I sat in the little room at the pediatrician’s office with my little boy, swallowing hard and trembling. The nurse had just gone to get the doctor to discuss my decision.
After much research and prayer, I had come to the conclusion I would not allow my son to receive the full range of immunizations. Just as I feared, the doctor’s reaction left me feeling like a fool. Whatever your position is on vaccinations, here’s my point:
I was scared to death of saying no to an authority figure.
Why was I so afraid? I’d been raised in a Christian home, with parents dedicated to my welfare. I had made a decision to follow Jesus at age eleven.
Yet all of that failed to give me personal strength. All of that failed to undo the damage done to my soul.
All of that didn’t erase the fact that, as a young girl, I lost my innocence to someone I should have been able to trust.
I’d been taught to be a good girl, to be obedient, respectful and compliant.
But no one ever told me I could say no.
So I complied. I kept the secret. And I lost what little voice and courage that I had.
I didn’t even realize what happened. Not for years. I didn’t connect the dots of my twisted view of submission in marriage, my fear of displeasing authorities, my anxiety attacks, depression and exaggerated startle response.
I’d been caught in a perfect storm of religious compliance and confusing shame. My battered soul had not yet found refuge.
I was stuck as that little girl, emotionally barely older than my own children.
Fast forward a couple of decades. These days, I have confidence even in the middle of confrontation. I’m much better at standing up for myself and others.
I’m happy and fulfilled doing a job which guarantees conflict – I get to be a voice for the voiceless by working at a pregnancy resource center.
I’ve gotten to speak to hundreds of troubled young women, many of whom struggle with the pain of past childhood sexual abuse.
What happened? How did I find myself here?
The Jesus I had come to know and love early in life was not content to leave me in my wounded condition.
So he put me on a journey of healing and walked by my side.
It was not an overnight process. Over the years, I went to counseling. Caring friends prayed with me and for me.
Breakthrough started happening.
In my thirties, as friends prayed for me, I saw Jesus in the room where the abuse was happening. It was incredibly comforting to know he was there, that I was not alone.
However, he looked like a white statue. Motionless. Expressionless. At that time, my perception of Jesus was still religious, not life-giving.
Some years later, as friends prayed for me again, I saw Jesus in that setting a second time. This time, he was very much alive. He was strong and manly and wild.
And he was angry.
He was restraining his rage at what was going on.
When I saw that Jesus, the real Jesus, my soul finally threw off its heavy lid. I screamed and sobbed, “No! No! NO!” until I lay exhausted on the floor.
I finally said what I couldn’t say back then.
I got my “no” back. I got my voice back. And I got my courage back.
Religion had kept me bound. A revelation of the real Jesus set me free.
This Jesus, the alive one, the mean and wild one, gave me the power to forgive the very thing that angered him and wounded me.
Jesus is my source of healing, of strength, of courage. He is my beautiful savior. I am so grateful to have my voice back – so I can praise his name always.
Susanne Maynes is a Board Certified Biblical Counselor with the Board of Professional and Pastoral Counselors. She is the Counseling Director at Life Choices Clinic, and her literary agent is looking for the right publisher for her devotional, When Compassion Calls for Courage: Forty Reflections on Rescuing the Unborn. Read Susanne’s blog, “Unleashing your Courageous Compassion” at www.susannemaynes.com. She also blogs about “Passionate Parenting” at the same site, and is working on a parenting book.