THE JOURNEY OF THE HEALING PROCESS
I was just nineteen years old when I moved to California, venturing across the United States by Greyhound bus, stopping for a time in San Francisco to, eventually, end up in Hollywood.
My three years in Hollywood laid a solid foundation in Christ. I couldn’t get enough of the Word of God. I had great fellowship and teaching from my Uncle Chuck and Aunt Nancy as well as some of their pastor friends. After three years, when I returned to West Virginia, God had given me such a desire to follow Him, which gave me the strength to face the trials that were yet to come.
As a young woman of 24 years, I wanted to be a wife and mother. In my mind, that was what a good Christian woman should be. I liked a young, white boy in the church I had been attending. Now granted, he was younger than I, by about 7 years, which made him 17 years old. But remember, my maturity level had stopped at seventeen. I really wasn’t that much emotionally older than he was. He was a musician, giving him additional favor in my eyes, and at the time, I thought he was pretty wonderful.
To make a long story short, his parents didn’t agree with my “infatuation” with their son. I was pretty vocal about it. At one point I was taken aside and talked to by his mother and the pastor of the church. I’m not faulting them for talking to me about it, just the way in which it was done.
In this confrontation, I was accused of being prejudice against “my own kind”. Their main grievance was not our age difference but because I was black and he was white. You see, according to them, because I was black, I should have been married to the one black man in the church. That’s what I was told. My defenses came up immediately. I was told, because of my reaction to her accusation, that there was something not right.
In that statement, she was right. There was something wrong; however I didn’t know what it was. I still had a deep fear of black men, excluding relatives, which actually grew into an unnatural, strong dislike. The thought that God might make me marry a black man, terrified me. Others told me their stories of what they had perceived as God telling them to marry some guy they didn’t like. I felt a lot of anxiety fearing that God would do that to me.
Before God could bring someone into my life, I needed to be healed of the past. In order for God to use me, He had to help me remember and face the past hurts.
One Sunday a woman visited our church whose ministry involved inner healing. As she stood in the front of the church she began to say that God wanted to heal people who had been molested. As she talked, my memory of that incident, so long ago, came to the forefront of my mind. I thought, “That’s me. I was molested.” She talked about how we needed to forgive that person so God could heal us. I remember thinking, “I’m pretty sure he is dead. How could I forgive someone that is dead”? The very next sentence that came out of her mouth was, “Even if that person is dead, you still need to forgive them.” Well, that caught my attention. I knew God was speaking directly to me. Now, I wish I could tell you that that was the end, that God instantly took all the fear away, but that was not the way it happened. The healing began, but it took years for God to complete it.
I went on my merry way, filling my life with work and church activities. I still liked that one boy for a couple of years, even when he started to date someone that he eventually married. I remember feeling kind of elated though, because since I thought he was pretty special, if he wasn’t for me, then, wow, who did God have in mind for me?
I remember praying to God one day saying, “You can send me anywhere Lord. I will go east, west, or north, but I will never go down south.” I had it in my mind that the south was full of prejudice people, more than where I lived. I’m here to tell you, never say, “Never”, to God! From my experience, it will not stop God from doing what He wants, or needs to do in your life to make you more like Jesus. Before you can even blink, that may be exactly what you will be doing, provided that it is not against His Word or plan for your life.
My church took “the youth”, including me, down to a mega church in Georgia. After visiting several times for their Youth Conferences, I wanted to be involved in their work for the Kingdom of God. Not only did the Pastor preach against being prejudice, the diversity of people groups within the church made a positive impression on me. Also, in that church, there were married couples of different ethnicities.
Seeing a pastor preach so freely on the subject drew me to that church. I had never heard a preacher exhort his congregation on this subject. When I heard about the new Bible College, I knew that I needed to go. After praying about it, I was certain that God was leading me there. Not feeling like my gifts and talents were being utilized fully, in my home church, also helped me make the decision to move. I didn’t know it then, but moving to Georgia was a necessary step in the healing God had begun.
So, in 1986, I found myself headed to Georgia on a Greyhound bus. I planned to live with a family, because the thought of living in a dorm with so many younger women didn’t sound appealing. The family living situation didn’t work out, so I did move to the dorm. Our dorm was an apartment rented for the college students; one for the boys, one for the girls. The experience turned out to be the right one. Those years will be forever emblazoned in my memory as a time of growing up.
In Georgia, I discovered a black culture up close and personal. I noticed quite a number of influential black people. The Mayor was a black man. Our church had ordained black pastors. For the first time in my life I observed rich black people. I learned about the High Society Clubs and organizations for black people, which I didn’t know existed.
I made friends with mostly white girls in the college, mainly because I was the only black female in the dorm, but I did have a few black male friends that I hung around quite a bit. Those years were so much fun. I might have been the oldest person at the college, except for one woman, but I didn’t look it or act like it. Most of them didn’t believe me when I told them my age, until they saw my driver’s license. I participated in all the adventures afforded the college group. We all sat together, in the same spot, at every church service.
I recall going out to lunch with one black guy on several occasions. I thought him to be mature, because he was an enlisted man, in the army. He exhibited an air of authority with his six foot, four inch frame. I would have liked for our friendship to be more. When lunch outings didn’t produce dating I gave up on him. It was nice to finally be able to converse with men of the same race. That unnatural fear was beginning to vanish, even though I still preferred white men.
I opened up to black men. I’m not sure if I would have allowed things to progress had one of my black male friends wanted to date me. I think deep down, in me, some fear of intimacy still lingered. But now, at least, I wasn’t running away. One man in particular came to church after I had been attending for a year. He had a dynamic personality, full of charisma. He sang on the worship team. I sang in the choir. I felt a slight attraction to him. He would talk to me, in between services, while I worked at the food counter. Several times during the week, he would stop by on his way to work, to eat his breakfast and chit-chat with me while I worked. We became friends—church friends. However, I didn’t see much of him after church. But, in those days we practically lived at the church. As I observed his behavior in church with people, I thought I noticed some characteristics that I couldn’t live with, if our friendship went further. So, I made up my mind that we could never be anything more than friends. Besides, I still held, and continued to hold for years, an emotional attachment to another white guy, who, no doubt, thought that we would never be anything but friends.
I thought I would never leave Georgia. Winter only stayed for a couple of weeks. By mid-February, the weather could be in the seventies. But as God would have it, my time in Georgia ended after six years. After much prayer, I returned to my home town for the holidays and until I could find out which place would be better for me to start over. I prayed about whether I should go to New York or go back to either Georgia or California. I would have gone to either place, but I believe God directed me back to California.
Life began to pick up quite a bit for me in California. I moved to a small beach community on the coast where my Uncle and Aunt now lived and I fell in love with Ventura County. Who could ask for more, with the beach on one side, and mountains on the opposite horizon? I made plenty of friends at my place of employment that I am still friends with today, even though we have not worked together for years.
During the course of my life in California, God continued to heal me. I still preferred white men. If I had a friend that wanted to fix me up with a black man, I just politely turned down the offer. I must say part of the reason was that they were never Christian men. This continued for years. I even tried to go on a few ‘Singles’ websites, both Christian and Non-Christian to find someone. I only wanted to start off as friends but most of the men on those sites seemed to want to get married faster than I wanted it to happen. I only talked to a few.
I can’t really say that God did something one day that eradicated all my fears, but I can tell you what happened that let me know for certain, God had healed me. I had once again moved back to West Virginia, this time to help my sister care for our aging parents. I had lived there for a year when I knew the time for that stay had ended. I ran an errand to the neighborhood store one afternoon when I ran into a black man who was in my graduating class in high school. He had grown up into a very handsome man. We greeted each other warmly.
He began to flirt with me. He even said he would follow me back to California when I told him I planned to move back there soon. I knew enough about him to know that he was not a Christian. I accepted the compliments he paid with grace and responded that following me to California would be great but he would have to fall in love with Jesus before I would consider dating him. He just smiled at my comment. Now what I noticed next, about myself, is how I knew, that God had healed me. While he was flirting with me, I didn’t want to run away. My soul didn’t cringe or shrink at the thought of him wanting to pursue me. All that fear had evaporated.
I returned to Southern California in the spring of 2004. One beautiful day while driving around, running my errands, I started to converse with God about the things that had happened in my life. I remembered the way I felt about black men as a teen and as a young adult. The connection between my fear of black men and how I thought about them, stemming from the time I had been molested, never occurred to me. I asked God, “Why did I act that way?” He said, “Because of when you were molested.” All of my past began to make sense. That incident shaped my life, my character, for many years. Hurts can be buried so deep in us that it blinds us to our own behavior. But, nothing is too deep for God, because as Corrie Ten Boon put it, “There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still”. I thank God for His deep love.
One way to help you detect if something might go deeper than what appears on the surface, is to see if the subject causes some defensiveness when you talk about it. Take a step back and examine your reactions. I’ve learned, from experience, that if you feel defensive, there is usually something wrong, under the surface. I didn’t seek professional help to guide me through the healing process from being molested or having an abortion. I did rely on God to heal me by staying in His Word, prayer and fellowship with other believers.
Now I walk in the completeness that He has given me through His healing power. I have been healed enough to honestly comment, without fear, when I see someone black that I think is good looking. I have not dated or seriously liked a black man since my early teens. A couple of years ago, I ran into that one black man that I knew in Georgia. I thought for a brief time that maybe he and I would get together this time. I opened up to the idea but, it did not happen. I know God has healed me. I stopped looking, like God spoke to me earlier. No matter what my age, I know He will bring the man He has for me, when the time is right. I believe God draws hearts together.
The message that I’ve wanted to convey in “Why Wait” is that we ought to pray and give God a chance to speak to us about relationships. Rely on the Holy Spirit to give you some direction. Instead of looking at just the external person, consider their character first, how they view God in their life, and what is their passion. If a woman’s highest passion is centered on how she looks or a man’s passion is on his favorite sports team, you might want to keep looking. Or maybe quit looking for someone and let God fill your life with Himself trusting that He will bring that person, when the time is right.
Not all people, that have had a traumatic experience like mine, will take so many years to be healed. Everyone is different. But, there may be something in your past which you are not even aware of, leaving you so scared that, if not healed, will help you make wrong decisions that could negatively affect the rest of your life. Guard your heart; don’t give it away too quickly, wait until you are sure God is indeed leading you to that person. God said no to me on so many occasions, when I thought for sure it should have been a yes, that I began to get discouraged.
I know we are so prone to judge each other on the little bit of information we have. I know I had been judged severely by my high school peers, as well as the people in church. I also set myself in the seat as judge on someone who acted in a way not considered as normal. Before you condemn a person because of the people they choose to love, or by their actions, that may be outrageous, take a step back and ask the question, “Why is that person acting like that?” There may be a reason for their behavior that they are not aware of. The best thing you can do is pray for them.
God does work in mysterious ways. I’ve had to ask myself what might have happened to that boy that led him to assault me. God allowed me to be molested for reasons unknown to me. He did not cause it to happen. I don’t claim to know all there is to know about God. Some things are just inexplicable. I know nothing happens in this life that takes God by surprise. He didn’t say, “Oh, no, Adrian is being assaulted. Now, what will I do? That may interfere with my plan for her life”. As a follower of Christ, I don’t believe in coincidences. I think God knew all along what was going to happen and it just might have been His plan all along, to guide me into His perfect plan for my life. If for nothing else, I know that He will use what I have experienced to reach out to other’s that have gone through the same thing.
I can recommend some great resources for anyone who would like to grow in their Christian walk. If you don’t know Jesus, but are curious about Him, I recommend these studies as well. I am attaching a link for Joy of Living Bible Studies http://www.joyofliving.org/, and the New Living Translation Bible on line http://www.newlivingtranslation.com/ . Reading God’s Word and talking to Him is the best healing medicine you will ever find. It is important to have fellowship with other people that share your faith in Jesus. If you are aware of the things that happened to you, find one or two people with whom you can share and connect with in prayer.
I thank all those who have read this blog. I know talking about being molested is a heavy subject that most people do not want to talk about, especially if it has happened to them. Believe me, you are not alone. There are so many other people who have shared the same experience. I hope you will pass this on. Please feel free to contact me through the “comments” if you would like me to pray with you.