My feelings fluctuate as I grow, recover and get to know myself more deeply. I am humbled by God's care and concern. I am immensely grateful to be an ever-changing, ever-healing person. I cannot put words to how it feels to know God's provision the way that I do.
But that does not always keep grief at bay.
For years my overwhelming feelings were anger, bitterness and rejection. I felt grief for the first time four years ago. It was freeing; comforting. I was able to feel grief because I was finally able to see, believe and process the losses in my life. Feeling grief involved recognizing that I was worthy. That I deserved more than the treatment I received from my parents.
Ever since that day four years ago, grief has been an occasional visitor. It most often comes when I marvel at something that my children have that I did not. You know - things as simple as childhood vacations or parents who volunteer in class. My grief is generally a fleeting emotion, but there just the same.
Grief is visiting right now.
My teen years were spent formulating an escape plan. I had to get out of my mother's abusive home the moment I graduated from high school. For a few years, I bounced between living arrangements with friends, worked several part time jobs at once, and full time jobs at other times. I went to college part time, and some semesters not at all.
I found myself completely unprepared to succeed in college. I was unable to focus on my studies. I lacked the self-esteem to be a motivated, self-starter. Paying rent was my top priority and I knew nothing about grants or scholarships. I didn't trust the idea of asking for help, as asking for help had failed me before. I had the smarts for day-to-day survival, but did not know how to be an ambitious college student.
I left college with no degree. It didn't matter to me at the time, but 16 years later it's a little crushing.
It didn't matter back then because all I wanted was to be a wife and mother. I didn't care about a career. If I'm being completely honest, I didn't think I had anything to offer professionally. I knew I could be a good wife and mother - just do the opposite of my parents - but my image of myself said that I couldn't possibly contribute to anything professionally. I was just trash.
I'm almost 36 now, married and raising two little boys... I'm also trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up! I want to do something I care about. Work with abused children, or in child abuse prevention, or do fundraising for a worthwhile non-profit. These jobs require a degree; a Masters in some cases. So, my mind is completely overwhelmed with ideas of how to return to college. I'm more than a little out of practice when it comes to the classroom! And how do I fit college into my already busy life with two young children, volunteer work at school and church, a home to keep up and a husband that I want to spend time with?
As these thoughts have coursed through my brain over the last few months, I have fought back a few grief-filled tears. Sexual abuse not only pierces a person's body, but their mind and heart as well. Their life. You wouldn't be reading this if you didn't already know that... It's just so profoundly sad what childhood abuse can take away from a person.
I wouldn't change my life for anything... If I wasn't a wreck as a young girl, I might have made drastically different decisions and ended up in a completely different place than where I'm at. And I love where I'm at. I love my husband and kids and pretty much everything about our lives. I'm happy.
But, still, the suffering of children, young adults and grown men and women everywhere breaks my heart. Sexual abuse has the power to collide with and destroy every aspect of a person's life.
As I ponder that fact, my mind goes to children around the world, waiting in foster care or orphanages for forever families to love and care for them. These are children who have already been removed from their family's care, and often from their family's minds. These children have the odds stacked against them. They have every reason to struggle and fail as they move into adulthood; feeling abandoned, unloved and unworthy. I pray for their healing and restoration. I pray for loving families to intervene and give them their lives back.
It is not an overstatement to say that the losses caused by childhood abuse are profoundly sad. They are. But, I also know first hand that God is always present and in the middle of all things. He loves every single one of us. We were all made special and with a purpose. And He provides hope and healing.
"Even though you planned evil against me, God planned good to come out of it. This was to keep many people alive, as he is doing now." Genesis 50:20
Read Genesis chapters 37-50 for more from God's word about a family's betrayal and God's perfect provision and plan. Do you see any parallels between your life and Joseph's? Do you see God's hand?