January 28, 2021

How Breaking the Silence Changed My Life

It is such a wonderful thing to retell the story of what The Lord has done in your life. So often it is so easy to walk through the mundane everyday and forget all that He has carried you through. As I sit here and put down in words the story the Lord has written for me I am overjoyed at His nearness in every season and his steady faithfulness that has never left me a day in my life. I haven’t always felt that He was near, but praise Him that He was there through it all. 

A large part of my story occurred when I was six years old. Around this age I was sexually abused by a close family friend; it continued for probably a year or two after the first instance. Like many victims of sexual abuse I was silent and believed deeply that it was my fault. From that point on my view of myself was forever changed. At the age of six I was convinced I was worthless, used up, ugly, and deeply guilty of some sort of sin that I didn’t fully understand. I knew what was done to me was wrong, but felt responsible and felt like I could have done something to stop it. I remember staying up nights bawling in my childhood room thinking that if anyone ever found out they would hate me. So I made the choice to be silent and to put on a joyful face from then on. My joy really wasn’t fake either; I became so tired of being sad that I just tried to find joy in the little things in my life that were good. This joy became a mask, and to my delight, it fooled the people around me into thinking everything in my life was wonderful. I was silent for 12 years. In the time between the abuse and me talking about it for the first time I was so lost in self-hatred and depression. It affected every area of my life; I was constantly running from source to source just to feel like I was “okay.” I dated boys I shouldn’t have, I poured all my energy into athletics, I tried to make myself look beautiful, and I failed every single time. 

I made Jesus the Lord of my life when I was 13; for the first time I felt the weight of what it meant to not know Him and to be separate from Him. I never wanted to feel that way again. From that moment on it was very real for me. I never once doubted that He was Lord of my life or that I wanted to give Him all of me, but things didn’t get easier when I met Jesus. My depression and suicidal behavior became more prominent, and my self hatred was crippling. But what had changed is that I had a companion through it all. After years of walking alone and being the only one who knew what I had done, I now had someone who knew it all and still chose to stay. I once read a quote by Charles Spurgeon that generally said, “Had I found help elsewhere, The Lord would not be so dear to me.” And this is exactly how I feel; if I had had another companion or source of help Jesus wouldn’t be who He is to me today. That is worthy to be celebrated!

My senior year of high school I decided I wanted to tell my mom about the abuse. In the moments before I told her, I warned her that she was going to hate me after she heard what I had to say. I explained that I was ashamed and that it’s okay if she was ashamed too. At 1am on that random night of 2017, I spoke those terrifying words that had been on the tip of my tongue since I was six. Twelve years of silence–broken. My body was shaking and heart racing. And my mom’s response, through tears, were these simple words: “It’s not your fault.” It’s not my fault? In twelve years I had never even questioned who’s fault it was, I was convinced it was mine. My dad joined the conversation and as he held me he whispered that he was so sorry this happened to me, and he spoke into me that I was clean and did nothing wrong. In this moment it felt like Jesus Himself was holding me and sharing these truths with me. For the first time I realized what had happened to me was abuse. The world felt new to me the next day; I was light and began to feel the freedom that it is to believe what The Lord says about me! I made huge changes in my life; I ended things with a long-term boyfriend, I dressed more modestly, and most importantly I became so passionate about wanting every girl who has experienced abuse to feel this freedom it took me 12 years to find. 

I have watched God call me high from the lowest depths I have ever known.. He has turned my gruesome scars into beauty. I am writing this to you, a different girl than the girl who hurt for so long, the girl who couldn’t look in the mirror because of the crushing weight of shame, and the girl who was used and tossed aside. I write to you today, NEW. And I have so much hope that that can be your story as well.

Recently I wrote a book called I Delight Because He is Near, in which I share prayers written on my best days and written on days I didn’t want to live any longer. The reason I wrote this book is to share with joy, that no matter the heartache, the suffering, the abuse, or the pain you are feeling, He is near. You will never, not even for a moment, walk alone. Because He is near, we always have reason to delight!

Thanks for tagging along as I share my story! Your listening ear means the world to me, and I hope in some way the Lord uses my words to deepen your desire to know Him more. If you have been the victim of abuse or any sort of suffering, you are not alone, and He is so near to you today. Please reach out to me if you ever need anything at all!

All my love,

Jessie Clark

Instagram: Jessieclark12

Website: www.jmccreative.art