Overcoming Evil (Sexual Abuse)

People have said to me, why is sexual abuse such a big deal? My immediate reaction is to wonder if the person asking that question has been abused. For how could a healthy parent envision their trusting five-year-old son or daughter being touched and sexually aroused for the pleasure and exploitation of an adult and not wonder about its impact? It takes just a moment for innocence and childhood to be lost forever, and a lifetime is spent unveiling the heart from self-protective walls. Children of abuse will never relax in their mother’s arms the same way they did before the violation, nor will they rest with the same abandon in their spouse’s embrace. The damage to the soul will eventually erupt into external realities. "The incident of shame, depression, and dissociation have been found to be primary symptoms of significant trauma, especially sexual abuse," states Dr. Allender. Other problems often associated with sexual trauma are compulsive disorders such as alcohol and substance abuse, eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, poor self-esteem and narcissistic grandiosity, and a host of stress related disorders such as intestinal problems, lower backaches, neck and jaw pain and chronic headaches.

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Leaving a Legacy

All parents will wound their children. It's a given due to the curse of living outside Eden. Yet, it is a rare gift to model encountering the enemies of our heart and how to struggle well. The redemptive lessons are immeasurable and the impact substantial when parents exhibit strength that is counterbalanced by humility and honesty. Children need strength that offers structure, the protection of limits and the ability to rest in something larger than themselves. There is no question that children will see their parents fail. The real question is whether parents will acknowledge their flawed humanity and thus affirm to their children that what they see is indeed true.

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We Were Made For Something More

Everything is turned upside down. Life is the opposite from what it should be -- what we deeply long for. We are catapulted from the secure, soothing cadence of a mother's heartbeat to startled breath, bright lights and cold air. By design we adjust to our new environment with insatiable curiosity, exploration, wonder and awe. Moments are magical, days longer than 24 hours, dreams so profuse it would be easier to capture all the stars in the sky. Imagination turns clouds into animals, raindrops into pearls and sunbeams into rays of tiny dancing ballerinas. For the child the simple becomes sacred. Fairy tales, magic wands and ruby slippers speak of the hope, dreams and desires that live inside each of us - a sacred hope that lies beyond this world.

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First and Final Words

My mother’s joy is now complete. With her final words, she risked sharing what was most profoundly in her heart. She was closer to wholeness in that moment than she had ever been on earth. And now she is healed. Her memory is perfect. She laughs as she freely shares her heart. She now sees God’s face and her soul is sated. She is home. We don’t have to wait to offer our final words. We can borrow from heaven what is supernatural; God’s favor upon us. We can allow our empty ache to be filled with joy and we can speak life-giving words now.

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Suffering that Transforms

Our suffering is not without purpose. God’s plan is what is best for us (although perhaps not what we would choose). In His mercy, we are privileged to participate in the usurping of evil and the transforming of sorrow. Yet, some redemption wait’s for eternity. However, we know God remembers and redeems every last tear. Until that time, He offers reminders found in beauty, food, good friends and sexual intimacy that whisper there is more. That more is found in God as we wait for the Great Consummation. He loves us enough to not give us what we want--what in the end will kill us. Rather, He gives us what we desire most–Himself.

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Change is a Certainty

Whether subtle or jarring, the momentum of change shifts our balance, disrupts our routines and rattles our repose. It impacts our lives and we are never the same. Our response to change can either be to submerge into lethargy or open our hearts to the breath of life, like a screaming new born baby. Change and its ensuing chaos can be less of an enemy and more of a friend for it can heighten awareness, shatter certainty, and engender perspective, while stirring our hunger for an authentic relationship with God.

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Margaret Bernhart Profile

Margaret Bernhart LMHC

Margaret Bernhart

LMHC

Offices in Neptune Beach &
Tallahassee Florida
904-510-2567 · 850-668-3750



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One of the most profound desires of every human being is to be known, observed and touched by the soul of another. -MB