Hello sweet friends,
I am so excited today to be launching the very first guest submission on Incremental Healing ~ as together we share stories of how God is redeeming our brokenness for our ultimate good, and for His glory.
I’d like to introduce you to a very dear friend of mine. She was the very first person who was sadly able to comment, “I understand better than I wish I did.” Although I am always sad to hear that another person has suffered like I have, there is something so powerful and comforting in knowing that you are not alone. A strong friendship has been forged between us, and I can always count on her love and support.
My friend blogs under the name Liz Tinnea at her site Our Unseen Hope – Surviving Abuse in the Church. She shares her story of how she sought the help of her pastor to deal with the trauma of early childhood abuse. Sadly, this person took advantage of her brokenness and vulnerability to manipulate and abuse her further. The consequences of his selfish choices have caused much heartache and pain.
Despite all she has been through, Liz has an amazing resolve to find hope and healing in the arms of her Savior and Lord. I pray you will be blessed by her story…
My husband and I were both raised in a home with alcoholic fathers. It’s interesting to note that our fathers actually carpooled to college together. We met when I was 19 and my husband was 28.
Now here we are going on 25 years later and parents of three wonderful children. We have stumbled through our marriage together, tripping and falling over the stumbling blocks that our parents’ addictions and abuse have caused to be put in our paths.
My husband was manipulated most of his life by his Dad. He was physically and emotionally abused. He watched his mother and brothers suffer in the same way. I was mentally and sexually abused by my father.
When we married we thought just being together we could overcome our pasts and be the parents our parents were not, but we were naïve.
But thank God He promises He is a Father to the fatherless. As I look back on mine and my husband’s lives together, I can clearly see that God has been there fathering us even when we haven’t realized it.
I don’t have time to name all of the ways I have seen Him at work, but here are a few major stones of remembrance that sparkle like diamonds in the dust. They are stones of hope and without them we wouldn’t be where we are.
My five-year-old daughter came in from playing hide and go seek with an older cousin. A gentle voice spoke to my heart to ask her questions about what her and her older cousin had been doing. Thank God I was able to stay calm as my daughter began saying the words I’d feared most, that he’d sexually abused her. Had God not spoken to my heart to ask these questions she could have been abused for years. My daughter has suffered greatly from this abuse. I don’t know if she could have survived more. I’m so very thankful for my loving, heavenly Father’s guidance that day.
Another stone is the day my husband and I were driving back from counseling. He’d been struggling mentally for months. I’d believed he was going to suffer a nervous breakdown and not be able to work again. I knew this would kill him, because work was the only thing that kept his mind off of his pain. I’d been so afraid that things would never get better. A few days earlier I’d slammed my fists against the wall screaming out to God to please, please deliver us. That day coming back from counseling God opened my husband’s eyes to the fact that his family’s constant interference into our lives was hurting him, our family and our marriage. That day my husband made the decision to move away from his family. It was a decision that began a process of major deliverance in our lives.
Finally, the stone I’m most thankful for is the day God spoke so clearly to my husband’s heart on the worst day of my life. God had opened my eyes to the abusive relationship I’d been involved in with my former pastor, who was still trying to control my life. I knew it was time to come out into the light and confess to my husband. I could not carry this secret any longer. My current pastor who I had already confessed to was going to come to our home that night and be there when I told my husband the truth. I will never forget walking into my home before anyone was home that day and looking into my children’s empty rooms and wondering if I was going to lose every good thing I had in my life when I confessed this truth to my husband. I wondered if he’d ever forgive me for the almost ten-year deception I’d been involved in. Could he bear the truth that I had been unfaithful to him with his best friend and my pastor? I felt sick. I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff that was crumbling slowly away.
Later, my husband was in the shower getting ready for the visit from our pastor. He had no idea what he was coming to talk to us about. The words ‘Let He who is without sin cast the first stone’ came to his heart out of the blue. When my pastor and I told him about the deception I’d been involved in, my husband was absolutely shocked. I didn’t know if he’d break down or want to kill me. His reaction was nothing short of an absolute miracle from God. He began to cry and said, “I forgive you.” Then he told us about what God had told him in the shower. Because of those words from our faithful, Heavenly Father our family has stayed together. I cannot express enough gratitude to Him for the mercy and grace He showed our family. This stone is forever set in my heart to never be removed.
Life is still difficult. We are in a new community. We still struggle with the past, with trust, and rebuilding our marriage in a place where we have no support other than one another. We are visiting our third church that is almost 20 miles from our home. Our daughter has had to change schools after only a few months. Our son has struggled to pass. Our older son is 5 hours away starting a life on his own after college.
So much has changed. My husband’s new job has many challenges, and I’ve had to learn to become a stay at home mother once again. The job I dearly loved, working as a church administrative assistant was snatched away when I confessed the things that I had participated in years before.
It’s easy to feel hopeless. It’s easy to get bogged down in the PTSD we suffer at church, the shame of my past mistakes, the self-destructive patterns we are working through in counseling, and the difficult changes we are trying to make in order to be healthy.
But I know when I look at the stones of hope that God has been and will continue to be faithful. I know that because He is our faithful Father, we will be more than conquerors.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~ Liz Tinnea