Today I have special guest Michelle Viscuse, who blogs over at Journey Pink: The Journey of a Princess in Need of a King.
Like so many who experienced childhood sexual abuse, Michelle grappled with feeling barely tolerated by Jesus. She writes about her journey from spiritual pauper to extravagantly loved princess, so that others, like us, can realize our role in God’s creation as prized treasures.
It’s common for those who experienced childhood abuse to feel shunned by God. We know in our heads that Jesus loves the world, but that truth never quite sinks into our hearts. As Michelle puts it, “Some girls were precious in His sight – but not me.”
Since my blog focuses on learning to live loved, I asked Michelle to stop by and talk about her journey. Something she wrote on her blog sparked questions, and I thought you’d want to know the answers too. Here’s what she said:
“Those first few steps would lead to many small steps (and some big steps) out of the darkness and shame of childhood sexual abuse and into His marvelous light of truth and healing.”
Michelle, thanks for stopping by to talk about your story. Can you talk a little bit about your journey out of the darkness? What did those steps look like in practical terms?
Thank you so much for having me here, Lyneta! Looking back, I can clearly see how the Lord’s hand was gently guiding me to take each step. After reading the book The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender, I took my first big step and said the words, “I was sexually abused,” to a close friend. It was incredibly frightening and difficult to admit, when I had hidden those painful secrets for so long. I am thankful that she was trustworthy, and her response affirmed and encouraged me.
The next big step was to schedule an appointment with a Christian Counselor, and then to keep showing up every Thursday at 10am. My counselor also started group therapy sessions about shame using the book I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) by Brene Brown. We worked on several projects, but one was particularly helpful for me. We cut words out of magazines that described what we didn’t want others to see or know about us, and we glued those words inside of a box. On the outside of the box, where everyone could see, we put words that described what we were okay with people knowing, such as wife, mom, etc. This was such an empowering exercise for me because those words helped me to work through the painful memories in my individual counseling sessions. Each word became sentences and brought my secrets and shame into His light and truth.
Another big step was being a part of the Breaking Free Bible study by Beth Moore and joining a women’s Bible study class. It was very powerful to grow close to these women, and to dive into the Scriptures together. The Lord led me to share with a small circle of women, who faithfully prayed for me and encouraged me with three important statements: We believe you. It was not your fault. You are not alone. I had so many walls around me, but brick by brick the walls came down and I started to let others in.
I never thought I would tell my husband. But eventually I brought my husband with me to a counseling session and I shared with him. I was so afraid of what he would think of me, but he has been my strongest supporter and has stood by me every step of the way. He even encouraged me to share my testimony, which was a huge step. Reading the book, Undaunted, by Christine Caine inspired me to have the courage to say, “Yes” when I was asked.
My hands were shaking on Easter Sunday when I shared my story in church for the first time, but my heart was resolute. I knew the Lord was calling me to share it again and again. Where I was once fueled with fear, I was now filled with a passion to help others.
You said that before you shared the secrets about your abuse, your relationships were surface level. Since you’ve shared your testimony in church, how have your relationships deepened? How did realizing that God looks at you as His princess help you trust other people and build deeper relationships?
Surface level, indeed. On the outside, I appeared to have it all together, and I showed up and smiled. I just didn’t let anyone in because I truly felt unworthy of connecting and was afraid of being rejected. If they only knew how bad I was, they would never want to be around me. I was filled with lies, fear, and shame. I worked really hard to hide it. When I shared my testimony, it was a powerful moment of healing for me. As I held that microphone, I had no idea how people would respond. The response was incredible. There were tears, hugs, and whispers in my ear affirming what God had been speaking to my heart all along.
After sharing, I was able to be even more transparent with our women’s group and tearfully admit my struggles along the way. I would sense the Lord prompting me to say something, and it would open the conversation for others to share. Pink became my signature color because the Lord used a Pink Sky to proclaim His love for me. Pink stands for Princess In Need of a King. It is a visual and permanent reminder that we are His Princesses and we desperately need Him. It helped me to replace the lies I believed about myself with HIS truth about my identity. I am HIS. I started to risk having relationships and being rejected because I had Him no matter what. As I let Him in and trusted Him more, I was able to trust others and feel worthy of having rich friendships.
After you returned to church as an adult, you mentioned feeling the need to create the sense that you have it “all together.” How has your healing journey given you the freedom to live an authentic life with your church family and others?
I have been in church all of my life, and yet I had never heard anyone talk about childhood sexual abuse. It is a painful topic that people shy away from, but if statistics are right then our pews are filled with broken people like me who desperately want to appear like they have it “all together.” Saying the words and breaking the silence has been a HUGE sigh of relief and has allowed me to walk in freedom. My life has radically changed, and I owe it all to Jesus Christ. My relationships are deeper, and my heart swells with love.
Thanks so much for being here today, Michelle! May God bless you as you help others share in your journey as a Princess In Need of a King!
Thank you so much for having me. Jesus Christ has set me free, and has emboldened me to share my journey so that others may experience His healing. No matter where you have been, no matter what has happened to you, no matter what you’ve done… He’s right there… whispering, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you will recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message).
Let’s journey together, Princess. Our King is waiting with open arms.
Do you have comments or questions for Michelle? Please continue the discussion in the comments.