I experienced victories as I purged Dumb, Stupid, and Ugly, bitterness, and an unforgiving heart from my life. But as those enemies disappeared, others jumped in and took control of my mind. In particular, I developed an intense phobia of going to the grocery store. Can you imagine not being able to shop for food for your family? Through the years, I had never enjoyed going to the grocery store by myself, but as a mom I had always conveniently had a child to go with me. So I was never really alone as I shopped. But now, my children were all grown and gone, and my husband was working in another city, and there was no one to go with me to the store.
So I just did not go. It was just impossible for me to go into the grocery store. Luckily, I could lunch with friends, and when my husband was home he would pick up a few things for us. But that could not go on forever. One day, I found that the only thing left in the pantry was tuna. For days, I ate only tuna, straight out of the can. I knew I needed to replenish my pantry and freezer, but I just could not make myself go. I became depressed. I reached my lowest point when the day came that I opened my refrigerator and my freezer and realized that there was literally no food in either place.
I knew that I needed help. I made up my mind to write a grocery list and go shopping. First, though, I decided to make up menus for each day of the week to help me with my list. I made headings: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Monday? Check. Tuesday? Check. And that’s where I stopped. The other days of the week remained blank. I looked at my totally empty refrigerator and freezer, and they looked back at me. I even took a picture of that emptiness with my phone. I wanted to tell someone, but I was afraid. Finally, I did show someone the picture of my empty refrigerator, and her unsympathetic response was, “Good grief.” I felt so ashamed and just wanted to run away.
I desperately wanted and needed to go to the grocery store, and I just couldn’t understand why it was such a difficult thing for me. So I told another friend. Thankfully, this friend came straight to my house, scooped me up, and took me to the store. It was not a pretty sight. I could not go into the store. My friend let me sit in her car and cry for a little while. Finally, we got out of the car and walked toward the entrance. But I had to stop and cry some more. I was so ashamed, so embarrassed. Luckily, my friend did not care how much I cried. She just waited and encouraged me and gradually drew me into the store. We walked up and down the aisles—and she pretended that she needed some groceries, too—and I collected a few items to help me make it until the end of the week. It was difficult, but I survived the ordeal and discovered that I was enjoying being out with my friend. She was and still is a true friend, a safe friend who will never give away my shameful secret or treat me as if I were crazy.
This friend acted out Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (NIV). My counseling, my phobias, my struggles, and my past were not things that I wanted to share with anyone. I felt ashamed and weird, but at last I realized that the enemy was trying to keep me isolated and defeated. I really needed someone to “help me up,” and God sent me someone to help.
Are you struggling with something that you are ashamed for your friends to discover? Is there something with which you need help but you are too afraid to ask for it? Sexual abuse and its effects are certainly private issues, but there are times when we need someone to help us. Sharing your problems with another person is a risk, but it is a risk worth taking. Remember, God tells us in His word that “two are better than one.” Pray, and ask God to send someone into your life to help you in your time of need. He will do it. Believe. Take the risk. Allow someone to take your hand because someday God may call on you to be the helping hand for another.
Friends—we all need them.
Blessings – Lisa