This is a poignant guest post from Lyneta Smith who is an author and speaker. She lives with her husband near Nashville, TN. She loves spending time with her adult daughters and meeting with friends at the local coffee shop. You’ll find more of her story of healing by learning to trust God’s goodness in her new book, Curtain Call: A Memoir. I’m grateful to have her voice here.
Have you heard the story of Tamar? I think it’s among the saddest in the Bible.
She was born royalty as a daughter of King David. As such, she could have married anyone she wanted. But in one terrifying moment, Tamar’s status as a princess deteriorated into disgrace and shame.
Her half-brother Amnon faked an illness and convinced their father to charge Tamar with Amnon’s care. Amnon seized the opportunity to violate her, stealing something precious that she could never get back.
When her brother Absalom found out, he said, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? But now keep silent, my sister, he is your brother; do not take this matter to heart” (2 Samuel 13:20).
In her silence, Tamar remained “desolate” and lived in Absalom’s house (instead of getting married and starting a family). But the ramifications had only begun.
Amnon’s violation sparked what would become a civil war among the sons of David. Absalom killed Amnon out of revenge, and then the family split in a wide chasm that never healed.
The echoes of Tamar’s silence still reverberate today. The #metoo movement revealed countless victims of sexual molestation and assault who were silenced by people responsible to protect them, even church authorities.
Healing begins when we drown out the echoes of silence by allowing people like Tamar to share their story — to be heard, to validate their violated-ness.
I, too, had a secret I thought I could never tell anyone, not even my husband. On the outside, I had it all together, but on the inside, I was desolate, like Tamar.
I felt alone until I read Mary’s book, Not Marked. Then I read her story in Thin Places and began to believe that my story could be redeemed.
God gently untied the gag from my mouth and coaxed me to seek healing. First, I told a trusted professional, and then my husband and close family. Eventually, I shared how God redeemed my story and healed me from childhood trauma with a local women’s group.
I was no longer chained, no longer haunted by the echoes of silence that said I’m worthless, impure, and unworthy of love. And even more amazing: there were women in the group who also shared with me — some for the first time — that they too had been violated.
I believe God can use the power of our stories to heal broken spirits and restore us from desolation. And when we speak out, we encourage other silent, desolate, yet beloved ones to find healing as they share their stories.
Thank you, Lyneta! Can’t wait to see how the Lord uses your story.
I appreciate you reading, Amy! God is the redeemer of stories.
As indicated by yours, Lyneta! Thanks for sharing your story here.
He already is. 🙂
Lyneta, such a moving story. I have always loved Tamar. I grew up in an evangelical world where she was condemned and was part of my ongoing rebellion against dysfunctional theology. I brought her up in my book TAMING THE DRAGONS many years ago because her story is vital to emotional and spiritual health. As to my own teenage story, I don’t speak of the details. When I first told the generic version to a boyfriend, he didn’t believe me. I told my sister, a therapist. She didn’t believe me either. THIS is the reason we remain silent. The condemnation of being called a liar, on top of the abuse, is very real and prevalent. As witnessed last year in the Cavanaugh hearing.
So what’s the answer? Like you say, a trusted source. What remains for me, is being called a liar. Don’t really know how to make that go away.
I’m so sorry that happened to you. I believe you, but I’m not right next to you, crying alongside. I pray God would send a trusted person.
Brenda, I’m so sorry that happened to you, and that people who are supposed to love and protect you didn’t believe you. YOU know the truth, and so does God. I believe you, and what happened was not your fault. Praying for a trustworthy person to listen and offer empathy.
Thank you, Mary, for being a voice of truth and hope! I appreciate you allowing me to share my story here. May God continue to bless your ministry abundantly, to bring healing to survivors everywhere.
Such truth here Lyneta. Secrets tend to spawn pain in one way or another.
They do! I love Jesus’ quote, “The truth shall set you free.” Thanks so much for reading, Loretta!