An Abuse Survivor's Prayer to Jesus
Claire is one of my heroes. Claire was adopted as an infant into a professing Christian home. Her father was an active deacon in their church and respected by many. For many years, Claire felt blessed to be so close to the man she called, “Dad”. That idyllic life took a dramatic turn when Claire was 17.
The father she adored committed the darkest of betrayals. He began sexually victimizing this precious girl over and over again. When Claire was 18, she was able to find the strength to step forward and disclose this evil secret that was slowly extinguishing her young life. Though her father eventually ended up in prison for this crime, all of this has come at an indescribable cost to Claire.
Claire amazes me. She still struggles as she presses forward on her long journey of healing. One day at a time. Recently, Claire shared with me an incredibly moving letter she wrote to Jesus. In giving me permission to share this letter, Claire wrote,
“I personally feel as though people who are walking through the “healing process” need someone who is going through the process as well to speak out. I’ve read books written by different authors on this issue, and while they are encouraging I’ve kept thinking to myself “I’d really like to hear
from someone who is currently in the same boat I am in.” I realized maybe others were feeling that way, and maybe that voice was me. I pray that other abuse survivors would know and realize that there is hope and that Jesus never lets go.”
In some ways, Claire’s letter is liberating. It provides a certain freedom to be exceptionally honest with God during the long struggle to process and heal.
Ultimately, her words are a flash of light in the darkness that reveals hope.
Thank you, Claire.
I’m not sure if you’ve heard. But something terrible happened. We know you know about it already, but we haven’t come to you about it yet. We haven’t come to you because we’re scared, and we feel let down. We don’t really know how to describe what happened, much less describe what we feel, but we’re going to try.
Someone much bigger and stronger did something terrible to us. They robbed us of our dignity, security, comfort, self worth and joy. They took pieces of us that didn’t belong to them. I suppose, since I am a child of yours, those pieces didn’t belong to us either but rather to you. But still, it feels like our hearts have been ripped out. We can’t breathe, Jesus. We’re hurting, and we feel angry inside. Some of us know how to bottle that anger inside and appear to be okay to the outside world. But if we let people inside our little bubble they would see that we’re really not okay. But that’s the problem- we can’t let people in. It’s not that we don’t want to. Deep down, we really do, but we’re afraid of being hurt again. It takes years to rebuild what was broken and in the rebuilding process we’re afraid to be torn down again. We know this, because it’s happened time and time again. And each time it hurts a little bit more than the time before that.
We know you love us. We do. But we’re trying really hard to understand you right now and it’s just not working. If you are who you say you are, then you were present when it happened. Why Jesus? Did you watch? Perhaps you watched but cried in agony for us when our tears and voices weren’t being heard? If you don’t mind, is it okay to imagine you crying out to God begging him to make it stop for us? I know God isn’t a mean God, but perhaps you felt the agony we felt and cried out to God for us? I don’t know. I just don’t know.
We feel angry at you sometimes. We’ve pounded our fists against your chest, beating out our heartache. And then you’ve allowed us to fall into your chest and soothe our aching souls. But then we wake up the next morning, if we’ve actually slept, and we feel just as sad. Why Jesus? Can’t you heal the heartache permanently? We know you will one day, so we will wait for you to do so. We just become tired in the waiting process.
But what we do know is that you love us, Jesus. We let go so many times, and you just keep holding on. Your grip is so tight that if you ever did let go I think your hand mark would be imprinted in our palms so clearly it would be as though you were still holding on.
So thank you Jesus for understanding us when we’re angry and not walking away. Thank you for staying when we push you away. Thank you for not being like the ones who abused us, but for being gentle and kind. Thank you for your love that endures even in the most horrid of times. Thank you Jesus for being who you say you are even when we don’t believe in you.
Please help us to hold on until the end, and until you have completed your work in our hearts. Please help us not to be angry all the time but to take our anger to you, even if it means bringing it to you five thousand times a day. And Jesus, please show us what it means to forgive our abusers as you forgave yours on the cross. It is seemingly impossible but that’s where you come in. And dear Jesus, please don’t ever let go.
Thank you for always listening to our cries.
This article was originally published on June 6, 2014 for the Religion News Service (RNS). Used with permission.