“Broken but Beautiful” is a weekly column by Faith Gor, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. She shares her story and healing journey to offer hope to other survivors.
“There’s no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you” – Maya Angelou
I knew there was a problem when I started withdrawing from my social circles and I didn’t have the energy to take the long walks that I enjoyed. My hands could not cooperate with my brain to do any creative work. I couldn’t tell what was wrong. I fantasized about going far away into some jungle and staying there forever and never returning. I managed to find my escape somehow, thanks to social media.
One day, a friend sent me a link to some audio sermon, but I didn’t want to listen to it. I was tired of empty hopes. I had accepted my pain as a punishment from God for existing. She persistently followed up to ask me whether I had listened to it and what I learnt. This made me make time to listen to the sermon. I played it while doing house chores. It was a sermon on prayer and the preacher shared an experience about how God revealed Himself to him. That sounded adventurous, and I made a mental note to try that out.
I gave myself time, and after a week, I started an intentional prayer routine and began asking God to reveal Himself to me as a Father because I didn’t know how to relate to Him as a child. On the fourth day of that week, I lost sleep at 2 a.m. I got out of bed and went to my prayer corner with my Bible and my journal, and I prayed through Psalm 139. When I was done, I wrote a note to God and told Him that I wanted to experience His fatherly love, then I went back to bed at 6 a.m.
A few minutes later, I was then woken up by a deep sense of grief. My heart felt some deep, hollow pain, and the next thing that followed was a deep sigh and a flood of tears then I cried a river. I was so helpless. The pain in my chest was so much that I wanted to die. And I wondered what had gone wrong. I thought I had asked God to reveal His fatherly love to me. Was that love? Does love harm? I regretted the prayer moment I had. I felt miserable and I was in denial.
When the pain would not go away, I picked my phone to message one of my friends, but I deleted the message and switched off my phone and went back to bed.
The urge to talk to someone kept pushing me, and I switched on the phone and messaged three of my friends. I told them that I didn’t see the need to live because I was having memories of a past sexual assault, and I couldn’t bear it anymore. I didn’t see any value in me.
Two of them sent in prayers and words of encouragement, but I couldn’t think through what they said, so I switched off my phone again. After that, I got out of bed and went around my room and began removing items that brought back painful memories, and I burnt them, and that felt so nice. I felt like I gained control over my life.
I took photos of the flames, and I sent them to my friend Ela. I told her what I did. She was glad that I didn’t harm myself. She then called to ask me what had happened, but I was not willing to tell her what was eating me up. I didn’t imagine she would believe me, but I told her anyway and she believed me. She told me that she was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse too, and that gave me some peace. Being vulnerable with her gave me some relief. I felt alive again! She then sent me this:
“You may think you feel cut off, but if you are in Christ Jesus, you are not — you have been grafted into the family of God with full access to the throne of grace to receive help and mercy in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
“You do not have to stay where you are. Just because you got lured into a downward spiral of thinking does not mean you have to stay down there. You can take one step after another onto a succession of truths until you come back up to where you can breathe God’s pure air again. Yes, you can! All things are possible.” – ‘Hope in the midst of Pain’ by James W. Goll
I’m grateful that I could afford hope. I now understand that God was revealing to me what He wanted to heal in me. He wanted to fight for me, but I was in denial. He was showing me that love does not harm and that He hates violation of any kind.
I believed that to love was to suffer and that we are to endure through it, but no, that was a lie. Love might hurt due to our expectations, but it does not harm. When someone you love and trust violates you occasionally and covers that up with gifts, that’s not love. That’s a clear indication that they don’t value you, and you don’t belong there.
I pray that you find courage and strength to recognize your pain and to speak up, because your voice matters.