I’ve been wanting to share something with you all – but I’ve not been sure how to get it out there without glorifying it in some way. It’s part of who I am, part of my story, and the origin of something that later became something beautiful. It was not beautiful at all when it happened. In fact, it was so traumatic it caused a fear and distrust in me that took 20-something years to heal up.
But it is important to me. And I hope it will bring hope to you in a trial you may be facing. I pray that, even though it might be decades after the initial “ouch,” you will have eyes to see how God may be healing you in ways that you didn’t even realize were connected with Him.
And please: when you finish reading this story, please quickly click on its related story of healing so that you can get the full picture of God’s glorious and creative healing process. Unfortunately, the glorious times don’t look so glorious until you know the darkness from which they were birthed.
So, I’m going to trust God that He will use this part of my story not as something to make you pity me or hate somebody who once hurt me, but rather I hope you will just take it for what it is: something that happened once upon a time, it hurt at the moment, and it had consequences, but God redeemed it in the end. My hope is always to encourage you and to inspire you closer to God’s heart and God’s will for your life – not to merely air out my own personal drama and issues. Any hurt or wound I share with you is hopefully “leveraged for God’s kingdom” and pointing back to Him: the fun stuff AND the tough stuff.
Alrighty… Here I go:
My first “yucky friend memory” is from when I was in sixth grade. That year, I was the new girl at school and, while I got along with everyone, there was one particular girl I was drawn to: Jackie. Jackie was “the coolest girl in our class” and for some crazy reason she seemed to like me. So we hung out quite a bit. The only problem with Jackie was that she had a nasty habit of every once in a while just turning on someone with a venom I had never seen before. One day she was fine and everything was going okay, and then the next day a person would show up to school and, for no reason they knew of, Jackie had decided she hated that person and went around and talked crap about that person to everyone who would listen. I had noticed that pattern, and it made me feel… uneasy… about her. (Duh.) But most of all, I think I just felt grateful that I was never her target.
Until I was her target.
It was crazy. I still remember the shock and the pain in my chest when I got to school and realized that I had been sideswiped by Jackie’s affinity for malevolence. And her attack on me was even worse than any I had ever witnessed: she had posted up papers in the bathrooms and on some of the school walls that said “Kristi is a slut.”
First of all, I didn’t even know what a “slut” was. But I did know this: by lunchtime “everyone” around school was talking about me. She had told them that I had sex with my cousin and that I was a super disgusting person.
Ohhhh…. so that’s what “slut” means, I thought.
I was devastated.
I felt like an absolute idiot to the highest degree.
Because, while I had NOT had sex with my cousin… I had recently confided in her (who knows why!!! with her history!) that when I was five, one of my boy cousins had… you know… tried to… check out what was going on under my hood. Nothing major happened. But… it had been extremely traumatic for me. I had never told anyone besides my parents about that experience… and yet for some ridiculous and unknown reason I felt compelled to share that trauma with Jackie.
Of all people!
So the next time she got a wild hair up her butt, she totally twisted what I told her and plastered her lie all over the school.
And while I denied it to everyone… I felt so very ashamed of myself. Because I had never thought of it in the way that Jackie had proclaimed. I had never before considered that my 5-year-old-cousin-incident reflected anything about me… I always assumed his actions toward me reflected something about him… until then.
Seeing “Kristi is a slut” all over the school really jolted a new feeling in me:
I felt dirty. So so sooooo dirty.
And perhaps I’ll dive deeper into the effects of that 5-year-old trauma in another post, but for now I want to focus on the issue of my relationship with Jackie.
For years after— until I was in my early thirties to be precise— the memory of Jackie’s betrayal and slander haunted me. For years I didn’t feel safe with other women. I always felt afraid that they would turn on me like Jackie had. So any time I started getting close to another woman, I could feel myself emotionally trembling a bit and then backing away, ever so slightly, in hopes that I might somehow be able to protect my heart from that horrible burn of betrayal again.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized God was healing my “Jackie hurt” through my friendship with my dear friend Lisa, a faithful, trust-worthy, secret-keeping, safe-haven of a woman. You can read a bit about my journey with Lisa here, but the gist of it is that over the course of a handful of years of “experimenting” with trusting her, I finally realized that: Yes. She is indeed safe. And, if I stop and think about it, I actually have several other relationships that are safe as well. It is okay. I don’t need to live in gripping fear any more. There are some safe people out there.
I love how God does that. I love how “God wants to provide strength and meets our needs through the people He puts in our lives. They become our adopted, spiritual family” (The Life Model pg. 88). I also love that “life makes sense and is empowered by joy when people are in relationship with those who love them and are sincerely glad to be with them” (The Life Model pg 21).
One of the most amazing books I’ve ever read that walks the reader through what healing, maturity and spiritual health really look like is called The Life Model and it is written by several different psychologists, ministers, and Marriage and Family Therapists with several decades of experience between them all. The book is written to both the leaders and the wounded in the church community and I cannot say enough about what an immensely precious resource it is. If you want to dive into some serious trauma recovery and learn about why you act the way you act and how to move past those sticking points, I highly recommend it. Here are just a few gems I’ve been blessed to find in that book:
“Pain from the past cannot stay in the past, until it receives healing.” (The Life Model pg. 19)
“Communities work as they should when individuals contribute to each other— when they receive life and give it.” (The Life Model pg. 50)
“Once people know who they truly are and understand the power and beauty of their God-given characteristics, their passion, purpose, talents, and pain will all come together and begin to define specifically who they are. The better they can express their unique identities in their words and actions, the more positioned they will be for speaking and living truthfully.” (The Life Model pg. 40)
“[To be everything that God intents for us] is our destiny and we get there by passing through traumas, gaining as much as we can from each of them. Traumas that do not receive healing will steadily distract our focus and drain our energy away from reaching our destiny. Recovery is facing and embracing all the pain in our lives, so that we will gain maximum growth: learning lessons, gaining power, and looking for ways to help others do the same.” (The Life Model pg. 59)
“These lessons [that suffering is not God’s plan for your life and that God will meet your needs and help you live life to the full] need to be put into practice by participating in the family of God. We cannot get our needs met any other way— it has to be real life with real people. Therapy alone is not enough. God wants to provide strength and meets our needs through the people He puts in our lives. They become our adopted, spiritual family.” (The Life Model pg. 88)
“Therapy can help identify traumas, but it takes loving relationships for recovery. Therapy helps with the traumatizing effects of the absence of things that were needed, and loving relationships provide the presence of those things so that healing can take place.” (The Life Model pg. 72)
I pray that you are encouraged today. Please be sure to read about Lisa and Christy and my church community and my husband and my counselor and even my son when you get a chance. Each of these folks have helped me heal up in ways I never could have on my own.
Bless you, y’all.
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What about you?
Have you ever been unexpectedly wounded by a friend? Have you yet found healing?
Please feel free to share your journey in the comment section below.