Childhood Abuse and Using Our Voices

As most of us know, child molesters scare us quiet. So that I would remain silent about my own sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, I was told things like, “I will kill your brothers and sisters if you talk.” “I will kill your mother if you talk.” “I will kill you if you talk.” Of course, as a child, I never told anyone about the sins being wielded against my young human form.

But I am an adult now and God gave us a voice for a reason: to speak the truth. So I ask those of you this week that if you are scared to share your own story of abuse, be scared no more. You are in good and safe company. No matter your age, tell a friend, a pastor, a counselor. Go on one of the many private Facebook groups and tell your story. Child molesters have no right to extinguish our voices. It is we, adult survivors of childhood abuse, who have the absolute God-given right to extinguish their evil voices from our lives.

I wish you God’s peace.

Sherri L. Board

Seek God With Patience

In today’s world where things move fast, where people strive toward success, we can often lose sight of what is truly important. We distort the fundamental truths of why we are here on this earth. And we become impatient, anxious, and self-absorbed on what we want instead of what we truly need and have been called to achieve. The world was created to be a beautiful place yet evil’s dysfunctions are rampant and the abused being can be easily swayed by its lies. Do not place your identity on what has happened to you or even on what you can gain despite it; establish it upon who God created you to be. You are loved, you are worthy, and you have been gifted for specific divine purposes. God hasbeen so gracious and patient with you so be kind to yourself. Ask him what his will is for your life and truly allow yourself to hear from him. Read his Word, seek his truths, wholeheartedly believe, and faithfully wait.

Anna M. Jones

Words of Faith

Today is the day to fully surrender to God’s will. We must be filled with his Holy Spirit and look to his biblical plans and divine purposes in order to truly understand and be fulfilled. God is just, he does not contradict, he fully loves, and in him is where one’s true identity lies. The abused soul often grapples with their abusive past while attempting to own their calling and righteousness in Christ. This struggle, though difficult and downright unnerving at times, will be your greatest victory when driven by God’s power and overcome in his strength. The honesty and humility it takes to admit that you cannot survive alone builds from the truth you stand upon to live your life for Jesus Christ. Submit in obedience to your Maker and wholeheartedly love yourself because God has so graciously chosen you. Humbly live your life and use your past as your testimony to help others for God’s glory. Relinquish what was not intended to be controlled and confidently walk in faith. 

Anna M. Jones

Words of Truth

Today is a day for honesty and commitment. Life is full of ups and downs, joys and sorrows, yet you must come to understand that the abuses of the past do not measure your worth nor do they fully dictate your life’s outcome. Often times, we realize this truth too late: that we have more control over our behaviors than we want to admit or believe. God has blessed humankind in so many ways and has given us amazing abilities and talents, and when grounded in his Word and power miracles happen. Truth is truth whether one decides to believe it and most sincerely, you are accountable for what you know. Live your life with faith and purpose, live your life with integrity, and live your life lovingly because at the end of it all, you will answer to God for what you have done. And remember, all others will answer for what they have done too.  

Anna M. Jones

Words of Courage

Today is a day of hope and a day for new beginnings. Seek comfort in God because no matter what has happened in your life or how grim things may appear to be, God’s love awaits to truly restore thee. You are valued beyond measure and through your faith in Jesus Christ you have an anointing through God’s Holy Spirit. Believe in his promises and believe in yourself. You must decide that you are truly worthy despite what other people have done to you. Do not give up nor cower in fear and self-doubt any more. Abuse hurts, yet not living out your calling will hurt more. Fighting against or denying who God created you to be causes sadness and despair. Do not let the past win. Seek God’s wisdom and will to courageously continue on.

Anna M. Jones

Blog Announcement

On behalf of my coauthors, Jon M. Fleetwood and Anna M. Jones, we are pleased to announce that the What We’re Afraid to Ask Blog is once again up and running. Since our last post on July 17, 2015, the three of us finished What We’re Afraid to Ask: 365 Days of Healing for Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse. Circle Books, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing, will be printing, What We’re Afraid to Ask, as both an E-book and softcover edition. Our tentative release date is October 28, 2016.

In addition to us wanting  our book to be a comforting companion in your healing journey from childhood abuse, we, too, want this Website to aid you in anyway it can. This blog will be filled with topics that uplift, educate, and unburden you, as they relate to recovering from childhood abuse. 

On behalf of Jon, Anna, and myself, we wish you God’s peace.

Sherri L. Board

Childhood Abuse and Grace

By Sherri L. Board

I just finished reading, Grace, by Max Lucado. Since its release in 2012, I’ve had a rather interesting relationship with this book. For years I would visit various bookstores, walk up to it on a bookshelf or in one of those freestanding cardboard displays, and stare at the cover. I wouldn’t even pick it up. I would just stare at the word, "grace." I would be thinking that someday I would really like to read the book. But moreover I was mostly thinking about John Newton’s song that goes, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” I felt damned, not worthy of saving. I could never receive God’s grace.

What is a "wretch"? Merriam-Webster’s definition of a wretch is, “a miserable person: one who is profoundly unhappy or in great misfortune.” So being sexually, physically, and emotionally abused as a child, I could relate to this definition. And if we look to Isaiah 53:6: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (NIV). Was the reason why I couldn’t even pick up a copy of Grace because I was unhappy and had lost my way? More than likely, yes. And had I, as Lucado illustrates, said to God, “... I do not want you to be my king. I prefer a kingless kingdom. Or, better still, a kingdom in which I am king,” p. 34. Yes. I couldn’t even touch the book because I had weighed my “ … anchor from the port of sin,” p. 35. I was keeping myself from something God wanted me to have.

Now what is, "grace?"  Here’s Merriam-Webster’s definition: “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.” And I especially like what Lucado says of grace. He calls it a  “spiritual heart transplant,” p. 8. And he reminds us that we do not earn grace. “When grace happens,” says Lucado, “we receive not a nice compliment from God but a new heart. Give your heart to Christ, and he returns the favor,” p. 8. 

Furthermore, Lucado says that receiving grace is not something that we do. It is something that Christ does. He writes,

“[Christ] moves in and commandeers our hands and feet, requisitions our minds and tongues. We sense his rearranging: debris into the divine, pig’s ear into silk purse. He repurposes bad decisions and squalid choices. Little by little a new image emerges,” p. 10.

There is no one who cannot receive God’s grace. Anyone can incline their hearts in faith toward Christ. And the moment we do, that which once may have made wretches out of us is removed and replaced with the Holy Spirit of God. Newton was right. Grace is amazing.

Now, you may be wondering how God finally got a copy of Grace into my hands. The book was a prerequisite for a course I later took. What a perfect example of God’s “unmerited divine assistance.” And after reading it, I do not feel like a wretch. I feel like the recipient of a magnificent gift. For Christ has given me a new heart—stamped, sealed, and approved.



Childhood Abuse and the Holy Spirit

By Sherri L. Board

            I just read a really good book. It’s called, “Healing for Damaged Emotions” by David A. Seamands. Before reading it, I had not realized the tremendous healing power that the Holy Spirit has on our damaged emotions or the ways in which we prevent the Spirit from reaching them.

            What are a few examples of damaged emotions? The greatest is damaged self-esteem. Seamands says, “ … Satan uses this deadliest [low self-esteem] of all of his emotional and psychological weapons, to bring defeat and failure into your life,” p. 49. Another example would be perfectionism: the constant feeling of never quite measuring up. Seamands tells us that one cause of perfectionism is having a parent or parents who could never be pleased. The child may develop a “false-self” that develops in order to survive and please the parent(s). Seamands offers some advise here; “The perfectionist needs to learn to be his true self in Christ,” p. 102. And a third damaged emotion … depression.

I think that these are two of the best things that I have ever heard regarding depression: 1) “Christians can be depressed,” p. 112, and 2) “Did you ever think that perhaps your depression is God’s built-in cruise control for your life?” p. 123. It is fantastic to tie depression to the Bible looking at the writings of King David and Jonah and even Christ himself. Fifty-plus years on this planet and reading the Bible throughout, I never saw these men as experiencing depression. This connection takes the insanity out of depression and inputs humanity. Thank you, Lord. It’s normal!

            Surely, to think of depression as a sort of cruise control for one’s life is brilliant. And why not listen to one’s depression in this fashion? Look to it as a sort of warning light that goes off on your mind’s dashboard. For example, if one gets depressed after seeing a family member, the depression could be a sign to see them less, if at all. The light goes off. We take notice. We act accordingly.

            Here’s where the healing power of the Holy Spirit comes in. We have discussed areas that hinder the Spirit from entering one’s being: a low self-esteem, perfectionism, and depression. Becoming conscious of these infirmities is the first step in opening one’s self to the healing properties of the Spirit. When we do this, we “ … allow the Holy Spirit to work with special healing in our own hurts and confusions,” p.13. We have to open the door to let the worker in.  And as one begins to replace negative influences with the positive reinforcement of the Bible for example, the Holy Spirit may begin to heal in such a way that they could not do on their own. It is a belief. It is a letting-go of sorts. It is the undeniable belief that, “The Holy Spirit knows where to tinker,” p. 23.

            I just might sleep with the “Healing for Damaged Emotions” under my pillow for a while. I just might have to keep it in my purse throughout the day so its pages permeate my being. That way, by God’s grace, I cant to be one of Seamands’ “Healed Helpers.” He writes, “I challenge you to enter the healing process, so that you can lift your head high as a son or a daughter of God Himself,” p. 75. I’m up for his dare. Are you? 

Childhood Abuse and Boundaries

By Sherri L. Board

In the book, BOUNDARIES, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, they say, “Boundaries define us. They define what is me and not me” (275*). Fighting for my identity and space while surrounded by six and sometimes eight siblings was hard. But when severe abuse was thrown into the scramble, it was harder. I didn’t receive the type of parenting that could meet a child’s needs. I had no sense of “me.” When I read BOUNDARIES as part of my Christian Counseling studies, I wanted to stop studying everything else and concentrate on this one subject. It was exactly what I needed. It helped me define me.

Here is one of the biggest lessons I learned from the book: “We need to keep things that will nurture us inside our fences and keep things that will harm us outside” (307). The authors continue, “Often, when people are abused while growing up, they reverse the function of boundaries and keep the bad in and the good out” (318).

Man, did a light bulb go off for me when I read the above! I had been reversing the function of boundaries my whole life. I was attracted to the bad stuff and repelled the good. For example, as a young adult the only way I could see my mom was if her abusive husband was present. Yes, I got to see my mother, but I always left feeling very depressed. I hadn’t made the connection between my depression and being around him. After reading BOUNDARIES, I know I should have distanced myself from him. What would this have done? To paraphrase Cloud and Townsend, in distancing ourselves from hurtful people, we protect love. Distancing myself from my stepfather would have protected love within me.

We have the right and responsibility to establish personal boundaries in all aspects of our lives—with family, friends, and partners. We need to all put up our fences in the right places as the good doctors suggest. We need to be on the lookout for those who may harm us and not allow them to enter through the gate of our hearts and souls and minds. We need to make sure that the people who we choose to let in will not injure us, but help us grow and heal and enjoy life. Keeping out the bad, letting in the good, we can define ourselves with boundaries.

*Citation numbers are location markers from electronic book version.

Childhood Abuse and Spirituality

By Sherri L. Board

It is important for us to grow up. And God feels the same way. 1 Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things” (NLT).

For people such as myself who were beat, molested, and verbally and emotional abused, putting away childish things is very difficult. Let’s face it, being treated like less than human certainly stunts one’s growth. So as an adult, I had a lot of growing up to do—a lot of letting go. 

I had to learn that others are responsible for their own lives and that while I am responsible “to them,” I am not responsible “for them.” I had to learn that the only way I was going to mature was to stop letting other people pilot my soul’s ship and take the helm myself. And, that I, and this was a huge one for me, had to stop giving away my power to other people.

All that said, the area I just couldn’t seem to grow up in was my spirituality. It wasn't until my middle fifties that I finally said to myself, “Sherri, you’ve got to get this figured out.” And so, I revisited my past to see if I could figure out why I felt so disconnected from God.

It was not as if I didn’t have religion in my life. My grandmother, who was my most positive female role model growing up, went to a Catholic church three to four times a week. My mother took my siblings (seven of us) to church every Sunday.

When I was young I felt underserving and detached from both my body and my spirit. If the very people who were supposed to be loving me were abusing me—crushing my spirit—how could I possibly experience God’s everlasting love for me?

So what did I do? I stopped being desperate for other people’s love and started being desperate to love God. I started giving Him my energy and time. He helped me rise above all the lies and pain of my abusive past. My spirit now, for the first time, feels God’s love in all its healing and promise.

I’m not saying that I’m all grown up yet. I’m not. For those of us who were abused as children, well, it may just take longer. But we deserve the time, and God deserves ours.