With the continually unfolding events in, and continual media buzz about, the Penn State University molestation case, I have been praying to know how to contribute a healing perspective to the subject without just adding to the noise of outrage and defensiveness.
Reports of abuse are a call to prayer. We can, we must, pray for all those who are or have been abused. An understanding of the divine law of Love in prayer can redeem lives from darkness and damage.
Abuse – from subtle insults and bullying to the most heinous violation of innocence – does not have to leave an indelible black mark. There is a way out. Abuse is not the factor defining a person’s life or potential. We all have a responsibility to seek out the arrest of not only the abuse and the abuser, but also the effects of selfishness and cruelty. God can erase completely all sad traces of abuse.
I am speaking from experience. Two incidents of sexual abuse – one as a child, another as an adolescent – threatened to limit and control my life and joy. Several years later I was dealing with chronic depression.
My method of coping with what had happened was to never think of it. Ever. It was filed so deeply that for a long time it never came to the surface of my thought. But other signs of post-traumatic stress – troubled dreams, memory problems, shame, irritability, self-destructive behavior – were daily concerns.
I began to pray every day for myself because I desperately wanted to feel better. I didn’t link my problems to the earlier abuse. I concentrated on understanding what it meant for God to be truly good, the source of all good and the maintainer of my wholeness.
This consistent daily prayer helped me understand more of God’s nature and of my own spiritual individuality, which is entirely separate from mortal, material, evil influences. I was empowered by this prayer and became more and more conscious of my permanent link with divine Life, eternal Truth, spiritual Love. Life, Truth, and Love are other names for the one true God.
Some weeks into this prayer, I remembered the earlier abuse. The memories came on me with tremendous force. But rather than being overwhelmed or sunk by them, each memory was met by a profound peace. The spiritual insights I’d had during the previous weeks of prayer were systematically rising and addressing each thought of anger, fear, hatred, shame, disgust, and blame that surfaced.
I had a revelation: Life is grounded in God’s love, not in abuse. In The New English Bible, a verse from Proverbs reads, “Like a fluttering sparrow, or a darting swallow, groundless abuse gets nowhere” (26:2).
Evil has no foundation in God, so it has no actual power over me or any of God’s children.
I saw that my spiritual identity, the essence of who I am, had never been touched. My innocence was always and forever intact.
I am praying today for all victims of abuse. I am praying with the authority that comes from knowing, seeing, experiencing the power of God through Christ – the divine message of good – that redeems lives from mental and emotional darkness.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, points out that the actions of perpetrators of any kind of abuse or wrongdoing will be stopped. She assures us: “Whoever uses his developed mental powers like an escaped felon to commit fresh atrocities as opportunity occurs is never safe. God will arrest him. Divine justice will manacle him” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 105).
Equally subject to this divine law are the abusive events themselves as well as the victims’ memories of these cruel events. God will arrest the effects of abuse, including painful memories. Divine justice will manacle them and erase every vestige of bad effects from the experience of the victims, as happened to me.
Your prayer, my prayer, to see that not one person or thought is outside the focal distance of God’s love will bring spiritual light to darkness wherever it may presently lurk.
We can extend our arms of prayer to stomp out the effects of abuse. This subject will not, cannot, wait.
First published as a blog on the author's website.
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