Participants: Jennifer Jill Schwirzer (Host), David Guerrero, Nicole Parker, Paul Coneff, Shelley Wiggins
Series Code: MOC
Program Code: MOC000016A
00:25 Welcome to A Multitude of Counselors
00:28 where we admit the damage
00:29 because we know that can be healed.
00:32 Today, we're going to be talking about surviving sexual trauma,
00:37 surviving sexual trauma... heavy topic...
00:39 but we're going to try to do it justice... by the grace of God.
00:43 Sexual trauma is the lingering result of sexual abuse
00:47 and often this takes the form
00:49 of what we call "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder"
00:51 PTSD is characterized by three things,
00:55 nightmares, flashbacks,
00:57 and what we call "extreme triggerability. "
01:00 Whenever that person gets
01:02 confronted with something that reminds them
01:04 of the sexual abuse event,
01:07 they go back there, so to speak, in their mind.
01:09 It's thought that the symptoms
01:11 are the brain's way of trying to process that trauma
01:15 that it somehow hasn't gotten fully processed
01:17 and the brain keeps bringing it to mind
01:20 in order to process it through.
01:22 The prevalence of sexual abuse is higher than you would think.
01:25 One in three women globally
01:28 are either raped, beaten or coerced into sex.
01:33 One in 5 girls and one in 20 boys in the US
01:38 are victims of child sexual abuse,
01:41 you know, sexual trauma occurs
01:45 when essentially... if I were to boil it down...
01:47 when someone... a greater power...
01:50 a power advantage over another, uses that power
01:54 to fulfill sexual desires...
01:57 and that person then becomes a victim.
01:59 They do it without consent
02:01 or they do it with uninformed consent.
02:04 So the fact that the person that's being violated
02:07 did not physically fight
02:09 doesn't mean that they were not abused.
02:11 If it's a child or a person who is in another way "vulnerable"
02:15 mentally retarded... mentally ill...
02:18 or much less power than a perpetrator,
02:21 if there's a severe power imbalance,
02:23 that's really uninformed consent,
02:26 even if they don't fight.
02:27 So we need to understand
02:29 the subtleties involved in sexual abuse.
02:31 Most of these assaults, by-the-way
02:34 are never reported
02:36 because the victims fear
02:37 that if they go before a tribunal of people
02:40 that often reminds them of the perpetrator,
02:42 in one way or another,
02:44 they're the same demographic, so to speak,
02:46 the same thing is going to happen all over again
02:48 because they're not going to be believed.
02:50 So one of the most important things we can do for victims
02:53 is, we can listen to their story and we can believe them
02:57 at least temporarily until we have evidence to the contrary
03:02 so, often victims are a part of a System that works very hard
03:07 to sustain the reputation of the perpetrator...
03:09 the perpetrator is often almost indispensable
03:12 or apparently indispensable to that System
03:15 and, therefore, they are preferred over the victim
03:18 and it's easier to disbelieve the victim
03:21 and believe the perpetrator.
03:22 So, these are some of the tragedies involved
03:25 in sexual abuse situations
03:27 and we're going to have a very good friend of mine
03:29 unpack this for us today,
03:31 I'm really thankful to have you here, Nicole Parker.
03:34 Nicole is a Counselor... Biblical Counselor...
03:37 Master's degree in Biblical Counseling, correct?
03:39 Hmmm... hmmm...
03:40 You live in Tennessee with your husband, Allan,
03:43 and he teaches Theology at University
03:47 and you just help...
03:49 just about every person that comes to you
03:51 from what I know about you
03:53 and you raise your children, they're in Tennessee.
03:55 I try my best.
03:56 I'm so thankful to have you here,
03:57 let me also introduce the Counselors on our Panel today,
04:00 we have Marriage and Family Therapist, Paul Coneff,
04:04 we have Licensed Professional Counselor...
04:06 oh no, I'm sorry, you're from Texas...
04:08 and Licensed Professional Counselor,
04:10 Shelly Wiggins from Michigan
04:12 and Biblical Counselor, David Guerrero from Wisconsin
04:15 we're so thankful to have each one of you here today
04:19 and we want to get into the story
04:21 right away here, when did this start?
04:24 I'm not really sure how old I was
04:27 I know I was very small
04:28 because I can remember reaching up to
04:30 turn off light switches and things like that
04:32 but my abuser died when I was ten
04:35 and it happened for several years before that,
04:37 there were multiple incidents of abuse
04:39 and because he was a close caregiver,
04:42 he was a family member, not my father but...
04:45 the only other close family member who I trusted...
04:50 the only other man that I trusted
04:51 so it was very traumatic to me.
04:53 Jennifer: Oh, that breaks my heart, Nicole,
04:56 what kind of effect... how did it play out?
04:59 Nicole: Well, you know, I was able to function fairly well...
05:02 I mean, I struggled with depression
05:04 and I've looked through some of my report cards
05:06 and I know that my fifth- and sixth-grade teacher
05:09 noted that my depression was affecting my behavior,
05:11 and my ability to function
05:13 but most of the time, people just chalked it up to,
05:16 "She's too ADD to be able to function very well... "
05:19 when I was 15 I...
05:20 Jennifer: They though you had ADD?
05:22 Nicole: Yeah, my neighbor re-traumatized me when I was 15
05:25 by attempting to drag me into his house to assault me
05:28 and that was when things really started happening in my mind.
05:32 I... on the way home from being at that neighbor's house
05:36 because I just had gone over to invite him over for supper
05:39 and walking home from there, I prayed...
05:41 I remember... and I was so angry at God
05:44 and I just screamed at Him,
05:45 I don't even remember if it was out loud or in my mind,
05:48 I'll never forget...
05:49 I just said, "What kind of God are you?
05:51 What kind of Father are you
05:52 that you let that stuff happen to your kids?"
05:54 And I said, "I don't know what kind of God you are
05:56 but I'm through with this stupid 'Trust God' thing
05:58 because you never take care of me,
06:00 I always have to take care of myself. "
06:01 Jennifer: You were raised in a religious home right?
06:03 Nlcole: Yeah, I grew up going to church every week
06:05 we had family worships all the time
06:07 nobody knew... because I didn't tell my parents
06:11 I didn't tell anybody what was going on,
06:13 nobody knew what I was going through...
06:15 that I had these nightmares,
06:16 I would freak out every time my boyfriend would touch me
06:20 and I would just go cold inside with fear and anger
06:24 but I had no idea what was really going on,
06:27 I had no understanding of abuse and the trauma
06:29 that comes from it
06:31 and from that moment on, when I prayed that prayer,
06:35 even though I look back now and I realize
06:37 God gave me the strength to fight that man,
06:39 I fought him at his door, I held on to his door frame,
06:42 I got away from him...
06:44 all he managed to do was kiss me...
06:46 Jennifer: This was the second guy, right?
06:47 Nicole: With the neighbor man but still, I blamed God,
06:50 and that's what we always like to do,
06:52 you know, "If you were just loving enough,
06:54 if you were just strong enough, you would have protected me. "
06:56 I didn't understand.
06:58 Jennifer: And the weird thing is that God can take it...
07:00 He understands that we have limited ability
07:03 to process these extreme events and He can...
07:07 He can take it when we get that angry.
07:09 He never left me.
07:11 Nicole: But from that moment on,
07:13 I began having more anxiety issues,
07:15 I started having panic attacks
07:16 which I didn't know what a panic attack was...
07:18 I had never heard of anything like that,
07:19 I just thought I was crazy.
07:21 Shelly: When you're holding in all of those emotions,
07:23 whether it's sad, fear, anger, and then, in a pressure cooker
07:27 that's what creates that panic...
07:29 Nicole: Right, all sin starts
07:31 with a cycle of unbelief and pride.
07:33 If I think God can't take care of me
07:36 or won't take care of me because He's not loving enough
07:38 I'm going to decide that I'll have to step in
07:40 and be God... which is pride...
07:41 and all abuse is a strong temptation
07:45 toward unbelief and pride.
07:47 Lucifer, Adam and Eve... from then on...
07:50 every sin cycle starts with,
07:52 "I doubt that God is loving"
07:54 and then I start trying to fill in the blank.
07:56 Paul: And one of the ways the enemy sets us up for that is,
07:59 he sets you up to be hurt... to be betrayed...
08:02 to be abused... so he sets you up to be hurt
08:04 and he slips lies in the first-person language,
08:07 "I can't trust God... I'm in this on my own... "
08:09 and then we're off and running
08:11 and then we end up hurting ourselves.
08:13 Sometimes the worst of it
08:14 is if we're raised in a Christian home...
08:16 and we're going to church every week
08:17 and nothing ever seems to touch this pain,
08:19 so we think the gospel doesn't even apply to it.
08:22 Jennifer: "Somehow, I'm different than everybody...
08:24 look at all these people... are so happy
08:25 and it works for them but it doesn't work for me. "
08:27 Nicole: I can see all my friends
08:28 who are having a wonderful time with their boyfriends,
08:31 and I go "cold fish" inside every time somebody touches me
08:33 or after he touches me
08:35 and then, I would have panic attacks
08:37 if a man walked behind me...
08:39 I started sleeping fully clothed,
08:42 I would wear jeans at night because I was so terrified
08:45 somebody might come through my window and rape me
08:49 and I would lie there in bed without shoes on
08:51 and worry... "Should I put on shoes...
08:52 because if somebody comes through the window
08:54 and kidnaps me at gunpoint and marches me off into the dark
08:56 and I don't have shoes on...
08:57 maybe, I should just be wearing shoes"
08:59 and I knew it was crazy,
09:00 I knew this wasn't a normal way to think or function
09:03 and I wouldn't have dreamed of telling any of my friends
09:06 what was really going on in my mind
09:08 but I just had to live the double life...
09:10 laugh and pretend like everything is fine
09:12 during the day and live in the secret terror.
09:15 Did you connect the dots between what had happened and these...
09:18 the fact that you were sleeping in jeans?
09:20 Not at all, I had no idea what was wrong with me
09:23 and I never would have told anybody,
09:25 that's why I didn't get any counseling,
09:27 I didn't get any help,
09:28 finally, when I was 18...
09:30 I started telling a few close friends
09:33 and I told my sisters
09:34 and they were very supportive and helpful
09:36 but it was really...
09:40 it was when I was 16 that I came into a boarding school
09:45 where it was a safe environment,
09:46 I was surrounded by people
09:48 who were really showing me what Jesus was like,
09:50 a Jesus I could believe in
09:52 and I started reading the book, "The Desire of Ages"
09:53 and when I read that first chapter of The Desire of Ages,
09:57 I remember, I got tears in my eyes
10:00 as I read the last couple of sentences
10:03 and I thought,
10:05 "Maybe this is a God I can trust after all...
10:08 if that's really who He is,
10:10 maybe I could even trust Him with my life... "
10:13 and as I read further, I realized,
10:15 "This is a God I can trust with my life... "
10:17 so what started unraveling... that terrible web of lies
10:21 and fear and anger that was holding me trapped
10:24 was... being surrounded with a loving community of people
10:27 who acted like Jesus
10:28 and reading about a Jesus I could trust.
10:32 Did it completely... all the symptoms and everything
10:35 go away at that point... or talk to us about the long stretch.
10:38 I think it could have been resolved much more quickly
10:41 if I'd had some guided help, some kind of counseling
10:45 but I didn't know where to turn
10:47 in the end, one of my best friend's moms...
10:51 I talked with her because I'd always trusted her,
10:54 I had grown up around her and she was a safe person
10:56 and I talked with her about what had happened
10:59 and she said, "I was sexually abused too...
11:01 and I'm here now and I'm okay...
11:04 and I have a home and a family and I'm happy. "
11:06 Shelly: Powerful to have that validation to be acknowledged.
11:12 Paul: What difference did it make for you to have her
11:14 share her story with you which normalized it
11:18 not that we want this to happen
11:19 but when she was able to do that,
11:20 what difference did that make for you?
11:22 Nicole: It's hard to even describe the power of the story
11:25 of knowing somebody else can come alongside me
11:28 and say, "The gospel applies to this too"
11:30 because I never heard any sermons talking about it,
11:33 I didn't know who I could talk to
11:35 how do you just bring this up?
11:37 "By-the-way, somebody used to rape me when I was a kid...
11:40 how are you... pass the salt. "
11:43 You don't know who to talk to,
11:44 where you turn...
11:46 and it took me a long time to come to the point
11:48 where I felt safe enough to be honest and vulnerable
11:51 with anybody...
11:52 Jennifer: You know what this does to me?
11:54 It really makes me determined to do everything I can
11:56 to make sure church is a safe place for victims
11:59 and also a place where they can experience healing
12:03 rather than re-traumatization,
12:04 it makes me all the more committed to that.
12:06 Paul: And that also means,
12:07 we have to be able to talk about these things
12:09 in a way that gives people hope.
12:11 Jennifer: So there are two extremes,
12:13 one is just ruminating and wallowing
12:15 and not really getting help and not having any solution...
12:17 and the other thing is to shut it down
12:20 and not talk about it at all
12:21 so we need to be... you're saying,
12:22 talk about it in a constructive manner, correct?
12:25 Paul: It invites people to know that as they come forward,
12:27 they're going to be listened to, they are going to be heard...
12:29 they're going to be believed and...
12:31 that we've got something for them that makes a difference
12:33 and we just happened to have Jesus stripped naked,
12:35 physically violated, shamed and humiliated on the...
12:38 hung on the cross... crying out,
12:40 "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
12:42 It's not coincidental,
12:43 this is an intentional, willful fulfillment of prophecy
12:47 that's telling these people, "What happened was wrong,
12:50 I've gone through it, I understand
12:53 and if you let me connect my story with your story... "
12:55 I mean, this lady sharing her story...
12:57 Jesus suffering is He's saying,
12:59 "This is my story... to connect with yours. "
13:01 Jennifer: That's right, and also the story
13:03 of the premiere disciple,
13:04 Mary Magdalene... was also a victim
13:06 and so, we have that example too
13:08 Jesus gave her an unqualified compliment
13:11 that He didn't give to any of His other disciples,
13:13 "Wherever the gospel is preached,
13:15 tell what she has done... "
13:16 and He gave her that compliment and she was a victim
13:19 like, she recovered to that point
13:21 where He could give her that commendation
13:22 and she was a victim as well so we're in good company
13:26 David: Like the other thing that I'm hearing here
13:28 which is powerful is that there was this incidence of abuse
13:33 and then, there's this child that is saying,
13:37 "What's happening to me?"
13:38 But in the journey, God provided a safe place...
13:42 and when you had that safe place,
13:44 you were able to then begin to
13:46 get a better understanding and then share your story
13:50 so God is journeying with us in our trauma, in our sadness,
13:54 and He's setting a safe place for us.
13:57 Jennifer: In other words, you're saying
13:59 that an environment was created for her
14:00 where she could face the issue
14:01 and that's what we can do in the church...
14:03 is we can create such a safe environment
14:05 that people don't have to be "stuff it anymore... "
14:07 they can actually talk about it and process it
14:10 appropriately and in a healthy way.
14:12 We can actually do something to create that environment.
14:15 Shelly: Because the truth is, Nicole,
14:17 when... gathering from your story... is that
14:20 not always is our biological family system
14:23 or our immediate... what would be "support system"
14:27 we would hope... it doesn't always function that way
14:31 so, could you share perhaps with people who are watching
14:35 that don't feel safe enough to share
14:37 with their immediate "support people... "
14:40 how do you create that, where do you begin?
14:43 Paul: What does that support look like for them?
14:44 David: That safe place to process the pain
14:47 and then share for that healing to take place.
14:49 Nicole: I really had to pray,
14:50 I didn't talk to my parents growing up, for whatever reason,
14:54 I didn't know how to tell them about this trauma
14:57 but God put people into my life... mothers in Israel...
15:01 friends who had suffered similarly
15:04 and just knowing, "I'm not alone... I'm not crazy"
15:07 helped so much... and, you know,
15:10 I didn't have counseling
15:11 which I highly recommend for people to have...
15:13 somebody who's a safe place... getting good books...
15:18 I really recommend the resources from Dan Allender,
15:21 "The Wounded Heart" and "Healing the Wounded Heart"
15:24 they were so powerful in helping me to figure out
15:28 how to apply the gospel to my life and my situation
15:31 but along the way, building community with safe people
15:35 who cared genuinely about me was so life transformative,
15:39 looking unto Jesus...
15:41 the author and finisher of our faith... is the solution...
15:44 but if I'm not looking to Jesus,
15:46 I'm going to fall off the narrow way... into one of two sides,
15:49 I'm going to look at myself as more than what God says,
15:52 "I don't need community, I don't need anybody to help me,
15:54 I can do this... I'm strong enough... "
15:56 that's not a Biblical perspective on myself,
15:58 or I'll swing to the opposite side and I'll say,
16:01 "Not even God can do something
16:03 with somebody as messed up as me"
16:05 and either way, I'm looking at self
16:07 and I'm seeing myself through an unbiblical perspective.
16:10 So, it's having a healing community around
16:12 who can say, "No, you can't do this all by yourself...
16:15 but yes, we can do it together
16:18 because the Law of God is to love God first...
16:20 to love our neighbors as ourselves... "
16:21 we have to live with vulnerable community with somebody
16:24 in order to heal.
16:25 You said you didn't have counseling
16:28 but you did... in a way because you did have mentors
16:30 and people that discipled you and mothers in Israel
16:33 as you said, and really... the church...
16:35 and I'm probably getting myself into trouble here
16:37 if the church functioned the way God ordained that it should,
16:40 we'd all be put out of business
16:41 because all of this would be happening organically
16:44 within the body of Christ.
16:46 Nicole: That's right, God puts us into families
16:49 as His way that we're supposed to learn who He is,
16:51 that's how a baby is supposed to understand about love
16:54 even before they know that there's a Creator
16:56 and redemption.
16:57 Shelly: But the community of faith is
16:59 where we develop that family of choice
17:01 biologically... our most intimate connections...
17:06 sometimes fail... because we're human too.
17:08 Nicole: All of our families fail in some significant ways
17:11 of showing us the character of God
17:13 because parents have to live perfectly
17:15 and now as a parent myself, I understand...
17:16 I don't live perfectly,
17:18 there have never been any perfect parents,
17:20 so all families fail in some ways
17:23 of reflecting God's character perfectly to their children
17:26 and that's why God has a secondary family at the church
17:28 to come and fill in the blanks...
17:30 to show us what God is really like
17:32 and help us in all of our feebleness
17:35 to support one another.
17:37 So you're saying,
17:38 it's not casting a bad reflection on your earthly...
17:40 your natural family...
17:42 that your more deep spiritual needs are met
17:44 in your supernatural family because
17:46 it's true of all families that they're not going to give
17:50 that person everything they need
17:51 so we all need the body of Christ.
17:53 And it gives hope,
17:55 I think most of us who have been abused
17:57 have from family of origins...
17:59 places where we can see there was significant harm
18:02 from within our family of origin like myself...
18:04 and when we have the standard in our minds that's unrealistic,
18:10 like, "Because my parents failed me,
18:11 I will never be able to be who I could have been. "
18:13 Jennifer: "I'm totally ruined for life. "
18:15 Nicole: Right, we cheat God
18:16 out of being able to do what He wants to do.
18:20 He says, "No, you have no idea...
18:21 I heal people through so many different avenues... "
18:24 He brings us into community
18:27 and it doesn't mean you have to have 50 safe people...
18:29 people are just like...
18:30 "You don't know the people that are around me...
18:32 there's nobody that I can trust. "
18:33 But maybe there's one... and just having one or two
18:37 and the first people that I went to
18:39 often didn't know what to say,
18:40 they could say, "Well, I'm sorry you went through that...
18:43 hope you feel better... "
18:44 they didn't know how to help me,
18:45 they didn't know the gospel applied
18:47 but I kept talking to people and it helped.
18:50 So there's a training process to equip people
18:52 to be able to deal with situations like this
18:54 and isn't that something that you are kind of into
18:56 at this point, Nicole?
18:58 Nicole: Yes, when I first was called by the Lord
19:01 to share my testimony, it took me months...
19:04 every night when I would lie down to go to sleep at night,
19:07 it would just hammer me in my head,
19:08 I can't do this... I can't do this,
19:10 I knew this Seminar is coming up in this many months,
19:11 and I'm going to have to stand up in front of people...
19:14 and I felt like I would be walking up in front naked...
19:15 but the one thing that drove me forward
19:18 was... this is what I wish somebody had done for me,
19:21 if only somebody had told me, "You're lost in this dark maze
19:26 but here's a light and I've been here where you are
19:29 and I'm going to guide you out from here... "
19:32 and that's what I want to do for people
19:34 to go back into that dark maze with them
19:36 and say, "I know where you are
19:38 and I know my way around this maze
19:40 because I've been here and I'll help you come out. "
19:42 Jennifer: So the thought that you could give people something
19:45 that you yourself needed and didn't get
19:47 propelled you past your point of self-consciousness and fear
19:51 of talking about such an embarrassing thing.
19:53 Nicole: Although, I think people often think,
19:56 "Well, I don't have that ability
19:57 because I haven't been through it... "
19:58 or "I don't know how to get out of it... "
20:00 but coming and just being alongside somebody
20:03 makes such a difference...
20:04 reflecting Jesus by sitting down...
20:06 looking somebody in the face
20:08 and saying, "I care that you're hurting... "
20:09 And 1st Corinthians 10:13... "There's no temptation taken you
20:14 but such as is common to man... "
20:16 so we all have something... maybe not as severe
20:18 but we have something that will help us relate
20:22 to that person that's coming to us.
20:24 That's right and the Holy Spirit just gives us the words
20:28 that we need to be able to say, even if all we say is,
20:31 "Talk to me about what happened,
20:32 I'm here, I'm listening and I care. "
20:35 We reflect Christ to people.
20:37 Paul: In that caring community,
20:39 what were some of the significant things
20:41 that helped you continue moving forward
20:42 so you can have a testimony and minister to other people?
20:45 Nicole: I had people who knew about my darkness
20:49 and didn't turn away
20:51 they didn't see me as ugly or disgusting.
20:54 By the time I came out publicly with my testimony,
20:57 I was already married, I was a mother...
21:00 but I thought, "Wow!
21:02 how would I have been able to have this kind of courage
21:07 without a supportive husband behind me
21:08 saying, "You've got this... "
21:09 how would I've done this as a single person
21:11 knowing nobody's ever going to
21:12 want to marry me if they knew this?
21:14 But this is where I really want to encourage people,
21:17 you know, the devil lies to us
21:19 and abuses one of his most powerful channels of lies,
21:23 he tells us, "God cannot be trusted...
21:25 God is not strong enough...
21:26 or He doesn't care enough to take care of you... "
21:29 and we just have to help people understand,
21:32 "He is... " and we do that by being like Jesus toward others.
21:36 People may feel like they're not equipped
21:38 but we can sit down with somebody and say,
21:40 "Jesus went through what you're going through. "
21:42 And also, Jesus defended the weak
21:44 this is why He went and turned over the money-changers' tables
21:48 and did all that... because they were exploiting the weak
21:51 and so Jesus is a defender of the weak
21:52 and you have gone on to become
21:55 a fearless advocate for victims of abuse
21:57 and I just want to touch on that for a second
21:59 because often people will say,
22:01 "Well, she can't handle these situations
22:03 because she's too compromised from her own abuse trauma... "
22:05 but nothing could be further from the truth
22:07 because God could take that trauma
22:09 and He can turn it into strength and ability and wisdom
22:12 to be able to handle these situations
22:14 with much more effectiveness
22:16 than someone who hasn't been through it...
22:17 at least potentially.
22:19 Nicole: The irony of it never escapes me
22:21 that church leaders and people come to me and say,
22:24 "We're just so glad to see how God has healed you
22:26 because that proves that people can overcome sexual abuse
22:30 and they don't have to live in shame and darkness forever... "
22:34 I'm like, "Yes, you're right, God does heal us completely"
22:37 but then, when they're dealing with a sexual-abuse situation
22:40 and I say, "This guy has done these things
22:43 and you need to deal with it this way... "
22:45 they turn around and say,
22:46 "Well, we're the ones who can see clearly
22:49 from an unemotional perspective
22:51 because we haven't been through what you've been through... "
22:53 so they don't really believe that what I've been though
22:57 is a gift from God when it's processed right
23:00 because just like if I've been through having both legs broken,
23:03 can't I understand better
23:05 what somebody else is going through
23:06 when they're lying in bed with both legs broken?
23:07 I've been there
23:09 and I've gone through the process of healing
23:11 and I understand things that they don't
23:13 because they haven't been there.
23:14 In every other area of ministry, we tend to believe,
23:17 "Well, somebody who's been through the experience
23:19 probably understands what they're talking about"
23:22 but in this area... people just don't want to believe
23:24 that they have to take action.
23:26 Jennifer: Do you get accused of being bitter?
23:27 Nicole: Oh, sometimes.
23:29 Jennifer: But have you forgiven?
23:30 Nicole: I think forgiveness is a journey
23:33 but I feel that I have forgiven
23:35 and I'm continuing to find new ways to forgive.
23:38 Jennifer: What is forgiveness?
23:39 Nicole: Forgiveness is not
23:41 saying, "Forgive and forget,
23:43 let's pretend like this never happened. "
23:44 Paul: Absolutely. David: Amen... amen.
23:45 Jennifer: It's part of your story... in other words.
23:47 Nicole: Forgiveness is when we let God into the story.
23:49 For me... forgiving... I felt for many years...
23:53 because I didn't know how to forgive
23:55 and I literally remember feeling like
23:57 my abuser's skeletal hand was coming out of the grave
24:01 gripping me everywhere I went
24:04 and I felt so bitter and angry, like, "He got off scot-free,
24:07 nobody ever confronted him, he never said he was sorry,
24:11 nothing ever happened,
24:12 he was a church member in good and regular standing
24:15 all the way to the end, amen"
24:16 and in the meantime, my life was shattered
24:19 and I felt certain I could never get married,
24:22 I could never stand having a daughter because
24:24 just watching somebody pick up a little girl
24:26 would just send me to shudders...
24:28 but at that point... I realized at one point
24:33 that this skeletal hand is holding me from the grave
24:35 because I let it
24:36 and I decided, "I'm not going to allow him to have that power"
24:41 and I realized it's not really him that is my abuser,
24:45 it's Satan that's my abuser.
24:47 Satan is the one... and my abuser was his prisoner,
24:50 that doesn't remove his responsibility...
24:53 but he was also a victim of the devil
24:55 and so, I realized the best way that I can get even
24:59 is by refusing to allow one particle of my heart
25:02 to belong to my abuser... to Satan...
25:05 and so, I've resolved intellectually,
25:08 "I'm not going to be bitter,
25:09 I'm going to choose to forgive whatever that looks like. "
25:11 David: And that's the key...
25:12 what you're saying is that forgiveness is no longer
25:15 treating the offender as the one who has offended you
25:18 but dealing with the pain as you work with God
25:21 and coming out of ourselves and into Christ...
25:24 Nicole: Yes, seeing the enemy as sin instead of a person
25:28 changes everything.
25:30 Paul: In Matthew 18:35, Jesus says,
25:32 "Forgive from your heart... "
25:34 so for me, "forgiveness" means,
25:36 you're letting God bring deep healing into your heart
25:38 and forgiveness is really the overflow
25:40 of the work that God is doing
25:42 and then that moves you into a ministry of testimony
25:45 as opposed to... it's something I do...
25:48 no... it's a journey where God's leading us deeper and deeper.
25:51 David: It's God who works in us both to will and to do...
25:53 Paul: I'm very thankful that...
25:54 it's the overflow of what God's been doing in you
25:57 and the fruit is,
25:58 that you're a passionate advocate for other people
26:00 where you're using your story for God's glory
26:04 that's ministering to other people.
26:05 Shelly: What's powerful to me Nicole is that
26:08 you mentioned dealing with the anger that...
26:11 as we've been talking,
26:12 I just whispered to my partner here to say,
26:15 open up to Psalm 4... Psalm 4:4 says,
26:18 "Be angry and sin not, meditate within your heart. "
26:21 So that process of going through...
26:25 dealing with the anger... getting to a point of saying,
26:28 "I'm not going to let this
26:29 have a foothold in my life any longer
26:31 and when the anger is removed, which is a process in itself,
26:35 but that frees us up to even begin to think about forgiving.
26:39 Nicole: Right, it was when I could take refuge
26:41 in the justice of God
26:43 that I let go of having to try to get justice
26:46 even if all the justice I could get
26:47 was hanging on to that bitterness
26:49 and burning resentment.
26:50 I think this is where we cheapen the gospel
26:53 when we try to make love a synonym for mercy,
26:56 love is the perfect combination of justice and mercy
26:59 and God gives us His promise,
27:03 He says, "I can't fix everything right now
27:05 things are unjust... children are starving...
27:07 women are being raped in Africa,
27:09 I can't make it all right right now...
27:11 or nobody's ever going to learn,
27:12 we're never going to get the universe free of sin
27:14 because people are still going to be... "
27:16 Jennifer: But I think it helps to know it does make Him angry.
27:19 Nicole: It does and when we understand... God is angry too
27:22 and He's promised...
27:23 "I'm going to take care of this one... "
27:25 Paul: And the cross tells us,
27:27 when we see what happened to Jesus...
27:29 it tells us that God understands experientially
27:32 that what happened to you was wrong,
27:35 that abuse victims have a God who knows it's wrong
27:38 and He's going to deal with it.
27:39 Nicole: And He came down and went through it with us
27:41 because He couldn't make it stop happening.
27:43 Paul: Yes.
27:44 Jennifer: Awww... this conversation needs to continue
27:47 and needs to continue for a long time...
27:49 these things happen in our communities,
27:52 they happen in our neighborhoods,
27:53 they happen in our churches...
27:56 go to: AMultitudeOfCounselors. tv
27:58 for more resources.
27:59 Thank you for joining us for this Program,
28:01 may God bless you.