Healing Prayer & Freedom in the Kitchen

Posted: August 7, 2012 in Parenting, Sexual Abuse
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There are places we don’t want to go.

Behind every child who has been abused are bruised and bewildered parents, blinded by guilt and shame for what they could not do, could not see, could not prevent. Some cover their pain with denial and anger, others a sense of helpless defeat. Whatever the mask, we are, in this state, of little good to those we most long to help. The freedom we seek for our broken children is something we too, need. The same God who came for our wounded loved ones, comes for us.

Nearly a decade later the shards still pierce drawing blood. In my gut I feel this malevolent finger pointing. It matters not that I didn’t know, that I wasn’t there. Even these facts rise up to accuse me.

***

We are in the kitchen. The volley of words my daughter and I have used to batter each other have finally run out. An ominous quiet fills the room. I know that I am losing her. The terror of this realization paralyzes me. Not for the first time I wonder how it is we have come to this place. How it is that I can love my daughter so deeply while remaining so inept.

“I’ve tried,” she suddenly cries, a wounded shriek filled with a pain I can only guess at. And I know she has, sitting dutifully through countless, meaningless sermons whose messages never came close to soothing the festering wound left by her abuser. The attempts to fit in with yet another youth group where platitudes were meant to pacify, but couldn’t. Of course she tried. We all tried; counselors and teachers, changing schools, setting up boundaries and praying, always praying.

“It doesn’t work!” She screams, her eyes filling with an anger so raw I can barely look.  “Maybe God doesn’t love me enough!” This honest cry feels like an assault, sharp enough to make me flinch.

‘Of course He loves you,’ I want to argue. But my words wither before I can frame them. Who am I to speak against a reality I can’t admit even to myself? “Maybe He doesn’t love me enough.” How could He, a mother unable to protect her own child?

And then there is only this void that I don’t know how to enter. When she leaves, walking out of the kitchen, a door is slammed shut.

***

The years have filled in the cracks of that fateful day with a quiet that is thick with the unspoken. My daughter mostly stays away. When she comes home it is with a polite cordiality that prevents anyone from venturing too close. I pray for her return, to us, but mostly to the God I so poorly represented in her youth. My heart is heavy, a stone of regret.

And then, quite unexpectedly I find myself led back to the kitchen through a healing prayer, where weeping, my heart lies split open, its contents laid bare. For the first time I dare to invite Jesus to stand in the rubble, this same God who I was once so sure couldn’t love me. My request feels forced. The nothingness that follows as I go to prayer is proof of the foolishness of such a mystical gesture. I’m not one of those people. And then, when I am almost ready to give up, I sense Him, His presence filling me and the kitchen. There is no haloed deity, no bright lights, just a gentle whisper in my brain, words full of the deepest compassion imaginable.

All I wanted was for you to love her,” He says, “I’ll take care of the rest.” The relief I feel is marginal. The message benign, something anyone might say. My heart begins to turn away when a shift in tone catches my attention. This time it carries the slightest hint of rebuke. “Did you think I would let her go?”

His question slices through me. My eyes fill and spill over, because, yes, that is exactly what I’d thought, the years eroding my hope, erasing the promise provided when it all began, a promise reiterated by the words of the prophet Micah.

“You will go to Babylon. There you will be rescued. There the Lord will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies. But now many nations are gathered against you. They say, “Let her be defiled, let our eyes gloat over Zion. But they do not understand His plan.” Micah 4:10b-12

We all have places we don’t want to go, places too frightening to even consider. But it is there, in our personal ‘Babylon,’ where we discover a Rescuer, One who has gone before us. He waits in the rubble, ready and willing to bring us back home.

Resource:
The Hope of a Homecoming by Brendan O’Rourke and DeEtte Saurers

photo credit: merfam via photo pin cc

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