Becoming a Protector
I called the instructor of my counseling course. Tension rose. I knew what I needed to do. Stalling was no longer an option if I was to walk in integrity as a counselor and a child of God.
My brother-in-law molested me as a child.
Now his granddaughter, my great niece, was the age when sleepovers with her grandparents, were imminent. I could keep the secret. This was between my brother-in-law and me. Yet how can a woman of faith surrender to fear and allow an innocent child to become a victim? I spilled my story to my instructor.
Puzzled, “What is keeping you from telling the truth? Why wouldn’t you tell?” Then the hammer fell. “What are you afraid of?”
The first two questions I could answer without emotion. When she addressed my fear, I unraveled.
“I’m afraid.” I sobbed.
“No, of my father, of my father’s anger.”
She understood and prayed for God’s courage. I felt foolish. I was an adult in my late forties, a counselor. Yet I was a little girl again, cowering in fear, watching my father’s irrational rages. Thankfully, they didn’t occur often.
My former brother-in-law lived miles away.
I’d had no contact with him for over thirty years, not since my sister’s death. I was aware he contacted my father after my mother died. Petrified and convinced my father wouldn’t believe me, I feared his accusal of my stirring up trouble in the family. He preferred secrets over truth if they allowed for a semblance of peace. Anything causing waves made my father feel helpless.
My worst fear other than encountering the torrent of his anger was, “What if he didn’t care?” What if he cared more about protecting and keeping the peace with my brother-in-law than protecting me and his grandchildren?
It happened many times before. I made excuses for his avoidance of anything controversial; anything requiring him to take a stand. My father had many admirable qualities. Courage was not one.
I couldn’t sleep.
I thought of ways I could warn my nephew without stepping on toes, without my toes being crushed. This situation revealed I would only repeat my father’s example. I had worked years to overcome codependent behavior. There it was. Its ugly head, rising beckoning me.The Lord and I had walked through many landmines together and countless times He had instilled His courage in me. -Mari Jan Francis Click To Tweet
The Lord and I had walked through many landmines together and countless times He had instilled His courage in me. Faith always involved a risk; why this one?
Until I met my husband, I never had a protector in my life. This was a contributing factor of how my abuse even occurred. Now challenged to protect, I desperately wanted to retreat from my father’s raging and the rejection that would follow; and the shame. My father was in his eighties, age did not matter. He was still my father. I knew when I told my nephew about his father’s sin, my nephew would confront my brother-in-law who would contact my father and accuse me of lying. I witnessed this when my sister was alive. My parents chose his words over their own daughter’s truth.
My husband knew the story.
I wept and deliberated about the task before me.
I would tell my nephew.
Still, I trembled at the thought of the lies, accusations and anger guarding them. I will never forget what occurred next.
My husband took my face in his hands. “Your father will have to go through me first, to get to you. Anyone who tries to blame you, intimidate or lash out in anger against you; will deal with me. They will have to go through me to get to you.” Those precious words, I knew my husband would do what he said. He is not a coward.
Soothed by my husband’s promise, my fear lessened.
I was not alone. It was time to call my father. The image of my husband standing firmly in front of me gave me courage. Concerns were still there. What if they didn’t believe me? I called my nephew’s wife. My story provided confirmation of what she had suspected. God’s faithfulness to uphold my reputation had always been there, waiting for me; even when fear overshadowed my faith. Now, eyes fixed on Him, and with renewed faith, I called my father and told him the secret. I recall little about my conversation with him. It didn’t matter anymore what he said or didn’t say.
Years later… my niece is a remarkable young woman, untouched by the sin of her grandfather..I am amazed how fear begets fear and how courage gives birth to courage. Fear transformed into faith in a heartbeat. This faith took me beyond the fear to courage and action.I am amazed how fear begets fear and how courage gives birth to courage. -Mari-Jan Francis Click To Tweet
My husband is a beautiful picture of Christ.
There are many examples in scripture of Jesus standing. In Acts 7:55-56, Jesus stands in an open heaven at the stoning of Stephen. He stands in judgment and authority, over sin.
In Revelations 5:6 “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders…” (NIV).
The Lamb who was abused, slain, believed to have been hushed by man, now stood in power, in strength, the Overcomer.
The transformation in me of a coward to a protector, of a secret keeper to truth teller, occurred because Jesus reminded me, through the loving example of my husband; The Lamb was standing before me. All sin and sinners must go through Him. Only the Lamb that was slain can judge and deal with sin and demolish fear.
Is there a place where fear has swallowed you or kept you silent? Do you see Him standing for you? He is. He is standing. Have faith beloved and move beyond fear.
Mari Jan Francis, Contributing Writer
Mari Jan is an ordained Senior Chaplain trained in trauma, crisis, grief and loss care. She earned a Master’s Degree in Christian Counseling and holds certifications in Inner Healing Prayer and Spiritual Formation. As a pastoral counselor, she incorporates these elements in her ministry. She’s led support groups for survivors of sexual abuse. Mari Jan is a writer and speaker who has produced the CD, “Sanctuary”. She most enjoys creating, leading and directing spiritual retreats. She and her husband live in Maryland and they are the proud parents of three adult children. You may connect with her via her Facebook page or her email address, firstname.lastname@example.org
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