When you work with and speak with former victims of abuse on a regular basis, it can be easy to become disheartened. Team member, Michelle, once asked me how I am able to “put away” the pain I experience along with these precious ladies and move forward. I really don’t know. Most of the time, I am able to (somehow) compartmentalize. Maybe I’m just getting older and my memory is fading. It is probably a gift from God. Sometimes, however, I am deeply affected and I have to step back. Still other times, I am struggling (myself) because I have a past laced with suffering and I have those dark moments I must conquer, as well. These are few and far between. However, I recently wrestled through my own rough couple of days.
Someone said something (actually, several somethings) that reminded me, very much, of my old life (hey — triggers are real, my people). It was incredibly painful for me, emotionally. And, for a few days, I did not know how to face God on it. All of the hopelessness from my former marriage came flooding back. There I was, once again angry at God because I felt betrayed. I felt as though women were God’s “after-thought”. I felt as though I was here only to serve my husband. I was angry at religion . . . angry at men, in general, and QUITE angry with God. I do not ever want to serve or worship a God who would knowingly allow women to be abused. I mean, didn’t He know this would happen? Didn’t He know that even His own people would take Scripture and twist it around in such an ugly way and then take that twisted ugliness and bondage up God’s precious women-jewels? How could I even look God’s way?
In tears, I verbally vomited on my husband, David, over it all. I said, “Why didn’t Jesus say something that would set women free when He walked this earth? He knew that it was happening . . . He knew that it would happen . . . and He knew that it would be done in His name?!” My tears were literally choking me out. I had so much more to say but I could not get the words out. Oh, my kind husband. He said many good things, that day. And he loved me through it. But, what stuck out the most was David’s insistence that Jesus did pa-lenty about it when He walked this earth, restoring the dignity of women, slaves and all tribes of people. We just choose not to see it, as a whole, for powerish reasons. We miss it, because we are furthering our agenda instead of God’s. We’re broken. We mess things up. Further, David said this:
Jesus worked with where the people were, at the time. He always accepts us where we are and takes us further. Just like when Philip was ministering to the Ethiopian. The Ethiopian knew a Scripture in Isaiah and quoted it. Acts 8:35 says ‘then Philip began with that very passage of scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.’ Philip led the man from where he was to the place God wanted him to be. Jesus starts where we are and he ministers to us from that point… He doesn’t expect us to be something that we aren’t… But he leads us from where we are to where he wants us to go.
I had never thought of that. I have, many-a-time, shaken my ridiculous little fist at God, asking why He did not do more when He had the chance. But, God did more than we ever realize. It only takes a little bit of digging to see where women were, in the beginning of the Gospels, to where they were by the book of Acts. Amazing women. Prophetesses, evangelists, sellers of purple. By Galatians, there was neither Jew nor Greek nor male nor female . . . all because of Jesus. All because of the things Jesus said and did when He walked this earth. All because of His sacrifice.
That was all I needed to get my heart back where it needed to be.
So, here I am, trying to encourage and remind my sisters that, yes, we, as the Church, are a great big mess. Yes, we don’t get it, a lot of the time. Yes, we are not where we should be. But, please, do not let that stop you. Ladies, you are precious. Look at how Jesus changed the world for you and for me! And look at the possibilities of what you can do for Him, for His people, for your families, for your friends . . . you have this gem-filled-oyster-of-a-world that Jesus gives for you and me to love! And you have amazing skills and gifts and brains and hearts. Do not ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
Now, get out there . . . and accept where they are and lead them to Jesus.