God and Sexual Assault

Pearls in Recovery

When you meet trials...

I’ve been listening to a church online lately since my anxiety keeps me from being able to handle being at church. Sunday’s sermon was on James and finding joy in our trials. I had to roll my eyes. Not again I thought. I get so tired of preachers telling me I’m supposed to be joyful and this is just a “trial” as in one thing I’m going through.

I get bitter, angry, and immediately don’t want to hear what they have to say. Trial they say? Maybe you experienced a job loss, health issues, or financial stress. Just one? Really? How about all of the above at once on top of recovery which is ignored.

If we had cancer we could have Facebook groups with people checking in for support on our journey in recovery or large prayer chains at church, but since our recovery can’t be traced to what others consider life threatening it is down played and ignored. Even though we are in the fight of our lives.

You can hear the bitterness can’t you? I can. I feel it as I write. That’s where I get when people tell me to feel joy right now. That’s where I found myself Sunday and even today as I listened to the pastor preach and put up another post about the joy to be found in trials and how we just need to change our perspective about the final outcome.

It is incredibly difficult to think about anything but the pain we feel right now. The losses we endured. The stress, depression, and anxiety. Out trials involve trauma and our emotions. Many of us simply have not acquired the skills other adults have to deal with life because we were being abused during that time.

All of this plays a factor into being able to comprehend what God is doing, recognize what’s happening and ultimately know God’s love and grace.

Maybe it takes you awhile as it does me to comprehend what I hear and take it in – because we have so much trauma in our brains. So it wasn’t until today, three days later, that it began to occur to me that I am thankful these trials have come along.

If you’d asked me 11 years ago if I was willing to go through all I have been through and all that is left to go through I would have said no. The heartache, pain, losses, and struggles have been immense.

The loss of my family, every friend, my job, financial stability, a family of my own and children, on top of the nightmares of the abuse and rapes of my childhood and the betrayal that comes with them. PTSD, depression, anxiety.

I could not have given you any reason it would be worth it. I went to church. Thought I had a relationship with God that was good, prayed when needed, and did what I thought was sing praises to God. I wore a cross necklace and ring.

I had given my life to God at 17 and “all of it” to Him at 20, including my dreams of marriage and children, but I still planned on marriage and children and the “happy” life.

Now, I have been in search of why God loves me. I want a deeper relationship with Him than “Good morning and good night” and Sunday morning. I want to understand His mercy and grace. Before this journey I took for granted what Jesus did for me and why.

After I got through blaming God for letting it happen over and over and realizing it was the choice of man’s free will to sin against me.

This journey to recover from such deep wounds of trauma has led me to a crisis of faith. To a place with God I never would have come to without it. A craving for a deeper relationship with Him. For Him to make me the woman He wants me to be so I can serve Him and He can take what Satan meant for bad to be used for His glory.

I have seen God literally save my life during that past 5 years. Continue to provide for my needs. Though it is lonely and I keep praying He’ll take away this anxiety and work on my interpersonal skills so I don’t have to be so alone.

I am also aware that without anyone else around I seek God more, and though He can’t hug me I can give you exact moments of peace only He could have given me.

It is difficult to continue each day knowing the long road of recovery still ahead. Knowing our “trial” is so long and our emotions raw and that very few truly understand PTSD and how it affects us. But God knows. He is using this time to create a beautiful masterpiece out of what we see as the disaster of our lives.

Like the pastor said today in a post it’s like a piece of sand in an oyster and the sand irritates it and in the process of that it becomes a pearl. If we change our perspective and look at the final outcome sometimes it helps during the trial. Though when we’re in the sand it’s hard to see that they’ll ever be a pearl.

I am not going to say, “Yes, if I imagine God turning all this into something of beauty I feel more at peace.” I don’t. Right now I feel extreme anxiety, and I’m depressed. It is hard for me to “feel” anything beyond what my body is saying.

But I can look back over the past 11 years and start to see glimpses of little pearls God has begun to create and have the hope He is creating more. The joy James talks about I see more as hope and not happiness.

I’m choosing to believe one day God is going to show me some very big, beautiful pearls that He created from all of this.

How about you? Do you believe God’s creating pearls out of your recovery?


Please help me see the bigger picture and begin to show me the pearls you are creating to provide me hope during recovery.


 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

© 2019 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.

Susan is an author and speaker who loves to share her journey of God's redemption and encourage others as they look to God. As a former elemetary teacher with a passion for teaching, Susan also owns her own tutoring and consulting business where she empowers students and parents in reading. Susan lives in Lee's Summit, Missouri, with her adorable and grumpy Persian cat, Mia.

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