First Step to Freedom: Repentance

In The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Dan B. Allender states, “The pain of past abuse does not justify unloving self-protection in the present.” The insanity had to stop. For thirty-five years I had lived out the old cliché “silence is golden. Yes, thirty-five long years of silence concerning my experience of childhood sexual abuse. Allender’s statement, pricked my heart like no words had ever done. Now at age 45, I realized just how much my daily life was conducted in a self-protective mode. Childhood sexual abuse and its effects had defined my life, and, through the influence of several very unique circumstances, I was now ready to bring this dark part of my life into the light and begin to live in freedom.

My initial thoughts about living in freedom revolved around taking the necessary steps get there. What was the first step and what would it involve? Shame, guilt, fear, and insecurities had gripped me from age eight until forty-five. I knew in my heart I was not guilty of any wrong-doing concerning the sexual abuse I endured. I did not ask for it, nor did I expect to experience and ultimately be defined by it for so many years of my life. However, I discovered the very first step toward freedom would come as a personal decision involving an action that is almost never associated with the victim of any type of abuserepentance! I knew I had to come to repentance. This would be the first and vital step towards freedom. Some might ask, “Why should the victim repent?” Please understand, I did not need to repent because I was abused.

That is what my abuser needed to do. I needed to repent because I had chosen to live my life in a self-protected manner that ultimately defined the way I lived out every aspect of my life. It could be, when we choose to live in this kind of bondage and darkness, we may not do it consciously. I did not like or understand why things affected me the way they did. However, I knew I wanted to live in freedom and live that “abundant life” Jesus promised His followers in His Word. Read carefully what Dan Allender writes: “In our perceived source of life, it is recognizing that our self-protective means to avoiding hurt have not ushered us into real living (the reckless abandon to God that ultimately leads to a deep sense of wholeness and joy) or to purposeful, powerful relating. Repentance is the process of deeply acknowledging the supreme call to love, which is violated at every moment, in every relationship—a law that applies even to those who have been heinously victimized.

The law of love removes excuses. The pain of past abuse does not justify unloving self-protection in the present.” To live in freedom and to reach my life’s full potential, I needed to come to grips with the fact that burying sexual abuse deep within my heart and soul was hindering relationships with my family, friends, ministry efforts, and ultimately, my personal relationship with God. To love is not to approve or justify what happened to you. In fact, to forgive the abuser does not mean entering into any type of relationship with that person. That would not be healthy in any way. To repent and mortify the self-protective mode of living simply enables you to once again live powerfully and purposefully as God restores your joy and wholeness.

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