When abuse occurs, tell someone immediately please. If that person does not believe you, try another person – please. I know this is very hard, it takes tremendous courage. Please do not do what I did and stay silent. Remember that we have the Holy Spirit in us who raised Jesus from the dead. In Him, we can do this! He wants you to begin the journey of healing. If you are not comfortable telling anyone in your life, The Victim Connect Resource Center lists many hotlines that are situation-specific (children, military, women, teens, rape, domestic violence, trafficking, etc).
After you tell someone that listens, find time and give yourself space to truly understand and process that what happened to you does not define you. What does define you is how you react to what happened to you. Pray a lot. Pray specifically. Find a prayer partner to pray for you. This journey to healing takes time and there are days when you do not want to or feel like praying. This is where you need at least one prayer partner who will pray for you faithfully daily.
Realizing that God does love you, despite what happened, was also a journey for me. I had index cards with prayers and verses to help me when I needed reminders. Examples include:
“May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”
You are created in His image (Genesis 1:27). You are precious in His sight.
“Long ago the LORD said to Israel: ‘I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.'”
“And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. […] But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The prayer I pray:
“Lord, I submit every corner of my life to You. Show me what I have yet to submit to You. Help me to release my need for this to feel fair or to see (him/her/them) punished. Rip out any bitterness in me. Show me what I can learn and how to grow closer to You through this. I need your peace. Help me to heal and forgive. Rain down on me the powerful healing of the Holy Spirit. Replace my pain with a focus on You and Your love. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.”
When I first started to pray this prayer, I meant only a few of the words. I begrudgingly prayed it every morning. I did not want to forget or let the ones who hurt me “off the hook.” I had to keep reminding myself that God will take revenge. I needed to focus on His love for me and who He wanted me to become as a result of all this. I had to believe that this was not my fault. I also had to see that dragging around unforgiveness was only robbing me of the abundant life that God came to bring to me. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” As for the people who hurt me, I can tell you that they did not care what they did to me. They never thought about it again; I was the one who was caught in my cycle of reliving it and not healing.
As I forced myself to pray this prayer, I began to mean more of the words. Any step towards obedience, God will bless. It is okay to pray a prayer like the above one if you do not quite mean every word; you are obeying by crying out to God, trying to release the hurt and trying to forgive. Healing takes time and patience. It takes help from God, prayer partners, professionals and support circles. I read books, I journaled, I cried, I was angry and felt every other emotion you can think of. There is no right way to heal. There is no timeframe that you “should” heal by. But heal, brothers and sisters, please heal. Allow yourselves to heal.
Please contact Wounded Butterflies if you are in need of personal prayer. Thank you, Esther, for having the courage to share your story.