“It only takes one person plowing a row to make a field, then others can follow knowing they aren’t the first or alone.”
— Julia Kasdorf, from “Boustrophedon”
Healing from sexual abuse after the shredding of a soul can’t be forced or figured out. Whether we work at this task as victim, survivor or compassionate advocate, it takes something beyond our comprehension. The farmer plows the row and plants the seeds but knows it takes the mysterious and incomprehensible work of sun, soil and rain to bring that crop to fruition. Likewise in healing from sexual trauma it requires becoming ready and willing to allow something, anything greater than ourselves to flow through our lives and lead us to hope.
For me it took admitting I no longer had the strength, the will, the resources, or the capability in my single finite mind to figure out a way through the hopelessness and pain. And I felt so defeated by that–until I realized it was only natural to rely on something greater. No more than the farmer would be able to conceptualize the work of the sun and rain and soil to see a crop grow, I would not be able to figure out a way for this death that occurred in my childhood the moment I was sexually violated, to find its way back into the cycle of life and teach me how to want to remain among the living.
But admitting it was the hardest part. Those of us who have experienced sexualized violence, or worked with those who have, know a victim’s survival is dependent on her or his own sheer will to get up in the morning and keep the self-hating voices at bay for one more day. A fierce self-reliance and distrust of others can become woven into the fabric of our being. We tend to be driven, ambitious people who survived by sheer acts of will. We are certain it is all up to us and that no one will come to our aid. And that belief creates the deepest loneliness, the deepest sense that we are completely and utterly alone in our shame and pain, even in the midst of impressive worldly accomplishments. We can become quite stubbornly self-reliant; and cling to the lie that we have to do this work alone or not at all; and that the challenge of day-to-day survival in a world that feels so very unsafe is ours to navigate without a map.
The words we have invited you to repeat during our Thursday Call to Prayer opens us to a first step toward healing, not only as individuals but as whole communities of faith. It helps us admit that we cannot do it alone and that it is safe and only natural that we let go, stop trying so hard, and rest in the simple petition-proclamation: “I am ready and willing to allow sexual healing to happen.”
Just as a farmer plows and plants and tends and tries hard to nurture, the rest must ultimately, humbly be left to Mother Nature, even though the outcome is uncertain. So we too must make the bold decision to commit fully to the work of our own healing, yet simultaneously allow and trust something greater to make known the way and clear the path. I’ve found great relief in this assurance and hope you do as well.
“It only takes one person plowing a row to make a field, then others can follow knowing they aren’t the first or alone,” said Julia Kasdorf. Our thanks to those of you who have, by sharing your Story, plowed a row for the rest of us to follow.
Join us in prayer today and every Thursday when your clock says 3:00 pm, from where ever you are in the world. We invite you to sit quietly and say the words “I am ready and willing to allow sexual healing to happen.” Then let go and get on about your living, one day at a time.
For those of you just now joining us, click here to see the original call to prayer.