Nearly thirty years ago my husband encouraged me to talk to someone about CSA — or, my story. It was invaluable to me — but for reasons much different than the counselor’s intent.
I was so nervous. ‘More nervous than I am to go to the dentist to have a root canal. ‘More nervous than anticipating labour and childbirth. I can’t, I said. I just can’t do that. Well… what I didn’t know at the time was that if I really felt as though I could *not* go through with it, he would *not* have taken me there that day. But he did and I did go into that Christian counseling office in Seattle.
She was very gracious to me — grandmotherly, warm and kind. I felt at ease with her as I answered her guiding questions — willingly, as I so longed to be free from the feelings that plagued me. Though my actions and demeanor might have betrayed this, I’m sure she knew that’s why I was there. I’d very rarely ever even mentioned that there was trouble in my life to anyone.
I knew the game, Let’s Pretend, very well. I’d played Let’s Pretend for many years by this time.
After she listened to my recollections — asking me to picture past scenes. She then asked me to picture the same scenes again — only this time she asked me to picture them how they should have been. I found it nearly impossible to do this — but, being a good girl, I agreed that I could picture the situations the way they should have been. She told me this was the way Jesus would have had those situations occur. I agreed with her — probably like glazed eyed people giving perfunctory nods of agreement to enthusiastic salesmen when the salesmen promise the moon with the use of their product.
I tried very hard to keep the “better picture” in my mind. But I couldn’t. I knew, though she was trying to help me, that sort of help wouldn’t change what happened. It was the “positive mental attitude” sort of counsel. And while it is great to keep a positive attitude — looking on the bright side of things, pretending something happened differently than it did doesn’t change what happened. What happened happened. Imagining it differently wouldn’t change that.
I left the office that day with a follow-up appointment card in hand. And I did return for that appointment, as well. This time our conversation centered around my family relationships and current activities. At the time, I’d just given birth to our second child, we were in transition after a business venture failure and the loss of all our financial assets. And as I look back on those appointments now, I see that they were some of the most instructive and divine appointments of my life.
Through my sharing of our financial situation, she directed me to a place ( at that time: Natural Foods Warehouse in Mountlake Terrace) where I could buy grains for my family, giving me the address for the store and suggestions for what to purchase once I got there. I didn’t know it at the time, but that one suggestion for making nutritious breads would be used of the Lord significantly and would pave the way for me to learn to make breads of all kinds, use different grains and cereals for our meals and to buy foods in bulk. Actually, I learned MANY invaluable things from those two sessions:
- Picturing the past the way it should have been is just another chapter in the “our little secret” book of tricks. Memory Replacement therapy was not only not helpful, it furthered my anguish that I’d never move past the fear, guilt and shame of CSA. It was a game of Let’s Pretend… Let’s pretend this did not happen. Which, by the way, was exactly what was said to me by my ‘father’ when I would tell him I was afraid… he would say, this did not happen. Memory replacement therapy is a game of Let’s Pretend: Let’s pretend it happened another way. It’s another lie. I pray no girl — no woman ever succumbs to that form of “counseling.” It’s a lie and it steals from the great goodness and purposes of the Lord when He has allowed hard things to have occurred.
- Natural Foods Warehouse became one of my favourite stores and would open doors of food purchasing and preparation that I would find invaluable from that time to this. I don’t often shop there anymore after discovering Azure Standard many years ago. But, from there, a whole new world opened up to this once city-girl from SanFrancisco and Southern California.
- It’s proven to me over and over and over that all God’s ways are good. That what the devil intended for evil, God meant for good — for my good and His great glory. And, I do give God glory in all this. For I know that I know that I know: He was there… He saw it all… He allowed it all. Praise His Name.
- God used those events of my life, in part, to shape me into who I am today — and IS using them to work His perfect work in me to conform me to the image of Him who saved me. And though I and others do not/cannot see His finished work yet — or even a lot of progress sometimes, God is still using the tool of those experiences to work His beautiful work in me.
- I press on toward the mark…