I Love the moon. In California, one of my favorite things to do was to go to the beach at night to see its reflection on the ocean water. In NY I don’t see the moon as often, however, sometimes I wake up to it shining in my bedroom window. I think it fascinates me because I know that the light is not its own, but that of the sun. As I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that the only time I truly enjoy it is when it is full. I still relish it no matter what phase it is in, but there is just something unique and moving about a full moon. I guess it is because seeing something that is inherently dark glowing in the fullness of light brings me hope; hope that darkness can take different forms, but it is fleeting.
Recently, a close friend asked me if I ever felt resentful about the things that happened in my childhood. I didn’t speak right away because I wanted to be sure I answered honestly. After a few moments of thinking about it, I responded, “No, I have come to terms with it and accepted what it was. Of course, I would not have chosen that path, however, it has empowered me to be who I am today.” It has taken me a long time to come to this conclusion because, ten years ago, I don’t think I would have given her the same answer. My life has taken twists and turns for as long as I can remember. Some good, some tough, some sad, some happy…like everyone else I suppose. Only, in my case, I feel like the hits have been unrelenting and it can take an exhausting spiritual and mental toll.
Coming from a domestic violence situation has affected me in every aspect and something that I still deal with regularly. I have genuinely done my best to change my life and transform who I am, yet, I have faced a lot of loss along the way. During the last life storm, which lasted four years, it took a hit on my faith, on my confidence, on my mind, on my emotions…on my everything. It was hard to see and remember who I was outside of the failures that I felt. So many questions rose up within me and threw me into a confusing storm of doubt. What was it all for? Why did I fight so hard just to lose my marriage in the end? Why did I constantly do ‘what’s right’ just to lose a job that I truly enjoyed and was excellent at? Why does it appear like, no matter how hard I have fought, it still seems like I am the one who is losing? Do I keep fighting even though I feel like I have failed and been failed? Have I accomplished anything good? Was I really a positive influence on anyone? These are many of the questions I asked myself during and after the 2020 Covid pandemic when I was isolated in a large house and there was only myself and God. It has taken some serious self-reflection, prayer, and conversation with those I trust to find those answers.
Victims have a tougher fight when it comes to life. They were not encouraged, built up, believed in, or supported. They are used to fighting insecurities and self-doubt because that is the result of being mistreated. They feel devalued and unloved and believing otherwise is not an easy transition in the mind. When my emotional storm started to settle from being separated, and subsequently divorced, I was left with the raw condition of my soul. This is the point where my faith met my reality. Do I believe that I am important and matter despite the struggles I have experienced? Do I really know Who God is and trust His Love for me? Is He really doing something through me? Or was I fooling myself all these years? My head knew what I should believe and what those answers were. But you cannot underestimate the power of an abuser’s haunting words from the past. The process of pushing the imaginary stop button, re-recording, and playing the new messages is arduous at best. Thankfully, I had an advantage going into that storm.
There is a verse in Hebrews that says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (v.12; Italics mine). The best thing I had going for me was that I had read most of the Bible over my 30 years of being a Christian and it was time for the truth of God’s Word to ground me. No matter how low I got, I never doubted that God was with me. Because of the Covid shutdowns causing me to live in isolation, I spent an endless amount of time working through the negative thoughts that had been holding me back. It was as if, what had been a slow healing process, was pushed into hyper drive.
If you are a victim of abuse, you know that there are two sides to domestic violence. The first is while you are in it; the second is when you are out of it. While you are in it, your only goal is to survive day by day. Once you are out, your only goal should be to overcome it and learn to thrive. You will make loads of mistakes along the way; even hurting the ones you love the most. When you make those mistakes, acknowledge them and make them right. It is much easier to ask forgiveness, or to forgive yourself, if you are confident that you are doing everything possible to better yourself.
Most importantly, do not make the bigger mistake of allowing others to lord your failures over you. No one should be expected to come out of an abusive situation unharmed, unaffected, and in perfect order. The only ones who should be allowed in your world are those who will be your greatest cheerleaders. Yes, it is hard to overcome and harder yet to believe differently about yourself, but it is possible. Just as the sun offers light to the moon, your life can shine by believing in who you are in God’s eyes; and by believing the words of those who genuinely love and care about you. You are valuable. You are important. You matter.
Until next time, hold your head up high and stay safe!