exodus 15

Feeling Powerless, Seeking the Powerful

This is the second of seven posts in the Becoming a Wounded Healer: My Story Through Abuse series. All posts available here.

Although anger weighed heavily, I had little energy to deal with it given my depression and preparing for final exams before graduation. In one of my theology classes, I came across the image of God as warrior, and Exodus 15 became one of my favourite passages. I could relate to the Israelites being between a pursuing Egyptian army and the Red Sea. It looked hopeless with no way out, but God did a miracle and let them pass through the very thing that represented chaos and death. I was inspired one evening to write another poem based on Exodus 15, which became a sort of prophecy for me of what I wanted God to do in my life, too.

Song of the Sea
It came out of nowhere,
though I know it happened over time.
A slow, halting journey into entrapment.
Now caught, ambushed, shut in on all sides.
There’s no way back into slavery;
to the right, to the left, I am surrounded by death.
Looking ahead to see the surging waters of chaos,
hearing the roar of hopelessness crash into my ears. 

Oh God, my divine warrior, show yourself!
Gain glory for yourself among my enemies!
Look on me and have mercy, for I am undone.
Fight for me and go before me.
Part this churning flood of turmoil and let me pass through without further harm. 

Faltering forward, the only way yet one full of uncertainty.
Closer, closer to the edge, the noise is deafening.
My feet feel the tug of swirling sea, as it sprays distaste at my skeletal form.
“The end! THE END!” screams my scattered mind,
falling forward in surrender to the roiling pandemonium. 

As surely as the next step would seal my fate in the heartless watery grave,
I feel the sure, steadfast piece of land beneath my feet.
Looking up I see straining arms a cross, holding the quaking walls of chaos at bay.
Surrounded still, but safely stumbling toward the other side.
Step by step, slowly, the snarling masses tower from the right and left, but
are powerless to consume me with their wrath.
Closer to the end, but looking back to see enemies in relentless pursuit,
Out to enslave their victim once again. 

Not knowing how, but that it’s true, I reach the banks.
Crumpling down into a heap of exhaustion, but not safe yet.
Through dim slits I watch the bloodthirsty mass move closer,
thinking the recent deliverance was only to wrench the sweet tendrils of hope from my frail hands.
But as unbelievable and fantastic was the dry land, deliverance was not too far away.
The unfaltering arms disappeared,
and the trembling embankments thundered down with a crash!
The sea covered my adversaries in its terrible embrace,
and they sank to the heart of the deep. 

Oh God, my divine warrior, who is like you?
You stretched out your arms and parted the raging waters for your servant.
You took them away and it swallowed my foes!
You guided me through the depths of chaos and set me on you, my Rock.
There is no one like you, whose love is everlasting.
God will reign forever and ever.

Of course, the poem did not fix my situation, but writing was one of my outlets for years, and I needed it. Despite the church’s promise to keep me informed of the investigation, I heard nothing, and felt even more powerless than before.

I graduated at the top of my class in April 2010, though I could not truly celebrate. The church offered to pay for counselling, and though it felt to me like they were only trying to shut me up, I agreed. Periodically, I suffered from nightmares where John, my old youth pastor, was still coming after me.

Shortly after graduation I began working as Youth Director at a different church. Some of the teenagers that came to my youth group also attended a youth drop-in, where I found out John was volunteering. I was afraid for their safety, so I went to talk to the drop-in leader, Pete. I tried to share my concerns without telling Pete it related to what happened to me, but part way through the conversation he figured it out. He ended up using Matthew 18, a passage about church conflict, to tell me he couldn’t do anything about the situation, because I refused to meet with John and explain how he hurt me. I later found out that he recorded the entire conversation without telling me. I felt re-victimized, powerless, and afraid for my teenagers. Thinking about it now, I don’t believe Pete was trying to hurt me or anyone else, but nevertheless he misused a Scripture passage about church conflict in a case of abuse, and put teenagers within his responsibility at risk.