Women seem to have so many things to hide: zits, wrinkles, gray hair; mood swings, anxiety, depression; exhaustion from working overtime or caring for a sick loved one or staying up all night with a collicky baby; we desperately try to hide anything that shows our imperfections or weakness. We’re often ashamed of our weakness, but perhaps most hidden and shameful of all are all of the sexual impurities that have left their marks on our bodies and our souls.
I was seventeen and naively confident in my sexual activity. Only, I wasn’t really that confident, but the older man abusing me at the time tried to make me think that I was. I carried the secret of my shame for the next two years, even after he was long gone and Christ had become King of my heart.
I kept silent out of a twisted concern for the man who had taken advantage of me, but also out of fear that my new Christian sisters would label me a freak and a sinner and an outcast. “Good Christian girls don’t do those things,” Satan whispered, “and they certainly don’t talk about them.”
Don’t we all believe these lies? That we are alone in our suffering, abnormal in our struggles, and despicable in our secret sins? That we’re ruined, unlovable, and unforgivable? I know I believed them, and still do sometimes. But the truth is that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1) and “no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13). And the even better news is that our God is not a God who can’t relate to our suffering and struggles: “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3); and “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
How gloriously wrong I turned out to be about these lies! My sisters loved me MORE, not less, when I broke down and spilled the secret that had been poisoning my heart. They spoke the truth of the gospel to me: “You have been redeemed! You are a new creation! You are the bride of Christ!” And what a beautiful truth it is, that Christ suffered and died and rose to new life that I may die to myself and be made alive in Him. Even the confusion over that man’s sin and my own sin in it is covered by grace, much to my constant relief.
So why are so many women, especially Christian women, still hiding? Partly because of the stigma that “good Christian girls” (whoever they are) need to be pure in every way APART from God’s grace; that they need to be whole BEFORE they come to the cross.
But the cross is for broken people: the sinners, the abused, the outcasts; the girls with zits and wrinkles and anxiety and depression and every kind of weakness or temptation. And if the cross is for people like that, then I am content to be broken that He may restore me to new life, made whole only by His indomitable grace.
*If you have been physically or sexually abused, the No More website (http://nomore.org/need-immediate-help/) has helpful resources and hotlines. I also urge you to find a trusted Christian friend or mentor to talk to. Feel free to contact me, as well, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
**If you are wrestling with your own sexual sin that is controlling your life, check out Harvest USA (http://www.harvestusa.org/), a Christian organization aimed at caring for sexually broken people in Jesus’ name.