Let Go of the Alligator!

I agree with Donne “imprison me” so that I can be truly free.


John Donne’s Holy Sonnet 14:

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie or break that tie again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

It’s the week before Father’s Day, and usually the hardest time of the year for me.

I was abused by my adopted father when I was a little girl.

The abuse from my former pastor began almost 12 years ago this week.

In our very first counseling session, he astounded me by hugging me and then with tears in his eyes told me that he loved me.  It was the day I believed that I’d been rescued.  But I had no idea that I was walking into a situation that would only further tear my life apart.

As an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I felt like I was in the middle of a flood of rushing waters when my former pastor came by offering to save me.

He appeared to be a log that I could grab hold of, and who would keep me from drowning in the depths,  but he was actually an alligator who would only further devour my soul.

If I knew then what I know now, I’d have allowed the flood waters to take me wherever they would.  But no one likes feeling out of control,  so that’s what we do grab hold of the first thing that floats by.

Lately my close email friend, an abuse survivor like me, Nancy,  and I have communicated back and forth about the term limerence. She’d been researching the term and asked me to read about it.

lim·er·ence ˈlimərəns/ noun PSYCHOLOGY

the state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one’s feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship.

Reading about limerence reminded me of the infatuation that developed between me and the former pastor.  An infatuation that brought great shame into my heart.  This morning I wrote this in an email to Nancy and thought I’d share it here.

I can still remember the early days on when I first began meeting with my former pastor and I’d drop by the church just for a hug. It was the strangest thing I have ever experienced. I’d feel like I’d drank a fifth of whiskey or something. Leaving was so very difficult.   I never wanted to leave his side again.  I’d call when I got out of the parking lot of the church just to make it easier to leave. 

Limerance is real.

(My counselor) Sharon told me yesterday that every time a memory comes to mind of him to take it to Jesus.  So as I write this I’m handing it over to Jesus in an effort to get it out, pray for Him to help me love Him with that kind of passion. His love is the only one worth giving everything to. 

Yet I wonder why, why so desperate to give my heart away so quickly to a predator who would eventually rip me apart rather than give me the wholeness I was so longing for? 

It’s the question I’ve asked myself so many times.

I think the best I can come up with is a little girl longing to have someone in her life stronger than her. Someone who’d kiss her boo boos,  someone who’d tell her everything was gonna be ok. I’d struggled alone grasping for anything good to hold onto for so long…some sense of security and home.  He was a log floating down that I could see.  I was drowning and grabbed hold.  I just didn’t know he was an alligator.  This may make it to my blog.

But then there’s the question why such a longing to be consumed by him?  Why did I want to vanish so completely into him that there was nothing else. 

A song echoes in my mind by Smoky Robinson

I don’t care what they think about me
And I don’t care what they do
I don’t care about anything else, but being with you

It was the song that my adopted father had on an old cassette tape at the trailer where I was abused.   I used to play it when I was there.  Strange how snippets come back like that.

The only thing that makes sense to me as to why I wanted to be so enmeshed with him was to make the pain and the shame go away.  If I convinced myself it was love and beautiful then I could somehow purify what was happening,  but it never worked.  It always made things worse.

Being one with God is the only enmeshment that accomplishes the freedom from shame and guilt and relief of the pain that our hearts long for.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.  If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
John 15:1‭-‬11 ESV

He (Jesus) is the only thing we must grab hold of and accomplish freedom from the painful shame that tears us apart.  He is the only one who can make us clean and produce real love and joy.

I think from now on when I think about grabbing hold of something besides Him for what I long for it’d be helpful to envision an alligator!

I agree with Donne “imprison me” so that I can be truly free.

His love is all that we need.

He is the Father who kisses our boo boos, and promises to take care of us.

He is the rock stronger and higher than I.

He is an anchor for our souls when the flood waters come.  

He promises everything will be ok.

He has declared us clean, made us whole and set us free because of Jesus.

We don’t need anyone or anything else to do that for us.

Cling to Him for dear life and no one else. 

He is our unseen hope.

He will never let us down.

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Luke 12:32‭-‬34 ESV

Photo credit:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s