My wife experienced childhood sexual abuse: 3 Truths to Inhale when Resilience Runs Out

Our perseverance to endure relational struggles and our resilience to bounce back are sometimes in short supply. My “go to” truth has been Psalm 73 when my emotional energy is depleted (see my previous blog) because of present or past trauma. The Psalmist Asaph’s transparency serves as a mirror so that we can see what happens within us during these times of crises.

Midway through the psalm, Asaph shifted his focus from what he saw within himself to what he saw beyond himself. The shift was expressed with the words, “When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till [here’s where his focus shifted] I entered the sanctuary of God” (Psalm 73:16-17). What does it mean for us to enter the sanctuary?

In 1988, three gray whales were icebound off Barrow Point, Alaska. Their massive frames became battered and bloodied as they frantically struggled to gasp for air through a single hole in the ice. The only hope was to get the whales transported past the ice pack into the open sea, a distance of five miles.

Rescuers crafted a plan of cutting a series of breathing holes through the thick ice and spacing them about 20-yards apart. For eight days, the rescuers coaxed the whales from one hole to the next, mile after mile. It worked.

Time alone with God – worship – is a string of breathing holes that the Lord offers in order to give us some fresh air to clear our thinking. Battered and bruised, in a world frozen over with abuse, dysfunction, rage, injustice, and disappointment, we rise for air in the sanctuary, a place to experience God as Counselor (verse 24), Companion (v. 25), Strength (v. 26), and Refuge (v. 28). Having had time alone with God, Asaph realized the craziness of his envy and said, “I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast [dumb ox] before you” (v. 22).

Asaph inhaled three fresh breaths of truth in his time alone with God; truths we are invited to inhale.

The present is not permanent.
We’ll always make erroneous assumptions when we compare our experiences to the apparent experiences of others. What looks like success could be failure. In the sanctuary, Asaph saw what was really going on and concluded, “Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin” (v. 18).

If you are experiencing relational struggles, ruthlessly resist the snare of envying what you assume others might have. If you do not resist envy, you will become emotionally battered and bloodied, inevitably bringing that personal mess into your own relationship.

God’s presence & promises are certain.
Though we long for certainty, husbands married to victims of childhood sexual abuse often live with unpredictability in their marriages. In a world void of certainty, Asaph breathed in God, saying, “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand” (v. 23).

In your Christmas celebration this week, remember that,

It’s Advent.
Time to remember that everything
is going to be okay in the end.
If things are not okay,
it’s not yet the end.
(Peter White)
There’s one more truth to inhale.

The secret of life is not what we have, but in whose we are.
Having taken in some fresh breaths of truth, Asaph affirmed, “Surely God is good . . .” (v. 1).

True satisfaction in life is not rooted in what we possess or do not possess materially or relationally. Ultimate satisfaction is in knowing what – who – we have inwardly.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you
(v. 25)
When your longing for relational intimacy becomes overridden by the anguish of relational perplexity, remember Asaph’s words, “When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God.”

Do the hard work of reconstructing your relationship. Be courageous and see a counselor. And make sure you enter the sanctuary – have time alone with God; read His Word and quietly listen for the fresh breath of His Spirit to speak into your soul.

I pray that you will have a Merry Christmas.

I’m going to take a brief pause from blogging. Watch for my next blog in mid-January.

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