by Meeshia H.
As I folded a new basket of clothes, I would work on one article of clothing and glance back at the television. I would go back to another article of clothing and then glance at the TV again. I was watching the sentencing of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar given by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.
My heart and mind continued to go through many different reactions: horror, anger, and sorrow. My heart wept for those women. As Judge Aquilina handed down her sentence of 40 to 175 years in prison, my heart leaped in my chest. Now he pays the price for the abuse he has done! Now these beautiful ladies can rest knowing he will pay the price!
But as soon as the celebration of justice was delivered, I heard this haunting question rise to the top of my emotions: “What of the thousands of sexual assault victims who never receive justice? What of the victims who will never lift their voices to stand on the #MeToo platform or have their case presented in front of a judge? How will they ever heal?”
I, too, have been that woman with those questions. I have spent almost my entire life with the effects of sexual and emotional abuse. Some days were not as bad as others, but most days were spent in emotional/mental darkness that just wouldn’t lift. Between the ages of 9 and 16, I was sexually assaulted and abused by three men in my family. When I finally had the courage to break the silence, I was treated like the one to blame. And I took that blame—hook, line, and sinker. It was easier to turn on myself than to try and understand why they were protected and I was blamed.
For years I lived my life with the belief that I was broken. Instead of a scarlet letter “A,” I wore a scarlet letter “B” for my brokenness. And every once in a while, when the pain would drag me into the pit of despair, I would scream at God: “Why won’t you take this pain away from me? Why won’t you make me better?” I would cling to the minuscule grain of hope that maybe someday I would have relief.
I have struggled with depression and addiction for many years. Life on life’s terms was getting too hard to do. I’d finally had enough of the pain and experienced an emotional/mental breakdown. I was suicidal. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was scared to live my life with the absolute despair I felt and the fear that I would never see the end of the misery. I knew that I was at the end of the road. I had spent many years in counseling that never gave me concrete, life-changing results.
So, in my desperation, I walked into a ministry called Celebrate Recovery. I had heard of this recovery program before, but I’d told myself it was for only “those people” who had addictions. I didn’t think I had addictions. I was “only suicidal.” Seriously, I walked into a Christian-based ministry after giving up on God and myself. How ironic is that? Giving up on God but walking into a ministry that claimed Jesus was the only hope I needed? Would the pain ever end? Desperate times do drive us to desperate measures. I truly was hopeless. I knew I was powerless. I could not heal myself. I could not change my past. But I couldn’t live one more day in the pain any longer. With that one choice—walking into Celebrate Recovery—the healing began. It didn’t happen quickly or easily, but with my very first step of admitting powerlessness, God could and would begin to reveal himself to me and restore me to sanity as I let him.
God has changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. Since being in recovery, I can honestly say I am the healthiest I’ve ever been emotionally and mentally. My story of recovery does not include justice for my abusers. But my story of recovery includes forgiveness, mercy, and healing. The hatred, pain, and hopelessness that were sitting in my soul were doing nothing but killing me, memory by memory, moment by moment, day by day. Death was a fragrance that hung on me like a cloak. Today my heart pounds with hope—really, true hope.
I pray for those who lie down at night and wonder, “What is the point of another day?” I continue to learn tools that keep me from living in despair and keep me from losing my hope. Celebrate Recovery has changed me, has given me hope, and continues to do so.
I want that for you. If you have tried everything, I encourage you to try one more place. Go to celebraterecovery.com and find a meeting close to you. This is my story. I pray that it gives you hope.
Pastor Rick, along with his wife, Kay and their friend, Beth Moore, recently discussed the issue of sexual abuse and harassment during a weekend service at Saddleback Church. Watch the message below…