One of the common after-effects of being an abuse survivor is that you may be haunted by terrifyingly vivid nightmares that bring back unpleasant and unfortunately familiar emotions.
Such dreams are a regular occurrence for me, and last night I found myself quite disturbed by a new dream.
The dream was set in my childhood home. My mother and I were both slaves to a very evil woman. One day I became aware that this woman was planning to kill me and my dog Kiss, so I took Kiss and tried to escape. After much trouble we managed to escape out the door and make a run for it, all while the evil woman’s other slaves were chasing us.
It was the middle of winter, late at night. It was pitch black and freezing with two feet of fresh snow on the ground. Kiss and I ran for our lives through nearby neighborhoods and ducked under decks from time to time to try and hide. I felt helpless as I realized that, no matter how many hours we ran, the posse was just following our footprints in the snow. At last I happened upon a massive, beautiful, warm barn. I decided this was the safest place to seek refuge from the cold and to get some rest.
The next day I would find out that the barn belonged to a very wealthy couple that owned a thriving business with many employees. Some of the employees found me sleeping in the barn with Kiss and so they brought us to the Head Master and Mistress. The couple was exceedingly kind when I told them my story and the Mistress took me into her home and fed me. She then said how her and her husband would like to adopt me as their daughter and they would love me as their own. They told me I would never have to live in fear or insecurity again. It was a dream come true. A Cinderella and Rapunzel story rolled into one.
But not long after, the posse and the evil woman were able to trace my tracks to the barn and found me there, while I was hanging out with the animals for the afternoon. I looked around for help, but the kind, loving couple were nowhere to be seen and before I knew it I was being taken captive again by the evil woman and forced back to my old prison.
The next thing I knew I was startled awake and was breathing heavy in my bed. Though my body was back in the present moment, my mind was trapped into another moment in time — my years of abuse. I felt the rush of so many familiar emotions: fear, dread, desperation, hopelessness and pain. I called my fiance Joshua, and sobbed over the phone, “I’m scared. I don’t want to go back to that life!!”
I’m in a wonderful place in life right now. I feel safe for the first time I can remember. I’ve fought tirelessly these past three years for freedom and now I am not only surviving, but thriving on my own. I have an incredible support community who I can turn to at any time. I am deeply loved by the most important man in my life, my fiance Joshua. Jesus, like the loving couple in my dream, has rescued me from the cult, the cult leader, and my long-term abuser.
But The Enemy wants me to believe that this new-found life of love and security is only temporary. That he can kidnap me back at anytime and imprison me once again. That Jesus, like the loving couple, will suddenly disappear and won’t be there to protect me and fight for me when I need it.
It seems that no matter how safe I feel, or how much outside support I receive, or how much courage I muster, or how many victories I experience, I’m still always plagued with fear: the fear of returning, or even worse, being trapped into my old life again — a life of anguish, pain, loneliness, fear, shame, abuse, and perfectionism. A life of hopelessness.
But fear is a liar.
Jesus doesn’t watch us from above, randomly dishing out pain and pleasure just for the fun of it. He doesn’t say, “Oh, now that she’s happy and secure I’m going to take that away to punish her.” That may be what I was taught in the cult for many years, but it’s a lie, no doubt. That’s simply not how Jesus works.
I’ve written it before and today write it again to remind myself:
My security in Christ is based off his grip on me, not my grip on Him!
He has me. He’s holding me. He went out and found me, His lost sheep, and has surrounded me by a safe, loving fold, and He won’t let me be snatched away again.
It doesn’t matter if my trust in Him wavers. It doesn’t matter if I mess up.
He’s still holding me, safe and secure.
I long for the day when the fear of returning to my old life doesn’t grip me anymore. I long for the day when I don’t always hold my breath, thinking God is going to snatch away everything I cherish just to teach me a lesson.
But until that day comes, I know Jesus will love me for exactly where I and who am: a slowly healing heart — slow to trust, slow to hope. For it is because Jesus is enough, that I am, at last, enough.