Mary came to meet with me several years ago. Like most women I have walked with over the past 20 years, Mary’s journey had a terrible beginning as a little girl, one filled with sexual abuse by her dad. How sad for Mary. I wish her story wasn’t so common in our culture.
Mary is in her mid 30’s, married since she was 18 to her childhood sweetheart, Dan, who is a successful business executive. She is the mother of two daughters, Crystal, age 15, and Anna, age 13.
Mary’s heart has been shattered because of her childhood trauma. Often she hears her heart crying out, “What’s wrong with me? Will anyone love me? Why did Daddy do these things to me? Am I bad? Why didn’t I tell someone? Why didn’t I stop him? Where was God in those many dark, lonely nights, in my bedroom as a child and teenager? Does He even love me?” She’s not the only one with brokenness in her heart.
Even though on the outside Mary smiles a lot, on the inside she isn’t smiling. She feels ugly, dirty, used and somehow responsible for the abuse. She hasn’t told anyone in her family about what happened to her as a girl. Her dad is still alive and is a well-respected pastor of a local church in their community. She doesn’t think anyone would believe her anyway. Her husband doesn’t know about her abuse either.
Mary tells me how she hates herself. She hates the way God created her. She hates everything about her body, even though if you asked anybody around her, they would say she’s a very attractive woman.
Mary’s having a hard time now as an adult keeping it together emotionally. It’s like the lid has come off and the painful past is oozing out everywhere. She’s having flashbacks of the abuse, often during the day, and night terrors as she sleeps. She frequently awakens in the middle of the night, screaming and shaking all over, yelling out, “Stop! Stop it! You’re hurting me!” Dan doesn’t know what to do. He feels helpless.
Her smile in public is strained and certain friends can see it. When they ask if she’s ok, she smiles and shrugs them off with some simple excuse like “I’m tired” or “It’s been a long week.”
Mary is tired, very tired, especially emotionally. To have her heart ripped apart by abuse, with a counterfeit love, betrayal, such confusion . . . She has never really known who she is as a person or who God created her to be as His daughter. She has become whatever people have expected of her. She wears many hats, not only at home, but at school, church gatherings, and her husband’s social functions. Many would call Mary a great servant of others, so selfless, yet she feels like a slave, invisible and worthless.
Mary tells me she’d rather be dead than to go on living anymore. She can’t hold life together.
Is there hope for Mary? Yes! There is also hope for Dan and there is hope for this family. There is hope for each and every one of us to live a life where our heart is knitted back together, made whole once again, filled with love from ourselves, love from others, and love from God. Until we can truly love ourselves, we won’t be able to love others well.
In this book, we will follow Mary’s Story, the journey of her heart, to see what loving her heart looks like.
Maybe you have a Mary in your life. Maybe your story is like Mary’s. I hope not. You don’t have to have an abusive background to relate to what will unfold in this book. Each of our hearts will resonate with Mary’s as we journey together. We really are not that much different from one another.
Are you willing to quiet yourself, look inside your own heart, and listen to whatever it may want to communicate to you as you read this book?
I hope so.