Let me introduce you to my friend, Mary. Mary DeMuth is the author of over a dozen books including Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing After Sexual Abuse. She has spoken around the country and the world about living an uncaged, freedom-infused life. She lives in the Dallas, Texas area with her family and three dysfunctional pets. Follow Mary on Twitter and Facebook.
Over the last several weeks, I've invited friends to share their words in this space as we explore the mysteries of prayer during the Summer Bible Study.
by Mary DeMuth
The first time I told my sexual abuse story (ten years post trauma), I was unbelieved. I had to re-tell the story several times, convincing the person that, yes, I had been molested. The exercise felt humiliating and excruciating. And I doubted that I’d ever tell it again. I remember hiding inside myself, questioning why I’d been so vulnerable.
I still felt caged by my story, and I lamented that I’d never be free.
It took me another year or so to muster up the confidence to share the story, but I finally did so, trembling. The words halted, and I’m sure my confidant sensed my hesitancy.
I’m so glad I dared to let my story out because the second person I told made a different choice: she believed me. And she prayed. Instead of skulking to my quiet place and wondering why I shared my pain, I felt a smidgen of freedom. In a way, my broken wings healed, and I unfolded them for the first time, dreaming of the time I would joyfully fly free from the cage.
I learned this important truth: an untold story never heals.
Fifteen years after the abuse, I shared my story with a group of friends in college who prayed-prayed-prayed for my healing. They wanted to see me uncaged from that painful past. I’m grateful that God began answering that lifelong prayer. Slivers of freedom seeped into my heart, and I began to explore the world beyond the cage, taking tentative leaps into the air.
Much to my surprise, I began to fly.
But then I bottled up the story. I mistakenly believed that the healing work was completed in college and I could go on my “Mary” way. I stopped asking people to pray for my healing and freedom. I got married, had children, parented my kids, and slowly withdrew from life.
As my girls each reached five years old, the age I’d been when the abuse started, my world fell apart. No longer able to handle the hurt, I realized I needed to ask for prayer again, even though I tried to convince myself that I’d already been healed.
I wish I could say it was easy to share, but this time it was harder because it felt like failure. Hadn’t I already been healed? Why re-hash and unearth that awful stuff? And yet, I knew that for the sake of my family and my mental health, I had to risk letting my story out again.
I learned that healing isn’t always complete, that we need to leak our stories throughout our lifetime, inviting others into the circle of prayer for our healing. And as I shared yet again, I started re-engaging with my life, and freedom came as close friends dared to pray for me.
I would not be uncaged today without the fervent prayers of others. I have been weak, small, hurt, worn down, and deeply discouraged, only to ask for prayer and experience the great reversal from grief to joy, from bewilderment to peace, from wrestling with my demons to nestling into Jesus, from caged and frightened to soaring.
My hope for you?
That you’ll tell your story straight, nothing held back, to a trust-loving friend. I hope that the friends who hear you tell it, halting as it may be, will believe you, dignify you by listening and asking great questions, and that they’ll end your conversation with prayer.
Mind if I pray for you?
Jesus, we all have hard stories we sometimes bury deep. Would You be so very kind to show us one amazing person to let our story out to who would dare to pray for us to be set free? Hear our prayers for peace and freedom and an uncaged life. We don’t want to be held captive by the past anymore. Grant us wings, and give us the power to fly toward joy.
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**This week, were giving away 5 copies of Not Marked by Mary DeMuth.
In Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing after Sexual Abuse, Mary illuminates the way to go from shame-filled to joy-filled, from traumatized to finding enduring peace. This isn’t theory. Mary has lived it. She’s traveled this path and offers a uniquely qualified, insider’s view of the healing process.
Then Mary goes deeper—because often you’re not the only one who has suffered. Her husband Patrick comes alongside her and offers insights into how spouses can love a sexual abuse victim toward wholeness, and how this will bring your relationship a whole new level of strength.
To win, leave a comment on the original blog post at MargaretFeinberg.com The five winners will be selected and announced on Friday.
Congratulations to the winners: Linda, Denetta, Andrea Livingston, Amy, Crystie Rhynet