God's Photo Album Revision
by Teresa Marshall
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This is God’s picturesque moment and only He can capture this instance.
Let me open the photo album of my life 20 years ago. Picture this, I had gone to baby-sit. After putting the girls to bed, I went into the spare bedroom to watch the news. Sitting down on the carpeted floor, I moved closer to see the television screen. The girl’s father was watching the news. Inching closer to see the screen I sat next to him.. Since he is family, and thinking of him as an older brother, I saw nothing wrong sitting close. Then I felt a muscular hand reach out and begin to touch inappropriately. My world spun out focus as he raped me! Since he is stronger and bigger, I did not try to oppose him.. Lack of resistance is not a means of consent but a mode of survival.
The night appears endless as I curl up tightly under the blanket. My emotions froze like a still photo. Innocence, fades and a part of my soul dies .Progressively the hours of blackness actively changes with the rays of sunlight in the background. The warmness of the sun did not change the cold lifeless temperature of my heart.
Turning to the next picture, I see myself sitting in a pastor’s office. He is talking to my Mom and ignoring me. The only counsel he gave me is that I will get over this experience. To continue going and serving the Lord. Eventually time will heal. His inadequate training in counseling creates more pictures that are negative.
For too many years, I feel like an undeveloped roll film. in a tiny black canister on the back of a wooden shelf in a darkroom. Within this roll of film are pictures of posttraumatic symptoms.
My lack of making eye contact is because of fear reflecting the emotional pain and the lifelessness of my soul. Hiding behind dark glasses no one saw the agony in my eyes. Even with a smile on my face, my eyes said the opposite. By covering the emotional pain, this kept people at a safe distance. Another reason I kept my head down is because of the shadow of shame. For humiliation tinted me with unworthiness. Wearing shame and unworthiness photographers listed me as non-photogenic.
His violation and wounding my soul, paralyzed my ability to trust myself, people, family or friends. Therefore, I kept to the background Making decisions shaded the pictures gray. How can I make a decision if there is no prop of trust? For me to try decide even what flavor of ice cream I want. It became easier to let someone else decide for me.
The ability in speaking went to a whisper, because of nothing valuable to say. Even in class, I knew the answer, but fear held my mouth shut.
Clothes and personal appearance of dress became lifeless and colorless. I became afraid of be noticed and drawing the wrong type of attention to myself.
I always had an interest in writing, but now, it became a safe hiding place for me. In my world of writing I was in control.
While in college, I finally broke the seal of silence and began to share with a teacher. As I began to unwind bits and pieces of the film, she looked at me with love and compassion. “Girl how have you kept it together this long and still function in college?” Something within me began to stir. Through reading Christian self-help books, the desire to refocus and modify began to grow. Therefore, I zoomed in on my need for professional Christian counseling. After graduating from college pictures became less as life went another direction.
Cancer and unemployment are not pictures to keep.., After several months of job hunting. A position became available with a local Christian radio station in Charlotte, North Carolina. So packing and moving away from family and friends developed into a positive picture for me. Within this setting and adjustment, he desire for professional Christian counseling had not faded with time.
Currently my attention centered on a serious relationship and a wedding date. There was no excitement or happiness within this picture, because of a dark smudge within my heart. I knew taking the pictures of my painful passed into this future marriage relationship might not blend.
Late one night I remember going through the phonebook and seeing the number for a Christian counseling ministry. The following day a counselor contacted me. Thus, the healing process began to develop.
Thinking within six weeks counseling will be complete and I will be ready for marriage. Instead of taking care of me, I spent time focusing on his problems.. Again, I put someone else before me at my own emotional expense. After much heart searching and prayer, I sadly broke the engagement.
For the next two years, I spent relentless hours journalizing. The Lord began to re-develop my life and gave me time to heal. Gradually my communication skills came into focus. I began to see that what I had to say was important. Therefore, I no longer read from my journal notes. My counselor and I started having conversations.
Counseling removed the negative of false guilt and shame. I learned that the rape, was not my fault. My lack of physical and verbal resistance was not a silent “yes”, but a means of survival. This put the responsibility back on the abuser.
Presently, emotionally, the passed is no longer keeping me from advancing. I am not using energy suppressing these emotions. Now, there is more depth to my emotions. I will never be able to erase the scene of that awful dark night.
God is replacing the lies of Satan with His words of Truth. “I have loved you with an everlasting love and have called you by name.” Jeremiah 31:3. I am enjoying life because of who I am in the Lord. He is the lifter of my head. I no longer speak in a whisper because shyness is filtering out and confidence is emerging.
Those two years of intense counseling and emotional healing is a major healthy investment in myself. I knew remaining as an undeveloped roll of film is no way to live and to be a reflection to others. My desire is for others to see Jesus in me and through me. To exhibit His restoration of a life shattered and scared by rape. He can replace with His redeeming love and grace.
Yes, I am one of God’s picturesque moments.
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