With rocks in hand, ready to throw into the culvert’s water, my son stared at the concrete ledge, exhaled forcefully, and whimpered, “I’m s-s-scared!”
Before I could say, “Why don’t we wait,” he toed the edge, then committed to stepping upon the same ledge from which he fell seven days prior. If you missed it, you can read about it here.
As a mama, I can’t tell you how my heart raced. How I wanted to scream at him to get down. How I visualized him falling, falling, falling once again.
Yet, I knew in my heart that his fears and my fears are separate–related–but separate.
I knew this time was coming.
Part of his maturation required him to face this reality–when he was ready, not when his mama was ready.
Courage, defined, is the ability to do something that frightens one.
After Jesus’ death and burial, “Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus” (Mar. 15.43, NASB).
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always missed that part about Joseph of Arimathea’s courage; I just thought he was a wealthy man, who happened to have an unused tomb, and who God purposed to use in the resurrection of our Savior.
The Greek word used for courage there is defined as “not to dread or shun through fear.”
Jospeh of Arimathea’s reality required him to humble himself before Pontus Pilate, aligning himself with the Way, to ask for the body of whom Pilate had washed his hands. Joseph was a man of prominence with a lot to lose, in terms of reputation.
Fear grips the hearts of most sexual abuse survivors, and we tend to dread and shun facing the reality of our past, our pain.
Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit,” after his announcement that the time has come for “the Son of Man to be glorified” (Jhn. 12.23,4 NASB).
The reality a grain of wheat faces is isolation and barrenness through shunning death or extended and fruitful life through undergoing death.
As a sexual abuse survivor, our realities are similar to Joseph of Arimathea and to the grain of wheat.
First, we must gather up the courage to go before our God and humbly ask for His grace in our healing journey. We need the Great Physician, first and foremost, to itemize our individual prognosis.
And, yes, it will require a tomb.
The same tomb that held the body of Jesus Christ.
“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Ro. 6.4, NASB).
Because we can identify in the likeness of Christ’s death and resurrection, therefore, walking in newness of life, we no longer walk this life path alone. He is with us every step of the way.
Second, like the grain of wheat, we endure death by naming the abuse, receiving the life-giving water of Jesus, and yielding to the transformative work of His Spirit.
See, the grain of wheat seemingly rots while it absorbs the water below the earth’s surface, but its obstacle is its coating, its shell.
Each of us as survivors have developed a kind of coat or shell on our heart. We’ve refused to acknowledge the abuse, pretended it never happened, or convinced ourselves that it has no substantial impact upon the present.
The truth of the matter is that coat fortifies barrenness, sterility, futility.
The ability to resolve our defensive coats into a malleable entryway for healing and growth begins with a tender heart yielding to God.
Part of our maturation process includes facing our reality, toeing the edge, and then committing to the step of faith.
What’s your next step?
Where are you in the healing journey? What would it look like for you to take the next step of faith in your healing? What does the defensive coating look like around your heart? Does it show up relationally? Internally? Prayerfully consider shedding the fear that entangles and walking in newness of life, never alone, but hand-in-hand with Jesus.
Join me on the healing journey.
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