So that last blog post generated more feedback than I anticipated…
Fifty shades of grey and abusive sexual relationships seems to be something that sadly, way too many people have experienced.
And so I wanted to write something from the other side of healing. From the other side of fear. And from the other side getting put back together again.
It’s hard hitting, right? Because none of us are immune from the challenge and the experiences and maybe even the pain of this issue.
None of us.
Men and women. Boys and girls. Abused and abuser. Exploited and powerful.
Every single human heart who wars to stand for the purity that is spoken about in Scripture and who strives to work out what that even looks like.
Every single human heart that asks ‘how far is too far’ in regards to what we let our eyes view and our ears hear and our hands and feet experience.
And every single human heart that has failed, and come to Jesus in repentant tears saying, ‘I choose You. But I need You to help me love You and live for You as I should’.
Because truthfully, I meet young women every day who think they are garbage.
And I meet young men every day who think that the women in their lives are garbage.
And maybe they’d never say it in so many words.
Or maybe they would.
But in their actions they display their heart. And when they objectify those they are meant to treasure, and lust after those they were meant to love, and force those they were meant to defend… We have a problem.
A sin problem.
A human problem.
When we justify pornography as an acceptable, not just on the top shelves or adult-only websites, but through our pop videos and teenage magazines. When we allow our children to happily sing along to the crude lyrics in our iTunes top 10 and don’t guard their hearts or teach them how to. When we tell our girls that they have to ‘kiss a lot of frogs to find their prince’ and don’t teach them the God-given gifts of modesty and purity that protect their self-worth… We have a problem.
A sin problem.
A human problem.
And when men think wrongly of women, because they really think wrongly of themselves, because they really think wrongly of God… We have a problem. Just like when women think wrongly of men, because they really think wrongly of themselves, because they really think wrongly of God… We have a problem.
A sin problem.
A human problem.
When the prevailing thinking is boys will be boys – girls will be garbage. And that is never the heart of God. (Ann Voscamp)
Because this is a problem.
Rooted in the fact that we ALL need a Saviour. A Restorer. And a Healer.
Because when it comes down to it we all can feel like garbage.
Until the redeeming power that is only found in the precious-spilt-blood of the perfect-beautiful-God-man-Jesus, washes over us, and wipes our past clean, and clothes us in righteousness, and gives us a hope and a dignity for today, tomorrow and every day to come.
Because I know I’ve been there. Letting culture tell me that purity isn’t worth fighting for and in that, letting myself believe that I am not worth fighting for. I’ve felt the effects. I’ve been broken down, and beaten up, and spat out by the lies of the enemy, until I came through the experiences of life and really, really realised that the One who had always loved me, and always fought for me, and always treasured me, was the One who would now heal me, and restore me, and pursue me. My Father. My Saviour. My Healer.
Everyone is looking for freedom.
Freedom from our mistakes. Freedom from our regrets. Freedom from the things that have been done to us. Freedom from memories. Freedom from nightmares. Freedom from fear. Freedom from rejection. Freedom from bitterness. Freedom from sin.
And there’s only one place we find true freedom.
At the feet of Jesus.
This passage is taken from a stunning book by Steven Estes and Joni Eareckson Tada called When God Weeps and as hard-hitting and gritty this is… This is where we find our freedom. Freedom from our own sin. Freedom to forgive others. Freedom.
The face that Moses had begged to see – was forbidden to see – was slapped bloody (Exodus 33: 19-22).
The thorns that God had sent to curse the earth’s rebellion now twisted around his brow…
‘On your back with you!’ One raises a mallet to sink the spike. But the solider’s heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner’s wrist. Someone must sustain the solider’s life minute by minute, for no man has this power on his own. Who supplies breath to his lungs? Who gives energy to his cells? Who holds his molecules together? Only by the Son do ‘all things hold together’ (Colossians 1: 17). The victim wills that the solider live on – he grants the warrior’s continued existence. The man swings.
As the man swings the Son recalls how he and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm – the sensations it would be capable of. The design proves flawless – the nerves perform exquisitely. ‘Up you go!’ They lift the cross. God is on display in his underwear and can scarcely breathe.
But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread. He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odour began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl upon his spotless being – the living excrement from our souls. The apple of his Father’s eye turns brown with rot.
His Father! He must face his Father like this!
From heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes His mane, and roars against the shrivelling remnant of a man hanging on a cross. Never has the Son seen the Father look at him so, never felt the least of his hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The Son does not recognise these eyes.
‘Son of Man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped – murdered, envied, hated, lied. You have cursed, robbed, over-spent, overeaten – fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled and blasphemed. Oh the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you ever held your razor tongue? What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk – you, who molests young boys, peddled killer drugs, travels in cliques, and mocks your parents. Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolutions, torture animals, and worship demons? Does the list never end!
Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp – buying politicians, practicing exhortation, filming pornography, accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, traded in slaves – relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, loathe, these things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me! Can you not feel my wrath?
Of course the Son is innocent. He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must now take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed.
The Father watches as his heart’s treasure, the mirror image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. Jehovah’s stored rage against humankind from every century explodes in a single direction.
‘Father, Father! Why have you forsaken me?!’
But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down or reply.
The Trinity had planned it. The Son had endured it. The Spirit enabled Him. The Father rejected the Son whom He loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted His sacrifice for sin. The Rescue was accomplished.
My sin both led to and was forgiven by that act of love.
And it doesn’t end at the cross. Jesus didn’t just perish for us. Jesus defeated death. He died for us and rose from the dead for us. He still lives, pursuing us, and calling us into freedom. One day He will return and lead us into that eternal freedom.
I remember so clearly spending the afternoon with a young woman who was so, so broken by life. And she told me that she was worthless. Her last two ‘boyfriends’ had left her black and blue on more than just her flesh, and the scars in her life ran deeper than the outward marks. She told me that she didn’t know if she’d make it through this time. She told me that men just used her for sex that she didn’t even enjoy. She told me that she had no hope. She asked me why if there was a God and if He loved her would He keep letting these things happen to her and why would He let her hate herself so much.’
‘Why would your God love someone like me?’
And as I held her tiny frame and soothed her tears, I could only let my heart break with hers, knowing that our Father’s heart already did.
But I could give her hope.
‘Because sweet, sweet girl. That was never the heart of God. And He doesn’t treat you like you’ve been treated. And He doesn’t condemn you. And He doesn’t leave you. And you are worth more to Him than you know. And He doesn’t love you because of what you have or haven’t done for Him, He loves you because you are the precious daughter of His heart, and the treasured beauty of Your Father. And my God would love someone like you, because He loved someone like me. And I may not have walked where you have walked, but I have walked my own story and I have known Him as Healer. And if He loved me in my pain, through my pain, and out of my pain, then He can do the same for you’.
And as my heart broke over this precious child of God, I remembered the women that Jesus had restored. The outcast. The abandoned. The abused. The adultress. The harlot. The poor. The widow. The weak.
And I had hope.
Every time I see my arm it’s my daily reminder. I am loved. Restored. Forgiven. Whole.