Oops! I owe you a blog post. If you are new–I post on Mondays and Thursdays (except for yesterday apparently.) I have a good explanation though. Seriously!
Yesterday was an important day for me. I went to the temple for the first time in about three years*. For those of you that are not LDS (Mormon) just think of it as a special form of worship. Mormons go to church weekly on Sundays and that is a one form, but going to the temple is a higher form of worship. You can read more about it HERE if you are curious. For my readers that are members of the church, I just want to say–yes I had a current temple recommend all that time.
Why haven’t I been to the temple for so long and what changed now? Great questions. I’ll try to explain.
The temple had always been a symbol of peace for me. A place where I could feel closer to God than at any other time–until the memories of my childhood abuse began to surface. Then I was filled with such a sense of filthiness and shame, that the temple became a place of pain. The last two times I had gone were so painful that it has taken me three years to return.
So why now? Because I have at last come to a place (thanks to a lot of therapy and soul-searching) where I no longer feel the burden of shame about what happened to me. Yes, the shame was very deeply rooted. Getting rid of it was not simply a matter of someone telling me “it wasn’t your fault”. Many people told me that, I simply couldn’t believe them.
And today? Well, today was bittersweet. I felt comfortable at the temple again . . . at last! It felt like coming home after being away for years. And yet, something was missing.
There is still a part of me that was there before that I have not been able to reclaim. It’s like coming home, but one of the family members is missing. What I mean is, I went to the temple and I felt at home. I was grateful to be there and to feel some peace . . . and yet, I still don’t feel that I have completely reclaimed the closeness I once felt with the Savior.
I used to wonder if perhaps it was just me that felt this separation from God (after abuse or assault), but then I did a little research and studies show that it is quite common (just as feeling anger is often part of the grieving process.) What I can’t find the answer to is why this happens.
I had always been taught–and I taught it myself–that the Lord never moves away from us, we move away from Him. And as such, we can repent and move closer to Him when we are ready. But this separation I feel from Him is not due to my own sins. There may be some that will argue that my anger toward God was the sin that caused this, but I disagree. I think that the Savior understands my pain, anguish, and yes anger, and He is NOT punishing me by withholding His presence.
There is a scriptural support for my theory. In Isaiah 54:7, the Lord is speaking and He says, “For a little while, have I forsaken thee . . . ”
The first time I heard this scripture, I thought, “Aha! So you admit it Lord.” Again some might say that the Lord had temporarily forsaken Israel because of their sins, i.e. they moved away from Him. But there is another scripture that shows that sometimes we can feel distanced from God during our darkest moments, through no fault of our own.
That scripture is found in Matthew 27:46. Christ was on the cross and called out, “My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me?” Christ had done nothing wrong, and yet in one of his darkest moments, He felt alone. In Psalms 22:1-2 KJV, we find these same words and more (perhaps some of you can relate to this, I sure can)
1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
2 O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
I do not know all the reasons this separation–the jaws of hell–happens. But I believe it is something like the road to Emmaus. Remember in Luke 24 we read the story of two of Christ’s disciples who were walking down the road discussing the recent events of His death. How confused they must have been. How heartbroken. Then Christ joined them. He walked with them and spoke with them about their loss, but the knowledge that it was Him was kept from them–for a little while.
I believe this is how it is for all of us who struggle with the jaws of hell. We are not truly alone, Unbeknownst to us, He is there walking beside us, perhaps carrying us. And in time we will be reunited with Him just as the disciples were.
Now let’s return to Isaiah 54:7 again and read the full verse:
For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
There is a song, My Kindness Shall Not Depart From Thee by Rob Gardner that uses this chapter from Isaiah. It has been such a strength and comfort to me. I want to share it in the hope that it will be for others as well. (And yes, I have shared a different version of this before, so if you get that–familiar, but unfamiliar–feeling it’s probably not de ja vu.
Note: this is post is an example of what my book, tentatively titled: Touching His Robe: Reaching Past the Pain and Shame of Abuse is about.
* Clarification, I did go recently for my nephews wedding. But that was a different situation.