She was eight years old, vulnerable and wearily wise. She had been taken from her home by the Child Protective Services because her brother had sexually molested her. She sat in my office, brave and amazingly unscathed by the trauma.
As her therapist, I hoped to help her process the experience. We worked to cleanse the wound her brother’s violation had created. I wanted her to walk into the rest of her life with a scar that had healed, not a festering wound that would continue to poison.
She had been the one who brought the authorities attention to the incest, which had been going on since she was around four years old. I invited her to tell me how she knew she needed to do something to put an end to this activity.
She came from a “good Christian home.” They went to church, prayed before meals and read the scriptures together around the dinner table every night. She earnestly attempted to put into practice what she learned from the scriptures. Eager to please and trusting, she believed her brother when he told her that what they were doing together was normal, it was the way brothers and sisters loved each other.
One evening the scripture read was Deuteronomy 27:22 “Cursed be anyone who lies with his sister.” This confused her, who should she believe? Her brother’s words or God’s word? Having been taught that the word of God needed to be obeyed, she trusted the scripture and told her parents that she and her brother had “laid” together. Her parents intervened and put an end to the molestation.
God’s word had literally saved her.
“Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel. For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from my birth; it was you who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.” Psalm 71:4-6
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Has Psalm 71:4-6 played out in your life?
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Debby Bellingham is a spiritual director and a licensed psychotherapist. She has been practicing these gifts for 20 years. Additionally, she has worked as Spiritual Formation Pastor, a church staff chaplain and a Young Life area director. She loves leading spiritual formation retreats and giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius to groups and individuals. Ms. Bellingham has given several presentations on Spiritual Formation at several conferences, including Renovare. She has authored several books and many articles on Spiritual Formation. Her education includes a Doctorate of Ministry is in Christian Spiritual Formation. Currently she resides New York however is originates from San Francisco.