Somewhere from the annals of my youth, I recall the sultry strains of Peggy Lee’s voice slithering through the radio waves posing this question: “Is That All There Is?”
Peggy Lee’s inquiry wasn’t a unique 20th Century question. Somewhere around 950 BC, the wise, but disillusioned, King Solomon lamented,
Some survivors of childhood sexual abuse wonder if the pain of their past is “all there is.” Life for many feels meaningless.
Peggy Lee answers her question with an “if-then” statement, concluding. “If that’s all there is,” then there’s nothing more to do than to “keep dancing” and “bring out the booze.”
Unfortunately, far too many survivors of childhood sexual abuse seek love in wrong places—with wrong people. Some medicate emotional pain, becoming addicted to substances like alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription medications. Others live in a state of perpetual shame, sadness and secretiveness. Still, others attempt fiercely to control and manage their pain by controlling and managing every aspect of their life as well as every significant person in their life.
One of the reasons my journey of faith as
one who believes fiercely in the goodness and rightness of God,
one who desires to imitate the example of Christ,
one who believes in the voice of a Divine Spirit,
one who believes in the truth of Scripture
is because that journey never leaves me wondering, “Is that all there is?” My belief in God the Father, the Son and Spirit, as well as words of Scripture, adds rich meaning—even to the pain and ugliness that exists in our fallen world filled with wounded, fallen inhabitants.
The Apostle Paul explained to his friends in Corinth that the resurrection of Jesus provided the anecdote to life’s futility. Paul taught that because of the resurrection, life—even life into death—is filled with meaning.
Paul and his fellow 1st Century Christians encountered dismal circumstances. Many were martyred for their belief. Of these hardships, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15, said, “And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I face death every day….If the dead are not raised,
Paul saw the promise of an eternal destiny worth enduring all the suffering life threw at him. I have a feeling Paul would have disagreed heartily if he’d heard Peggy Lee sing, “Is that all there is?” And, I doubt if—following his dramatic conversion—the fervent Christ-follower ever lamented, “Everything is meaningless!”
Perhaps surprising to many, Bethany’s faith survived in spite of sexual abuse by her pastor—her supposed spiritual leader. Her perception of God—a God she’d envisioned as a child was harsh, punitive and out to ‘get’ her—is being transformed as she develops a more accurate view of God’s character and as she interacts with people attempting to travel journeys of faith filled with love and grace. They aren’t perfect people, but ones who take seriously and desire to live out authentically the words of Jesus to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…[and to] ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:28-31)
I’m not sure who’s reading this Listening on the Journey blog post. Sometimes as I write, it seems like I’m exposing my soul to cyberspace unknowns, and frankly, that can feel intimidating. Yet, I keep writing, feeling compelled to write many of the words I type. Such has been the case as I’ve partnered with Bethany to write the posts about childhood sexual abuse. So, even though I may not be acquainted with who you are or know the pain of your journey, I hope you’ll feel assured that with every fiber of my being, I believe God knows and God cares about you and your story!
As I close today, I want to leave you with words spoken by Jesus about those who accepted his message.
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10 NLT).
I’m praying your life will be blessed with richness and deep satisfaction…
The tragedy of childhood abuse threatens to suck joy clean out of our souls, but that’s not all there is. The promise of Jesus is a rich and satisfying life.