Monday, November 23, 2015

Imported Abuse, Healing at Christ Church

The Palouse
I moved to Moscow many years ago as a new Christian to get away from my hometown. I attended Christ Church from the first week that I arrived. I had a history as a victim: sexual abuse as a young child, various degrees of this as a teen, violence from a male as a teen, and many situations that were far worse because of my foolishness, lasciviousness, and disobedience to my parents. 

I naively thought that being a new Christian meant that my past would be erased. A man attending the church began to date me, and after a faithful courtship we got married. My soon-to-be-husband knew about my past, but neither of us understood at the time how it would affect our marriage in the years to come.

A few years into our marriage, it was becoming evident that my past had not been dealt with. My husband had us go see Doug Wilson for counsel. We were both committed to being faithful. Mostly, I was just hurting and had stuffed a lot instead of dealing with it. I had no idea where to start. We particularly went in because of my bitterness toward people in my past.
Pastors sometimes have to walk a long road with people, being patient and kind for the long haul. This has been the case for me at Christ Church over many years (sometimes frequent, sometime sporadic) of faithful counsel.
Pastor Wilson called my situation complicated. He has faithfully counseled me through deep and long bitterness toward many in my past, through morbid introspection, self-loathing, disbelief in God's goodness, my second-nature ability to manipulate, control issues, obvious trust and submission issues, a hate for men in general, a refusal to let go of the past, the difference between forgiveness and trust, fearfulness, and owning my sin. The list could go on. There were things that I had to face because I really was a victim. In many ways I wanted to hold the victim card and be excused for everything that I was responsible for. I really had been unprotected and even abandoned at times. I had seen both secular and Christian psychologists and psychiatrists, as well as pastors from churches before I came to Christ Church. The counselor that was able to guide me through all of these things was Doug Wilson. He has coached and worked with my husband and me together, training my husband to walk beside me and know how to love me when he didn't know what to do.
At no point did I feel disrespected as a woman. On the contrary, it was through this counseling that I learned how to be a confident Christian woman in spite of my past. Doug Wilson has the highest regard for women, that they should be honored, protected, and loved. This was very evident in how he gave my husband guidance throughout our counseling on how to lay down his life down for me throughout this process.

I am in awe of how God has used my pastor. It has been the work of the Holy Spirit. I am on the other side of this complete deliverance from my past with a new identity in Christ, a healthy and thriving marriage and family, a joyful thought life, and a love for my Savior because Christ loved me first.

Pastor Wilson had worked with us for years. I went through many different stages in dealing with things and this required a great deal of wisdom and patience in counseling. The help I needed to be led to complete deliverance lasted over a decade. Pastor Wilson walked beside us all the way through:
  • I always felt listened to.
  • He was quick to give extensive assurance when things were not my fault. 
  • He did not excuse my sin.
  • He did have a great deal of wisdom on the timing and gentleness of helping me to see my sin.
  • He is particularly good at making sense of confusion and does this using the Scriptures and drawing analogies.
  • He was patient to lead me into the next steps, but also to allow the Holy Spirit to do the convicting. However, he was able to be blunt when I needed it. 
  • He was careful to give me the right kind of distance, encouraging My husband and me to get to the point where we knew how to work together independent of counseling.
  • He assigned timely homework -- books to read, things to write, and prayers to say. This included writing my testimony, writing letters of respect to my parents, praying to confessing besetting sins, and making restitution.
  • He gave us practical suggestions to help me change patterns of sin (manipulation, introspection, a lack of forgiveness, etc.).

He is particularly good at drawing out the root of a problem by asking good questions, knowing the Bible, and walking alongside of people.

At no point did I ever feel that he was unfit to be my counselor. On the contrary, secular and Christian counselors had not been able to help me where Pastor Wilson was able to. 

He constantly pointed to Christ throughout each meeting we had, giving God all the glory.

Christ is doing great work in people here. Christ is using my pastor and church to free people. Pastor Wilson isn't afraid to share the gospel even when it is complicated to help a victim see that they still have sin and a need for Christ as Savior. My pastor is brave enough to work with victims in a different way from the world. He was bold and loving enough to help me to see that Christ is the one true victim. He is bold enough to counsel people that Christ is the only one that brings true deliverance. He did it the whole time being fatherly, encouraging, full of compassion, patient, and available, but never wavering on the truth of the gospel.

It has become clear to me that when people hate my pastor, it is because of Christ's presence in him and his proclamation of Christ's one true gospel. He doesn't apologize for the truth in God's Word, but some people are not willing to abandon their sin when this is proclaimed, and thus it turns to hate and finger pointing.
There were times through this process where I was at a crossroads: I could choose Christ or walk away. To be clear, I could have made that choice to turn from God and the choice would have been all mine, and not my counselors'.  There were tricky things to do, like forgiving people that really had done me wrong. Thankfully, God pursued me until He had all of my heart. This did require being obedient to God's Word, even when I didn't feel like it, even when I wanted attention for being a victim, and even when I had really been hurt. I couldn't have had it both ways, only one road leads to freedom. In the end, Christ has opened my eyes and given me that freedom, and He has done that through the ministry at Christ Church.
I'm sure everyone at Christ Church continues to learn through their experiences, but as far as I am concerned, by God's grace my situation was knocked out of the park in every aspect.
I am in awe of how God has brought me to where I am. I do not have a hard time being thankful for these things.
I hope you take from this a success story from a sticky situation where God used our pastor to faithfully shepherd us.