“Your daughter isn’t physically hurt, but we need you here as soon as possible,” the camp director told me.
“Is she in some kind of trouble?”
“No, it’s nothing like that. I’m sorry that we can’t discuss this on the phone. We are required to do this in person.”
It was late. The drive would take my husband and me forty-five minutes. Since we both had worked on the staff in prior years, we were aware of camp protocol. Since our daughter was not injured or in trouble, we knew the need for our immediate presence meant that she had reported some type of abuse.
I knew now that the decline in our daughter’s behavior over the last two years had a valid cause. We figured her lying, sneaking out, and choosing the wrong friends was just typical teenage rebellion. She had told me over and over that she no longer believed in the Lord. She stated that she didn’t believe He cared about her. A sense of finally receiving answers filled our hearts with hope as the realization that our daughter had been violated flooded our souls with pain.
“Who do you think did this,” I inquired of my husband as we were in the car. My husband withdrew as I probed him with questions the entire ride. “Do you think it is someone in her school or our church? Do you think it is someone in the family? I was talking to her about getting her period for the first time? Do you think she could be over-reacting to something I could have said?” He had no guesses.
The director met us in the parking lot. He revealed nothing but that our daughter insisted on telling us the news. As soon as she exposed her abuser, we began to weep as she leaped into her father’s arms sobbing. It was a place she had abandoned two years earlier.
After several minutes our daughter turned to us and asked, “Have either one of you ever experienced this?”
“Yes,” I told her, “And I understand now why you felt like the Lord didn’t love you. He didn’t leave you that night, just like He hadn’t left me.”
Memories of the night I revealed my abuser came crashing in at me. “You are sick and need help,” my mother shouted. She didn’t believe me. She refused to defend me. No one would rescue me. I would wrestle alone in my pain for years. My abuser would deny his deeds and in time enter an eternity separated from the One able to heal and save him.
Remembering what I felt that night, I hugged and assured my daughter, “You will not go through this alone anymore. We will do everything we can to protect you.”
In those late hours returning home, I praised my Savior for the promise of Romans 8:28. “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (NASB)
The path I journeyed as a child made complete sense to me now. I was abandoned, but my daughter received love and support from her entire family. My abuser got away with his crimes in this life, but my daughter’s did not. My abuser entered a Christ-less eternity, but my daughter’s abuser found salvation and is finding healing in this life. There is hope in the Lord’s promises, and He indeed is able to turn ashes into beauty when we love Him.
*With my daughter’s permission we share our story of hope with you. The guilty must remain anonymous.
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