I remember so clearly that day years ago, almost like it was yesterday, when I got out some pictures of myself as a child. I decided to take some time and look, really look, into the eyes and face of the little girl in the photos. What would I see?
As a baby I was usually smiling but by the time I was 3 or 4 in most photos I was trying to hide from the camera. When they did manage to get me to pose my expression showed no smile or emotion.
One photo in particular leapt out at me. In it I was probably around 4, wearing a little dress with my blond hair done up in curls. I was standing near a small table with my paper cutouts and I looked shy, uncertain and was trying to not be seen. You could tell I definitely did not want my picture taken.
And then it was like the Lord gently spoke to me. And He said, “What do you see?”
“I see a little girl trying to hide, not wanting her picture taken, not wanting to be dressed up and posing.” I answered in my spirit.
“Yes,” He said, “ and now when you look in a mirror what do you see? Do you see that little girl in the woman you are today is still trying to hide?”
I began to weep, “Yes Lord, I do see her……the little girl within is still hiding, running and not wanting to be seen.”
As a child I had learned very early to run, to hide, – literally! To try and become invisible. It was when left alone at home that the abuser would come to the farm and try to find me. He always succeeded, he always won. No matter how fast I ran or how hard I tried to hide, it seemed I could never find that perfect hiding place…..I was always found.
Sadly, our pet dog would usually give away my hiding spot. I loved that dog and I really couldn’t fault him for being a dog and tracking me, after all he and I were buddies and usually followed me everywhere.
But it was then after I was found that the sexual abuse would happen. During the ordeal I would disengage my mind from my body. I would focus my eyes and thoughts on something else other than what was happening to my body. My heart became fragmented.
And so when I looked at the photo of myself as a little girl I saw no smile, only a heart that was fragile and broken. The perfect curls and dress hiding the body of a child molested. A defenseless child. It was then that I knew there was nothing I could have done to defend myself against an adult who chose evil.
It was in that moment of clarity, looking at the photo, that I began the process of grieving all that was taken and all that was lost as a little girl. The Lord gently spoke to my still fragmented heart and asked if I was ready? Was I ready to begin the healing process?
I had already made the first step by acknowledging the abuse, since all my life I had tried to hide and run from my past and my pain. But I could never run far enough or hide from it successfully. I always felt it looming near by in the form of a sadness that remained just below the surface. I had worked so hard to forget but now I was ready to open my heart to His healing. It would take courage, it would take coming out of the dark closet and facing the darkness head on bringing it into the light of His love and healing….I didn’t need to hide anymore, ashamed and afraid of what people saw in me, what I saw in myself. No longer needing to be afraid of my Heavenly Father’s gentle probing and tender care.
I was ready to face the reality that as a child I was totally vulnerable to the whims of imperfect and flawed adults. I no longer needed to hide behind the facade as I did as a little girl, labeling myself as the “bad” one. It had always felt safer to be the “bad” one, rather than face the horror and dismay of acknowledging that my caregivers “chose” to be “bad” no matter what I did or didn’t do.
And so began my journey, and I knew then that I could trust my Lord with all my gaping wounds and fragmented heart. That day I chose to believe in His tender care…. He chose to use a photograph to bring light to my soul so that He could begin to heal the heart of a little girl.