In all honesty, there is no easy way to dispel the thoughts that come after experiencing evil. It has a sticking pseudo-power that leeches onto the mind’s eye like dust to a wet blanket. Often the imagery left in its wake cannot just be unseen or simply stopped on command in a wandering mind. Only with dogmatic-like persistence, safe vulnerability, and soul reclamation is the experience of freedom from an unjust, evil story available; even then it would seem we are rarely ever truly free of its haunting taunts.

Until she could identify a why, she had refused to allow this vulnerability.

There was a time she could not tell this story aloud or even bear to see the words written in this order; they were too repulsive. It was a story better left hidden deep within her bones anyway. Just because it longed to be spoken, doesn’t mean it wasn’t easier to keep hiding it away.

Her body had been abused, her mind had been made to feel worthless. The scars that stretched across her very make-up were jagged and deep, discolored and glaring. She was distant, it was hard to read her. To encourage her to speak, I have had to earn her trust. We have spent countless hours quietly sitting side by side. It was easier for her to tell the stories of evil she had witnessed than to tell of what has happened to her. Eventually, though, her story comes out in pieces…

She’s always physically here, but in her eyes is a distance as she recounts her earliest memories. She was only five when she first remembers having found pornography. Found really isn’t the correct term, it was displayed blatantly by the sound of it. A little metal figurine of two people having sex. She almost laughed it off, although the memories were coming a little too quickly for her to push away.

She told me the part of her story from when she was eight. A classmate of hers used to chase her around relentlessly insisting that she was his wife. That he would forever keep her. It wasn’t long before he convinced another to do his bidding; the two boys forced her behind a shed. With one on the lookout the other shoved his hand down her pants and wrenched hard. Eight. As a tear slid down my cheek she looked surprised, she still didn’t know to cry for herself.

And when she was thirteen another story about the pornography that her dad was saving because they were “heirlooms, important.” In a windstorm, pictures of nude women had been blown all over the yard. She had picked them up herself so that no one else would have to see. Hearing this I wondered: but what about you? Who was protecting you? She was almost confused by my concern. I don’t think she realized that even then she was keeping everyone else from harm.

As a teen she experienced even more trauma. She would learn that her body was not her own.

She had tried to minimize the impact on her story, but she knew what it felt like to be touched unwillingly, to be forced into action for another person’s gratification. It was why she had mastered the art of retreating to the place no one could touch her: her mind a fortress, she its keeper. In her mind she could remember what was good, to think on what had preserved her life. In her mind she could recall moments of gentleness.

Maybe the story and images that you are fighting are different and yet rooted in the same evil. This is for you too. 

While the truth of her story is that she has known great harm, there is another piece: she has been reclaimed and that story is written across her soul more vibrant and distinct than the ugly fading scars. The work that she has done begins to reveal her truest identity and there in its wake is the brilliancy of redemption. Redemption of a wicked story.

A story that no longer holds the power to dictate what she says, thinks, or does. Granted, there are times that the uglies rear their deformities and she has to put up one helluva fight to regain her foothold on higher ground, still, the very foundation of her mind is healing. It is a story of forgiveness that starts within her own heart.

The idea that a Creator could both allow the depth of such depravity and yet reclaim the heart of the wounded (and of the wound-er) is hard to fathom. It makes for an uneasy feeling and a disquiet in the mind. I don’t understand it either. Where does God reside within the chaos of this life? How can we declare His goodness and grace while people suffer?

There is a new truth that has begun to surface: maybe you can’t unsee evil, but the words used to describe it can be reconfigured into a beautiful new story.

Change comes slowly; stories are redeemed through a grace that covers and renews. It comes through quiet, and with contemplation; with a lot of highs and lows, good days and awful.

There is an absolute need for people to join in the trek across the mountain highs, desert plains, and shadowy valleys. Sometimes to experience faith, forgiveness, and redemption is to simply look deeply into the eyes and words of those around us. Maybe this is where God resides? In the midst of…

Reclaiming the eye of the mind is done through the chaos, and in the darkness not around it. We are not left alone here. Even when we cannot see or feel any presence of goodness or of grace, the fact that we are still here in this very moment is evidence of life and of hope. It doesn’t have to make sense to be true. Dig in long enough and deep enough into the tension…it is where grace resides; where growth happens.

Reaching the end of her story it was clear to see why she had to choose vulnerability:

It is easier to say she, than I.