I am sitting here in my Craft room, one of the places I love most, with my favorite tea steaming, and I can hear the voices of my kids down the hall. They are laughing. I am comfortable, happy, and blessed beyond anything I can measure with words. I am a healthy physically, emotionally and mentally. I have a fantastic marriage to a man who is my dream come true. I have an incredible family. I am lucky enough to take care of mom in her 80’s. I have 4 kids of my own, 6 adopted, and 5 step kids. I have a best friend who reminds me every day to seek the Lord and who has relentlessly nagged me to go to church and to get with it. I Have new friends, old friends and a church family. My sister and brother are my heroes and I love to be with them and their spouses and kids every chance I get. I talk to my grown children every week, do things with them, and I am madly in love with my grandchildren. I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mom. I am financially ok. I have hobbies I love. I have Jesus. I am madly in love with Him, and everything He taught. I am growing as a person, a wife, a Christian and a friend. I am so grateful for every single second I have in this life. I am so grateful. I am so Blessed.
It would be easy to ignore the heart of the matter.
So when it came time to tell my story, I just didn’t know how. I don’t want to go back. But I know I am supposed to be doing this. It matters. Once spoken, secrets and hidden things lose all their power and become tools for healing. However, I am not very good at public speaking. I tried it once and that was one big humiliation. I have a tendency to seek glory for myself and forget to give it to God. I like attention and I love to talk. I have Chronic word vomit and I am unintentionally rude. I want my words to be about the love of a Savior, and that’s hard for a girl who is one big selfish mess all the time. A grateful mess, but still a mess. So I write.
Do I start by telling you that I was a practicing anorexic for 17 years, that my lowest adult weight was 83-85 lbs? Do I explain that Starving myself to death was a reflection of my spiritual condition and that it was easier to deal with a physical emptiness than my empty heart?
Or do I tell you that I am a survivor of long term child hood sexual abuse (12 Years) and that the perpetrator was my father. Maybe I explain how I don’t understand what it is like to have an earthly father and that I had no idea how to have a relationship with a man. Would you be interested in learning about the years and years of therapy it took ? Do I tell you how many times I have been married? Do I tell you that I was a battered woman or that I had a baby at 17? Do I spend time on the sin in my life that came from trying to escape my pain?
How about how lonely I was as a kid because I was busy trying to keep a terrible secret. Maybe I tell you about how hard it was for me to get close to anyone. How I was never able to trust or believe that anyone really loved me. That the preacher with the big yellow tie scared me to death with all his talk of sexual immorality and I believed most of my life that I was too broken to be loved by God.
Do I give you the run down on how I survived a very rare cancer? A cancer I probably got because there were not enough nutrients in my body to fight it off and Because I smoked.
Maybe I explain how after I got saved at 25, My ex husband went to prison and I lost my church, my friends and my home. How about how I was a single mom with 5 kids, one brain injured, poor as dirt,working 3 jobs? What if I told you that my step daughter had Reactive Attachment Disorder, would you want to hear that story……My personal favorite. It makes me sound like a hero.
Would you want to know how I suffered from Depression, anxiety and Post-tramatic Stress disorder?
How about I tell you how by the time Cowboy found me, I was a starving, angry, terrified mess just trying to survive without a God I rejected?
Now if you put all that together, You have a big ole pot of Poop soup. A disaster looking for a place to happen and a venue for sin and patterns to continue and grow into the monsters that lurk under the beds of sleeping children.
I was raised by my mom whose values were in line with strong southern women. There was a group of about 9 of them that were together since the 2nd grade. I affectionately called them the Estrogen squad. They were the party girls of the day. They could laugh and I thank God for that. I needed a bright side and they were it. The code was pristine manners, pristine dress, manicured lawns and manicured hands. Never take any crap off of any man. Work hard, hide your crazy , fix your hair and take care of your children. Oh and stock the liquor cabinets because you never know when you might need an accelerate to burn your bras with. Thank you God for the sounds of their voices, For the strength of my mother who dragged me kicking and screaming into therapy. I love you mom, more that you will ever know. Thank you for being tough. Thank you for being who you are! It saved me from taking some terrible paths.
My Grandmother was the Godliest woman I ever knew. She introduced me to books, music, art, sewing, and Church. Books Distracted me, music soothed me, art kept me sane, sewing gave me skills. Art has saved me more than once. Music lifts me every day. They are staples in my life. Thank you Jesus for her and her bible and her spiced tea. I miss you Grandma, every day.
My Sister is my rock. She is the person who saved me from my father, The person who turns me back to Jesus when I forget to remember and the one person in world who I am sure can still kick my butt. And I love My Baby Brother more than I have words for. He is my inspiration every day. The overcomer. Thank you Jesus for them. Thank you so Much.
At 25,I was introduced to Jesus. When I say introduced, I mean like meeting a rock star after a concert and having your picture taken with him and staying around long enough to get it autographed. I was a huge fan. I threw myself into it. I read my bible-no I dissected it. I taught 3 and 4 year olds Sunday school. I did music at the church, I home schooled my kids, I wrote curriculums and was there every time the doors to that church were open. I learned how to be a wife. I learned how to be a friend. I did really good things. I had a really great relationship with my autographed picture of Jesus. It was a start….. Wait…..What? Just knowing who he is, is different than knowing Him. But God would soon take care of that too.
Cowboy shamelessly pursued me. I was immediately in love with him. He was the first time I had ever been in love, the first time I had ever allowed any man to be close to me in any real way. (And he had passed an FBI check.) It was the first time I had prayed for real in years and it was simply to say “ even though I know this can never last, thank you for one more day with this beautiful man”
For the next few years, he spent time telling me over and over again how God loved me. He showed me love. He opened up his Bible. He helped me untangle all the distortion. He stuck by me when I got cancer and cared for my needs, physically, spiritually and monetarily. He gave us all his name. He taught me how to laugh. And Eat. All the guy did was eat. I got hungry, for the first time, in years. I ate Physically and Spiritually. And slowly, all that hunger returned. And the nightmares were gone. In their place was His voice. The Voice of my Jesus saying, I’ve been here all along.
And as for what I learned…. Well this is what I imagine the condensed version of what Jesus would have to say to me,at the well, about how it all went down, why it went down and why I am where I am.
“Your earthly father was not there to teach you about healthy relationships or how valuable you are. He did not chase off your bad boyfriends, or walk you down an isle after giving his blessings. But I will, Sharon. I will do all of that for you. You are forgiven and clean and whole. I love you. I brought you out of all that into a relationship with me. You do not have to suffer for love. I already did that. All you have to do is accept it. You are my baby, my adopted, my beloved. YOU ARE NOT FATHERLESS. It is ok and safe to be close to me. I will never violate you. I am a gentleman.”
“I knew your emotional noise was just too loud, you could not hear me. Your eyes were closed, you could not see me. So I sent someone to bring you to the well, where I was waiting for you. Someone I knew you would hear and see and follow. ”
“The man I chose for you had to be prepared. It was going to take more than just your average Joe. You needed someone who would make YOU his ministry. Someone Who would love you for me until you had healed enough to see me for yourself. He would have to be someone devoted and patient. He would have to understand forgiveness and know how to help you forgive so you could deal with the abuses you have suffered and to help you face your own sin as a result. I needed someone who saw you like I see you. Worthy, strong and complete. So I found you a guy with a doctorate in Theology. You are a tough case. I had to call in a professional. Only the best for my baby”
“Just like you weep for your adopted children’s pain, I wept at the horror you experienced. I was angry and sad for you. But you are no longer a victim. You are now, a foot soldier. You learned that Abuse and Trauma, no matter what kind it is, distorts the truth. It changes the way you are wired. It teaches you that suffering and love are the same. It can be sexual, physical, mental or emotional abuse. It can be Spiritual. It can be an illness, abandonment, a loss, a trauma, or crime. It can be neglect. No matter what the description of the trauma, it all creates fear, rage, and a distorted view of love, A distorted view of Jesus Christ. The pain and emptiness can be so overwhelming that it can literally get into your body. You can’t move, or scream or heal. You stay in survival mode, selfish and scared, ready to strike. It tricks you into thinking that you have to be good enough for not only God, but his people as well and you never will be. It tricks you into believing that grace is something you can earn or create or pay for and that you cannot afford it. It knows nothing of 1 Cor 13 love. It literally convinces you that you are safer in the dark than the light… in there, the monsters can’t find you, at least that is what you tell yourself. But they do find you in the form of addictions and “coping Sins”. It teaches you to lie to survive, even if there are better ways. It teaches you to hide, avoid and save face. It is heavy. It is all-consuming. It squashes out joy, dreams, peace, hope, and any attachments to other loving humans, even if they are there with their arms open. It steals Childhoods and innocence. Some choose to never, ever come out of the darkness. And You Sharon, you know every one of these things personally.”
“But you also know what it means to choose to heal.You know that you can learn a new way. You know that love is the only thing worth healing for. You know that knowing me is the only way to find that love. You know that it is not through words alone that you find it. It is through the persistent, long-term, ongoing relationship with love that one who is broken by trauma can heal and learn to trust. You know that peace comes from forgiveness. You know the value of honesty. You know that Love can rewire a brain and remodel a heart. You know a secret looses its power when it’s spoken and you know that it’s possible to let go, walk away and replace pain with joy. You know the love does not have to be perfect, it just has to show up. No matter how reckless or mistake filled it is. And that is your ministry ,Sharon, To show up, love in tow with all your imperfections, and all your pains and your Chronic word vomit. Show up with your attitude problem, your sin and your hormones. Show up with all your weirdness and your art supplies and your idea that everything and everyone is potentially art. Show up with your toughness. Show up with your big rude mouth. Show up with your big idea that you can take care of everyone, your compassion, your tenacity and your tendency to over mom everyone.You know the way to the well. Just show up with all I have given you, with all your baggage and I will do the rest. ”
“Oh and PS…. Quit giving your Cowboy a hard time. It’s almost time for you to be your own ministry. I have things for him to do.”
****** 1 out 4 are victims of sexual abuse. Of those victims, 1 out of 10 will become perpetrators. One perpetrator will target 80 kids in his lifetime. It can’t stay a secret.