A friend and I recently met up and she shared this story with me. I knew in my heart that her story had to be told. (I also wished I could write like her!) She was told by her abuser that she needed to be quiet. She has broken her silence. I’m so proud of this woman, proud to call her a friend, and proud to share her story with you.
I encourage you to comment — but if you do, please post on this blog and not on Facebook so she can see your comments.
To my friend — You know who you are. You know that every day Jesus is fighting right alongside of us. He gives us purpose, and strength and dignity. Thanks for letting me in. Thanks for sharing not only for you — but for all those who need to know that they are not alone in their struggle.
There was an unmistakable chill in the air this morning, although not able to penetrate the light sweaters we were wearing, but it was sure trying. The sun glimmered off of the mud outside our front door. I thought it looked like Spring for a moment. Not quite yet, right?
The tulips and crocuses have stretched out their green necks towards the warmth we are all hoping for daily. Their red, yellow, and pink colors just leap out of the dingy earth, winning over my attention — these firsts of spring have given me a sip of peace. Cherry blossoms ring white and pink against morning grey skies. Everywhere the renewal of life seems to ring in with the chirps of birds, the buzz of bees that are supposed to be asleep, and the patter of little feet outside my bedroom door.
My eyes drift to my cell phone in the blank space before I have to push back the covers, feel the sting of inside cold morning air, and check what time the 3-year-old feet and hands push me around in my own bed. Those little hands wave around, a voice calls to me, “Mommy, wake up!”
I smile at the 6:38 am time, and receive my morning hugs and kisses. Our little man reports, “I dreamed of sky.” Only a kid born and raised in rainy Washington state dreams of sky.
It’s that time. Push back the covers. Legs hit the carpeted floor. Time to get up. I hear two girls approach and hop in my shower. I send Little man off with his older brother to the other bathroom. They shower too.
Morning routine has began.
It’s a Friday. It’s the week before a game of chess with an old evil. This is the kind of evil that has been practicing for years. It’s not unimaginable or unthinkable that being born into sin is a good qualification to predict what old evil will do or say; but it cannot. It’s not enough. It’s not enough to know the crooked business that you were hooked into. It’s not enough to know the men that charge ahead, channeled as warriors on behalf of old evil. It is just not enough.
As I sip a coffee and stare out at evergreen trees, I see the shadows creeping in on our home. The wind picks up leftover leaves and scatters them so randomly. My brain feels like those leaves- stretched beyond and scattered beyond . . . beyond my control and the powerful gusts of negative, positive, depressed, oppressed, hopeful, joyful, and sad unknowns scatter at the same time. I do not know how they will land today.
Breath. In. Out. In. Out.
I am not 19. I am not 13. I am not 7. I am not.
I am a woman. I believe in Jesus. I belong to Jesus. I am loved.
I live now. It is March 2015. I have a husband. I have four children. I am called mother, mommy or just, “hey!”
I am loved.
I was 7. I was 9. The ride back from Sacramento was conveniently on Interstate 80. It’s a straight shot — headed to the midwest. Passing through Truckee, California, and the Sierra Nevada mountain range, I looked out my window at trees so large. The trees were tall. The trees were big. The trees looked like refuge. I imagined rolling out of my car, escaping with my backpack and ducking under a tree. Under that tree I closed my eyes. I hummed a song because I couldn’t speak. The green needles of the evergreens didn’t prick my skin, but their sharp smell calmed my hollow inside. I rested there. I wasn’t cold. I wasn’t alone. I saw Jesus come lay under the tree as well. He rested too. He could smell the sharp needles. Jesus knew that they were the fragrance of freedom.
Mom yells at our driver: “Stop driving so fast through the curves!”
I am still 7. I am still 9. I am still in the car.
The experts say that my uncle looked for opportunity. He saw opportunity. The experts say my uncle looked for childish charm and a potentially intelligent child. My uncle saw that in me. The experts say my uncle used his physical advantage to press for financial gain in the world of old evil. Old evil gladly accepted my uncle’s availability to work for its old cause. This old evil and its old cause (slavery of a child) is nothing new.
There were warnings! Neon signs flashing ‘STOP’! These signs were flashing before my birth. They have been flashing for over 2000 years. Men and women have bought and sold slaves for more than the last 100 years. And the fight against old evil was birthed since the beginnings. It wasn’t always a trendy fight.
The warnings have evolved as the trickery and conception of new devices of entrapment have emerged. Jesus sees.
It is March 2015. I am a grown woman. Am I free?
The uncle who fights for old evil, is a double agent. He’s longing for church respect, love and dignity. He sent me a letter to say: “Stop telling your story. Stop saying everything.”
Husband and I responded in cries. The cries were answered by sending in the soldiers. The soldiers were in their stations — fighting old evil already. We just didn’t know Jesus told them it was time to fight His battle from our small home in a small town . We prayed, begged and asked for mercy. We asked for grace. We begged for love.
Jesus whispered to our hearts, “Your friends are with you.”
He whispered it in the shower. He whispered in the car. He whispered in the early sun of Spring. He didn’t stop whispering.
The reality of life does not stop. When you are fighting, you fight in the reality of life. You eat real food. Drink water. Struggle with sugar, alcohol and other dirty demons. Argue about money for field trips. Compromise on dinner plans. In reality, your sweat is still salty, your muscles ache when pushed, your husband snores when you’re tired, and the car gets a flat tire. It’s real.
It’s real too when your Mexican three-year-old proclaims he’s ‘Black’, your kindergartner explains gravity, your 9-year-old boy plants tomato seeds, and all four sing ‘Let It Go’.
On Saturday, my seven-year-old girl leaped for the basketball, missed it completely and smiled back at me. What an effort. She ran to me during the game, as if I’m distracted by three other kids to check and make sure I’m taking pictures. She’s right. I don’t want to miss a moment here. It is Saturday morning at the YMCA. Nothing better in our world this morning.
Then my mind snaps back to our task. It’s never far away. It is not done. The fight is now.
Gandalf said; “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
The battle is raging. We want zero contact.
There is pre-game bluffing, fights over calendar dates, arguments over admissible evidence, jostling over personnel (which side people will land on), and last minute bullets shot/aimed like daggers towards innocence.
My declaration is over 25 numbered points.
My declaration says I will not be quiet. I cannot stay silent. I am obligated to tell the truth. I am a mother of four beautiful children who God has given me to nurture , protect and defend. If I cannot battle my own self- contempt, I cannot be free. Everyday, I have to get down on my knees, ask God for the strength to stay sober and tell the truth. Every night I return to my knees to thank God for my life and another day.
An uncle (by marriage) and aunt and their attorney stroll into district court in our local county –hundreds of miles away from the uncle’s place of residence, to dispute harassment.
The enemy sits on the left side of the court. Snickering and giggling and joking this uncle and aunt relax in court. I stare at my hands: no sweat. I listen to my heart: regular beat. I feel my husband beside me: we are strong together. I know our friends are praying. The density of evil can be felt — it envelopes all of the unaware. And yet, the light on our side is blinding. There is a chase going on that stops here for the day as Jesus continues his pursuits in our courtroom as well: pursuit of our lives, pursuit of justice, pursuit of love.
I repeat internally:
“Working in our waiting
You’re sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding
You’re teaching us to trust.”
It’s time to speak. I wasn’t going to speak — I thought I’d lost my voice. Maybe I had. Maybe it was damaged. Not this Friday. The voice that came out was steady, yet full of complex emotions — the words were easy to say despite their fight and pain.
I told the truth without exaggerations and resisting (supernaturally) any embellishments that could promise false relief. Just Basics. The judge listened and ruled the letter was harassment. Step one. Done.
My husband puts his head in his hands to rest for a minute. I squeeze his waste with my arms and rest in our friendship. I felt Gregory Boyle’s words acutely then, in total truth: ” Kinship — not serving the other, but being one with the other. Jesus was not ‘a man for others’ — he was one with them. There is a world of difference in that.” We have that — it is a miracle and dream we are living.
Our hearts still hurt. An adrenaline that has been coursing through our veins keeps up the defenses until we are in bed Friday night. I have cried out so many nights, ‘take me with you, Jesus,’ only to realize he is taking me with him. Everyday. On His path.
I believe in Jesus. I am not alone. It is March 2015.
I hear Jesus whisper:
“My plans are still to prosper
I have not forgotten you
I am with you in the fire and the flood
I am faithful forever
Perfect in love
I am sovereign over you”