The most insidious and damaging identity lie victims of sexual abuse believe is that they…
Healing After Trauma: Awakening to God’s Call
Talitha cumi … Let Him kiss me
I feel like I’ve been asleep for a long time. I’ve been entombed, like a fairy-tale princess; enclosed in a glass casket, cut off from the rest of the word, secluded in a forest of my own making where no one can find me, let alone touch me. Betrayal trauma does that to a person, especially if the betrayal is a protracted one, spanning years or even decades. Infidelity, domestic abuse, the confusion of being brainwashed into thinking you’re the cause of every problem … All these issues naturally lead to self-doubt, a depletion of the spirit, and a desire to isolate in order to stay safe. My personal sense of safety and well-being has been broken into shreds and shards and tiny, piercing fragments.
I find Sacred Scripture to be of immense comfort as I struggle through my pain and healing. No matter where I’m at in my life, Scripture has been my foundation. Even those verses that don’t provide help or consolation, but show the struggles of humanity and how God truly understands, are reassuring. Within the pages of the Bible, no matter where I turn, there I find myself.
I call to God the Most High, to God who has always been my help. My soul lies down among lions. Their teeth are spears and arrows, their tongue a sharpened sword. (Psalm 57:2,4)
Yes! I get that. I relate, and find comfort in the relation. As a victim of verbal, psychological and emotional abuse, I totally understand. Yet I do know—and trust, and believe—that “my heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready” for His saving graces (Psalm 57:7).
Even so, there’s one verse in the Bible that trips me up every time I read it. I find it odd, jarring and abrasive.
“Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth!” (Song of Songs, 1:1)
I struggle with this verse from the Song of Songs. It’s very unappealing—repulsive, even. Kisses are frightening. The very idea causes deep anxiety.
I gave my vulnerability, in trust and love, as a gift to another. That authentically-given gift was received—and then gobbled up. Gobbled up and spit back out, with a judgment that it was unworthy. That I was unworthy. I was told I didn’t love enough. I didn’t give enough. That I was cold, selfish, confrontational, useless. I was accused of vile things I can’t even repeat. I was called horrific names no one should ever have to hear from another person, let alone someone they love. And then, the next words out of that same mouth were “I love you, you’re my angel, my soul mate,” followed by kisses. How can kisses feel safe to me, when the mouth can be such a weapon?
“The mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Insults have broken my heart, so that I am in despair.” (Prov. 10:6, Ps. 69:20)
When I read the Song of Songs, the anxiety begins to seep back in. The panic, the fear. The very first line of the most glorious and bizarre book of the Bible is jarring. “Let Him Kiss me with the kisses of His mouth.”
My PTSD is kicking in merely by reading the words.
But no … I must take a step back. I have to release the ramblings of my head and let His kiss penetrate my heart, the place inside me that’s completely broken. I can feel the pain physically. My chest burns. My heart beats erratically. It’s broken in there. And I know only He can fix it.
Jesus is the ultimate Physician. He’s the only Physician who gives His own Blood so that I may live. At this point in my battered life, I need a complete blood transfusion. And He does that. He’s the surgeon who performs the transfusion, but not with a random donor blood. He heals me with His own precious Blood, poured out. For me.
What a glorious physician He is!
My heart is broken beyond human repair. There’s nothing anyone can do to fix this. Only He can save me. Only He can repair my shattered heart, a heart that no longer functions properly. My Divine Physician, the one who gave His own precious Blood to save me, is also a heart surgeon. He can restore what’s leaking inside myself. He can stitch me back up. He can make me complete, and whole. He can return me to my child-like self.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (Ps. 51:10)
I’ve been in a coma for far too long. I’ve been distanced—from myself, from my loved ones, even from God. But while remaining in a coma, I know I can’t sign the release forms which would give Jesus permission to be my personal Physician. While still asleep, I can’t give permission for the blood transfusion, for the heart surgery.
I need to wake up in order to give Him my consent. I’ve been broken for too long. Talitha cumi. Little girl, arise!(Mark 5:41)
This is what God is calling me to do now. Arise. “Do you want to be healed?” Jesus asked the paralytic (John 5:6). Yes. Yes, I want to be healed. And the first step is to Let Him.
I need to get past my pain and brokenness. I need to let Him come and heal me, for He is the only one who can. I need to push past my fears and to begin to accept kisses again—Divine kisses, ones that don’t hurt.
The opposite of pain isn’t happiness, or joy, or euphoria. The opposite of pain is numbness, a deadening of the senses and a decimation of the spirit. I’ve been numb for too long. It’s time to arise.
Yet I also know that to awaken from abuse is to bring myself into even more pain. Often those in abusive relationships minimize their situations, telling themselves an abusive incident was “no big deal” or that they’re being “over-sensitive.” The abuser will confirm this, telling her much the same thing, causing a dizzying array of confusion.
This certainly happened to me. Deep down I knew I wasn’t being too sensitive, yet the pain of dealing with the truth about my relationship was too much to bear. Without conscious realization, I hid from the reality that my partner was acting abusively toward me. I buried the truth in order to numb myself from feeling further anguish and anxiety.
Pain, however, is a gift—if we allow God to grace us with His healing touch. Only God can “heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds” (Ps. 147:3).
Were it not for pain, we wouldn’t be aware that we need to take our hands off that hot stove or seek medical attention for a broken arm. Without pain, we don’t realize how much we need healing. Healing is a messy process. It takes time, and the resiliency to move through suffering.
This journey is too perilous to be taken alone. A few verses later in the Song of Songs we read, “Draw me in your footsteps, let us run” (1:4). The only way to heal is to allow God to take us by the hand and draw us close, close enough so He can kiss us with His grace and love. And then run with it. Run with His love. Let yourself release and let go. Let Him. Just let Him.
The kisses of His mouth have awakened me from my long, dark slumber. The spell of suffering has been broken, at last.
Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth, for your love is better than in wine. (Song of Songs, 1:1)
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