I’m in awe of the strength and stories of the women who have submitted pieces for the beautiful scars series and Jennifer Little is no exception. I’m humbled and honored to be a part of sharing her story with you and to be a small piece of her healing. There is no story that God won’t redeem, but this one is especially dear to my heart.
And Then The Morning Comes
It’s easy for me to say I was molested for the first time as a nine-year old. It’s not, however, easy to sift through and relive all those years (27 to be exact), since I was visited in the darkness. That was when the safety of my pale pink bedroom shattered into millions of tiny pieces that would later cut deep like glass.
When I first began writing this, I fooled myself into thinking I could whip up an account that has, by the way, blossomed into one of hope and love and forgiveness. The truth is, though, there is no way for me to share the light without first revisiting the dark—the secret, the fear, the loneliness and wild anger. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, thank God.
Thank you, God. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there.
One might think my childhood was a dark stain on my life. After all, the secret of sexual abuse is so devastating, it can set children up for a future of rejection and failure in every possible way. But I know my parents and step-parents loved me as much as they were able, and there were plenty of happy times and fun memories.
The thing about the cycle of sexual abuse is that secrets and denial stealthily infiltrate the hearts and souls of all involved until nothing is as it seems.
I was a happy kid most of the time. I loved school, and there were no signs that my teachers should have reported. I was Mary Poppins in a little girl’s body. How did the secret not weigh me down like a backpack full of rocks?
There was some inner turmoil, though, that once turned into self-harm. “What does poison ivy look like?” I asked my older brother as we ran home through the woods for one of my favorite dinners of baked chicken and rice. The next day, I went back to that place and rubbed those three-leaved plants all over my legs. That itchy, oozy poison ivy drove me crazy the entire summer.
The night terrified me the most. Warm mugs of Sleepytime Tea did nothing to soothe my unspoken fears and help me rest. It sounded so easy in Sunday School to forgive and forget. I tried it and spent those nights begging God, but it’s really hard to forget something that happens again and again.
I dated in high school, made good grades, went to college and met the expectations of everyone around me. If I pleased people, they liked me, and that meant I was okay. I excelled at wearing my stamped-on smile.
Then, I met Brian. Somehow he just knew. “What’s happened to you?” he asked, as I practically choked on my Applebee’s chicken fingers (on one of our first dates). That night a waterfall of tears streamed down my face.
We eventually married, and I told myself our future would be wonderful, despite all I had read about unfinished business. We would face it soon enough together, and I thought I was well on my way.
I was wrong.
It’s amazing that Brian did not leave me out of sheer exhaustion. Arguments about what to have for dinner became hours of angry, hateful words that flew uncontrollably out of my mouth and clawed away at our newly-married oneness.
Once I pounded my thigh until it was a deep, dark purple. I lied about it.
I saw my life unraveling with such force, there was no way to stitch it up fast enough.
I began seeing a very patient counselor, who told me moving forward required looking back, and I knew I needed to confront my abuser.
Brian and I did it right before Christmas that year, and finally, finally I was weightless.
And yet, complete healing takes faith and hope. Healing from years of hurt takes a lot of time and courage, and I am impatient.
I yelled at my husband. I screamed at God. I cried and could not turn it off, like the gushing of water from a fire hydrant.
And Brian stayed and loved me in spite of me.
My molestation settled over my world like a dense fog–every thought, conversation, dream and the most intimate parts of my marriage. At church, my eyes scanned the sanctuary, as I wondered how many of those Christian men did things to little girls. Even going to Target was disturbing. As I walked by tiny pink and purple bathing suits, I mourned for those who would wear them. They won’t be safe in those.
But slowly, slowly the piercing sting of sexual abuse lessened.
The rawness became a thick scab, and I felt more light in my days than darkness. I was a tingling of awakening, a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.
While I had done the seemingly impossible work to heal, I yearned for a sincere apology. Years later, when I was given it in the form of a hand-written letter, my heart of stone could do nothing with it.
You see, I had battled for the little girl in me, found my voice and continued fighting to control my new-found freedom. And Jesus wrapped me with his love—big enough to cover all of it. It was time to rest my exhausted, war-torn body, mind and soul and let Him take over.
Forgiveness was impossible until I handed over my sword and removed every piece of armor.
I believe Jesus weeps heavy tears every time a child is so selfishly violated. He was angered by what happened to me from the first time to the last and continues to rejoice with me through every step of my journey. After all, He created all of us as His works of art and knows every second of our lives from beginning to end.
My scars are His scars, and they are only scars—no longer an oozing wound, covered by a dirty bandage, too flimsy to stick. What could have destroyed me is now something powerful that is being used to bring His light into the darkest and most secretive of places.
It has taken more than two decades to forgive, and by the precious love, grace and mercy of my Savior, I will never forget where I have been.
I am overcome with joy because of your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set me in a safe place. ~Psalm 31: 7-8
Jennifer Moore Little has a career in education, is a juicing fanatic, and most likely has dog hair on whatever she wears. She has learned to appreciate her journey and is completely overwhelmed by God’s big, big love for each one of us.
She blogs here and you should absolutely keep up with her.
To check out a video of Jennifer’s story that accompanies her baptism and is sure to bring tears to your eyes, go here
For more information on what you can do to end child sexual abuse, please visit Darkness to Light and inform yourself.