How do you manage to have a thriving life after experiencing your dads death, neglect from your mother & grandparents, multiple raping episodes from the teenage boys next-door at age 5, uncaring grade school teachers, multiple stepdads, addictions, and the pain, confusion, shame, guilt, and self-worth issues that naturally accompany all such trauma? Mary E. DeMuth answers this question in one word: Jesus. Given her struggles, I figure she has more than earned the right to tell us what has made all the difference for her.
She calls all of her difficulties, “thin spaces”. Spaces where the natural division between humanity and the divine draws close, close enough sometimes that you can feel God. It’s through the trauma that Mary was able to understand and take deep into her heart the liberating power of forgiveness that comes through Jesus. Through Jesus she was able to see herself as a “dearly loved child of God” Her previous identities as rape victim, unwanted child, guilty person, shameful person, unworthy person and grim survivor all melted away into the warm embrace of God’s love for her. Of course the transformation of identity didn’t happen over night, it’s an on going process to be sure, but over time, Mary’s identity as a beloved child of God is permeating with light all the dark places of her life.
For example, in the early days real relationships with men where not possible, from age 5 Mary knew all to well what men were about. The feelings of self preservation, rage, distrust and shame were too strong to let anyone in, much less a man. Not so any more, one by one, the love of Christ, squeezed out these relational deterrents so she can love freely her husband, her children, and all people with whom she relates.
Her message in a nut shell? There is freedom, love, and hope in Christ. It’s one thing to overcome trauma by attempting to love yourself more as self help guru’s preach, it’s entirely another thing to know that you are loved supremely in spite of yourself and your circumstances. Mary would lead us to believe that the second option is the better option for long term help from trauma. I’m certainly not going to argue with her, her life is a living testimony to the healing power of divine love.
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