By Karen Petty
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It’s been years since that terrible trespass. I had been so young. Too young to understand that those puzzling and uncomfortable moments would alter my outlook forever. They would change who I’d become.
Urgent questions didn’t come till later. Why did he choose me? Where was my protector? Would all men look at me in that twisted way? Was it twisted after all or is that the way things are? I longed for things to be different. This shouldn’t be normal.
Forgiveness came easy for me. Yet, even when that season of my life ended, safety was never quite within my grasp. Those experiences took something from me. My expectations…my tolerance of how I was to be treated were very different than what a young girl’s should be. It didn’t make sense to exhale. After all, offenders can be nice, good-looking, or maybe even someone you know or like. Was there no safe place? Functioning without a safe place? Now that was normal, for me.
I pushed forward, making plans and making friends. Never again would I be put in that situation. As a child, I had little control over my circumstances. No one had made an active choice to protect me. But, now, I was in the driver’s seat. I endeavored to use wisdom, as much as possible with regards to where I’d go and who I was with. I judged closely what men I’d let become close to me. Sometimes, I miss the mark. The only steadiness was that of God’s presence. Despite my failing attempts at fixing my own brokenness, He never moved away. God showed me continual grace.
I see them now, His hands. Looking back, times that He kept me, are coming into focus. I’ll admit. Healing takes a long time. Even now, memories pierce me at unsuspecting times. There may be months or years before another wave hits, taking me right back into that moment where I felt abandoned, confused, small, and unable to protect myself. Over the years, I’ve learned enough to know to bring all these painful feelings, right to the Lord. I used to try stuffing, ignoring, or numbing them (sometimes unknowingly, but other times, on purpose). What a waste of my time that was.
Will I ever be able to stamp out bad memories? Can I erase the past? No. But, I am not destined for a lifetime of sadness or dysfunction. God heals me as much as I need everyday. He gives me joy. His hands lift me, when I can’t. He is my Strength and my Hope. He has specific plans for me! I will be provided for, while walking whatever steps He has mapped out for me. On both a rocky or smooth path, I will rest in Him.
I don’t have to live and breathe fear or carry even a hint of mistrust for others. If I am hurt, God will take care of me. I will be ok. Better yet, I’ve found that it’s alright for me to stop questioning myself about what I could’ve done differently, to have sidestepped my predator, so long ago. How much can a five year old control, anyway?
That year that it all began, also began my walk with God. Those life-saving moments spent on my knees, at children’s church, next to all those other kids would birth a journey. One that would carry me, or rather I would be carried by an Almighty God. No terrible thing in my life went unnoticed by Him. I began to notice his solid stance and open arms. Unchanging and trustworthy are two of my favorite features about Him. Never will He leave me…unguarded.
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