In early May of this year, I was preparing an outline for my final in speech class when it occurred to me to say a quick little prayer: “Lord, what do you want me to do this speech about?” I’m not sure if I really expected an answer, but I got one, almost immediately: sexual abuse awareness. It was so clear and loud that I almost looked around to see if anyone else heard it too. My heart was pounding and my mind raced. I can’t do that, I thought. There’s no way.
The reason that I was so thrown by the suggestion of sexual abuse awareness was that I had never given in a thought before that day. For several years now I have taught on the subject of sexual purity and wholeness at retreats held by my church and during that session I openly discuss my own abuse, how it effected me, and how I was able to overcome it. I do this because I know the destructive and potentially lifelong consequences of sexual abuse in childhood. I know that the freedom I’ve found is available to all, and I want to see as many women as I can be healed. But that has always been the extent of my message: healing and freedom its pain.
Then last year I became aware of sexual abuse going on in the home of one of my friends. I think it was then that I began questioning the attitudes around this type of abuse. First of all, there are all sorts of statistics about the victims, but where are the studies on the perpetrators? Is it possible to somehow prevent a child from growing up to become an abuser? And if everyone knows the statistics, what’s being done about it?
The answer, as you know, is very little. But it wasn’t until I began research on that final speech that I realized how little was being done, and why it’s not being done. By this time, I was completely fired up, and ready to do something about it myself. I was all the time praying, Lord, what do you want me to do? After a few weeks and no answers, I figured I needed to lay it aside, that the time must not have been right. It was only then that I received my answer: It’s not what I want you to do, He said, but what I want to do.
I knew then that, however broken my heart was over these circumstances, His was much more so. That’s when I began to pray for an end to sexual abuse. My faith wasn’t such that I could pray for an abuse free nation, but I could pray for an abuse free Claremore, OK. I could pray for an end to sexual abuse in my church, and my community. Since I began doing that, my faith has outgrown my imagination, and the Lord has answered my “what do you want me to do” prayer. This is why I can say we can bring an end to sexual abuse in this nation – not because it’s my will, but because it’s His.
Awareness is not a passive thing, but active. Until the day comes that I can take this message beyond its current borders, I will be active in prayer for my city, my community, my church. And I will pray that you are too.