“Write about a time when you struggled with a dilemma. A dilemma is when you struggle with a decision between two or more choices, and you don’t know what the right thing to do is,” said my eighth grade English teacher, as she causally walked across the front of her perfectly rowed room of honors students.
My vision blurred, I gripped the edge of my desk and felt all the blood from my face drain, while, simultaneously, I believed my bowels took permanent leave of my body.
She began again, “In this paper, I want you to explain the thought process of your struggle, your dilemma. And no! You may not write about the time you were at the ice cream shop, trying to decide which flavor you wanted.”
Her words echoed and muddled as I tried to quiet the thought trying to trump the paper’s instructions.
Write about the abuse and whether to tell or not.
Life has a funny way of repeating themes and lessons. Here I am, a woman approaching forty, and I still face the same assignment, same blank page, and same hollow-pitted belly.
As a junior high girl, my teacher did the right thing, following protocol and reported my abuse.
The consequences at the time seemed unbearable. The school psychologist pulled me from my favorite class, Honors English, sat me in a windowless closet of a room with a single desk lamp and badgered me for the name of my abuser. Terrifying. In fact, my memory reminds me of a low-budget film’s police interrogation.
Subsequently, I requested not to have any more appointments.
As a woman, I realize vocalization comes with its own seemingly unbearable consequences–hurting others: those who refuse to believe the truth; those who find comfort in silence because speaking evokes shame and pain; those who had knowledge of the abuse, yet did little or nothing to intervene; and those who abused and would rather forget or deny.
Looking back over my healing journals, I found this prayer written over a decade ago:
Lord, I want Love, not Pain Relief. But when does the haunting pain ease? Identify and give me strength to demolish any self-serving idols, shame, and contempt…And, Lord, could You somehow incorporate this horrible hurt into something beautiful through which You could love other daughters of Christ?
My jaw slackened and my grip tightened on my journal; there it is!
Again, the Spirit twirling my guts into knots–“Speak!”
My eyes faltered, and I willed them to consume stroke by stroke the final line of the prayer.
I know that if You give this Divine Purpose that I’d have no ground ever to curse it.
No ground ever to curse it.
To curse it.
To curse the abuse.
And so, I will lift up my voice uttering praises to my King, for He is good. He is good, and I want Him to love others through ALL of me, including my former dilemma.
Today, I’m accepting the dare to view and voice my past abuse as scared, fertile ground and expectantly await the blossoms of His glory garden.
What’s your next step?
Have you ever compared the cost of silence to the cost of vocalization? Make no mistake, there is always a cost with this burden, whether you speak up or remain silent. Will you consider the joy that accompanies allowing our Maker and Creator to give your story Divine Purpose? He is good, and He loves to make all things new.