First Sunday of Lent | Survivors

First Sunday of Lent
Today’s Readings
Reflexión en Español

A young woman sits in my office, her face bathed in tears, her story finally coming out in convulsing bursts, like a pipe that has long been out of use finally allowing water to flow again. She has been carrying the shame for so long, she can’t even form the words. She wishes she was someone else, anyone else, with a different story.  

“Free me,” by Natalie Wilkie, 2017. Wood, nails, string. Photo by Elise C. Martinez

Sexual violence becomes shackles, ever so carefully hidden under layers of “I’m okay,” and “I’ll get through it.” It encircles stomachs, destroying appetites and causing eating disorders; it pounds against the quiet of the night, preventing sleep and causing depression; it chains a woman to her room, breaks down her relationships, turns up in bad grades, or overwork, or unexplained and sustained terrors.  

“ ‘And God saw what God had made and it was very good.’ ”

She looks up at me, daring to believe for this one moment.

“Those words are about you.”

And one, two, three, four, more, so many more of us, begin to believe enough to rattle the chains, to pull on them with force, to remove them from each other and fling them far into the void, never to return.  

We walk on the way, believing we are good and there will be resurrection.

“Survivors.” We become.

6 replies
  1. Name
    Name says:

    This is no balm because those words are also for the offender. A survivor understands the awful truth that we are all children of God, together. Paul writes of how some crimes warrant exclusion from the community yet that hasn’t happened in the US because of bishops’ mishandling, protecting priests over their victims. The presence of justice is needed. Do you want survivors to believe God loves them, that God lives? They can know more fully through your own actions.

  2. Clara Scherr
    Clara Scherr says:

    Thank You for sharing. We are all broken, in many ways we are all broken and we need to hear and be reminded, that all God created (us) God create very good.

  3. Marcie Sheaff
    Marcie Sheaff says:

    As a Spiritual Director. I hear a lot of stories of Sexual/Physical/Emotional abuse. A common thread among most of the women is: “It was/is my fault.” This is exacerbated if the abuse happened during the teen years or early 20’s.

  4. Mary Neary
    Mary Neary says:

    When one finds their voice and courage to speak shame begins to loosen it’s ugly grip! When one trust enough to share their pain the healing turly begins.
    We are made in His image and yes, we are good enough! May the Holy Spirit continue to set free God’s children who have been bound …set their hearts, minds, bodies and souls free.

  5. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Theirs is a special mission. Survivors – they survive to tell, teach, and preach the Good News.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *