by Sonya Skinner
I shuddered watching the news of Jerry Sandusky, a former American football coach arrested on multiple counts of sexual child abuse. There were arguments regarding his guilt, accusations, denial, covered ups and changing stories. The parallels between this story and the abuse I experienced in my own childhood were crawly.
Correlations didn’t stop with abuse. The denying, defending, looking away, and minimizing echoed down the halls of dysfunction in my life. Media continued covering the trial. Headlines blared “Why didn’t anyone do anything?” The painful question I have asked my whole life is, “Why didn’t I do anything?” Regret tried to overtake grace but I knew this conviction was not to bring shame or guilt. It was to increase the commission God had already given me a few years back, to turn and strengthen others.
“Sadness as intended by God produces a repentance that leads to salvation, leaving no regret,but worldly sadness brings about death.”
2 Corinthians 7:10
Worldly sadness and its destruction ruled a lot of my life. I was a wounded, rebellious, untrusting, a 5 foot ticking time bomb. Drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, dui’s, and arrests, I pretty much tried everything under the sun to cope with pain. Even healthy attempts to escape became chronic and destructive, obsessively trying to be good, people pleasing and unduly serving.
All of these patterns eventually led to psychosis and admission to a psyche ward. While settling in, a letter was delivered. I swallowed a lump of shame, embarrassed that this close friend and mentor knew where I was. After reading a few sentences tears started streaming down my cheeks as the words began transforming my hardened heart. God was with me. He knew long before I was born that this was going to happen to me and he loved me anyway. The letter contained a verse replacing Peters name with mine: “Sonya, Sonya satan has asked to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that you would not loose faith and when you turn back, strengthen others” (Luke 22:31). With my spirit crushed, Gods grace became greater then my colossal sin.
Now sober, I started to deal with my messed up relationship with God and others and my lack of trust. God’s Word says the truth will set us free. True forgiveness and healing came when I stopped listening to all the distorted information in my head and began replacing it with God’s truth.
The Sandusky scandal broke and, as disturbing as it was, the story empowered me to be more bold in helping others. I began writing out my story and leading a small group for women effected by childhood abuse. I contacted some members of my family I hadn’t spoken to in years and cannot even describe my excitement to learn God is restoring others as well.
If childhood abuse or any kind of abuse has been part of your past I highly recommend talking to someone you can trust. The church has a list of qualified counselors. Join a Support Care Group like Wounded Heart or a small group such as Freedom. The benefits of Gods healing far outweigh the risks.
“This light, temporary nature of our suffering is producing for us an everlasting weight of glory, far beyond any comparison.”
2 Corinthians 4:17
The loves of Sonya’s life are her husband Brad of 29 years, her three adult children Adam, Bo & Laura, her daughter in-law Erin and her “state of the art” granddaughter Noveli. As assistant to the food service director here at Grace Family Church, she knows we cannot live on Chicken Wings alone. She is also very active in delivering spiritual nutrition, sharing her experience hope & strength in various women’s groups.