I’ve always made an effort for my blogs to provide a bit of insight to what’s going on in my life. I do this primarily because I can see the work God is doing and I think it’s important, certainly helpful, for others to see how God can and does work in a very tangible way in our lives. In yours. It’s my desire to help you understand that no trial you face is without a purpose. I hope to help you find validation for the pain you’re going through, and often face alone, in silence. Mostly, I share my stories to provide hope that it can get better, and even when it doesn’t get better there’s still goodness and joy to be had.
This week I think I started almost a dozen different blogs hoping to achieve this goal. I think I typed out more than 15,000 words and each of those words has been saved but set aside. There’s always a balance, when sharing what is currently going on in my life, to share the difficulty, but to not give the enemy glory or shine a light on how effectively he’s working. I don’t want him to be the focus and I certainly don't want his efforts to pay off! I want my God, who is an amazing and powerful and loving God, to be the one with the final say. Like we all do from time to time, I find myself struggling to keep my eyes up.
From 2009 to 2014 I was in pretty intensive counseling and various forms of therapy, working on getting myself healthy after years of, off and on, being a victim to sexual violence. Today I can say I am less of a victim and more of a survivor, and I’m working toward the thriving part of that surviving. The painful truth about sexual violence, in all its forms, is the way it scars the very soul of the victim. If you’ve ever experienced anything like it, and I encourage you to check out this link if you’re not certain, you know what I’m talking about. Sexual violence is as soul damaging as it is physically and emotionally. When you think you’ve done the work to heal, it’s like climbing a mountain and seeing the next mountain range in the distance. It doesn’t minimize the success you’ve had, but it’s daunting to see how much more work there is to do. Even one step forward can make you feel like you've taken three steps back. Three years ago I had my last counseling session and it was like walking into a valley. Weeks ago I came to the edge of that valley and realized it wasn’t a valley after all, but a plateau. I saw in all it’s painful beauty the mountain range God was telling me it was time to scale. Rather than a wall in front of me, something that might give hope of another valley on the other side, I saw peak after peak after peak until the earth curved. At this stage of my life, I'm staring at these peaks with little more than my hiking boots on.
I started counseling again this week. Primarily because I’ve realized I don’t know how to navigate my trauma as a married woman. Being a celibate single is a whole lot easier. For those putting off getting help, do it now before you get married. If you’re already married and you’re contemplating whether or not its worth it - it is. If you want any semblance of a healthy marriage, a holy marriage as God intended, please get help. We can’t do this alone. I’ve reached a point where I’ve exhausted all of my knowledge and wisdom that applies to single-hood and tried to stick it to marriage… it only does so much. While I’m looking forward to growing and learning and getting even healthier, including working on the usual limitations and setbacks of body image, insecurity, etc., I admit I’m scared too.
I know God is in the business of healing and doing miracles, and often what prevents healing isn’t the degree of damage, but the degree of faith. I have faith I can be healed, no matter how great the damage, but I know that God works in his timing and not my own. I know God will love and care and provide for me through the waiting process. I struggle seeing my husband go through it, having done nothing to deserve it, and unable to do anything (as far as I currently know) to help. If there was a way I could have better prepared him for this battle I would have. The hard part is knowing what’s likely ahead and wishing I could protect him from it. I have to acknowledge the possibility that my trauma, the damage, may be a permanent thorn God keeps in my side to keep me from being conceited. I have to acknowledge that the dreams and hopes I have for my marriage may never come to fruition. God likely has other plans, and I also have to remember that he is able to do immeasurably more than anything I could ever ask or imagine. Often he works in ways I wouldn’t expect, doing things in a roundabout way that just doesn’t make sense, but ultimately is what is best. I have to make that conscious decision to not only trust him, but to continue living in hope and obedience. My Spirit can wrap itself around this concept... my soul and flesh are like the fat kids picked last at recess sweating and struggling to keep the concept even in sight.
I do love hiking. I love the challenge and the workout and the beauty that I see along the way. I love being in nature. It’s where I feel closest to the Creator and the trials of my life fade into the background like the fog that stays behind as I ascend into the clouds. It’s tough, but I get stronger. It’s exhausting, but there is so much to see and experience only through the effort it took to get there. I get scraped, bruised and tend to fall apart on the trail… but usually when I get to the top, or to a particularly beautiful lake hidden in the woods, or to a river or some gorgeous fern-filled meadow, it’s always worth it. Even just for that little glimpse of God’s glory.
However much time I have left on this earth, my hope is to continue seeing God’s glory in the midst of the climb. Not to avoid the cuts and scrapes, or tears and pain, but to fall into the collateral beauty of his provision. A long hug, a trail ride, a hand held that says “I’m here for you” when words fail, a sunset that takes my breath away, the sound and smell of rain, hearing someone else's prayer for me, laughter over a meal, friendships that prop me up, a scripture that speaks truth and refreshment into my soul, a song of praise that brings tears to my eyes, my grinning dog when I get home from work, my husband pushing the “start” button on the coffee pot first thing in the morning for me, a campfire with marshmallows and hot dogs, a good book… they’re so small, but they’re so vital, and they’re appreciated so much more, they shine so much brighter, in the dark. I can't, and don't want to, stay on the plateau forever. I pray God will help my unbelief, help me to trust, and will give me peace as I begin making my way through these miles and miles of mountains.