God is not a man, that he should lie; neither a son of man, that he should repent. Shall he say and not do? and shall he speak and not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)
What does one say of a thirteen year old girl who was nothing more than another run away? On the run for three days. I tried to run from a painful past. One of sexual abuse that seemed to torment me with guilt. I ran from it only to run into the arms of another man who would stain what was left of a cold night. I could smell the stench of oil and gasoline as he towered above me in the back of a van. This time I didn’t shed one tear. I don’t remember closing my eyes; the fear was gone. This time I would retreat to a place that was neither good nor bad. A place of vacancy filled with nothingness. If I were in grave danger then everyone around me was oblivious, including me.
Certain thoughts raced through my mind. “Just Scream, ask for help, anything but this.” No, not me. I was groomed into believing life was about sex. Groomed into believing that it was my fault. I bought the lie just like a naïve young couple, racing to buy their first home. The salesman is good. “Take it slow, look around. This house is steal.” “We’ll take it.” The young couple eagerly agrees. I bought the lie just as they bought the house, without having the property inspected and surveyed. The perfect house would turn into the perfect nightmare. A nightmare that would cost them more than just money. It cost them their joy. While there is no joy in exposing a terrible truth… there is no joy in concealing it.
As the years toiled by anger grew in my silence. A deadly conformity of revenge began to live in that place of nothingness. I remember having one foot in the Church and the other in Prison. I thought of all the ways I would kill them, as if it were mapped out on a table before me. Thoughts of killing them became an intrusive obsession. My heart was hard. I was bitter and reckless, now nearly nineteen and living on my own, I was free. Free to come and go as I pleased. However, nothing could prepare me for what happened next…
I was about three blocks away from the condo I shared with a neighbor. A neighbor I had met just a few years earlier. A neighbor who went to church; a babbling church lady with more rules than the bible. One being keep the basement clean. On that night I left just before nightfall with my clothes scattered all over her basement floor.
I was sitting at the bar with a drink in my hand and fake I.D. in my back pocket when a man sat down beside me. The conversation moved rapidly from one topic to the next with ease. After a few drinks and a wild invitation to take a ride on the back of his new motorcycle I thought ” Why not? It’s three blocks away.” What’s the worst thing that could happen? A question far from my inebriated mind, now muddled with thoughts of keeping my drinks down and getting home.
This seemingly harmless man talked me into getting on the back of his bike, then refused to take me home. Again, I bought the lie. Under the “It’s my fault, I deserve it.” fate. Oddly enough, I was worried, but not nearly as much as I was worried about my roommate. A woman in her 40’s with children of her own. I knew she would not come looking for me and if she did, her eyes would be wide with curiosity, her face white with terror as the indignation of a broken rule set in. All I wanted to do was go home and clean my room.
That’s what went through my mind going 90 miles an hour on the freeway. My heart began to pound with one sharp turn after the next I could feel my body lean into it. He sped up then with a sudden stop, he jumped off the bike, gazing at me with a wicked smirk. He pulled his helmet off and waited for me. I reluctantly stood under a street lamp in a normal neighborhood. The house he led me to did not look like it belonged to a rapist. Then again, what does a rapist house look like? The structure itself wasn’t deteriorated. It didn’t look haunted.
I did not want to take his hand, but I did. He led me into that house, mumbling under his breath “We are only going to be here a few minutes. I have to pick a few things up.” Ironically, the same thing I thought about on the way over with two very stark differences. We were not there to pick up his things anymore than we were there for a few minutes. We passed through the living room where an elder man looked up, seated in his recliner, he shook his head. His eyes shifted with disdain, irritated by me, by my presence. An eerie feeling overwhelmed me as I continued to follow the stranger up a flight of stairs.
I stood in the smoldering hot attic crunched down because of my height, my head touching the ceiling. I knew what was happening the only thing I did not know was whether I would get out of this one alive? My eyes scanned the floor intensely at the hundreds, and I do mean hundreds of Polaroid pictures of naked women that lay toppled upon the next. Women I have no doubt he kidnapped the same way, and victimized for days. Eventually, I convinced him that I cared about him. I choked on the words, “I love you.” While begging him to take me home to pick up my clothes. I know God saved my life. That’s just the beginning of my story. While looking back on my past, I realize I was someone on the run for thirty years.
It grieves my spirit to know that what is now well into my past is someone’s beginning. I have been raped by different men throughout my life, at some point I knew I had to let go of all those dry bones. I did not begin to live until I began to forgive. Forgiving them for what they did to me did not mean they had my approval. Instead it evicted all those thoughts that held me captive and demolished their building. A new foundation has been laid. “Upon these rocks I shall build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” -Jesus Christ
I am alive by Gods grace. God kept me then and God is keeping me now. God is not a man that he should lie. He is a God of Love and protection. I had no clue I would one day trade my shame, trade my sorrow, trade my bitterness and hate for a garment of praise. No idea.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for protecting us. Heal our inner parts, minister to that pain that tries to take us captive only to victimize us all over again. Give us a healthy perspective when it comes to men. Touch us with the boldness to come to your throne of grace that we may obtain mercy in our time of need. Show my sisters Lord, that they need not be ashamed of their past and it is not their fault. We are fearfully and wonderfully made and we don’t have to apologize for it. Father, teach us to truly forgive that we might find life. In Jesus name I, we, pray. Amen.