journeys, and as long as we are willing, He will see us through. But these are a few suggestions that I found were critical for me:
Get professional, Christian counseling.
Find someone that is trustworthy and equipped to walk the journey with you. Some of the most poignant times of healing came during the weekly sessions I had with my counselor. She faithfully listened and always pointed me back to the love and power of Jesus. Those sessions were undeniably led by the Spirit of God. I didn’t find her right away. I “interviewed” other counselors prior to her until I discerned she was the right person for me.
Additional resources: Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network directory
Fight the fears and lies.
For years, I had twisted nightmares about being chased down by my abusers and perverted images I could have never conjured on my own. I would wake up and the shame would swallow me, ruining my entire day. It didn’t take long to realize the enemy was hard at work trying to destroy me with fear and lies.
What’s your plan of attack during the onslaughts you face? Invite the Holy Spirit into your sleep and into your day. Capture every thought. Pray Scripture over yourself, and learn the art of war on the battlefield of your mind. A war was waged on you, and it is time you spiritually retaliate and take back the ground the enemy tried to steal.
Get to know Jesus.
If there is one thing I know, it is that Jesus has every strength and power available to heal you from your hurts. I have lived it. Getting to intimately know your Healer is priceless on this journey. Read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), get involved in a life-giving church and feed yourself with Jesus’ transformational truth. Search Him out, talk to Him and dare yourself to trust Him as He shows you how much He loves you.
Easier said than done. I would never intend to undermine the trauma individuals have gone through by suggesting that forgiveness is uncomplicated and easy. It’s not. But forgiveness is a non-negotiable. Forgiveness does not mean condoning what was done. It is not “letting someone off the hook.” Oddly enough, it is the release of the noose around your own neck.
Unforgiveness gives your abuser the go-ahead to wrap you in his or her chains. You are under their rule and command if you hold onto hatred. It dictates your emotions and peace (or lack thereof). Remember, forgiveness is not a one-off act. It’s an onion that sheds one layer at a time. You cannot get to the core issue(s) unless you are willing to address each layer of hurt as it presents itself. As God reveals those wounds, do whatever it takes to get to a place of release. Ask for the ability to forgive in that moment and do it out loud.
As another layer comes up, do it all over again. This ongoing surgery is no cake walk. But if you want the cancer out of your soul, keep yourself on the operating table. One day you’ll look down and find the disease gone, wounds stitched up by the loving hands of your Healer.
Be an advocate for others.
There will come a time for you to stand alongside those that have been broken and battered, to inspire the ones who have not yet found their voice. Years ago, God clearly spoke and led me to take my story to the authorities, making it public. It was terrifying, but I dared to imagine that other victims—whether related to my incident or not—would come forward and initiate their journey of justice and wholeness. And some did. I may never know the impact my decision had on people, but all I know is I was obedient to God.
I am not saying everyone must replicate my actions. Be led by how both God and wise counsel around you says you should proceed. If you or others are potentially in danger of being hurt again, take action and be their voice. As He leads, He will empower you and give you wings to fly in the face of fear and ridicule. When you share your story, you equip others to share theirs. When you display victory, you encourage others to walk that path as well. That abuse was never meant for you, but your freedom is meant for many.
To every man, woman, boy or girl who has ever been abused, I humbly offer hope. I believe in the abundant life that only Jesus offers, a life after #MeToo. Say “yes” to walking this road with Him. It is undeniably worth it.