I’ve always enjoyed living in a place where there are four distinct seasons in the year. I can feel the soothing warmth of the sun, today, as light shines through the windows in my office. My wife and I took our bicycles to a local repair shop this week for an annual Spring tune-up because we know that Winter has passed and that warmer days are just around the corner. The flowers of Springtime will soon blossom; and then, the Summer heat will return. Shorter and colder days in the coming Fall will prompt the leaves to change color again; and then, the leaves will be swept away by the brisk Winter winds.
Many people don’t experience four distinct seasons in the year in the same way that I do. Rainy seasons flood lush tropical forests with more water than I can even imagine. Deserts can be parched by the blazing sun for more than a year before a swiftly moving thunderstorm is quickly absorbed by the sand. I’ve heard that the Nile River runs deep and wide during rainy seasons, and that parts of the Nile River nearly disappear when the rains stop. And, on many levels, my journey toward health and wholeness has been one that moves through times of drought and lush abundance, too. Seasons of healing have never come in predictable patterns, and droughts often strike unexpectedly.
One of the things I’ve discovered is that survivors of childhood sexual abuse live their lives in constantly repeating “cycles.” I’ve lived through long periods of time that were filled with peace and tranquility, and I’ve seen those times end with a violent flashback. I’d traveled through times in my life when I was discouraged—even morbid—but, I’ve also seen better days slowly emerge and peace return. Times of peace and tranquility can end in an instant. The smell of Old Spice cologne can send me into a tailspin that rattles me to the core. But, I’ve learned that when I’m living my life in a parched desert, I must continue to hope for better days. Your stories of healing and wholeness fill my heart with a peace that gives me a reason to have hope.
Our journey of healing will be filled with many times when our lives blossom and bloom. But we will also have times when our lives seem dry—even parched. My journey toward healing is even lived-out in my life of faith. Sometimes God seems very close to me; but, God can seem distant and uncaring when I feel “dirty.” I’ve come to see—in the parched desert of my despair—that I’ll never understand why God allowed a man to hurt me in a way that has unalterably changed my life. But I’ve also learned—in the refreshing rains of Springtime—that God understands why I can’t forgive the man who sexually abused me when I was just a little boy. God’s willing to embrace me, just as I am, even though some people in the Church simply can’t. If I’ve learned anything at all, I’ve learned that the waters of God’s love continue to flow into my parched desert—even when some of the people, who know my story, try their best to turn the spigot off.
Seasons change. Times of peace and tranquility are followed by times of drought in a survivor’s life. And times that we spend in the midst of a parched desert will come to an end when the soothing rains of Springtime fall from the heavens. I’ve slowly come to see that God walks beside me and with me in every season—continually calling and inviting me to move from death toward life. And I hope, with all of my heart, that I can remember that the next time I catch a whiff of Old Spice cologne or have a flashback that sends me into a tailspin.