It is well, it is well with my soul.
Life sometimes deals us events which can crush us to the core of our being.
You have had them. So have I.
Such an event — by itself — does not dictate our path ahead, though. It is our perceptions, our decisions, and our internal dialogue — both at the time of the event and thereafter — which give weight to that event.
Let me flesh this out for you.
I was fighting for my life.
My attacker was clearly trying to kill me. He told me he was going to cast the devil out of me; I was possessed. When I asked why, he said because I wore my pants too tight.
I used every physical self-defense move I knew:
- I screamed.
- I ground his foot with mine.
- I pulled his ears.
- I bit and pinched.
But I could not break free to punch or run or find a weapon.
He was experienced in this combat. I was not.
When I did finally break free, I ran for the phone. In those days, this was a heavy, wall-mounted phone with a wire connection line. Before my call could go through, that phone was ripped from the wall and used as a weapon against me.
I fought for four and a half hours.
Besides the “how-to” of the battle, there were thoughts running through my mind at the time. Certainly, the plea for God’s help, but one that stood out in later analysis: “If I was married, this wouldn’t be happening to me.” Another: “If you can’t out-muscle them, out think them.” I eventually tricked my attacker into leaving me for a moment and blocked the room’s doorway with furniture.
Days later, I could not explain to myself or anyone else why every inch of my body was bruised.
I had no recollection.
My conscious mind was overwhelmed.
It was many years before I was able to bring any semblance of order to the events of that day. Though I had little recall of the events, the feelings from that day pervaded every cell in my body.
- I felt responsible.
- I felt I had failed — miserably.
- I wore that failure like a cloak, defining myself.
- I felt weak, both physically and spiritually.
I was totally defeated.
I was ashamed of how I’d been out-maneuvered at every turn. That shame was a quick-trigger to control me, keeping me from expanding and growing as a person.
Depression hung just over my shoulder on good days, and completely shrouded my mind on others. Nights were usually interrupted with the life-like dreams of a mind trying to understand terror.
My intense objective was to find safety.
I quickly and unwisely married, but found no safety there — he, too, later proved to be an abuser.
My Journey Out
When I finally shared the event with a trusted counselor, she explained to me how there are, clinically, five levels of rape, each correlating to a level of psychological trauma.
The fifth — and most intense — level is designed to cause death to the victim. Serial rapists usually leave no witnesses. My attacker was merely inexperienced, not yet having perfected his kill method.
Reframing that day took time, but I learned the concept that I did not lose.
I was not completely outmaneuvered after all — I had actually won.
Because I survived, I won the battle.
And by finally sharing my story, I was and am going to win the war.
I’ve said all that to say this: what you choose to think about the events of your life dictates whether you win the war.
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. — Proverbs 23:7a
May I daringly add, “just because you think it, doesn’t make it so” (unknown).
I thought I was the loser.
I thought I had lost the battle that day.
Because of those thoughts, I lost many more day’s battles.
If you are hurting over battles lost, I would offer you a little guidance from my experiences:
- Seek God. He made you for a purpose. He sincerely Loves you. He wants to heal your wounds, big and small. He is intensely saddened by your pain.
- Seek counsel. Perspective makes art of scribbles on paper. A good counselor can provide perspective.
- Find thankfulness. Give yourself credit for getting this far, look around to see those who have helped you get here, and find thankfulness for them, your journey, and your resilience.
- Decide to forgive. The first step to forgiveness is a decision. Feelings are fickle, but will follow after your willingness to begin the process of forgiveness.
Make a decision to begin today.
Start accepting that this is the starting point for everything moving forward. Begin to seek the wholeness and healing of a sound mind, brought on the wings of finding trust for God.
Many of us tend to blame God for the terrors of our lives. I challenge you to make a decision to look for a good God in your days.
I have told you these things that you may have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. — John 16:33
One of the enemies keeping me down for so very long was “WHY?”
Like a four-year-old, I unendingly beat heaven, myself, and my counselors with that simple question. When I finally conceded there was no answer for that one question, that there is no satisfying injustice with understanding anyway, that evil exists in opposition to our desired outcomes, it was then that I was set free from that cloak of depression.
That internal dialogue is self-defeating. You know what your internal dialogue is… and you can stop it and re-write it today. Choose a script for yourself.
The Apostle Paul gave us some excellent script topics:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. — Philippians 4:8 (emphasis mine)
You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. — Deuteronomy 6:9
Choose how you frame the events in your life. Make decisions about what you will think, and what you will say to yourself about those events. Your perceptions, your decisions and your internal dialogue are important.
Remember that God gave us the power of choice. It is a life-altering discovery to find that the winds of fate are not in charge of your destiny.
We can wear the badge of our events. We can be victims all of our lives. But we do not have to be. As for me, I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus Who saved me (Romans 8:37).
I am now able to say:
It is well, it is well with my soul.