In former times I had the privilege to facilitate a sexual abuse recovery group for women. I saw many miracles through my time in those groups. I was changed as were the women. Here is the story of the final evening from one of those groups.
Thanks Stephanie Shott for the picture. These weren't the women in the group but they represent the mood of freedom.
We celebrated. Myself, my co-facilitator Jenn and the seven brave women who gave us the privilege of walking alongside them for three months devoured our traditional fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, and rolls. We celebrated the healing of old wounds, but more importantly, we honored the discovery of uncovered stunning, soulful beauty.
There were times of fear and sweaty palms the first night. They braved the barbed wire images in their minds to return the second night to dispel the lie that each is the only one though they know the stats that millions of women suffer an assault on their innocence through sexual abuse. Then they came back over and over and over again.
During our time together they saw the Penn State Scandal. We heard Sandusky act like a child molester in his aggressive, maniacal, minimizing, justifying defenses. They recalled times their own abusers denied their self-centered, soul stealing on the little girls inside each woman.
They saw the Syracuse scandal. They heard Jim Boeheim with his 'defend the honor of the family at all cost' attitude spew out his pungent accusations of liar. The victims victimized for telling the truth once again. They recalled the lacerations upon lacerations slashed upon their souls when they reached out for help as best they could.
For two weeks they stared down evil in the retelling of an abuse event. With angelic hands, they held the now unsecret pain of each other. At the end of that fortnight, an exhale whooshed out the door followed by bonded women who were lifting up their chins as grace erased shame.
So we topped off our meal with some mixed fruit, Cool Whip, and coffee and adjourned to softer furniture in the living room to share what the journey had meant for each one and to share with one another the glimpses of glittering light blasting unfettered from within. The Living Room.
What had our time together meant? Songs were shared as Father, Son and Holy Spirit danced around the women. Other mementos of healing made the rounds. Words of affirmation filled the souls of women who three months ago wondered if any good thing dwelt within.
'I won't ever be the same. I'm changed forever.'
'I could see all the beauty in each of you and began to believe it could be in me too.'
As they shared I glanced up the six stairs and down my hall to the painting at the end. I gasped. I walk by that picture every day and barely noticed it. It has no glass. It fell off the mantle (because I set it there and didn't properly hang it) shortly after an affair was revealed in our marriage. It's a painting of a lamb laying in the snow.
When it crashed seventeen years ago I heard two messages. The first was that Ann and I had made a smashing mess of this Christian thing. The second came from Christ, 'Don't forget about me. Remember me in your chaotic journey.'
So when it came my time to share I told them about my reminder from God that evening and celebrated his redemption in my life (that I need daily) and the redemption in their lives. I read the scripture from 1st Peter 1 underneath the lamb (and a little more).
You call out to God for help and he helps--he's a good Father that way. But don't forget, he's also a responsible Father, and won't let you get by with sloppy living.
Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ's sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb.
God gives abundantly. His grace outdoes sin and wounds like a 100 to 2 blowout. There is something intact deep in the soul of each woman there that night that evil cannot mar, cannot destroy. We learned that again in The Living Room.