The byline printed all over this website reads Finding Your Voice after Abuse but it should probably read Finding God’s Voice after Abuse. Hearing God’s Voice is difficult enough without the added dimensions of being abused by religious people who claim a faith, speak for God, speak with God, know all about God and are well-loved within their religious communities. The abuser seems like King David the hero shepherd boy to the entire community — the man after God’s own heart. But really, he is Goliath - a giant-like ‘champion’ of false gods that looms over the victim with bad breath, curses, insults, and relentless taunting. The only thing missing— six fingers and six toes.
To actually know Goliath, but for others to believe him to be King David the shepherd boy, is disconnectedness, confusion, and isolation. At the start, you believe the religious figure in your life to be wise and loving, Christian and kind. Goliath believes it about himself as well. The best way I know how to describe it - it mucks up your ideas of God. Abuse within the confines of churches, private ‘christian’ schools, summer camps, missionary boarding schools, religious homes and any other religious environment is a toxic mix.
Mr. Magoo was a learned man in the Scriptures. Some even called him a Doctor in his field. I only knew him as a mister. He was preacher, teacher, director and master of all things spiritual. He was also my friend.
The fact that we were friends isn’t surprising if I were his peer but I thought of him as one of my best friends. I was a young teenager. He was a married man more than twice my age. There is clear indication that he considered me a ‘close friend’ too. It wasn’t right. The friendship was a guise - a Goliath costume to the grooming that was taking place of a young girl by a grown man who should have known better. Who did know better. But who made choices to ignore his better angels.
To be fair, many good and godly men parented me, pastored me, coached me, taught me, mentored me and influenced me in those junior high, high school and college years. As a mother, I have encouraged my daughters to be appropriately mentored, coached and guided by godly men as well. So one, I’m not a man-hater looking for abuse under every rock and behind every man. Two, I have given my adult life to ministering in Christian environments so I’m not a church-hater. Three, I’m not even a Mr. Magoo-hater. But, there is a difference in the conduct of healthy godly men and sick ungodly men. Especially toward children. Mr. Magoo was different. Now, I recognize the difference.
Mr. Magoo took liberties with me that weren’t his to take. Mr. Magoo told secrets to me that weren’t his to tell. Mr. Magoo stole things from me that weren’t his to steal. Mr. Magoo held hands with me while we prayed. Mr. Magoo gave hugs to explain hard things about faith. Mr. Magoo walked a tightrope with the Scriptures—testing others in the ABC’s of the Bible yet he failed at his own subject. Way back when, he tripped over the tight rope. He lost his balance. He fell. In this day and age, his fall could have made the nightly news.
Mr. Magoo asked a loyalty from me that wasn’t his to have. When he admitted his great impropriety to me— in the cloak and darkness of woods with tender words and careless touches—his exact words included ‘if you tell anyone, it will ruin me.’ From everything I have ever read or studied about abuse, that is quite possibly the most common manipulation, threat, invocation and request from men and women afraid of the Light— who are walking in darkness and picking up millstones as souvenirs. It is quite possibly the most pervasive message among abusers to children and vulnerable adults: do not tell anyone!
Mr. Magoo asked for my silence and I gladly granted it for twenty-some odd-years. I mistook silence for forgiveness. I mistook silence for a Christian response. But in that moment of asking for my silence, he took away much more than I realized for those same twenty-something years. In a real way, he silenced the voice of the Lord in my life.
When Mr. Magoo pleaded for my silence that night, I made a promise. And I keep my promises. So, silence became a bedfellow, with loneliness and isolation
co-sleeping, as I tossed and turned. I had no one to tell because I keep my promises.
I couldn’t even tell God. Besides, after years of hearing Mr. Magoo invoke God into every dimension of our relationship— including the fateful day— it inferred to me that even the Lord was not privy to MY pain, MY story or MY paranoid fears that grew out of that experience. The Lord was on Mr. Magoo’s side. He was not on the side of a barely sweet sixteen year old. I shan’t ever forget it.
Let me explain. For years— and I do mean years— I simply did not believe that God could hear my cries alongside my abusers. I struggled in prayer. My poems reek of this spoiled belief system. I struggled to believe God was listening to me or would even give ear because Mr. Magoo had His ear. Mr. Magoo spoke for God, with God and because of God. If I think about it too much, I still feel insecure in my prayer life because I can’t make it fit in my brain. He mucked up my ideas of God, by using the things of God in vain, for his selfish purposes. If you’re going to mistreat, take advantage of and violate others— at least don’t bring God, the Bible, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and prayer into it. Please. Seriously. The combination threatens the very foundation on which children and adults stand in regards to their faith and their trust in a loving God.
Mr. Magoo made ‘silence’ the heroic sword of forgiveness but in reality it was a deadly dagger to my heart of faith and trust, truth and freedom. When I finally confronted that Goliath in my life, the still small voice of the Spirit of God began to speak to me again and assure me that He is near- His presence real. He is a God who listens, who hears. I found my voice to speak again to the Living God and in return He gave me His voice of love, reassurance and healing.
My husband and I have been singing the children’s Bible story song ‘Only A Boy Named David’ to our children for years. They’ve heard it thousands and thousands of times. We are singing it to our grandchildren now.
Only a boy named David
Only a little sling
Only a boy named David