I didn’t plan to be raped that night. Staying home for once from the Copenhagen nightlife to prepare for a test the next day, I was reacquainting myself with a solitude I realized I had missed. Gently flickering candles and a hot shower caressed my senses, as I was exhaling into the unfamiliar quiet. My guard was down.
Frustrated by the unexpected knocks on my door, I was ransacking my memory to see whom I hadn’t told I needed this night alone. Outside stood my guitarist with a surprising “I was just in the neighborhood” line.
If that happened today, I’d be suspicious. He taught me that night not to automatically trust anyone’s intentions.
But that hadn’t yet happened when I opened the door and let the clam darkness into my world. I didn’t invite it, no. But neither did I have the muscles to block it. From my creepy math teacher in third grade to my overly affectionate uncle, I had learned to be nice when I felt uncomfortable, to smother my inner alarm bells with external politeness. Those alarms rarely went off anymore.
Often, dancers and musicians shared a bottle of wine or two after rehearsal, but never had I been alone with the man who was now making himself abrasively comfortable in my little room. Two stacked mattresses served as both bed and sofa and occasionally a guest bed. For people I invited. I had not invited him.
So deep was my compulsive politeness that when the last bus had left, and he was still there, it dictated I suggest he stay overnight. He didn’t stay on his mattress. He didn’t honor my weak no. And in the morning, he looked like he had done me a favor.
He was fifty years old. I don’t know why that matters, but to my violated self, it did.
It never occurred to me to go to the police. I had opened the door, hadn’t I?
After a few days, we resumed rehearsals as if nothing happened. Neither of us mentioned it. Like none of us mentioned when that math teacher, bent over us before we learned not to ask for his help, had his hands down our shirts. We third-grade girls never compared notes on this. We learned to move on.
Fast forward thirty years.
Many years of counseling and even more years in the arms of Jesus have poured tremendous healing and training into my soul.
I can say no and be heard, and I can help others in their paths towards freedom.
“Wounded healers,” Henri Nouwen calls us, the host of survivors who have been rescued to help rescue others. Not just from victimization, but to flourishing in joy. We are not the pretend-Christians nobody likes. We are not the caricatures waging war with signs of condemnation. We are the ones who value authenticity, because we know Jesus is real.
So I didn’t plan to explode that day last week. In fact, I didn’t even know my temperature was rising until my dear friend stopped me in my tracks, looked me firmly in my eyes, and cautioned, “Take it down about three notches.”
We were on our way to a broken girl, one very much like my younger self, but somehow my wires had gotten crossed and I perceived her complaints as a threat what I so dearly love: my church family. Mama bear was rising up inside me, but not in defense of the most vulnerable. Deep exhale, and she is back on the leash.
But what happened?
Somewhere along the wilderness road towards freedom, I made a vow. I would not only learn to say no for myself, but even more so for everyone I love. No one would ever violate us again. No.
As the shock subsides, my feverish fierceness alerts me that I’m still in process. Learning to live in healthy freedom will never be a closed chapter, until I see my Liberator face to face. While the old captivity is far behind me, still some of my survivor skills need a bit of refining.
So He calls me back into His embrace and as if He strokes my hair He soothes me quietly till I’m soft again inside our hiding place. When my heart relaxes again inside the Love that has rescued me again and again, as much from myself as anyone else, I remember that all I hold dear, He holds dearer still. Only in His hands are any of us safe.
No, I certainly didn’t plan to be raped that night, but He had already planned the healing that would flow both to and from my wounds, a small stream of the healing that flows from His.