Just Before Dawn
By Pamela Perez
Through the Silence
Through the silence,
if one would but stop
a voice, distant and small...
Its tenor is plaintive and hesitant,
fearing detection or even acknowledgment,
and yet praying for it all at the same time.
Through the silence,
God is speaking, as well.
Longing, yearning to be heard,
whispering softly and lovingly to his beloved ones,
drawing them to Himself.
Every survivor of abuse knows about silence - the dead stillness in the house at night that wraps its cold arms around the silent soul of a child who is too afraid to cry out. The silence of family members who either know, or at least suspect that something isn't quite right, yet respond with nothing but more silence.
Silence is often the protective device of choice for those who have learned that breaking silence can be a dangerous thing; yet, unless we break the long silence, the secrets remain intact and will continue to keep us bound up and far from healing.
One survivor wrote about it this way:
It was in the darkest part of my lifetime, the place where silence was loudest, that I knew the time had come to break the long silence, it would surely result in my complete annihilation and ruin. I had been bound by that belief long enough! Instead, I finally understood that my silence was breaking me.
So I dared to speak. For the first time ever, I broke every rule I'd ever been taught by speaking my pain out loud, speaking my memories, and telling someone about the horrors of my past. It was an extremely difficult thing to do. I took the chance, though. Because I did, I found my voice again and I was able for the first time in my life to hear other voices than the cruel ones inside me. For the first time, I heard hope. And as a result, I healed.
If breaking the silence is indeed the way to healing, what keeps the walls of silence so intact? What is it we have come to believe about ourselves that leaves us bound and gagged in self imposed prisons of mute despair? This is something we must be willing to consider carefully if we are to break free from the fetters that hinder the freedom God intended for us to have all along. We must ask ourselves then, audibly, the questions that demand an answer.
What keeps me so far away, at times even willing myself not to hear?
If I should dare to stop and listen, what then?
Why am I so afraid?
Is it shame? I don't want to feel that way again, ever!
The terrible sting of the humiliations they forced upon me...
And what if I tell...and you shame me, too?
Will you tell me I am beyond repair? Too far gone, spoiled, damaged goods,
disqualified by my past?
What if you speak kindly to me? I'm afraid of that, too - perhaps even more!
What if I get my hopes up? What if I begin to believe, begin to hope, begin to rise from my dark place, and then, disappointment comes again, or my fears become realized?
What if I don't really know you at all? What if I think you will hear me if I speak, and then you refuse and walk away? What then?
And what about God?
I mean, what if I've been mistaken about Him?
What if I heard wrong?
After all, I can't trust me, I know that...
All that's left is my fear
Of trusting when I shouldn't
Of believing the wrong thing
Of being deceived again
Of more pain...
Maybe keeping the silence is best...
We will discuss some of these and other such questions in a section dedicated just for that purpose, but unless we are willing to take the first steps in breaking the silence we cannot hope to find the answers our hearts crave. So many of us have lamented, "How often I wished I could talk to someone, to express the depths of my heart's emotion, pain, frustration, hopes, dreams! But I'm afraid. Silence binds me, enfolds me like a shroud. There are no words to adequately express what I feel. Or if I should dare to speak, would anyone even listen without rejection, or anger, or judgment, or blame, or condemnation, or making me feel unjustly responsible for their reaction to my experiences, feelings, thoughts, responses to my abusive past?"
For too many of us, the cruel lessons about keeping silent have been reinforced again and again, not only by our abusers but also by well meaning friends and family. Until telling our stories of struggles and abuse is acceptable, healing cannot occur within the context of relationships as God intends. We need to be free to share our hearts, weaknesses, fears and concerns somewhere other than the counselor's office. Healing must take place within healthy relationships, in fellowship with the rest of the body of Christ, so that we can heal in the midst of an atmosphere of unconditional love, acceptance and safety.
In Living From The Heart Jesus Gave You, Dr. James Friesen stresses this very concept. Growth, repair, maturity, and faith development are all intimately tied to relationships. People do need people to achieve wholeness in a fractured world".
Yet we remain silent and hidden and trapped in our pain, "all alone in the crowd." All too often, we hide behind well-practiced smiles and a surface politeness because we believe that speaking aloud what we see inside of us would risk the condemnation, criticism, and rejection we so intensely fear.
What happens when we choose to remain silent, when we will not call out for the help we most certainly will need in order to become whole? Perhaps this next dialogue between God and the little lamb will help to describe that:
Little lamb, little lamb,
where did you go?
To hide in the cleft of the Rock
But on my way I slipped and fell
and now an not able to walk.
Little lamb, little lamb,
Why do you weep?
Why do you pine and mourn?
My despair is deep, my sadness great,
all about I am wounded and torn.
I cannot walk without a limp
or leaning on a staff,
I cannot help myself at all
and my enemies mock and laugh
They joy to see me in my plight
with all my sin revealed,
and glory in my near demise -
they think my fate is sealed!
Me, I'm not so very sure
the cruel end will come,
any yet, no much is now in doubt -
I have no place to run,
no place to hide from all my pain,
no one to hold it fast
and keep it from devouring me
as I recall my past.
If only I could lock it back
within the darkened cell!
If only sweet forgetfulness
would ease me from my hell
and cure the other pains and hurts
remembering has brought -
for I have lost the very things
that I have always sought.
I have not been the blessing that
I always longed to be,
Instead I've robbed and maimed and hurt
the ones most dear to me.
Will God redeem such wretchedness?
Forgive such foolish waste?
Will God restore such utter loss?
or simply turn away...
The psalmist expressed it well when he wrote again and again of the intense pain that such silence brought.
"But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased. My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue" (Ps 39:2-3 NIV).
It cannot be done alone. Silence must be broken. All the pain and despair must find a safe outlet. The concept of joy, so foreign to so many of us, must be introduced within the loving context of the body of Christ.
Little lamb, little lamb
I see where you've been -
But what will you do now?
I fear to hope, I dare not trust,
to wish is not allowed...
Dear little lamb
for whom I've com
to save and to restore,
New life I long to give to you
and peace, and joy, and more!
If only you would finally let
Me ease you from your pain!
Please let My people come beside,
And show you Who I Am!
"To you I call, O LORD my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if You remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit. Hear my cry for mercy. I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place" (Ps 28:1-3).
Breaking The Silence
Perhaps it's time to break the silence -
For silence is breaking me ...
If I dared, would it avail me?
Would I indeed be free?
Free to heal and to recover,
Free to finally seek
Some answers to the questions in me
I've never dared to speak?
Perhaps at last God will exchange
Those things I knew before
For higher truths and purer hopes
And nobler goals; restore
my wounded soul and broken heart
and devastated mind,
redeem my life from death's fast grip,
My inner sorrows bind.
If I should speak and break the rules
That silence keeps in place,
What would result? What would I find
Behind this plastic face?
God has an answer for our desperate heart's cry:
"And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me" (Ps 50:15 KJV).