That little red house on the hill was the home of my babysitter and her family of many children. Adding two more little girls to the daily mix seemed the perfect solution to the need my mom had for someone to watch my sister and me. It appeared to be a place to play with others and be cared for. It was the home of family friends, actually, a church family. Our family shared many meals of amazing food there. And, for one brown-eyed, still rounded with baby fat little girl, it became a place of deep wounding and trauma.
I’m not sure how old I was when it started. I do know that things were happening by the time I was in kindergarten – sexual things. I was a confused, playful little girl and he was a teenage boy. Before it was over, he raped me more than once, over a period of years. The little red house on the hill held deep secrets and many scenes of horror that would need to be revisited. And such scenes should not be revisited alone.
The abuse occurred in a relationship, where others should have protected; should have intervened. Healing and restoration came through life-giving relationships with others. —I revisited scenes with a trusted friend and found healing. And then I revisited scenes with a small group of friends and found more healing.
Today, I have a small band of friends – three of us to be exact. We gather to laugh and play. We gather to talk about what is going on in the present in each of our lives. These two women graciously hold a mirror and, when applicable, point out how I am still reacting to a wound that needs further healing. I do the same for them. Community. My husband is now part of this healing journey with me and enters with a voice only one so vulnerably connected to me can enter.
My story continues to be written.
Where the enemy sought to kill, steal, and destroy, I have seen Jesus who has resurrected, reclaimed, and restored. And, he continues to do so. After 16 years of being on the healing path, I know that this journey will continue. I know there are still gaping wounds that need to be touched. I know that I still react and harm others out of my wounds and, therefore, need forgiveness daily.
Almost two years ago I moved back to my hometown. The little red house no longer sits on the hill. It was torn down years ago. Yet, the trees I climbed and the yard I played in are still there. I pass it at least twice a day. Some days, I drive by not even thinking about it. Other days, I find it difficult to look at because in my mind I can see the house, I can hear the creaks of the floor, I can hear the sounds of children playing, and I can smell the mustiness of the old place mixed with the smells of my babysitter’s cooking. Some days, I look at the hill and feel totally victorious. But mostly, I feel free. I feel free to revisit as needed. I feel free to walk around the house in my mind’s eye. I feel love and compassion for myself as a little girl once so trapped by that place. She has been freed and has been integrated into my soul.
None of this would be if I had I not walked the tenacious, precarious path of healing. I have cried many tears. I will cry many more. I have laughed and celebrated freedom, friendship, and restoration. I will continue on this cycle of healing again and again until I am completely and fully present in the Kingdom of God. Choosing to take the journey into the truth of my story has been the best decision I have ever made. My healing ripples and overflows to my husband, to my children, to my friends, to my acquaintances, to my co-workers, to my group members, and even to those with whom I momentarily interact with at a restaurant or a store.
Life is not lived alone. I daily choose to stay on the path. Sometimes I do well; sometimes I completely fail. But, that little red house on the hill no longer controls me.
Marla Kennedy is proud to be a southerner having recently returned to her roots in north Mississippi. She is a wife and mother of four young adult children, plus a bonus young adult son. Marla has learned to use her voice to speak truth to herself and to others and longs for women who have been trapped by trauma to find the healing path of restoration. Marla has a passion to bring the light of Christ into the deep, dark places of feminine souls and to watch Him work in reviving life. She and a small band of friends are currently working on the beginning stages of a project that will seek to do just that and much more. Stay tuned!