Is redemption possible for survivors of sexual assault? What does redemption look like when you feel broken beyond repair?
After the assault I felt irreparably broken
The hard plastic bus seat was rigid and cold as I rode through winding streets. A long ride through a moon lit city loomed before me. My eyes foggily acknowledged the street lights as they blurred past but my focus was elsewhere. As flashbacks of the assault flickered uninvited through my head, I flogged myself for my choices that I believed had gotten me to this place. I despised and feared my body that was a constant reminder of what happened. I was so far removed from the ‘perfect’, ‘innocent’ girl I used to be who saw the world with trusting eyes. I felt more like the goth, jaded, super villain version of her. This alterego looked cynically down at past me with pitying eyes and wondered how she had ever been that person. I couldn’t pretend to be ‘miss perfect’ any more. I had always known and told myself mechanically that I wasn’t perfect, but the assault forced me to a stark acknowledgement of my brokenness. I had reached the end of the road. No amount of running or convincing could ignore the stains that felt so tangible in my being. It was official: I was broken, imperfect, and flawed beyond repair.
Jesus waded through my murky thoughts
A thought that wasn’t mine gently spoke in my head, “You weren’t called to be perfect. You were called to be redeemed”. Jesus’s voice had waded through my murky thoughts to lovingly remind me that perfection had never been the goal. It was like he was saying, “I’ve been waiting for you to accept this. Now that I have you here, I’m delighted to show you my better, more beautiful way.”
What does redemption mean?
Redemption. I’d heard that word as a Christian many times before. I knew theoretically what it meant, but my heart and soul had been resistant. I rejected redemption because it didn’t give room for me to be perfect. The necessary prerequisite to redemption is brokenness. There is no room for, ‘I’ve got this Jesus, I can save myself’. Redemption is empty and pointless without brokenness.
O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Redemption is an integral part of God’s story. There is entirely no Christian faith without the acknowledgment of sin, Jesus’s death to take our place, and His resurrection that paves the way for eternal life and restoration. God’s redemption is steeped in hope and enduring love. You cannot separate redemption from grace and mercy.
Isn’t that exactly what we need as survivors? We need someone to come into our story with paradigm-shifting grace that doesn’t allow us to blame ourselves for a second. We need someone who sees our bodies as worthy and valuable even after all that it has been through. We need someone who calls out the beauty and preciousness of our souls when it’s writhing in pain, self-hatred, anger and so much more. That is exactly who God is.
The power of redemption
Since that fateful bus ride, God has continued to meet me in my broken story and pave a redemptive way forward. Instead of hiding myself behind feigned perfection, I am invited to don the blood soaked robes of my Savior. And in so doing, His blood is mingled with mine. My scars and wounds mingle with His until there is no distinction. I am overwhelmed by peace, solidarity, and hope. My Savior and God knows my anguish. He knows sorrow and pain as keenly and even more so than I ever could. And He has overcome even death itself!
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Walk in redemption
So let us walk in triumph and redemption, survivors. Let us press on knowing that death is defeated. Let us persevere knowing that this sinful world will not last forever. This isn’t the end of the story. It’s only the beginning!
How has God brought redemption to your story of sexual assault?
Let us know in the comments.