Over the past couple of years, God has been opening doors for me to share with others about a season of my life when I was groomed and abused by a teacher during high school. For many reasons, these events haven’t been easy to talk about. But it encourages me to know that my willingness to share helps others talk about their own painful experiences at the hands of another. I am always saying we are stronger together. Women who talk to me about the struggles they have to find healing from abuse and how my sharing encourages them in their pursuit solidifies that truth for me.
Another reason that I share pieces of my story is that I am a firm believer that shame loses its grip when it is brought to the light. For over twenty years I believed this messy part of my past defined me. I believed that it limited me. And I was ashamed of both what I had done and who I was because of it. But I am not ashamed anymore. The transformation I have experienced is because I have accepted the abundant grace of Jesus and also because I have reached out to share how that grace has changed my heart.
And even though all of this is true and good, I still face temptation around this issue. In recent days, some new activity has surfaced from that time in my life and it has stirred up a myriad of emotions. Most of the feelings are unpleasant and I find myself standing at a crossroads of decision. Will I walk in the Light that I have come to know or will I shrink back into the darkness that haunted me for so long?
Because I am tempted to fear. I fear retribution from my abuser and his supporters. Even though I read and believe Isaiah 43:1b, Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine. (CEB)
I am tempted to doubt. I doubt that stepping out in obedience and talking about my past has been the right thing for me to do. Even though I read and believe Ephesians 3:17, Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down in God’s love and keep you strong. (NLT)
I am tempted to feel small. It’s so easy for me to forget all about the power I have living inside me that I can call on to fight the lies and strengthen my heart. Even though I read and believe Ephesians 6:11 that reminds me I am to put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and strategies and the deceits of the devil. (AMP)
When we recite the words in the Lord’s Prayer, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, I think we often think about the obvious places of temptation. We know we are not to steal, kill, or destroy. We know we are not to lie, slander, or cheat. Those are outside temptations that will expose our heart to others. But what about the quieter places we are tempted? The places that chip away at our peace, rest, and joy? The places we choose to not trust Jesus? The places we choose to step away from or lag behind the leadership He offers for our lives?
The answer for me is simple yet often resisted. When I feel myself turning towards anything other than Him, I must feel the correction in my heart. I must kneel in submission before Him. I must armor up using the equipment He has given me. And I must stand firm in divine confidence that our labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58b, NIV)