I huddled by the heater in the corner of the church prayer room, trying desperately to get some warmth into my shivering body. I knew, though, that the trembling was not only because of the cold, but that it was largely due to fear.
Soon I was to meet a friend, and I was planning to tell her the thing I had held inside me for years, that I had never spoken aloud.
I wanted to do it. I had been carrying this burden for too long and I was tired. I was sick of hiding. I hated the feeling that it created a barrier in all my relationships that prevented true connection. I was tired of worrying about what people would think, of feeling that my true self was unacceptable, of listening to the voice that taunted me: “If they only knew…”
I longed to open up, but the fear of rejection was strong, and I wasn’t sure how to move past it.
“God, help me,” I prayed.
I knew he was asking me to speak about this. Over the last few years I had drawn close to him as I had wrestled with this situation and he had shown me his love in tangible ways time and time again. He had taught me to listen to his voice, whispered truth to the broken places in my heart, and gradually worn down my resistance. I finally felt secure enough in his love that I was willing to take the risk, believing I had something solid to hold onto even if the consequences were bad.
I knew I had to speak out… only, I couldn’t.
I had tried the day before. I had met my friend specifically for that purpose but, when the moment arrived, the words refused to come. It was as if they were stuck inside me and no amount of effort could coax them out. My friend’s response had been great- she had spoken words of love and encouragement and insisted we try again- and I wanted to tell her, but I wasn’t sure how.
Then a board on the opposite wall of the prayer room caught my eye. It was filled with questions.
They were questions Jesus had asked people, but as I read them it was if he was speaking them directly to me.
“What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51 NIV)
“I want you to help me do this! I want you to give me courage, and make the words come out! And please, help her respond well.”
“Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6 NIV)
“Yes! With all my heart! I want to be free of this; I want to be healed… but I know that means I have to say it and I really don’t know if I can.”
“Why are you so afraid?” (Matthew 8:26 NIV)
“Because I don’t know how people will react. Because I’ve carried this for so long I don’t know what will happen if I let it out. Because once I do, there’s no way back. I’m trying to trust you- I’m just not sure I can do it.”
“Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28 NIV)
I paused, and I thought back over the last few years- of the many times I had seen God at work, of the situations where I had witnessed his power, of the countless ways he had displayed his love and faithfulness.
“Yes, I do. I’m still afraid but I do believe. I believe you can do this.”
It was time.
I turned off the heater and went downstairs: the next step on the path to freedom.
Despite my fears, speaking out was one of the best decisions I have made. If you or someone you love has experienced childhood sexual abuse, I encourage you to check out the book “Journey to Heal” by Crystal Sutherland and the online study which is coming up soon. Click on the picture below for further details or read my review here.