One woman’s journey from shame and secrecy to love, freedom and light.
I can picture my 8-year-old self. A little girl full of fun and life. In my mind’s eye, I’m riding my bike to the corner shop to buy bubblegum, climb trees and hop over the wall to play with my friends.
Fast-forward 20 years and you’ll find me again. Still loving the outdoors, but climbing trees has graduated to hiking mountains and though there is still much light in my life, I have learned how to hide some things. Where things are hidden, darkness moves in, but I am learning that God’s light shines even in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Some time ago I listened to a message by Francis Chan. He asked a question that challenged me to face my hidden spaces and share my story. In the message, he asked:
What is the biggest lie in your life, the thing people don’t know about you?
Like many of us, I’m pretty good at presenting a life that seems fairly put-together to those around me. Life teaches us to highlight the things that are going well, when below the surface there is often so much in us that is messy and broken.
Like the time eight-year-old me climbed over the wall to play with my friends. We’d played all sorted of games in the past but on this day, the game changed and something inside me changed with it. On this day something happened that I hid deep inside. My friend started touching me in inappropriate ways, and making me do the same to her. I experienced things that no child should and which I had no context to deal with. And I closed it up and hid it away. Some time later a male friend crossed physical lines, and again, I hid it deep inside.
But what we try so hard to hide always leaks out in other ways. I became hypersensitive to touch and sexual feelings and thoughts. In high school these sensations that had been awakened in my body led to physical desires and feelings I longed to have met. Being held by a guy brought momentary satisfaction. Though I didn’t commit to any serious relationships, I freely gave away parts of myself to guys I didn’t know. I am so thankful God had his hand over my life as this could so easily have led me to the bed of multiple men. God was present in this lonely phase of my life, and even when I was seeking my satisfaction and identity in men, God was there watching over me.
After high school I started attending Hillsong Church and it was there that God’s love melted my heart. In time I came to realize that the love I so deeply longed for could be found only in Him. Yet, in spite of this new realisation I still found myself struggling with sexual sin. What had started as external displays of sexual affection became much more subtle now, an internal struggle that started in my heart and tore me up from the inside out. Lust consumed my mind and thoughts. As a single woman, nearing her 30’s I longed for marriage and felt incredibly angry with God that I was experiencing these strong desires and yet had no husband in which to meet them. For years I prayed and pleaded with God – hoping that freedom would come swiftly and (preferably) in the form of a dashing knight on a white horse.
Freedom has come – but I have learnt that it comes incrementally and ongoingly. Three steps forward, two steps back. Along the way, God has reminded me in the most beautiful and graceful way that it isn’t desiring sex that is bad, but desiring sex above Him. We so easily desire good, created things above the Creator himself. This has been the greatest revelation for me… that there is absolutely nothing in this world that can satisfy me like Jesus can.
I am learning that a husband isn’t the solution to my struggles and desires, for they are met fully in Jesus. While I still hope for a husband one day, the Holy Spirit gently reminds me that even my husband won’t be able to satisfy me the way that Jesus does. This has been a journey of healing, one I know I’m still on. God is reaching into the hidden spaces of my heart and shining His light in my darkness and pain. Each of us have things we hide deep inside… be it shame, guilt, sin or fear…yet God reaches even there and brings new life! May you find Him to be the One for whom “even the darkness will not be dark… and the night will shine like the day.” (Psalm 139:12)
His grace is sufficient and his love is deep. My heart rejoices in the Lord and I am hopeful that the same God Who is teaching me to find my satisfaction in Him, will do the same for you.