Taking Steps for Growth After Abuse

The campus and individuals in this story are not identified because of the sensitive nature of the topic. This story shows that even in the face of the tremendous pain and brokenness that come with abuse, Navigators are being used by God to disciple and encourage hard steps of growth.

It was the second time that week that James and I had met. He sat beside me pushing his dinner around in circles with his fork. There was a heaviness hanging in the air as James tried to fight back tears that rolled down his face. “Man, I just feel so weak,” James choked out in frustration.

A few days prior, James and I met for breakfast. During this conversation he revealed to me that he had made poor relationship and sexual decisions within the past year. He knew that his decisions were sinful and that God had better things for him, but he confessed to me that he often felt like he couldn’t say “no” to the intimacy and acceptance that sex offered; it simply felt beyond his control.

I asked James what he thought was the root cause of his issue. For the next 45 minutes James recounted numerous instances of sexual and emotional abuse that were inflicted upon him as a boy. The perpetrators were people who should have protected him from the very things that they, themselves, were doing: family, friends, mentors, church volunteers.

I left that first meeting with James feeling overwhelmed by the monstrously evil hidden things that people do to one another. I was angry. Angry that these things happened. Angry that no one protected this young man when he so desperately needed it. Angry that James had never told these stories before. Angry that he lived in fear of continuing the cycle of abuse.

When James and I met for dinner we discussed next steps. One of those steps was to report his past abuse to the state sexual abuse hotline, as the law requires. This would be a difficult phone call to make as it would force James to re-live moments that he had spent years trying to forget. This is when James shared with me how weak he felt.

I reminded James of what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12, that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. I didn’t say this because I thought this would magically fix all of James’s pain and anxiety, but because I wanted him to realize he has a choice. He can begin to invite Jesus into broken areas from his past. He can choose to trust and hope and lean into the support that Christ and a few like-minded believers offer, or he can run. He can bury and suppress and hide.

James chose to make the phone call to the hotline. Another step in a long journey.

Unfortunately, James’s story is not unique. The brokenness of many students’ lives is simply astounding. We believe that God is not done with James or his generation. James and students who face sexual brokenness need our prayers as they take difficult steps toward growth.

Learn how to look inside yourself and discover how God works real, liberating change when you live from the Inside Out. Available from NavPress.com

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