“…lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world. Amen” ~ Matthew 28:20 (KJV)
My ears still were ringing with the laughter I heard from my adoptive father after musing I was made to sleep in a barn as I passed a billboard engraved with those last recorded words of Jesus on earth.
I must have passed this same billboard 100’s of times.
That billboard was meant to be the encouragement, but this particular afternoon, I broke down into uncontrollable sobs. My friend who was driving became so concerned he was forced to pull off of the side of the highway.
I was sobbing and crying out!
“He was there! He saw everything. Jesus was there every night as my innocence was stolen. He was there as I was sold. He was there as Cleo beat me and burned me. He saw my bruises. He saw tears and heard me as I begged for mercy as Cleo beat, burned and poked hat pins through my thin upper arms. Oh dear Lord You saw everything!”
“And did nothing to stop it!”
My friend who was driving the car was asking, “What’s the matter? Are you okay?” (He had never seen me, a usually stoic person who doesn’t display such strong emotion completely break down.)
No!… I am officially not Okay!
Reading this billboard on this particular day has plunged me into a deep crisis.
What in the world am I doing giving one more moment to a God who allowed such horrible abuse to happen to a little child?
Recently, I have been interviewed as part of an independent investigation into sexual abuse that happened in my past.
The interviewers actively listened as I recounted my story of my abuse and later the account of the abysmal counseling I received at a Christian University as I was suffering from severe PTSD.
Toward the end of the interview, one of the those interviewing me asked how this has affected my faith.
My response was if he’d asked me a few weeks before, I would have said everything was I was fine. Now…I don’t know. Right now, I’m not too happy with God and am telling God exactly how it is!
You see over the weeks prior I have found out my “story” I thought couldn’t possibly get any worse … It is worse. Much, much worse.
No…I’m not Okay.
I’ve found out a several things lately that show there were serious crimes committed against me. (In addition to the crimes I knew about) Christian leaders all knew, were accomplices or actors and none thought of them thought of anyone but themselves. Certainly not the little girl I was then. I was trafficked with less thought than it took for them to sell horses and cattle from that farm.
Yet, every one of these men continued in the ministry for years. Two died “serving the Lord”. One major player is still alive and is still preaching from his pulpit every Sunday Morning, Sunday Night, Wed Night. One other abuser is alive, but no longer in the ministry. Every last one of has lived to see their golden years.
God blessed all of them.
I’m struggling with Jesus doesn’t seem to have cared anymore than any of them what happened to me–a young child.
If He did care, why did He bless them and curse me? What did a child from the ages 3-12 do to deserve Him turning His back? And then further used and abused in a different way after age 12?
Was Jesus just not paying attention?
Or, did Jesus just choose to look away and think “I don’t want to get involved” like many humans who knew and instead chose to do absolutely nothing?….
A friend reminded me that easy answers usually aren’t worth it. Bethel Baptist and Upper Bucks are so full of the easy, pat answers. Fundamentalism as a whole is full of the easy, pat answers. Hard answers are worth it in the end. I have to believe that is true. But then getting the answers is frustrating. I’m have to believe that the real God, the real Jesus does care and isn’t mad at me for asking these questions. I have no idea when I might “arrive” at some answers. But my true friends keep telling me that God is still here and always was. I believe that and maybe, at some point, I will. It’s just hard – but then maybe God isn’t a God of easy answers anyway. In the end, I’m just trying to understand that He still loves me, even as, of late, my glasses are many times not much good for anything but tear catchers.
“You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.” Psalm 56:8 The Message