Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one,strength in the face of pain or grief.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” –Deuteronomy 31:6
So much of this journey takes courage. It took courage to admit the absolute horror of what happened to you. It took courage to tell your story to the first person you decided to share it with. It took courage to seek professional help through counseling and then more courage to tell this stranger why you were there. It took courage to even think about goggling sexual abuse. Now that you are here, WOW that took immense courage! YAY FOR YOU!!!
If you read my story, you know that I tried to begin a conversation about what happened to me with my new husband when I was twenty-one. It was extremely uneventful, but in a weird way still offered enough support at the time. However fast forward seventeen years and the news to my husband came out in a fit of despair. He now knew I’d been raped and witness the agony I experienced remembering.
The interesting part of this event for me was that I couldn’t tell my best friend of twenty-plus years. I needed her. I knew I wanted her help, but I couldn’t tell her. My husband had to call to tell her what was happening. Isn’t that odd? I am not sure what prevented me from saying those words to her aloud. But this just proves to me that we all need help.
My next significant moment of courage was telling my brothers and my sister-in-law. The first time I spoke about it to them, I DID NOT give details. I didn’t even mention that it was our father. They did not ask questions and I did not offer any more information. Just speaking the words that I was molested as a child was enough. Several days later, one of my brothers wanted more information and that was another act of courage when I met him to discuss it. Ten years later, I still have not had the conversation with my other brother.
After sharing with my husband, my best friend, my brothers and sister-in-law, the next step of courage was counseling. My best friend was instrumental in getting me to my first counselor for my sexual abuse. I was a pro at counseling for my bipolar, narcissistic mother and talking about physical and emotional abuse, but this… HECK NO! My first round of counseling with this new counselor was a bit of a joke. I was very good at discussing all of my abusive past EXCEPT the newly found sexual abuse. She was a young counselor and I wasn’t ready and I took advantage of her lack of experience. After time and with a recommendation from church, I found an experienced Christian counselor, whom I eventually sprang the truth of my sexual abuse on.
My courage grew with time as I tried to find a support group. First, I went to Celebrate Recovery, which is a fantastic group, but wasn’t for me. Then I told someone in my Bible study. Then I told my mom’s sister. Then I spoke to a caring pastor at church about how church should consider starting a group. All of these steps took courage.
Lastly, a new caring pastor started at our church, who I had also known from Bible study. In passing, I mentioned to him that a group for sexually abused women would be an awesome asset for our church and that there was nothing out there for us. Next thing I knew, I am in his office discussing plans on how WE could start a group. Now that took courage, but it wasn’t from me. It was God’s plan and HE pushed me every step of the way, filling me with just enough courage for the task at hand. Next thing I know, I am talking about SOSA at care-counseling meetings in front of 25 strangers, asking for volunteers to help, then starting the group and standing in the lobby of the church for questions, then counseling individuals, starting a blog, writing a book… this is all courage. However, the biggest act of courage for me came when church’s caring pastors asked me to help with a video message that would be played before the church services to advertise SOSA. One pastor would interview me and the other would record my responses. They would edit it with the help of our church’s tech guy, who also was the host of the Bible study I attended. All good, right? I know these people. I can do this. HA! In the agreeing to help with the video and the recording, which both took a LOT of courage from me, I forgot one small detail. I was now going to be the poster child for sexual abuse for my entire church, over 3,000 members and counting… Are you kidding me?!?!? I really don’t think I was ever so nervous the day I walked into church and would be sitting in the audience as the video aired. I was shaking, I had tears in my eyes, I thought I was going to be literally sick and had to excuse myself, but I did it. God gave me that courage.
See God doesn’t want us to suffer from this horribly tragic event any longer. He will give you the courage to get through each and every step if you ask Him. The courage to come is just another step on your amazing story of recovery and redemption. Don’t forget to recognize and celebrate your acts of courage… each one is monumental.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.“ – 1 Cor 16:13