Music, during my adolescent years, was the main coping skill used to help me escape the pain of childhood sexual abuse. When I was 12, I bought my first guitar at a garage sale for $1.50. It wasn’t very pretty, and it needed new strings, but I was determined to play so I did whatever it took to learn. I spent hours in my room day after day playing and singing love songs to Jesus. He was my sweetest friend, the one I poured my heart out to, and the one who brought me peace despite whatever dreadful things were happening to me. I never blamed Him for it either, perhaps mostly because I never understood it as a child, nor ever tried to, instead I just wanted to sing because it helped me feel better.
As mentioned in an earlier post (Broken, But Beautiful?), there were many seeds of hope sown into my life by a variety of people and in a variety of ways. The songs I sang to Jesus, day after day, was one of those ways and one I treasure greatly. I have no doubt but that GOD found a way to place that guitar into my hands because He knew it would bring me comfort. I also believe He knew it would become a tool used to help cultivate the seeds sown deep inside of me as I would sing the truth of His love over my heart.
As a young adult, I went away to college, got married, went to work, had kids, and bought a house. All very good things, however, during this time I stopped playing my guitar and rarely spent time with the Savior who brought me peace in my earlier years. Too many other things kept me distracted. I worked hard and was promoted often. I taught Sunday School and sang on the Worship Team. I did my best to keep my house clean, my children clean and my husband fed…..but….I WAS EXHAUSTED!
Because I was no longer cultivating the hope that was inside of me, depression began to invade every nook and cranny of my soul. I was a young wife and mother trying to navigate the difficulties of a life that had not yet dealt with the dysfunction of my childhood. I was fortunate in the fact I had married an amazing man that loved me well, but that wasn’t enough to cover the guilt and shame I carried into my adulthood. So, I tried to keep it hidden by performance and perfectionism.
But performance and perfectionism doesn’t heal anybody, only Jesus can do that*, and I had stopped spending time with Him. My depression became suicidal, and since I was convinced everyone would be better off without me, I began planning my exit out of this world. I remember one particular day crying out to GOD, “ENOUGH!!! I BELIEVE YOU ARE GOD; I BELIEVE YOU SENT YOUR SON, BUT LIFE IS JUST TOO HARD AND I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!!!!”
I remember thinking how incredibly disappointed GOD must have been in me that day, indeed, how very disappointed.
But instead, God, being rich in mercy and love, sent a dear friend to my home while passing through Arizona on her way to California. She and her husband arrived on Saturday night and left Monday morning. The entire short time they were there they administered life to me. Every word spoken from their mouths were jewels from the living God. What I remember the most was her saying to me, “Cary, God has really been teaching me about the confession of the mouth and about the power of our thoughts. The word of God tells us “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” It also says, “Death and Life are in the power of the tongue”” (Proverbs 23:7 & 18:21).
Suddenly it struck me, I was thinking ugly things about myself, I was saying ugly things about myself, and in my eyes, I was those ugly things.
That Monday after I got home from work, I went straight back to my room, locked the door, fell to my knees and began to confess something new with my mouth, a bible verse my 5-year-old son had taught me. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made, Your works are wonderful oh Lord and my soul knows it full well.” (Psalms 139:14). Repeatedly I would confess that with my mouth, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I am fearfully and wonderfully made!” I had gone down to the floor broken and rose to my feet with new life and a new song. It ‘s as if Jesus , Himself, had placed paddles on my heart in order to bring me back to life.
I picked up my guitar again that day and have been playing and singing words of life most every day since. Soaking myself daily in the grace and truth of the LOVE of GOD has been a significant tool used throughout my healing journey.
Admittedly, soaking in that truth is one thing , however, being able to fully embrace that truth has been a process. Because of the years of sexual abuse experienced as a child and adolescent, shame had established some very deep roots in my life. Because I kept the abuse hidden for so long, many of those roots had not been exposed or dealt with. But after my mother had passed away and I no longer felt the need to protect her from the truth of what had happened to me, I finally found the courage to “go there”. Many of you know what I mean by “go there”. THERE, is that place where the deepest pain imaginable still holds pieces of our heart.
THERE, is that place where the deepest pain imaginable still holds pieces of our heart.
“Reentering terrain we have fenced off as forbidden is an act of profound courage. It requires learning to read our story with eyes that see as God sees. We grow in faith to the degree we do what seems counterintuitive: open our heart to remember, grieve, and ask God to engage our heartache with tenderness.” (Dan B. Allender, Healing The Wounded Heart)
So yes, I went there. And yes, it has been painful at times. But oh yes, through the help of the proper resources, it has also been extremely healing, liberating, and life changing. As I opened my heart to remember, and grieve, God did indeed engage my heartache with His tenderness. And, just like a songbird released from her cage, I find myself singing louder these days.
Perhaps today you are in the process of going there. We, at RESTORING TAMAR, understand how painful that process can be, but we also know the benefit of it. That is why we commit ourselves to praying over this website that anyone who lands on it will breathe in fresh peace, strength, encouragement, and hope.
You Are Brave and we honor you, and believe in you. You Are Loved, You Are Valued, And You Are Not Alone!
*I believe that Jesus is our ultimate healer. I also believe that He is creative in the way He heals and uses a variety of ways to do so (the gospels show us that). Whether it be by speaking through others, through trauma therapy, through a book, a song, a painting, scriptures, or any other way He chooses. His love for us can’t be contained or boxed…. He is simply too big for that.