She came into the room, uptight and nervous. Her mission was to spend time with her dear friend, Holly, whom she had not seen in many years. I was tired and content to let them go off into another room to visit.
“Stephanie, can you come here a minute?” I heard Holly ask. “Sure,” I replied. Holly went on to ask, “Can you please tell Cindy what you shared with us about your testimony?”
I am always happy to tell other’s how I met the Lord or rather, how He revealed Himself to me! However, I do not want to glamorize the use of drugs, so I usually avoid the details. Little did I know the details were exactly what Holly wanted me to share with Cindy!
As I listened to Cindy it was easy to see, she was trapped. Her soul was spinning like a top. Her attempts to escape the spinning top was drug use – now legal in this particular state. The more questions Cindy asked me, the more I could see, she knew scripture and she seemed to know the Lord. Yet, she was trapped by the idea that God was a wrathful God and very angry with her. She felt He was looking down on her intent on hurting her because of her life decisions.
Then Cindy change gears. She asked me when I stopped believing God was only the Old Testament God of wrath.
As a Jewish woman, it did not surprise me to be asked such a question. I grew up disciplined in a culture of strict reverence for God. I remember my mother correcting me in synagogue because I dared to look at the Rabbi when I was supposed to have my head bowed for the final Aaronic blessing. Hey, what can I say, I was just plain curious to see what the Rabbi was doing?
Adding to my heart attitude of reverence and fear were the dynamics in my home. My dad was first generation American. His parents were German Jews. Dad was not very affectionate. He was also very strict. He would tell me, “Yours is not to question why; yours is but to do or die.” I learned to jump when Dad said “jump” and to ask how high on my way up.
When I “met Jesus” I somehow understood He was God’s Son and while He was holy He still was a man. He came to earth and experienced everything I experienced. As a man, my brother and my friend I could be very real with him. AND trust me, I was very real!
In the early days, I would think nothing of swearing as I spoke to him. Now, I knew better than to use the name of the Lord in vain – but words like, “shit, damn, hell” were open game. After all, what are friends for if one can’t be totally honest with them?
Of course, as I matured, the swearing stopped, but my amazement at the Lord experiencing everything I experienced never stopped.
As I shared this with Cindy, I felt a strong inclination from the Holy Spirit, to open up a part of my life, I share with only a few people. I looked Cindy straight in the eyes, and said, “I was raped when I was a junior in college.”
I never believed Jesus could ever, ever understand the pain of being raped. It wasn’t a question I even asked Him. After all, it was clear from reading the scripture that He was never raped. Besides, He was, a man. How could He understand. Rape is a violation, deep, deep in both body and soul. It is also a betrayal, intensified if one knows their rapist.
Cindy was caught up short by what I was telling her. For the first time she became quiet and her mind seemed to be still. Her gaze met mine as I continued.
“One day, as I was reading the Bible account of the Lord’s crucifixion, God opened my eyes. I had an “a-ha” moment. I realized Jesus was humiliated and betrayed just like me! His disciple, His friend, Judas, betrayed Him. His fellow country men, betrayed Him. Then He was humiliated by the soldiers who striped him of his clothing. He was mocked. Finally, He hung, naked, exposed on the cross for all the world to see. Even God the Father turned His back.
All three of us were now sitting in silence, overwhelmed by the truth the Lord laid before us. We just let it soak into our hearts.
And then it all came flooding out. Unbeknownst to me, Cindy had been raped. Not just once, but many times, by a friend of her family. Like me, Cindy did not believe the Lord, God, could ever understand or identify with her rape and her pain. Like me, Cindy believed it was her fault; therefore, she got what she deserved.
Many people believe rape is the victim’s fault. I have had Christian lay counselors, tell me I needed to repent for being raped. The Lord showed me, what I needed to repent for and it wasn’t the act of being raped.
My girlfriend and I had chosen to stay out past our dorm curfew partying with friends. This was not a problem since dorm rules allowed for it as long as we followed procedures, which we did. The problem was that once the bars and restaurants closed for the evening we had to find some where to stay until the doors of the dormitory opened at 7 or 8 am the next morning. Our soldier friends had a solution. We could sleep in their car or accept their offer to sneak us into the all male barracks. (Today there is no such thing as sex separated barracks.) Seeing as it was a cold night, the warm barracks was the obvious choice.
Our friends escorted us into the barracks and left us tucked safely in the room of a soldier who was on leave. Not too long afterwards, there was a knock on the door. It was a young man who was a new acquaintance to me, but a friend of my soldier friends. He was on duty for the rest of the evening and asked if I would like to make rounds with him. “Sure!” And so we left my girlfriend Laurie and set out.
As we got upstairs, the young man stopped abruptly. He heard a noise. He opened the door to another room and motioned me in to avoid being discovered. It did not take long for me to realize I was trapped and in harms way.
I continued to share the details with Cindy. How, I was strong, physically fit, but all my efforts to fight off the rapist were in vain. If I fought with my arms, he unbuttoned my blouse. If I tried to push him off with my legs, he went for my jeans. After attempting intercourse, he sat on my chest with his knees pinning my arms to the bed.
Is this something I needed to repent for? I knew the answer was a resounding “NO!” Is this something God hated me for? Again a resounding, “NO!”
BUT, I DID NEED TO REPENT. I repented for saying “yes” to being in the men’s barracks. I repented for leaving my friend Laurie. I repented for going off with this young man. These were decisions I was responsible for making.
Every rape is different. I am by no means suggesting that a young girl or young man, for that matter, who is raped by a friend of the family has any need or responsibility to repent. Just like our Lord, they were an innocent lamb lead to “the slaughter”.
Deeply touched by my story, Cindy trusted me to share more of the darkness that haunted her. She said that she is a very visual person. Even today, as a 40-something woman, Cindy still saw images of her rape(s). “How,” she asked, “can I ever escape the movies that played in my mind’s eye except by taking drugs?”
God is so good. He met Cindy right there with a new picture. He encouraged her to see His son’s blood flooding over each image as Satan might bring them into her mind’s eye. There was so much blood, it covered, every single act of violence. Once covered, the devil has no place, no power, no unsettled claims against us. Cindy would no longer be trapped. All has been settled by the blood of Jesus.
I love you so deeply. I love your heart. I LOVE LOVE LOVE you. Thank you for once again having the courage to share. You may never know just how much of a difference you make.