When I was a little girl, life was amazing. In my backyard, I could be whoever I wanted. One day, I would be an Indian living independently, cooking from a pit with leaves and apples. Sticks were my utensils, and my hands were bowls that I would use to eat the food I pretended to cook. Other days, I caught butterflies, held lady bugs in my hand, and played in the sprinklers with my siblings.
I even climbed to the highest part of my apple tree just to experience the adventure. My backyard was safe. I didn’t worry about anything. Nothing scary happened. I didn’t fear for my life. I was the victor of my stories. I’d save someone in distress or defend them and would stand up to the bullies of my stories. I was not exposed to things I shouldn’t have been, and there wasn’t a temptation to do something I shouldn’t do.
My world consisted only of the things I knew about. I was innocent and ignorant of the world outside of mine. I didn’t know what nightmares were. I didn’t realize that people did terrible things to others. The worst thing I’d experienced was falling out of my apple tree or getting in trouble for not getting along with my siblings.
As I got older, my world expanded. I learned new things, met new people. Exposure gradually would show me a world I didn’t know existed. My knowledge and idea of life and people grew, and understanding would follow. Not all people are safe. Some, in fact, are scary and dangerous to be around.
My parents had boundaries and tried their best to keep us safe. They raised my siblings and me to know and think about the kinds of people we should be around and what decisions were good to make and which were not. As I’m sure you can relate, it is impossible to keep a person from being exposed to everything negative no matter how hard one tries.
When Exposure Happens
It’s important to remember a couple of things here:
The first is that exposure happens in good things and in bad.
The second is that whether we are exposed to negative things purposely or not, it is about what we do in response that matters.
I’m sure if my parents knew about some of what I’ve experienced or seen, it would sadden them. If they knew how and who exposed me to these things, it would horrify them. I was ignorant of a lot of it. One day, I called another kid stupid because he took my friend away. I didn’t know it was not okay to say until I got in trouble. Of course, this pales in comparison to other things I would be introduced to that I’d come to find out years later were not good at all.
For a long time, after I would learn something was terrible, I’d blame the person(s) that exposed me to such filth. I’d be angry and bitter, secretly asking why they would do such things and without any thought to who they might be around. I would wonder why such Christians, “good Christians,” could do that without regard to the people around them.
As I write, I think about you and your own journey. If you are in this spot right now and you are struggling, this might, in some way, relate to you. Feel free to insert whatever you are struggling with whenever you see the word sin. It may be adultery, drugs, alcohol, pornography. It may be pride or selfishness. Some of us struggle with being pathological liars. Whatever it is, I invite you to insert that in here as you read:
I was angry because now I had my sin that I would have never had if it weren’t for them. I was mad that it was so enticing. I didn’t have the strength to stop, and I didn’t dare ask for help. One of the biggest sins came from a lack of feeling safe, loved, and wanted. It came from trusting no one and was getting worse.
I was getting deeper and deeper in this pit. Trying to hide my insecurities and failures, not wanting people to know I was horrible for being sinful and hated not trusting anyone. For years I held onto the anger and the blame on the people who did this to me, which turned to shame guilt, and anger at myself for not being strong enough to handle it.
After a while, I gave up. I tried to reason that it was okay and normal. I kept hiding it, but I didn’t fight it anymore. I couldn’t win, and I was miserable, so to end the misery, I’d stop fighting. And you know what? I was okay. I thought this was kind of fun. Until it wasn’t.
I found myself more insecure and realized that my sin was not freeing. It was imprisoning me further, and I was drowning more and more. I was not free. I was in chains and suffocating. I couldn’t ask for help and couldn’t get out on my own. I was stuck.
My Heart Was Hardened
After a while, I found myself indifferent to people and the goings-on around me. I didn’t want anything to do with God, yet I desperately wanted Him to save me and heal me. How people had and were treating me didn’t bother me anymore. I was closed off, shutting people out and caring for no one but myself. I hid.
I was angry at God. I was bitter at people and at myself. I remember being mad at God one moment and then mad at myself the next because I was supposed to be better than this.
It was a constant struggle that soon turned into blatant disregard and care. I wasn’t going to change even if I wanted to. The best way to handle it was to shut down and keep people from being close to me. That turned into a desire to leave. Run from people and the life I knew and never come back.
I could do my thing, and no one had to know. I wouldn’t have to hear about it or worry about people finding out how horrible I was. No condemnation. No reactions in disgust. I was indifferent and wanted to do my own thing. I remember feeling as if my heart had grown cold, void of feeling and care, lifeless.
Then something happened. I felt a tugging in my heart to open myself. To acknowledge the damage done, what was still being done, and seek help. After a bit, I did. I was vulnerable. You know what? God met me. And not only did He meet me, but He also put two very special friends in my life to help me. They didn’t condemn me, and they weren’t disgusted by me. They loved me.
It’s been six years since I acknowledged my sin. This road hasn’t been easy, and I do struggle at times. But, I’m no longer bound by that sin, and I’m not suffocating. I’m healing. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.
Thanks be to God who helped me the way I needed to be supported. He’s given me the necessary tools to help me fight my battles and understanding. Thanks be to Him for bringing alongside those who could help me, who were there for me.
(Ezekiel 11:19) “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.”
Be encouraged. Jesus can do the same for you and wants to.