Once in a blue moon I connect with a stranger via email and sense immediate kinship. Typically it’s just because we’re both writers – understandable since writers tend to be far more eloquent in written word than spoken. But when I “met” Carissa Magras, this week’s Nothing So Broken guest blogger, I knew that (1) the girl can write, and (2) she, like me, has a deep-thinking soul. Though we haven’t spent much time together, thus far my first impression has proven correct. Carissa is a deep thinker and woman of powerful convictions. She is also strong because she knows what it is to be weak. She is a warrior because she knows what it is to be a victim. She is a breathing example that “there is nothing so broken God cannot redeem it.” I am honored to welcome her to my blog, and thankful to call her my friend.
Nothing So Broken: Risking Comfort for Redemption
Guest post by Carissa Magras
From the moment of conception we had prayed for him. Knowing the potential devastation, we did everything possible since birth to keep him safe and protected. And yet here we were: listening to our four year old son tell us how another young boy had molested him. That day our hearts were broken, and so was our son’s soul.
For years we had prayed so fervently for God to protect Jesse from anything remotely close to what I endured as a sexually abused child. Yet now we were grieving the purity and innocence our four year old son had lost, and the betrayal and violation he had gained. No longer was he ignorant about the violent ways of the world. About abuse, sin, and sexual immorality. His eyes had been open and his heart torn apart far sooner than I had ever imagined it would be. And there was nothing I, nor Brandon, could do. Sometimes after Jesse went to bed at night we would hold one another and cry. We would pray. We would vent our anger and confusion. We would grieve. It felt as if someone in our home had died. Our son was still there – but a part of him was gone, lost forever. And we could not get it back.
Family and friends tried to downplay what happened as normal, but I knew better. Having been trained in crisis intervention, trauma response, and psychology, I knew that Jesse’s out-of-the-blue trauma symptoms were no coincidence, and most definitely not “normal” – even though I wished with everything in me that they were. I wanted to believe that they were not really “symptoms,” and that what happened had no effect on him at all. But ignoring the facts and denying the truth would not help my son recover. Nor would it do anything to help the boy who did this to him.
Thankfully my child had a chance. We knew what to do, and we did it from the get go, implementing every bit of knowledge and training I had been exposed to. Within weeks, his most obvious trauma symptoms subsided, and after several months he returned to the same ol’ Jesse we knew prior to the incident. His happy-go-lucky personality returned, his fervor and curiosity for life, and his ability to love, laugh, and trust again.
The other child was not as fortunate. There had been multiple stories from several witnesses indicating clear evidence of physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. And obviously this boy did not set out intentionally to traumatize and violate Jesse – he was simply doing what had probably been done to him at some point. Jesse had a safe place to call home. And with the proper care and attention, Jesse would recover. This boy did not have those same luxuries.
The safety and well-being of this boy were just as much of a concern for us as our own son. I knew the devastation and destruction of growing up in a dysfunctional and chronically abusive home – and neither Brandon or myself could sit idly by while this child’s life was endangered. Because he happened to attend the same church as we did, we first took the situation to our Pastor. We made it very clear that our primary concern was for the child and his family to get the help they needed in order to establish a safe and healthy home. The Pastor assured us that they would handle the situation adequately.
Days turned into weeks. And weeks into months. Not only were we dealing with the grief of our son, but now we had to become “bad guys,” beating down the church’s doors in order to ensure the safety and well-being of another child who was in far greater danger than Jesse. No one seemed to care. The issue consistently got put on the back burner unless I called and demanded attention. Even then their goal seemed to be more about how to avoid the situation than actually dealing with it. A child’s life was in danger, with his broken mother suffering from her own abuse as a child; which had greatly impacted her ability to adequately care for her son. Numerous people knew this. And yet no one cared enough to intervene. Although if you had asked them if they cared, they would emphatically reply with a resounding, “Yes!” But their actions spoke otherwise.
Instead of speaking the truth in love to this family, and actively getting involved to ensure the safety and abuse prevention of the child, the church chose to stay silent. They didn’t want to rock the boat or stir the waters. They were afraid of upsetting the mother, and of causing problems – but all at the expense of the child. So they justified, negated, down-played, and ignored. They found ways out of having to address the situation instead of finding ways to deal with it. They spent more time trying to stay within their comfort zone, than gaining the courage and strength to step out of it. Here it was, the one place who emphasized the utter need for rescue, recovery, and redemption – and yet, the same people denied and purposefully ignored the opportunity to give such things to a family standing face-to-face with them.
So what then? Let me ask you something: Have you ever taken a hammer to a piece of resilient glass? The first hit or so would only result in a crack, or maybe even a clean break into two pieces. But you take that hammer, and you keep beating that glass. With every hit, come more cracks, little chips and shards, and eventually ground glass turned into powder that can never be put back the way it originally was. The longer it is hammered, the harder it is for it to be repaired. Does that mean it is beyond repair? No, never. Even broken pieces of glass can be turned into a beautiful mosaic. But it is much easier to glue two pieces of clean cut glass back together, than to repair a pile of rubble.
When we stop justifying abuse – and we get willing to get uncomfortable and uneasy in our skin, in order to potentially save the life of another human being – then we stop the hammer. We provide an easier and faster repair for that child, before their life turns to rubble and needs a lifetime of utter pain and constant tears in order to be mended again. It’s not easy, but turning a blind eye to abuse is what has made this horrific household event an epidemic in our society. When we refuse to intervene in the lives of children who are possibly being the victims of abuse, then we are just as guilty as the abusers themselves.
It has been said that Edmund Burke once wrote, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” If we are to cease the triumph of this evil, and save the lives of many children, then we must do something – not nothing.
As a survivor of childhood sexual & emotional abuse, Carissa is an uncommon writer and speaker, authentically discussing the effects of abuse, the road of recovery, and the discovery of hope and healing through Jesus. Her passion is to inspire, encourage, and educate others in order to make a difference in the intervention and prevention of child abuse everywhere, while helping those in recovery find truth and a renewed hope in Christ. Carissa lives in Lancaster County, PA, with her husband, two children, and bich-poo. She blogs weekly at www.CarissaMagras.com.