(I know faith is a personal issue. This post is about the effect abuse had on my faith journey. I am not trying to convert or offend anyone, only to tell another part of my journey.)
As a young child who suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of my step-father I was looking for a way out.
By the time I was 8 or 9 years old, I began walking to a little country church about 3/4 a mile from our home. I began, in all honesty, out of curiosity and as a way to be out of my house. In church I found a Father who didn’t abuse me. I found a Father who loved me. I found a Father who saw each tear I cried, without being the one who caused them.
My relationship with God became a life-line, a source of hope where there had seemed to be very little reason to hope. I knew that even though I was weak and small, God was big and mighty. After I had been going for a month or so, my little sister wanted to come along. My mind smiles at the memory of those walks. My sister and I, hand in hand, walking to church in our “best dress” and “fancy shoes”. (In reality, our clothes and shoes weren’t fancy at all, but they were to us).
My relationship with God saw me through that awful childhood and continued into my adulthood. When I was an adult I went to counseling to deal with the pain and shame of my past. During the beginning stages of therapy, I remember telling my therapist that it felt like there was a tornado in my head. So many thoughts, feelings, and issues to discuss and I had no idea which to deal with first. I chose one issue at a time and began working our way through them. Somewhere in the midst of dealing with all of these issues I began thinking “Where was God? How could a loving God allow these terrible things to happen to a child? Why didn’t He stop him? Why didn’t He protect me?”
It was a very painful time. Now, on top of everything else I had to work through, I was angry at God. I told my therapist that I was angry at God and that I didn’t know how to work through that. We talked a lot about it. One day she asked me if I had told God how I felt. I said no. How could I tell God I was angry? Me, a mere human telling God I was angry at Him? She said “He is a big God. He can take it. Tell Him how you feel.”
Simple words – big effect.
I did tell God how I felt. I yelled. I screamed. I asked Him “How could you?” I told Him every angry, rotten thought I had about His role in my childhood.
It took some time. God and I had that conversation more than once, many times. Eventually, I got all the anger out of my heart and mind and in it’s place was truth.
The truth is – I would have never made it through my childhood without God. He certainly did save me. Many, many times. Looking back at the drunken rages when my step-father would be swinging a gun around. The drunken high-speed car rides with him. The many beatings where so many things could have happened to turn a severe beating into a death.
It took quite a while for me to work through this and come to my own understanding of why awful things happened even though I have a loving God. My step-father had free will. We all do. He could choose to do evil and he did. But for God to stop him, He would have had to take away my step-father’s free will and MAKE him do what God wanted him to do. God will not take away our free will. If He did, we would all be robots doing exactly what God wants us to do. God does not want robots. He wants us to love Him and do what is right because we choose to love Him. Could God force us to love Him? If God took away free will and “made” all of us love Him and make the choices He would like us to make, that isn’t us loving Him. It is doing what we are told to do because we have no choice. God wants us to CHOOSE to love Him, or it isn’t really love. It’s obedience.
So, where do I believe God was when awful things were happening to me? I believe He saw it all. I believe He wept, just as we weep when our children suffer. Then He helped me find a way to Him through our little country church. He helped me to feel His love and comfort and gave me the courage and strength that got me through that horrible nightmare.
Thank you God, for being “a big enough God to take it” when I raged at you.
Thank you for helping me find a path to You when I was a scared little girl.
Thank you for protecting my mind and heart enough that I knew abuse is horrific and didn’t repeat the cycle with my own kids.
Thank you for leading me to a wonderful husband who stuck with me through some very difficult times and showed me human men are capable of loving without hurting.
Thank you for leading me to a counselor who “clicked” with me and became a guide through the misery.
And, thank you for helping me become the woman I am today.