“This is Mrs. Pendleton. If you could give me a call back, I’d like to talk with you more about what may or may not have happened with your daughter on the school bus,” relayed the voice through my iPhone.
The kids were recently tucked in bed for the night, and I was just listening to the missed call and message. While recalling the events of getting my kindergartner off the bus that Friday afternoon, my memory fuzzed.
The school bus driver, who is normally ready to talk and tell me important news or information, didn’t say a word to me. My daughter, who normally gushes and floods my ears with all the happenings of the bus and recess and center-activities, rushed right past me to play in the newly fallen leaves.
Then it hit me. Normally. A call from the school generally means abnormality. Something abnormal has happened.
In that moment, fear clenched my throat and dread clutched my heart and powerlessness settled in; I was five: unable to stop the bad guy, unable to protect my daughter, unable to think like a parent.
Many people have asked me over the years–with honest and pure hearts, meaning no malintent–“have you worked through your abuse? Have you been able to forgive your abusers?”
Embedded in that question is an accusation my heart hears: “You should be healed by now; afterall, your abuse happened decades ago. Come on! Do the work, and get better!”
Cognitively, I know the hearts of my dear brothers and sisters in Christ who’ve innocently uttered these questions. Internally, my bowels rumble, my head goes hot-air-balloon-ish, and my teeth fang. Anger stirs and spews: If you only knew how much I’ve wrestled with God over these issues…
See, God keeps throwing me test-curve balls. Or, at least, he, himself, has allowed the enemy to throw it. Regardless of the actual pitcher, Friday I found myself listening to the message from my daughter’s teacher without my catcher’s mitt.
How could I have ever imagined years ago when I was “doing business with God” that an incident on my daughter’s school bus would trigger my abused past? How, on earth, could I have anticipated that one?
What’s worse, I began playing scenarios in my head, and, of course, the unnamed issue had to be sexual abuse.
And then my heart stopped: Was my daughter the abuser?!
Rereading Dan Allender’s The Wounded Heart: Hope For Adult Vicitims of Childhood Sexual Abuse, I found:
The damage done through abuse is awful and heinous, but minor compared to the dynamics that distort the victim’s relationship with God and rob her of the joy of loving and being loved by others (13).
The terrible truth emerges through the every day. My sense of normal has been distorted as I relate to God, as I relate to others, and as I relate to the world around me.
Damage of the soul requires a holy restitution. And time.
My husband and I attempted to discuss the situation, but due to so little information from the message and due to the fact that our daughter was asleep for the night, we ended up staring at our phones, pretending to be engrossed in what our friends had posted on Facebook.
Recognizing that my thoughts wildly spun without direction or control, I emptied my emotions in a raw prayer that looked something like this:
Lord, I don’t know what happened on the bus, and I can’t ask my daughter until tomorrow because she’s asleep. These are the fears of my heart. Take them from me. Allow me to rest tonight, as I wait to find out even what the issue is. You know my heart, and you know that it has jumped to abuse because that is my greatest fear. Give me eyes to see the truth and the courage to face it. Lord, protect my babies…
Following breakfast, I was able to ask my daughter if something had happened on the bus Friday that Papa and I might need to know about.
Sure enough, my tenderhearted daughter confessed that she had lied about eating a peanut-filled piece of candy before getting on the bus. Alert to her peanut allergy, the bus driver followed protocol, thus warranting a telephone call from Mrs. Pendleton.
Relief filtered through every inch of me. A peanut lie. I’ve got this.
Powerlessness, you can go hide your face somewhere else, now. I’ve been empowered by truth.
Today, I’m accepting the dare to isolate those feelings of powerlessness, take them to Jesus in prayer, and ask him to reveal the truth of the matter–no matter how big, bad, and ugly–so that I may walk in his Spirit, empowered to live differently.
Lord Jesus, why you choose to pursue my heart is beyond me, but I am ever so thankful. The curve balls that come my way scare me less and less as I lean hard upon your person.
What’s your next step? Think back over the last week. Can you recall a time when emotionally you felt out of control, helpless, or powerless? Thinking through that moment, that encounter, that situation, what could you have done differently? Ask Jesus in prayer to show you how your past abuse distorts your current reality. Then ask him to for the courage and the strength to walk in light of truth, no matter what.