those of us who have survived sexual abuse, life twists and turns in
alleys of confusion. Thank God, He picks us up thousands of times,
dusts us off, heals us, and enables us to continue walking. That’s been
my story. I was sexually abused by neighborhood boys throughout my
kindergarten year. That was nearly forty years ago, but the mark they
left on me, though faded, is still there.
Some would argue that once a person comes to
Jesus, the mark is beautifully erased. Perhaps for some that is true.
But I liken that hellish year to healing and scars. Yes, I’ve been
healed. But the scars remain. I am marked.
I knew this growing up.
Predators had some sort of mark locating device. They’d find me in
horse stalls, in tree houses, on the playground, in homes. They’d try
to take away what I had already lost. Thank God, I had legs that could
run. With every advance, I’d take off running.
It baffled me, though, when the
mark attracted men during my dating years. And believe me, if anyone
tried anything, I broke up or ran. I joked the other day with my kids
that when my “boyfriends” tried to kiss me in my early dating years, I
did two things: freaked out, then broke up.
Once I was married to the man of
my dreams, the antithesis to the predators, I settled into a kind of
comfortable safety. No one would see my mark now!
And for many years, that was
true. As a stay-at-home mommy, I didn’t see many men, didn’t interact
much, other than at church.
Enter the Christian writing
world. And a little of my own naivety.
wrote a post in June in this column about dealing with boundaries in
professional relationships, so I won’t reiterate that in this piece.
But what I will say is this: the mark re-emerged. As if dormant from a
long, happy sleep, it awoke with a vengeance. And predators once again
saw it, noticed it, and sought to exploit it.
I write this today not to freak
you out, those of you who are entering the business, but to issue a
firm caution. Don’t assume that because we’re writing books for the
Christian market that everyone in the market is trustworthy. Or the
best thing for you. And particularly if you’re a woman wearing this
mark, be ultra-cautious of men, particularly those in authority. Don’t
seek publication so much that you turn off your creep-factor measuring
device. Keep it on. If you’re married, be sure you meet those industry
professionals (if at all possible) with your husband in tow. And don’t
let the secret part of your heart thrill at an industry professional’s
praise, particularly if it comes off with a hint of sexual innuendo.
retrospect, I realize six
1. The mark, faded as it is, can
inflame when I’m not building into my own marriage and family, or I’m
not seeking God . . . and when I let my neediness for attention trump
everything else. Truth be told, I like attention. I enjoy feeling like
I’m pretty. But if I seek after that, rather than seek God’s heart, I
become vulnerable to predators again.
2. I wish someone would’ve told me this way back when. So I’m telling
you. If you have a mark or are prone to being preyed upon, take note.
Watch your male/female relationships more closely. Don’t let your
ambition taint your predator radar. And yet don’t merely be cautious
about opposite sex relationships. I also found myself vulnerable to
other women who were predatory (not sexually, but in other
soul-demeaning ways. Predators come in every shape and size and sex.)
3. Prayer cannot be discounted. Your ability to notice predatory
tendencies in someone has everything to do with discernment. And
seeking to be very close to God in prayer will keep your discernment on
high alert. It’s when you allow the fluff of fame to infiltrate your
head that you let down boundaries.
4. It is entirely possible to have great relationships with people in
this industry. I cherish my friendships, both male and female. Of
course, not everyone is a predator. And many folks are dear, dear
Jesus-loving writers, publishers, editors, and agents. Don't let your
mark or fear prevent you from these relationships.
5. Nurture yourself. Realize your weak spots. Build into your soul.
6. Seek accountability. I have a small group of dear friends who know
my journey through predators. And they pray for me, and ask me good
questions, and pray some more.
Someday, when the new earth
dawns, I’ll be free of this mark forever. And Jesus will use every
trauma to beautify me—not with the earthly type of beauty I sometimes
long to be praised for here on earth, but an ethereal, eternal beauty.
I pray the Lord would truly, deeply use my own markedness to change the
landscape of the kingdom of God. In this way, I can revel in the mark,
be openly cautious about the vulnerability the mark creates, and thank
God for His protection and provision along the journey.