“Where was God?”
We’re sitting in a circle, talking on sufferings and her voice quivers. Where was God when she was a little girl and that older man, that family friend, followed her into the bathroom? Her statement isn’t an accusation, it isn’t laced with anger. It’s just an honest cry from a wounding memory.
Next to her, another woman quietly admits that she too suffered sexual assault as a child. But her pain came at the hands of her brother.
It’s been a theme lately, this seeing and hearing of sexual violence towards the little ones. Maybe it’s because I now see the world through the eyes of my two little girls. Sure, that was someone else’s little girl, but that could have been my little girl. The pain isn’t any less real, any less devastating because it’s further away.
I’m holding Baby K in the corner because this time of sharing falls during the nap and goodness knows that child is a mess if she doesn’t at least get a few minutes of slumber. My throat gets thick, the tears spring to the eyes and I find myself holding her just a little tighter. Like maybe my holding her can ward off the evil in this world that devours little girls and boys.
She starts squirming, trying loosen my grip and I relax. But my heart is aching for these women who after years of healing, of growing in body and soul, still feel afresh the wound. Does the grief ever fully go away?
It’s a hell I’m grateful to have never walked through but when one out of 3 women will be victim before she’s 18, yeah, I know it’s a rare gift to have been spared. Because that kind of brutality, that kind of violence to a person, it decimates. It changes a person from the inside.
That old serpent deceiver, he’s been bent on ruining, on devouring God’s created and what better way than to try to deaden the soul while still leaving the body? To take what was created to give life and use it to bludgeon and batter?
Mary DeMuth, herself just 5 years old when the neighbor boys started molesting, calls it out when she says,“Satan’s greatest weapon is sexual assault.”
That devil, he doesn’t play fair. Why wait to pick on us when we’re grown if he can wipe us out while we’re still young? Like an enemy bent on total destruction, he’s using a scorched earth approach, leaving a wake of broken bodies, hellish memories and dried up lives where there should be childish delight and innocence.
If you make it out of the womb alive, he’ll spend the rest of your living days trying break you, to rip you, to flatten you so you’re nothing but a walking zombie. And most days, reading the headlines makes it sound like he’s doing a bang up job of it.
I’m wandering the wetlands behind our house with Toddler-Girl and everything is brown and bent over. We’re on a hunt for the ducks but it’s still too cold, too dead for them. You’d never know looking at this place that it comes alive with color and animals when summer rolls around.
And she’s running ahead in her boots, waving that purple umbrella when I spot it. That bit of green bursting out in the middle of the dry grass, too excited to wait for spring. Or maybe it doesn’t know better, doesn’t know it’s supposed to play dead with the rest of it. It’s giving away the secret, shouting to be noticed.
The dead things don’t always stay dead.
When that God-Man came and conquered death, he put a pause where that Serpent keeps trying to put a period. And yeah, sometimes the land and the life look dry, cracked and barren. And there’s not a thing you or I can do.
He speaks to the death, to the waste and broken places and nudges us to look again. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I will repay you for what the locusts ate up.”
Oh beloved, what we think has been devoured, destroyed and never-again-to-be-seen is just a temporary state. To look at those wetlands today is to miss the beauty of their future glory. And to look at you, to look at that person next to you seemingly robbed of everything is to look at them in light of today. It is to miss the new thing that can spring up, that is being created even as we speak.
It is to see in the temporal what may only be revealed in the eternal. And though the spring may be a long time coming, the dead places in us are not the final word.