June 27, 2011
I have had the honor and privilege to co-lead a Women’s Co-Dependency group through our church’s recovery ministry for the last nine months or so. It has been amazing to see these women – some of whom are quite broken, others who just feel a bit stuck – come together each week to work through curriculum, bare their souls to each other, and form a community to aid in their healing and recovery from unhealthy relational patterns.
This kind of thing is my cup of tea.
I have always felt a bit out of place in the group. I’m significantly younger than most of the women. I have a loving husband and three great kids. I am not in a place of crisis. I have, however, walked some hard and lonely and frightening roads in years past as I struggled with anxiety and depression. At first I really felt like, “Who am I to think I can help these women? What do I know? What experiences have I been through that can compare to many of theirs?” But they have graciously received me and accepted my presence and leadership. And I have come to a vague sense of peace that, while I haven’t gone through horrendous, traumatic circumstances, I’ve had enough pain to have empathy. I got healthier myself, and broke free from distorted thinking, and I believe God has called me to share some of that with these dear souls.
My gladness for my blessed life, and the way God has protected me in so many ways from evil became painfully apparent again this last week.
We were going through the section in our book about “Distorted Sexuality,” talking about the ways that our bodies have been used by others, or choices we’ve made to use our own bodies in unrighteous ways. As I did my homework before the class, I thought and I prayed. And I had nothing to write on the blank lines of this chapter.
Praise God. He knows that I’ve messed plenty of things up in my life, but this area has remained whole and untarnished. Dave and I have enjoyed a faithful marriage and all that entails. I was protected and cherished as I child. And I am so grateful.
But it was a hard experience that night, listening to the tearful confessions of regret about sexual choices, and worse, the damage inflicted upon many of these women when they were just children. The resulting shame and misery have left scars on these dear women, and as much as I am grateful for my clean past, I felt like an intruder that night.
The group is so safe that I don’t think anyone resented my lack of vulnerability in this area. There was nothing to be vulnerable about! When I expressed my conflicted feelings, they assured me that they wished beyond anything that they could have the same claim to purity. Of course they did. It is a gift.
And it’s a gift that has been highlighted for me since last week. I feel a stronger bond to my loving husband, and gratefulness for our marriage. I feel more tenderly toward my children, knowing that thus far, they have been sheltered from that particular brand of damage to their hearts and bodies. And I have a holy gratitude toward our good God, who is a good God to these women too, redeeming their lives, making all things new. I’m glad to be part of the process of joining with them on that courageous journey.