I wanted to talk about some of the wounds that I’ve faced as a child of someone who struggles with SSA and that others may also have felt or are feeling.
As a child I suffered from sexual abuse and had a father who struggled with same-sex attractions. Unsurprisingly, I grew up with some intense self-worth issues. My parents were good parents, but I don’t think I will shatter any illusions by telling you that they weren’t perfect and after all, God had His plans for me and having imperfect parents was part of it. When my siblings and I were small my parents had a lot going on. Like all humans both of my parents had their own issues that they were dealing with, however, it seems that having a parent who struggles with homosexuality meant that their issues were out in the open and something that we, their children, were very much aware of. At the time they were also still in the beginning stages of directing their ministry, which as I’m sure you can appreciate, is time-consuming. Ministry was a full-time job, people called at all hours, my parents had to be gone to maintain a support group, and given the controversial nature of the ministry there were always questions. The churches we were a part of had questions, our friends had questions, their parent’s had a lot of questions… and the questions weren’t always kind. The issue of homosexuality was something that completely surrounded my family and at times it felt like there wasn’t room for my own “stuff”.
Growing up I fought relentlessly with an unquenchable thirst for love, notice and protection, while at the same time believing that I didn’t deserve any of it. The sexual abuse had left me with the impression that love and protection was something that belonged to good children, and I was not good. In that broken state my heart heard the lie ” you are not worthy of those things” and I believed it. As my dad struggled with his own childhood wounds and my mom tried to raise five children, all the while fighting her own battle with deeply rooted issues of self-worth and trust, I was, unfortunately, left with a lot of what I perceived as proof that the lie I had been taught by the Father of Lies in my brokeness was true and justified. I wasn’t worth it. If I was valuable why would this person think it was okay to do to me what they did? Why was I left unprotected by my parents, my father specifically, and even God?
I never doubted my parents love for me and my brother and sisters and I know now that the way they handled the abuse was something that broke my mom’s heart for the rest of her life. And as an adult I learned that my dad didn’t really know what had happened. Like I said he had his struggle to deal with and was working on supporting others that struggled and my mom, not being the kind of woman who liked to ask for help and knowing that my dad had so much going on, felt it was best to handle it herself. She was a strong woman and taught me more important and wonderful things than probably any other person I have met. I know that she acted out of love, love for me and love for my dad. And as I have learned so far in my walk as a parent we all do the best we can. Eventually I was able to sit down with my dad and talk it out, both of us sharing, and I believe that conversation helped pave the way for the major healing I would receive later on.
However, at the time a pattern began in my life of trying very hard to be deserving of the love of the people in my life. I found myself longing to speak up,but being too afraid of being laughed at to actually do it . I also found my self working very hard at the jobs no one else wanted and making sure to offer up everything I had to the people around me, my dad, my youth leaders, even my friends. But at the same time I was burdened by the fear of being rejected and worked to keep out of real notice, never accepting people’s complements or praise. And then resenting and feeling hurt by people when they stopped offering that praise or when others were given what I considered to be the “important” jobs.
As an adult those feelings of fear and hurt turned into an assumed identity of rejection. I learned to expect people to reject me and I projected that onto my friends, family, my pastor and even my husband. I let that be my filter for everything I experienced. I would work behind the scenes at church, but always pull myself back before anyone noticed me and then I would tell myself, “See no one cares about your efforts. No one sees you.” But that was a pain I had been feeling for so long I was comfortable with it. It was better than actually putting myself out there and risking a real rejection.
It wasn’t until I attended the Exodus Freedom Conference in June of this year that I was able to finally let that go. I heard speakers that told me about the lie I had been told as a child and about how people who have been hurt can take on rejection as an identity. I also heard something I had been told all my life but never really believed. And that was that God loved me and that He sees me and that He likes and values what He sees. And for once I let that sink in . And you know what I heard in my heart from Father God? I heard Him say ” Kristin, you are not nothing, you are everything to Me. You are precious to me.”
It seems simple right? In that moment I was finally able to accept and believe that all I had been told about the Father heart of God was true and that He did love me, and want me and valued me and that changed my life. I was able to step into the identity that God wanted for me all along, as His child. A child of the King. I started going to Him whenever I felt myself pull back or shrink from notice and asking Him to help me remember who I am to Him .
It’s still hard and some days I fail but it’s so much easier now to believe the words to a song I loved when I was younger, but didn’t feel applied to me. It amazes me how much I loved this song, it said everything I wanted so badly to believe about God and myself. And yet the lie was so much stronger. It was planted in such a deep wound that it would take over 20 years to rip it out. I leave you with the words to that song fulling knowing they are true for me…
“You can belong to me
I’ll cherish you, treasure you, love you completely
Someday you’ll finally see
How precious you are in my eyes
You’ve never been out of my sight
I love you for all of your life
You can belong to me”
– Belong To Me by Joanna Carlson