5 Tips for Abuse Survivors Who Share Jesus

"Sharing" by Andy Woo (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) Not endorsed by licensor.

Sharing” by Andy Woo (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) Not endorsed by licensor.

“I hope I don’t have to share my story tonight,” someone whispered to me.

My heart echoed this fear.

Our church and community groups are going through The Gospel Primer in an attempt to share the the good news of Jesus through the lens of our individual lives.

  • Great power dwells within the gospel story within each of us.
  • Great delight lingers amongst those who share that gospel story, recalling the joy of discovering The Hero of all our lives: Jesus.
  • Great appreciation stirs up within the hearers of the gospel story, amazed at how–once again–the good news is so good.

Yet…

My heart resists the prompting to share my story because of the silence–or awkward exchange–it often creates. I’m often embarrassed when my audience is silent, thinking that I’ve shared too much of my heart.

Over the years I’ve been guilty of sharing too much of the abuse story, weakening unstable relational connections. A healthy, solid, and trustworthy relationship proves more long-suffering than most casual acquaintances.

Currently, I’m learning that the silence–or the perceived awkward pause–that follows sharing my gospel story is not always about me.

  • Sometimes it’s about them. Sometimes my sharing about my past abuse and pain disturbs their past and tender wounds.
  • Sometimes it’s about worship. Sometimes my sharing drives the audience to stand in awe of who God is and what God has done–and is doing–in my life.

Here’s a few items to consider when constructing your story to ease and to assist the hearers of your story.

  • Respect your privacy. If you are going to share about your childhood sexual abuse or sexual assault, omit the details of the abuse.  It is critical for the healing of your heart that those details are shared with a few (2 or 3) trustworthy confidants. However, you will spare yourself pain, embarrassment, or triggers by keeping actual episodes private within a larger community.
  • Keep Jesus on repeat. Even when you share about the abuse or the impact of the abuse, allow your mind and your words to focus on how Jesus pursued you, protected you, made Himself known to you.  This may be a new thought to you: that Jesus was right there with you during the assault.

Consider one of David’s psalms: “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up. You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways” (Ps. 139.2, 3). If you’ve never considered this before, ask Him. Ask Him where He was, what He was doing, and how you can visualize Him preserving your life in His goodness.

  • Identify with Jesus. Connect the unjust manner with which you suffered to that of Christ’s unjust suffering on the cross for your sins. The God of heaven and earth yielded His authority and power and position when He cloaked Himself in humanity and suffered a grotesque death for the payment of our sins.

No one, not one, is righteous save for Jesus Christ. Yet, He unjustly suffered. If anyone can understand and identify with the pain of mistreatment, it’s Jesus.

  • Boast God’s goodness to you. Detail how He has healed you; restored you; or allowed you to trust, to love, to relax. Be specific, be clear, and be bold. Brag on His strength to move and work within you; this is active worship and gives God glory.
  • End with exultation. Even if your healing journey is just beginning, there is much to exult in! He has promised to bring good to His children, and His promises never fail. Rejoice in God’s unfailing character, His extravagant love, His tender mercy, or His transformative work in your heart, your life. Who can refute such transformation?

The tug on my heart the other night pestered me into sharing my story among friends. I felt guilty that I didn’t initially want to share how God intervened in my life, enabling me to thrive in His love for me.

Next week, I will share my gospel story with you. 😀

 

What’s your next step?

Consider how God’s hand prints are on your life, including your abuse story. How has He met you there? Have you shared your gospel story? How did it go? When we share our stories–including those places where only God can heal–we invite others to experience the freedom and joy of God’s love.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You. (Ps. 131.2,3).

Join me on the healing journey.

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