Fun part first!
Why use wildflowers as the visual theme for a story with such dark elements as sexual abuse, attempted suicide, and shame?
Because of this song:
I’ve loved this song since I was a kid. Every time we got in the van and the Christian radio station was on I hoped to hear it, and every time it played I felt like it was just for me. On the other side of all the pain and shame I suffered, I identify even more strongly with the idea of starting to see Jesus’ love for me in unexpected places like wildflowers, learning to trust him, running to him instead of hiding from him, and falling in love with him.
Also, there is an abundance of wildflowers this spring in color and variety I’ve never seen before where I live. With all the challenges brought by the pandemic, and other run-of-the-mill life chaos, the abundance of wildflowers feels like a special reminder of Jesus’ willingness to enter into this messy life and love us though it.
Now some suggested reading and listening for anyone who has suffered trauma, sexual abuse, deep shame, and who longs for security in Jesus’ love. These are books, podcasts, and music that have helped me heal and I hope they do the same for you (I don’t benefit in any way by sharing these links):
- The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse (and Workbook) by Dr. Dan Allender Dr. Allender is one of the leading experts in emotional healing and trauma recovery in the United States. He has written many books and all of them are very helpful, but this is a great place to start if you are specifically looking to heal from childhood sexual abuse.
- The Allender Center Podcast Dr. Allender and his team teach on processing both current events and past traumas with courage, integrity, honesty, and vulnerability for a whole and healthy life and relationships.
- Changes That Heal by Dr.s Henry Cloud and John Townsend – a great read for everyone! They’ve written quite a few books together and individually that have helped me with depression, anxiety, and boundaries. Also check out each of their podcasts!
- I Thought It Was Just Me by Brene Brown – For overcoming shame and living without fear. Also, any and all of her Ted Talks.
- Unashamed by Christine Caine for living free of shame and fear specifically inside the Church.
- Shelter the album by Jars of Clay which is the same band who wrote “Love Song For A Savior” up at the top of this blog! I love every song on this album. I believe it’s based on an Irish proverb “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live”, and is moving and healing and challenges us to greater love and care for everyone around us!
- A.D. 30 and A.D. 33 historical fiction books about the life of a young Arabic woman and how her interactions with Yeshua (Jesus Christ) freed her from shame and worthlessness by Ted Dekker.
- The Forgotten Way Ted Dekker’s nonfiction devotional on the teachings of Jesus and the transformation they hold for our lives.
Now the scary part for me – addressing the “LGBTQ+ community and the Christian Church” conversation that gets sparked whenever I share my story.
Typically, I steer clear of this conversation online. I’m happy to talk about it, but I believe it’s a conversation best had in person (or on the phone at least). There is too much opportunity for miscommunication, the internet has a way of intensifying volatile emotions instead of relieving them, and this is just too important of a conversation to risk. That being said, I want to communicate what I’m afraid of and what I hope for.
Here is what I don’t want anyone to take away from my story: not all LGBTQ+ people are abusive just like not all heterosexual people are abusive, and not all Christians respond to LGBTQ+ people with the disgust and contempt I experienced from some. No more broad generalizations, on either side. Let’s treat each individual person as an individual person with an individual story, and be careful not to assume we can read minds and hearts.
Here is what I do want everyone to take away from my story: God loves you. He is not disgusted with you. He does not feel contempt for you. He is not out to shame you. There is nothing you can do, or fail to do, nothing anyone can do to you, or fail to do for you, that can change how valuable you are to him.
That is true for every one of us.
“There is now, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – 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.”Romans 8: 1, 38-39 ESV
I am able to share my story and write these posts, even this entire blog, not to mention my book, by embracing that truth. Nothing I do can reduce, or increase my value, so I’m free to vulnerably share my story regardless of how anyone else responds. Now, it’s been difficult for sure. I originally intended to start this series on the day after Valentine’s Day since that’s when Steven and I originally met, but it took me a couple of months of reminding myself of the truth about my value to be able to do the scary thing anyway.
But now that I have I can feel a major difference in the level of shame I carry on a daily basis. I am drastically free-er, bolder, more confident, and more secure than I have ever been!
So, I want us to stop shaming others. Stop treating people as if they are less valuable, less than human, less deserving of honor, or as if they receive less of God’s love for any reason. For too long we have tried to use shame to change other people’s minds and control their behaviors. It’s time to stop. We can have these hard conversations without shame. I’m speaking to all sides of the issue here. If there is nothing we can do that can change the way God values us, then there is nothing anyone can do that should justify us treating them as valueless.
Real compassion, empathy, justice, love, connection, peace, and healing can only come from recognizing real value. To keep this post from getting any longer you can check out this previous post of mine on how to recognize and embrace the value God gives all of us.
As always, you can reach out to me with any questions, comments, concerns, or opinions. I would love to have a deeper conversation with you!