I always thought of the town where I grew up as a little slice of heaven. Individuals that I counted on in my faith community were always there for me. I’m sure they had imperfections, but I never saw them. I have many fond memories of hayrides and festivals in the fall, and fireworks and bike rides in the summer. But behind this backdrop of loveliness were pockets of dysfunction and abuse. They were utterly astounding given the size of our small community. Growing up, I looked upon my neighbor’s daughter as an older sister. She was my ‘big sis‘. She braided my hair and taught me how to paint my nails. We got on like normal small-town girls, but there was a familiarity between us that was comforting and tragic. We were keepers of the secret. The unspoken had robbed us both. We should have used our voices to scream to the roof tops, but instead we suffered in silence like the good girls we were taught to be.
The lives of my pretend big sister and I took very different turns. I went off to college and she tried to carve out a life for herself in the town where we grew up. No matter how much you love a place, sometimes you must move away to reclaim your destiny or stay on its path. Proof of this is found in God’s instruction to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-2(NLT), “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others.” Abraham lived among a close-knit community of family and friends, like many of us. These are the people who love and want the best for you, but often their words, attitudes, and behaviors make us comfortable being the person we’ve always been. This will prevent us from growing into the person God has destined us to become.
There’s a saying that no matter what you’re going through, there’s always someone out there that has it worse. I think of this saying when I’m reminded of the horrible abuse my big sister endured. I was clueless about the extent of it until I came home from college during a break one year. My old neighbors had relocated to another area in town, and the parents had been separated for quite some time, but I had always been fond of my big sister’s mother. I paid them a visit. We started to talk about faith, and out of the blue, sis became very angry. She accused her mother of being a hypocrite. She said, “How can you call yourself a Christian when you knew what Dad was doing to me all along.”
Her father was notoriously abusive to her mother, and many people were fearful of him because he looked as mean as we all thought he was. Her mother was constantly in the hospital or doctor’s office with broken bones and bruises. Sis grew up way before her time and took care of her mother and four brothers. She had no real childhood to speak of. Only God knows if her mother knew about what she alleged was going on and did nothing, but I know firsthand that when pain is severe, it can blind us to the truth. We can become so consumed with licking our own wounds that we can’t see the wounds of others, even our own children.
For many years, her soul was screaming, but no one heard my sister’s voice. Her mental health declined very rapidly after our last meeting, and she never recovered to the point of having meaningful dialogue.
1Corinthians 6:19(NLT) says, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” The Holy Spirit quickens us. This means that when we receive the gift of Holy Spirit through the Lord Jesus Christ, we become alive to Heavenly Father, because our connection to Him is restored. The more we grow in Christ, the more heightened our awareness and sensitivity mirrors that of our precious Lord and Savior. We see and feel things we haven’t seen and felt before. Not only do we have greater empathy for people’s pain, the Holy Spirit will tell us exactly what we should do to bless them.
We all have people in our lives that look just fine but are in great distress. They desperately need us, if for nothing else, to pray for them. In Matthew 25:45 (NLT), Jesus Christ said, “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” As God’s beloved sons and daughters, we need to wake up before it’s too late. Our destiny is to be whole and complete in Christ. We can’t do this work on our own. The Holy Spirit will help us, and we have a responsibility to let God heal our pain. Invite the Spirit to do the work in you that God wants, so that you can be a conduit of healing for others.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
“A Conduit of Healing for Others” written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!