“A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.”
Matthew 12:33-37 NLT
I will never forget the day I was told that my name would be given and my story would be told the way that they wanted it to be told. I was on the other side of the country. There was nothing I could do to stop it. I had lost all control over what happened there. I hung up the phone and walked into the bathroom, got down on the floor and began to pound and scream into the carpet. I kept hearing the words, “Your name will be given.” I had lost all control.
I have come to understand that when people like me who have suffered from abuse lose control, it brings much pain. On this day, I felt more pain than I had in a long time time. I think after all the years of numbing my pain, I had almost forgotten what it felt like. Being faced with the reality that I had no choice over how my story would be told, what people would think, came crashing in on top of me. Who I was suffocated under the debris. The dust filled my lungs, and I lost my voice. My name would be given, my story would be told the way that they wanted it to be told. I could not do anything to stop it from happening.
They had taken my voice. They would rewrite my words.
For years I’d learned how to pretend everything was fine, to keep everyone happy and thinking that I was a person who was at least trying to do the right thing, but I wasn’t doing the right thing and sometimes I didn’t even want to. But I knew how to say what they wanted to hear. All I wanted was for my pain to go away.
When I told the truth about the lie I’d been living, I believed that others would show me compassion, dig down deep into their own stories and somehow help me to be able to live with what I had done. But that was my mistake projecting what I felt at the time onto them. They hadn’t lived what I had lived. They didn’t see what I saw. They only saw what had brought them harm, and they wanted their own pain to go away. And they told the story in such a way that would minimize the damage that had been done.
Isn’t that what most of us do? Do whatever we can to make the pain go away? Attempt to return to normalcy as quickly as possible when everything falls apart? That’s certainly what I did when I made a terrible choice to place my trust in the wrong person. I gave him all my hopes and dreams and believed that I was putting them in the right place. He was the father I had always wanted but never had. He was the first person I’d ever met that I felt totally accepted by. The first time he hugged me the world seemed like a safer place.
Working at a residential treatment program for people who have suffered from all kinds of trauma is teaching me so much about life, pain, and our deep need to be loved. I see myself in their stories. I weep inside over all they have lost. My heart leaps with joy when they learn how to trust the people who are helping them and begin the process of healing. They are in a place where people can truly help them.
The hardest thing for me to do is to learn how to trust again, to speak again with the voice that God gave me. The reality is that what I say can and will be misunderstood, and I will be judged. The lack of control I have over how others see me is terrifying.
Jesus said that what is in our hearts come out of our mouths. He wants us to speak. Our words can build others up. Our words can tear others down. They can bring hope or they can bring despair. But our words are a true reflection of who we are no matter how they effect others. We must not let others take away the things that we need to say about our own stories, because being honest about who we are is what reveals God’s glory in our lives through who He created us to be.
That day in that bathroom pounding in the floor somewhere inside of me I think I thought I lost the right to ever speak again. I believed that my words were too damaging to others and that the truth that I knew was too toxic for others to hear. So I found a safe place to write. Here on this blog where no one had to know who I was, where I was, and they could choose to read or not to read and I didn’t have to look at them and know the choice that they made or experience their judgment about what I had said.
But I do not believe that God will have me be silent forever on an anonymous blog. I am learning how to speak again ever so slowly. I am learning that others are trustworthy to tell my story to. Healing takes time. Piece by piece, I have been able to give back to God my life that came crashing down. He has breathed life into my lungs. He is giving me words to speak again. I am so very thankful.
Please know that if abuse has somehow stolen your voice, you can speak again. Your words matter, especially to God.
Yesterday, in my despair over still being too afraid to speak, I thought about making the pain go away again. I wondered if I was destined to always make bad choices, to trust the wrong people, to be toxic to others lives. I considered for a moment returning to that life. At least the pain went away temporarily there. At least I didn’t have to think so much about what I needed to say. I cried out in anger and frustration to God. And He heard. His kindness and compassion flooded my soul. He knew my pain only too well. He told me it was OK and He loved me in return.
Even if you haven’t found anyone that you have felt safe enough to talk to, please know that God wants to hear what you have to say. He longs to show us compassion. He prays for us when we cannot speak the words. He keeps our tears in His bottle. He longs to wipe away all of our tears.
We can trust Him with our words.
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1 NLT