She had always been such a good girl. That is why when my daughter, upon reaching her teens, started to have angry, violent mood swings and was running away from home, I chalked it up to a teenage faze—a little last outburst before entering adulthood. I decided to sit idly by and wait it out.
But it was when I noticed cuts on her wrists that I knew it wasn’t merely teenage angst that was initiating her behavior. My girl was in trouble.
When “the conversation” finally happened, I simply was not prepared for what she was about to tell me. My husband, her stepdad, had been doing to her all the things that lodge deep inside a mother and construct her deepest, darkest fears. I simply had no coping mechanism for what my precious daughter had experienced. She was prey for this man for years—someone I had brought into our home.
It was a mixture of guilt and aghast and regret and horror that shot through my soul. But my body also felt profoundly numb, and somehow it rendered me incapable of the kind of care and concern she hoped for. She needed me to come apart or smother her with love and concern—or both. But the end result was that I completely disappointed her—I believe I was in shock. Not only did my husband take away her childhood, but I had also managed to leave her emotionally alone.
Not only did my husband take away her childhood, but I had also managed to leave her emotionally alone.
When the full weight of what we had done to her hit me, I kicked my husband out of the house, then locked myself in my bedroom, fell to my knees and cried in a way I had no idea I could. I cried out to God one thing—long sorrowful wails of “Why?”
In my hours-long emotional letting, I suddenly heard a voice. “I want you to know I love you, and I know how you feel. I want you to get up and wipe away your tears. Take care of your kids. I’ll take care of this situation.”
I had the thinnest of relationships with God at the time. I knew who He was, but not much more. That is why when I heard that voice, I knew it was nothing I had heard or conjured before. God was talking to me.
I did what He asked. I got up, wiped my tears, and went about my business of taking care of my family. Now, what happened next is why I find myself feeling so tender about God. So that I would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was guiding my steps, He moved me out of my house and into a one-bedroom apartment in the most miraculous of ways. Financially strapped but in desperate need of a place to live, I walked up to an apartment manager and asked if he had a vacancy. He said yes, then offered me a deal that does not comport with reality. The only way someone like him could offer what he did would be if he knew my story—but he did not know it. This was his offer without me even asking: half the rent. No background check. No credit check. No application. And a management position.
My gratitude for God’s leading went through the roof. I knew that He was taking me into a new life.
Desperately wanting to be there for my daughter, I found my way to the Rock’s Sexual Abuse Recovery Ministry even though I was not a victim myself. But I wanted to pave the way for her to join me. She never did.
But not knowing that, I continued to attend, to learn, and be ready in case she wanted to come and get help.
In the process, the leadership of the ministry bounced around to a few people, and all of a sudden, it came to my doorstep. Here I was, just holding down the fort, waiting for my daughter and all of a sudden I was considering taking over the leadership. It was so strange, so out of the blue, I had to consider that the same God who spoke to me and found my miracle apartment might just be behind this.
I had to consider that the same God who spoke to me and found my miracle apartment might just be behind this.
I went to the Healing Rooms at the Rock City Heights campus to seek God’s leading, and four women prayed over me, calling down the Holy Spirit in a way I had never experienced before. With the prayer completed and my eyes still closed, one of the ladies asked me what I saw.
It was a remarkable thing to ask because, at the very moment, my mind’s eye was looking at the most vivid, beautiful, color-saturated red rose—like nothing I had ever seen with my physical eyes. I knew God was speaking again, only this time, He was saying, This is how I see my daughters. Perfect. Spectacular. Glorious. It’s time to rise.
Suddenly, it was clear. It was time for me to rise and step into my calling.
Today, I lead the Sexual Abuse Recovery Ministry. We provide a safe, non-judgmental environment where women come to find information and support and the loving arms of sisterhood as we look to God for healing. The number of women who have reached out is staggering. And the years they have been stuffing down shame over something that happened either recently or as little girls is a travesty.
We need to be together, and we are. God is moving mightily, and lives are being changed. I’m in the process of creating a Sexual Abuse Recovery Ministry at every Rock campus. Lord willing, it will happen soon. You can look for a ministry called I Will Rise coming to your campus—it will be the one with a red rose logo.
POSTSCRIPT: Recently, at the I Will Rise tent we erect outside the Rock for promoting the ministry, we had a visitor that I wasn’t expecting. My daughter came and happily joined us and enjoyed all the red roses that decorated the table—while I quietly quaked with excitement. She said she would like to come and help the ministry once a month.
God is good.