I had a dark childhood. I’ve lived and died a thousand times in this skin. But, by some miracle, I have always known that when I reach my hand up, His hand is there to take it. I have always been after the inner tug to the Something More. I can say with certainty that in spite of the brunt of life I had been served, I was meant for something more.
Knowing the damage that sexual abuse causes, I look at my children and something inside me leaps. They are unscathed by what scathed me. They are innocent and have no idea what kind of evil lurks in the dark spaces. I do everything I can to keep the predator of the innocent away from them.
I know what signs to look for. A predator tries to wedge in between the parent and the child. The predator befriends the family and waits to catch the little one alone. Innocence makes you trust. It’s all a game full of secrets and chances to be big. “You’re very mature for your age,” the predator hisses.
A cunning predator knows the right words. “Your parents are just trying to control you.”
I know what signs to look for. A child is a streak of giggles across the room while the mother runs after her with her clothes. Reckless naked abandon and the parents laugh as the little legs scamper in play. It’s only when the child is ashamed of the nakedness and curious about things beyond their level of development that there is a problem. When shame replaces innocence and fear replaces play, the parent is gripped by a knowing they must push aside or confront. It’s a knowing that asks, “Who made you ashamed?”
Victims of sexual abuse blame themselves. They can think back to all the times that they were not careful, the times they ran around naked, and they think they brought it on themselves. The child remembers all the times they left themselves vulnerable. All the naked tumbles and what used to be innocent had become indecent. And they stop playing.
They hide from their parent out of distrust and feeling dirty. “I’ll wash myself. Leave! I’m naked.”
When we read the words of God in the Bible, they’re just printed words. The words are given life by what we believe. We animate them with what we know.
A predator came into the garden and caught Eve alone. He wedged himself between Eve and her Father. He made her believe that her Father was just trying to control her. “Do you want to be a grownup, Eve?”
“God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen3:5
Until then, she and Adam were a streak of giggles. They were innocent in reckless naked abandon. Their legs danced in play. But, when they ate, their eyes were opened and their memory was tainted in shame. They grabbed leaves to cover their nakedness and hid from their Father.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Gen3:8)
God called out to them. “Where are you?” (Gen3:9)
They called out from their hiding place, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” (Gen3:10)
When shame replaces innocence and fear replaces play, the parent is gripped by a knowing they must push aside or confront. It’s a knowing that asks,
“Who told you that you were naked?” (Gen3:11)
The predator is a deceiver. He wedges himself between you and your Father. He tries to catch you alone because he is the molester of God’s children. He tries to make you feel ashamed of your freedom. He tries to take away your innocence. Every time you fall down, he humiliates you. He makes you doubt your Father and rely on him to take his condemning words back. He grooms you before he violates you. He vandalizes your trust in the Father so that you have nowhere to turn. He wants you to believe that you are damaged and alone. He wants to make a ghost town of your purity.
But look what God did for Adam and Eve. Their world had changed. They now knew what they shouldn’t have known. They stood before Him in tears as their flimsy coverings were not enough to hide what shamed them. But, God did not leave them embarrassed and vulnerable. He made them better clothes.
And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. (Gen3:20)
They should not have even known they needed clothes, but God did not torment them with what they could not change. He found them exactly where they were and provided what they should not have needed. He wanted them to feel decent again. Maybe if they feel decent, they won’t be afraid to be with Him.
God doesn’t give up on you and leave you to suffer your own damage. He takes care of you, even when it was you who caused the destruction.