Two days changed my life. At the end of the first, I knew I was different… dirty different.
Once again, my parents, four siblings, and I—the happy and helpful middle child—had just moved in response to military orders. My parents always made each move an adventure, knowing that it was not about what we were leaving behind but what was in front of us.
The long awaited day that our furniture would be delivered was here. Eager in anticipation, we already knew where every piece of furniture would go. When the moving van finally arrived with the familiar things of our lives, my two older siblings and I were ready to help direct the movers.
I was in charge of leading the man moving the small freezer into the storage room. When it was finally in place, I turned to exit. The man stopped me and began to touch my private parts… I froze in place… I could not call for help… I was trapped without voice and the strength to get away until he satisfied himself. I was nine.
When he finally left, I ran into the house and told my mother what this man had done to me. “Oh, sweetie, what were you doing out there in the first place?” She responded in exhaustion.
It must be my fault!
That’s what my little nine-year-old brain thought. Nothing was ever said again. No justice. No questions. No understanding. Even when…
…I became extremely introverted. Before that day, my mother referred to me as “my little girl who dances on her tip-toes.” I no longer danced. I pulled me inside of me. But no one asked why.
…My grades dropped drastically. Until this time, I had excelled in school. I loved art and music, reading and math—and especially spelling. Now as I struggled to keep up, no one asked why.
…I gained thirty pounds in three months. Still no one asked why, seemingly as if nobody cared. I was brokenhearted… alone amid people who loved me.
A Day of Light
Five years passed since that terrible day. We had moved again, and by now I had discovered that families in the military are not so much from a place but from “a people.” We found ourselves in similar situations and accepted and supported each other quickly. I was instantly accepted, so I was not about to share my secret. My mom had already forgotten—I was sure of it—since she had become preoccupied with my father’s increased drinking and the escalating violence in our home. Although I was beginning to come out of my self-made shell, hiding was much easier… and familiar.
Then one day, the Youth For Christ (YFC) group invited me to attend the Billy Graham Crusade. I didn’t know who Billy Graham was or what a crusade was, but it sounded like fun and my parents said I could go. That day I heard something I had never heard in all the years I had attended Sunday school:
This is who God is… Creator, Provider, Lover of my soul…
This is who you are…sinner, lost, in pain…
This is who Jesus is…Son of God, perfect, Sacrifice for my soul…
This is what you need to do if you want Jesus to walk with you… if you want to have peace… if you want to live with God forever in heaven: acknowledge who Jesus is and what He has done for you and accept Him as your Savior.
And this day, a day of light, I—a 13-year-old brokenhearted girl—walked down on the field of a stadium by myself to acknowledge Jesus as my Savior. A counselor handed me a Bible as I prayed to accept the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross in exchange for my sin. My life changed… my future changed… my name changed from Shame to Daughter of the King… from Sorrow to Loved by God… from Lonely to Friend of God.
Hope and Healing
Validation and Justice—both are essential ingredients for healing from the wounds inflicted by those who violate us. Years of study in a Marriage and Family Therapy degree program and hours spent mentoring wounded women taught me that. As a child of nine, I had never experienced either. No one had validated my pain. No one had given me justice. Then I discovered in one remarkable moment that Jesus had already done that!
The Bible records the time when Jesus walked into the temple and, reading the words of the prophet Isaiah, proclaimed:
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD” (Luke 4:18-19)
If you are poor… if you are brokenhearted and need healing… if you are captive and need to be set free… if you need to see what you have not been able to see… if you need the liberty and freedom that only God can give… You can pray and invite the Savior and Healer into your life today.
If you have, I welcome you to a new direction and the path of healing to come. Indeed, your heart is safe in His hands, and the healing can begin!
Diane Szuch is an author, speaker, and health and wellness practitioner. She teaches others how to move from forgiveness to healing–as they experience true validation and justice from Jesus Christ. She lives in San Diego, California.
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