Gods Photo Album
by Teresa Marshall
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This is God’s picturesque moment and only He could capture this instance.
Let me open the photo album of my life twenty years ago. Picture this, I had gone to baby-sit. After the three little girls had gone to bed and were sleeping peacefully, the only noise within the house was the low hum from the TV. As I sat down on the carpeted floor in the spare bedroom, I moved closer to see the television screen. The girl’s father was also watching the news. I was still unable to see the screen, so I inched closer. As I sat next to him, thinking nothing was wrong since he was a family member, I felt a muscular hand reach out and begin to inappropriately touch. My world went out focus as he sexually assaulted me. My lack of resistance was not a means of consent, but a mode of survival.
The night seemed endless as I curled up tightly under the blanket wondering if daylight would ever come. He shattered me emotionally and a part of me died that night. Slowly the darkness began to change with warm rays of sunlight in the background. My heart felt cold and lifeless within.
As I turn to the next picture, I see myself sitting in a pastor’s office. I hear him talking to my Mom and not counseling me. He was not adequately trained to counsel. All he could suggest to me was that eventually I’d get over this experience and to keep on going. This was all the “counseling” I received at that time. I tried to put the pain and hurt into the shadowy background.
For many years, I felt like an undeveloped roll film closed up in a tiny black film canister placed on the back of a wooden shelf in a darkroom. Within that roll of film were pictures of post traumatic symptoms.
The eyes are the windows of the soul. I was afraid to make eye contact because of the reflection of emotional pain and the deadness of my soul. Lights were not on and I was not home. I hid behind dark glasses and said that the sun bothered me. I did not want people to get close to me for fear they might hurt me. I walked with my head down, for the shadow of shame filtered in and caused me to feel unworthy. I didn’t make eye contact because I did not feel important enough to be successful.
My ability to speak was diminished to almost a whisper because I felt that I had nothing valuable to say. If I spoke louder someone might hear me, so I kept verbal and emotional distance and remained in the background within a crowd.
Yes, I had friends, but I was selective. I seemed to choose those with authoritative type personalities because I wanted someone who could make decisions for me. I was afraid to make choices because of a lack of confidence within myself. The ability to trust had been fragmented.
My style of dress was lifeless and colorless. Again I did not want to draw attention to myself.
Writing became a hiding place for me. I felt safe within my own little world where I was in control.
While in college, I finally broke the seal of silence and began to share with a teacher. As I started to unwind bits and pieces of the film, she looked at me with love and compassion and said, “Girl how have you kept it together this long and still functioned in college?” Something within me had begun to stir. I wanted to change my life. I began to read Christian self-help books. As a result, I zoomed in on my need for professional Christian counseling.
After graduating from college there are not many pictures until I moved to Charlotte, NC. I had accepted a position with a local Christian radio station. The need for professional Christian counseling had not faded with time. I remember one night going through the phonebook and saw the phone number for a Christian counseling ministry. The following day one of the counselors contacted me. Thus the healing process began to develop.
At that time I was in a serious relationship and a wedding date had been set. I knew within my heart I didn’t want to take the painful past into a marriage relationship. I thought counseling would be completed within six weeks. Life would go forward. As the counseling began I saw that I was focusing on his problems and not mine. After much heart searching and prayer, I sadly broke the engagement.
For the next two years I spent endless hours journalizing. The Lord began to re-develop my life and gave me time to heal. As the counseling began, it took a few weeks for a level of trust to develop because I wasn’t used to someone wanting to hear what I was thinking and how I felt about me. Gradually my communication skills became more focused. I began to see that what I had to say was important. I no longer read from my journaling notes.
Counseling removed the negative of false guilt and shame. I learned that it was not my fault. My lack of physical and verbal resistance was not a silent “yes”, but a means of survival.
Emotionally, the past is no longer keeping me from advancing. This does not mean that I have forgotten the scene of that awful dark night. That image will remain. I am not suppressing the emotional trauma. I am able to feel on a deeper level now.
God has replaced the lies of Satan with His words of Truth. “I have loved you with an everlasting love and have called you by name.” I am enjoying life because of who I am in the Lord. He has lifted my head and I no longer speak in a whisper because shyness is being filtered out and confidence is emerging.
Yes, I am one of God’s Kodak’s moments. God also desires to take your life and process it for His honor and glory. He loves each one of us very deeply.
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Theresa, forgive me if it is inappropriate to comment on this wonderful writing, since I am a male. I am saddened understanding that this is an all too common instance with young women and girls. But I am glad you were courageous enough to reveal the consequences of stupidity, selfishness, and lust behind these acts. God can do amazing things even through horrific events. Keep writing and serving Him. God bless. (from a father and grandfather)
Teresa, may God continue to bring wholeness to you. I liked the way you kept the photography imagery going throughout the piece. Well done. It is beautifully written, and the reader can really feel your pain.
What a touching, honest picture of real life in a fallen world! Well written. Imagery well chosen. YOur thoughts flow comfortably and I was compelled to finish reading.I'm so grateful that you had the courage to go for counselling and are free now.It might encourage others to take that crucial step as well.May you continue to refresh us with your special insights. Blessings Soekie Woolls
You are one of God's Kodak moments. He rejoices over you with singing.