What have you lost? My counselor wisely paused as the question seared into my brain and my mind wandered down different paths at the same time. After years of abuse, this one question opened up more questions than I could ever hope to answer. Can you lose something if you never had it? What didn’t I lose? My mind screamed, ‘Everything! I lost everything!’
I pondered these questions many times over the next four years, never coming to a satisfactory conclusion. I looked back over the archives of my life, looking for answers. I tried to picture how my life could have been different if only the abuse had not happened. Not only had I lost things in the past, but I also felt a sense of loss for the present.
As I watched my children grow, I looked for many things in their lives that I had missed as a child. I heard them complimented on good efforts. I saw them surrounded by love. I realized the power of their ability to say no, because it was heard. I noticed enjoyment of life. Their home was a cocoon that protected them from the harsh world. I listened to their hearts as they shared their dreams and hurts. I had missed out on all of this as a child, but the question went deeper.
God talks about restoring the years the worms had eaten (Joel 2:25). My years must have fed a lot of worms. To think who I could have been, if only… The energy I would have if it hadn’t… What kind of mother I could be if only.. I could be a better wife if… That line of questions didn’t satisfy me either.
One day as I sat thinking through the question again, that still small voice asked, “What did you keep?” Those words stopped me in my tracks. A refreshing new way of thinking started to grow in my mind. Here was a question that would require some thought, but it would have a satisfying answer. I went through the archives of my memories again.
As I thought and sorted out my memories, I still experienced sadness as I realized what I didn’t have, but a new feeling of release arose from the loss. A cleansing was beginning.
After much thought, I realized I had two things that I had kept: my relationship with God and my life. Then the epiphany hit: with those two things, I had everything I needed. God can take me from ground level and grow me into the person He wants me to be. He can grow me into the wife and mother He wants me to be. I can reach the potential God put into me when I was born.
Jesus came to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). That certainly included me. He saved me and I am His. But He is also saving all that goes with me. I haven’t lost my childhood – I’ve found a platform to grow from and a way for God to use me. I haven’t lost parental love – I have the love of the most loving Father. Not only that, but the love I receive every day from my husband and children is all the sweeter. All I missed in my home growing up is now firmly in place in the home where I will spend the rest of my life. I haven’t lost my ability to enjoy life, I have gained an understanding about the fragility of life and the preciousness of each moment. I haven’t lost who I am, I have found my core – the strength God placed in me. I do not have a personality based on superfluities of life, but one based on the reality of the Word of God. I am not a product of my past sufferings. I am a vessel made all the more beautiful because the past shaped me to be real, to have a relationship with God based on day-to-day need.
Deuteronomy 28:1-14 discusses the good things God desires for His people. I read this passage over and over to remember God didn’t put me on this earth to merely survive pain and sadness. God desires good things for my life. He wanted good things for me then, just as He ants good things for me now. For many years, I did not see goodness in my life. He has used cirecumstances in my past as a springboard to bring good ness to me now.
As I look back at my past now, I do not see a little girl alone with her abusers. I see a little girl and her caring Heavenly Father looking over the whoe scene. I see Him suffering and crying with me. I see Him making provisions to set me free from a situation where the enemy thought he had free reign. The enemy had my body, but he did not have my realtionship with Jesus, nor did he have my life. Now he has nothing mof mine.
Many women in the world today (one in three, according to recent statistics) have survived abuse. It may be you. If you have survived, or are in the midst of abuse, please remember to turn to Jesus, the One who has also suffered. He wants us to remember and be grateful for what we still have. Even in we feel no strength, we need to remember God has given it to us – it is how we have the ability to survive the abuse. It’s how we’ve made it this far without giving up. In Jeremish 29:11 God tells us: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” No one can take that away from us.