Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
I allude to the brokenness that Joseph and I both experienced during our childhoods on the About page. We are products of divorce, alcoholism, paternal abdication, maternal mental illness, and just plain ole sin. Sadly, I am also the victim of early childhood sexual abuse.
To say that this was not supposed to be the path our family walked is an understatement.
However, in a way known only to those under God’s grace, I am seeing 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 playing out in my own home. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. And I am seeing the fruit of healing in my own heart and life as I minister to the needs of my children. You see, when the adults in my world learned of my abuse, they did not address it appropriately. It was buried under rationalizations and then ignored and finally blatantly dismissed – but never was it properly handled.
For the first year of this journey, I found myself able to extend a tremendous amount of grace and patience towards the inevitable ups and downs of Asher, Georgia, Olivia, and Nathan’s battle for healing. I worked to do everything “right.” I was strong so they didn’t need to feel like they had to protect me from the truth. I was confident so they didn’t need to worry that the solution relied solely on them. I gave them permission to feel anger and even rage towards Asher. I gave Asher permission to be angry at me and Joseph because of that strange, childish assumption that parents are supernaturally equipped to protect their children from all harm. I never invalidated their experience or dismissed their reactions to it. I still try to always lead them back to the heart of Christ but only through authentic acceptance of our situation – there is none of this “let go and let God” in our home.
Then, about 4 months ago, something bizarre began to shift inside of me, and I found myself growing more and more irritable towards my children, especially the middle 4. At first I chalked it up to fatigue and illness. Then I passed it off as hormonal. But I eventually had to acknowledge that something deeper was happening. I finally told Joseph that I needed help making heads or tails of this thing and went to see my therapist.
Maggie asks hard questions. And she rarely gives you any help with the answers. But she shoots straight, and I value her willingness to be bold even in the face of my own awkwardness or equivocation. She quickly agreed that something deeper than external circumstances was causing my attitude since I wasn’t dealing with frustrations across all interactions. And she keenly noted that it was only the children who were victims of sexual abuse who were apparently pushing my buttons.
I didn’t like where this was going.
“Teeli, do you think there may be a connection between your exasperation with these specific children and your own history of abuse?”
Ugh. I hate sin. I hate how it creeps into the good and stains anything it touches. I hate that it lingers and leaves its fingerprints on everything. But mostly, I hate that my own pain and victimization at its hand causes me to be more prone to infect others with it.
After I left Maggie’s office, Joseph and I ate lunch. I talked through my session and the realization that I was struggling with projecting anger regarding my abuse on the kids. I also brought light to an heretofore unrealized jealousy. My own children were receiving the care and attention that, by all counts, ought to have been mine in the same situation. And lastly, I shared Maggie’s explanation that in stressful or unknown circumstances, I (like everyone) will fall back on the modeling I received from my own parents. As I stated, that modeling was far from ideal… it was just plain bad in many cases.
It was hard to openly express the ways I was struggling with these ugly emotions. But if I’m learning anything from this season, it is that the light will purge the darkness and free you like nothing else can. I’m already feeling better. Maggie was encouraging and reminded me that the previous work I did to heal from my own childhood abuse is holding me in good stead. The recognition of this current emotional trigger may very well be enough to provide the self-awareness necessary for change.
But above everything, I continue to hold fast to the grace of Christ and His promise to save me as I draw near to Him. Especially when the effects of the fall make a personal appearance in my home.