My husband is redoing our bedroom. After 38 years, the sheetrock has some cracks and some of the nails have popped. He is removing a few sheets completely; simply patching others. When the sheets are removed, much is revealed! There are numbers written on the studs, dimensions so that my husband knew how long to cut a board, etc. There are also delightful things written by our kids, who were 4 and 7 at the time. They both wrote their names. On one stud, our son simply wanted to state that he was here, and our daughter wrote something about a boy at school. I enjoyed showing my 6-year-old granddaughter things her daddy had written when he was a boy, younger than she is now. In a few weeks, new sheetrock will cover the walls and paint will make the room look fresh and new. All those things beneath will be covered over and forgotten.
Our lives are much like the walls in a house. We have words and events recorded on the studs of our lives. Some are pleasant like the things our children wrote when they were young. But some of us have hurtful things inside, gouges in our framework. We have managed to cover them up, but we know they are there. Daily we have to make sure they are still covered because we’ve been told they are our fault and no one will love us if we tell.
I’m speaking today about physical and sexual abuse. This week I read about a woman whose father had abused her. It started with physical abuse and escalated to sexual abuse. She had borne the scars for 30 years. After her mother died, she confronted her father and he was sentenced to prison. When asked why he did it, he said, “I didn’t have money to pay a prostitute.” Hard words to hear. Impossible words to comprehend. The lady is healing now because she had the courage to face her abuser, confront him with the things he had done to her as a child, and seek punishment for his deeds. It is a start.
If you are reading this today and have scars from your past, I urge you to deal with them. Grab a pry bar and remove one piece of trim from the doorpost of your heart. When you are ready, use that same tool to remove some sheetrock. Maybe it is just a small piece. That’s fine. Look at the board underneath; touch it; examine it. When you are ready, remove another piece of sheetrock. I think you will find it easier as you go along, but take your time.
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” God is with you as you remove the sheetrock. He is with you as you examine the scars underneath. He is with you if you take the bold step to tell someone.
As parents, we usually describe abusers as monsters hiding in the bushes or in dark places. Truthfully, though, they are too often trusted adults. It is hard for a child to see “Pastor Tom”, “Coach Michael”, “Uncle George” or even daddy as the boogie man hiding in the bushes. To complicate matters further for the victim, the abuser usually threatens them and says horrible things will happen if they tell. They are also made to feel it is their fault. Deep scars are left on the framework of their hearts.
Ephesians 4:32 “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” It is one thing to expose the hurt, even more difficult to talk about it, but forgiveness seems impossible. And yet, we are told to forgive those who hurt us, just as Christ forgave us. I know from personal experience that forgiveness is necessary in order to heal. I have never been the victim of physical or sexual abuse, but I have had hatred in my heart because of a wrong. It wasn’t until I forgave that person that I was able to move on with my life.
If you are the victim of abuse, I urge you to seek help. You are not alone. You are worthy. You are loved. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God loves you. He sent His Son to save you. Let Him hold you, comfort you until you are strong enough to stand and look at your hidden scars.