Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sorrows to Joy

My story is not out of the ordinary. I came into the church with a past. A past filled with partying. Boys and more boys. An alcoholic father. A family maimed by divorce. I came into the church wounded. And more so than I thought.

I first came to Christ Church with a friend, and I was immediately struck by the kindness and friendliness of the congregation. The preaching. And the singing. The church felt alive.

I was not living a Christian life at the time, but within a short time, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I was on my knees asking the Lord to save my soul. He miraculously did, and I have been been a member of Christ Church since.

Fast-forward a few years…

After marrying my husband and having our first child, I took a trip to see my parents. During my visit, my mother and I went out for dinner with some friends. An unexpected guest joined us, and his name was “John”. He was a co-worker of one of the ladies in our party, and he had heard that I was in town. “John” had been a part of a group of people that I had spent time with in my college days.

That evening, while we were all visiting, a remark was made about the "crazy times" that “John” and I had had. I replied that we had not been that crazy. When “John” pushed the "crazy" claim further, I turned to him privately and protested. He then unrepentantly informed me that he had actually drugged me and had forced himself on me. I was speechless. My mind went numb. Drugged. Raped. I couldn't believe it.

My husband hopped on the next plane to come and be with me, and lovingly brought our small family back home. After trying to work through this on our own, my husband and I decided to seek help and ended up in Pastor Doug Wilson's office.

In stories like mine, so many different feelings can flood the mine. For me, it wasn’t anger or resentment. I felt filthy. Dirty. Unlovely. I felt like a whore. One man’s words shot straight through my heart. Sending me back. Forcing me to remember my shameful and ugly past. The past I had just said goodbye to. Now I was a wife and a mother. To have my past come back, and have it hit them was too much. I was broken-hearted for them.  I had let them down. I felt sorrow. Deep sorrow and grief. And I mourned. Mourned for my new husband and for our new growing family. And mourned for the new life that we were building. I had done this. And I was undone.

But from our first meeting, Doug Wilson preached the gospel of forgiveness to me. He spoke to me about the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. He encouraged me in the newness of life that I had found in Jesus. And I believed him. I did not question the goodness of God, and I did not hold on to the filth I felt. Being a recently born-again Christian, I had seen for myself the richness and beauty that life in Christ provides. And so, I turned to the Lord with Doug Wilson's steady guidance, and laid my burdens at the cross. I laid down the ugliness I felt inside about what had happened to me. I laid down the noise in my head of the past, flickers of an old life. And I laid down my sorrow. With Pastor Wilson's counsel and my husband's support, I was then able to extend forgiveness in my heart to “John,” and I even prayed for his salvation. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I was able to confess my sin. “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). Companion of fools, that was me. I had to face the fact that I had chosen that fast crowd, and I had loved it. Repentance and peace. Cleansed and renewed. I felt freed.

My point in sharing this story is that Christ Church was there for me. For my husband. For my child. The church was a safe harbor where my husband and I and our little one came for help, and we got it. Doug and Nancy Wilson were there for me. It was directly because of their wisdom and  faithfulness that my husband and I were able to work through this horrible experience.

There is a story out there that this church is not a safe place for victims or for women. This is a bald-faced lie. For those of you who have believed that story, please hear our words. Listen to our stories. Reconsider.

Doug Wilson helped me to see that all I needed was Christ, and that I had Him -- and He had me. And so, although my wounds were real, so was the healing. Thank you, Pastor Wilson and Nancy. You helped turn my sorrows to joy, and I am forever grateful.