A Warrior’s Testimony
Behind the Door of Sexual AbuseBy Shelly Thompson
* This is Day 11 taken from the 40 day devotional book 'Heart of a Warrior' A Legacy of Faith by Shelly Thompson
This is my testimony. I kept it mostly behind ‘the door’ for years. On Easter morning in April 2015, God asked me to share it. He practically had to pry it from my hands, but I knew in my heart, it was His to use. There were others whose hearts might be changed if I was brave and shared my story.
I wanted a pretty testimony, but God gave me an ugly story, with a beautiful ending. One filled with hurt, pain, anger, distrust, loss of faith, loss of belief that God was good…and a deeply broken trust in God. Warrior Sister, the enemy loves it when you decide to let something that happened, or circumstances, make you step away from God! That’s exactly the time when you should LEAN INTO God, Warrior Sister. Sadly, I decided for almost two decades…to go my own way. I made a lot of poor choices. It cost me greatly to listen to the enemy as he manipulated my life.
My testimony was posted on The Notebook Café website Easter Morning in April 2015. It’s been read by thousands and heard by hundreds as I’ve given it personally many, many times to women’s groups. There’s always someone…who was just like me in the group. Someone who thought God didn’t care about her situation. It may not have been abuse, but it was something that hurt her heart deeply and left her feeling unloved and uncared for by God. God has used this ugly story to show the beautiful truth of who He is…restorer of our spirits, redesigner of our lives, repairer of our hearts, repurposer of our ashes….rebuilding them into something beautiful, and finally redeemer of our souls forgiving us and with open arms accepting us just as we are.
Here is my Warrior testimony. It was hard to write on that Easter morning in 2015, but then just as now…God knows…it’s time.
Time to let you see my past…My Door. There she was almost 8, beautiful. Freckles. Pony tails. Always using her imagination and overly dramatic voice to make people laugh. She and her two sisters, and dog (sister 4). The “sissy’s” as they named themselves. They were so close. She antagonized the older sister and was a mother hen to the younger one. I can still see their back packs swinging back and forth as they would leave the house each morning and take the path to school. Happy. Laughing. Secure. I stood at The Door and watched. But, by the time she was 8, The Door and I were old friends.
I spent a lot of time at…The Door. Years.
My memory flashes back to when she was 5. I can still see the car pulling out of the driveway, containing the crazy haired, missing teeth, mismatched socks treasures that were my daughters. The “sissy’s”. I watched from the door and waved with a smile and imagined the good weekend visit that I hoped was awaiting them. The 5-year-old “sissy” didn’t love the scheduled weekend visits anymore, but I thought she missed me while she was gone. Five is a funny age for being separated from mom. But, before I left The Door I would always do what my grandmother, Grandma G (named by the oldest of the three “sissy’s” when she was two), always did…I prayed. I stood at the door and prayed for the sisters to be protected. I assumed that was the end of it. I prayed and it was done. God’s protection.
I grew up in a circle of people with great faith, my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. They encircled my life. I knew what it was like to truly have a circle who cherished me, richly loved me, and prayed for me. Although I never met any relatives beyond my great grandparents, their faith and belief in God was the piece of their legacy passed down that never entered the grave. It remained trickling down from one generation to another. Next to their black and white photos, their poses set in a time period of no smiles, I always knew behind those rather sour looking family portraits lurked the same characteristics I could see in my circle. They shared smiles, laughter, childhood pranks, buggy rides, farm chores, heartaches of life, joy, and their faith. And their God. I knew because their faith still existed in the living legacy that was my family.
I slowly remembered back to the day that I never left…The Door.
There they were, the “sissy’s”, going off for a scheduled weekend visit. A time that was to be fun. A time for playing games, sisterly fighting, staying up late, getting ketchup on their faces, a skinned knee from running on the sidewalk…but never…ever…the open wounds of molestation. Never…the deep wounds of molestation that would not heal behind The Door. That wasn’t what I pictured as they drove away and I watched and I waved and I prayed and I met…The Door.
I learned the enemy’s lies at…The Door. Fear. Betrayal. Denial. Anger. Bitterness. Shame. Guilt.
Years passed…behind The Door.
There she is on the stage. Center stage. Nothing seemed to stop her. She smiles with genuine happiness as she accepts her high school diploma. Then college. Next volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate working with abused children. She built a beautiful life with a caring and loving husband. All these wonderful things in her life surpassed the molestation. She still believes God loves her and her faith is strong. I never left…The Door.
I’ve heard the enemy’s lies at The Door
…all of them…for years…I no longer notice God. I no longer trust God. I no longer hear the voice I heard as a child telling me God had a plan for me. Yes, I heard God calling me as a child, but then one day….I closed The Door and stood behind it. I thought God didn’t care since He allowed my daughter to be sexually abused. I watched life through the window of The Door. Seeing my circle live just beyond the glass of the tear stained window. Watching their laughter, the enjoyment of family days filled with sunshine and picnics, babies being born, grocery shopping on Saturday’s, the peacefulness of snow in the winter but,…behind The Door I felt nothing, but the pain, bitterness, and anger, that I had stacked in front of The Door. Nothing was going to open The Door again. I would see to that. I would not trust God again.
But then….one day I accepted an invitation at…The Door.
A new friend whom I didn’t know very well courageously invited me to attend a Christian women's conference. I accepted simply because I liked her. I wasn’t really interested in the women’s conference. I was even uncomfortable during much of the conference. Here were thousands of women singing from their heart about loving God and how wonderful He was. I knew better. I still attended church each week, but from behind The Door. Somehow in this arena with thousands of singing females, voices I didn’t recognize or know, the music felt alive. You could feel their joy. You could sense their peace. Their faces showed a love for God that was unmistakable. Maybe it was the sheer number of them praising God that reminded me of how life used to be. I tried to close The Door to this awakening of what life was like before I started living behind…The Door. So many years had passed. I thought, it’s too late to open The Door. While I lived a life on the outside that most people envied, I never let the inside show behind The Door. I had never left The Door where God didn't protect a young girl from molestation, while I, the mom, waved to her as she drove off…and prayed to Him to protect her at…The Door.
I listened half-heartedly during the speakers on stage.
The next speaker stepped on the stage. Her words, like lightning bolts, caught my attention. She was saying to these thousands of women that surrounded me that God could use all things for good. No matter how evil. No matter how painful. No matter how long ago they happened. God could use all things to work for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Under the bright lights of that center stage, I remember her saying even more slowly, “God can work good in all things…all things…divorce, poverty, insecurity, job loss, rape, sexual molestation….” I never heard what she said after that because there was…
A crack in…The Door.
Like a light piercing the darkness, revealing with a sharp newly understood realization that God had been working in the life of the “sissy” who was molested all this time. Years upon years. God had overseen the court proceedings that brought justice and stopped the visits. He had seen her graduate through college, build a great marriage, and even help other girls who had been molested. He HAD used even the ugliest of ugliness and somehow over time, made it beautiful. He made her beautiful. The middle “sissy” had grown into a compassionate and caring young woman. She had a heart full of love and kindness. The ability to empathize with abused girls. Her heart met their heart at the place known only by those who have suffered abuse can meet. I had stood behind The Door...the enemy and I had stacked his lies of bitterness, anger, hate, no trust in God, pity, shame, guilt, and fear so high against The Door it was almost unable to be opened. Over time, the hinges that as a young woman were so shiny and willing to open had grown rusty and almost lost the ability to move.
The knock….at The Door.
I slowly began to hear that voice again. The soft whisper of the Holy Spirit. Beckoning. Calling. Pleading. Reassuring. It was o.k. to open The Door. It was o.k. to let out the fear, the guilt, the shame – the anger at God (who had been fully active and working in this situation for years), the pain….the LIES. Yes, it was o.k. to let them go. It was o.k. to OPEN…THE DOOR. The lies were blocking The Door. God wanted to remove them. He wanted to take every one of them and expose them in the light of His truth and His grace. Behind The Door there was no light – only the lies of the enemy along with…isolation…sadness…brokenness. Once the crack was opened, the rays of light exposed the darkness that was lurking behind The Door. Remembering what it felt like to trust God. To read His Word. To feel again without fear. To pray and honestly expect God to answer. To live fully alive. The knowledge that even though I can’t always see God working I can trust that He is. Allowing God’s peace to rest upon me in all circumstances.
It takes time. But God has eternity…He’s got the time.
The Bible tells us that Jesus stands at…The Door.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:20). If anyone answers he will come in. Jesus wants us to open The Door of our heart and invite him in. He stands outside The Door, even though we may reject him, refuse him, or walk away from him. He never leaves the outside of The Door. Never. He is always there. He doesn’t just want to come in. He wants to have an intimate relationship – when scripture says He wants to dine with us that means He wants a close relationship. He wants to be familiar in our lives. He wants us to know His peace and trust Him, especially in the hard places of life that make no human sense, when He sees us living behind…The Door. Many times He is watching us with tears streaming down His face and pain in His heart knowing that some will never take the first step, grasp the handle, and throw open…The Door and invite Him in.
Our Door was His Stone.
Jesus was in a tomb, dead, buried behind a large, humanly immovable stone. Yet, through the power of God, the stone was moved and Jesus was raised to life. The Resurrection. Years ago, He stepped out of that dark, lonely, tomb on Easter morning, into the brilliant sun, predawn dew moistening his feet, free from death. He did this for us. The stone was rolled away…he was not there. It was finished.
I am so glad that I am no longer behind The Door.
I can embrace Jesus! I can see His empty tomb. I can see behind my open door. Jesus met me at My Door and I know, without a doubt, He is at yours. He was at My Door during the hardest part of my life, but I didn’t want to open it. I wonder how many joyful moments I sacrificed behind The Door? How many people could I have helped by sharing instead of feeling shame behind The Door? How many more hugs could I have given instead of holding onto my hurt behind The Door? My behind The Door list is endless, so I choose not to look back. The Door is open, there is nothing back there for me any longer…I am not there. It is finished.
Putting this into action - If you’re at The Door…let God open that Door…even if it’s just a crack. Soon you too will step out and realize…with God’s help…It is finished! Do you have something ugly in your life, or that’s happened in your family, that is keeping you from seeing God’s goodness and love? Do you believe that God cares when something tragic happens? Do you trust that God is working powerfully in all situations…even when you can’t see anything happening? Do you understand that God can absolutely change your seasons of ashes…into a beautiful testimony?
I couldn’t see what God would do in the life of that sweet little almost 5-year-old all those years ago. There was nothing humanly happening as I watched through all the court proceedings…the tears…the pain. That’s been thirty years ago…Warrior Sister, let me tell you…God WAS working in ways bigger than I could dream…that little girl is now the grown woman who stands on the stage of The Notebook Café Women’s Conferences, with a beautiful God given voice, leading our sisters in beautiful worship music, singing God’s praises, thanking Him for all He has done. Living her life…way beyond the door…and sharing that strong, courageous faith…with the next generation…her children. You see…it was Finished…just as He promised.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20
**If this uplifted and encouraged you, you may enjoy Shelly's book, 'Heart of a Warrior' A Legacy of Faith. Click here for more information!
The Notebook Cafe -- Inspired Words for the Journey is an online cafe brewing up words of inspiration and encouragement to equip us for this journey. The Cafe (and The Vault Mercantile) is located in the quaint historic town of Walnut, Iowa. 'The Cafe' offers a place where women gather to share a time of fellowship, devotion, and a tour the circa 1875 historical bank building restored by Shelly and her husband. Shelly is the Publisher of The Notebook Cafe and coauthor of two books, Entwined, now in it's fourth printing; and Heart of a Warrior; in it's third printing. Shelly has a passion for writing what God places in her heart. Taking a giant leap of faith she left the corporate world to pursue a dream God gave her of developing a monthly inspirational faith based online reading café in February 2015. Today, The Notebook Café reaches over 500,000 people each month. She has found the road in unknown territory is not always easy, BUT GOD always finds a way to bring about what He has promised. Shelly has also developed The Notebook Cafe Annual Woman's Conference. The Notebook Cafe has hosted five women's conferences since October 2015. Shelly and her husband, Dave, spend time with their family and many weekends working on home renovation projects…that thankfully never seem to end.