Ideally, a young girl should grow up surrounded by love; the adults in her life should be dependable; they should respect boundaries; they should alleviate fear rather than stir it up. We instinctively feel that all of these shoulds ought to be a given. But the sad reality is that a large percentage of girls, and boys, are sexually abused.
It has been repeated so often that it has achieved the status of a mantra: Most molesters are people known to the child, be they relatives, family friends, teachers, community leaders, and even religious leaders.
And to multiply the evil, many in society and church have chosen the path of least resistance, going on the presumption that adults are more believable than children; that men are more believable than women; that abuse is caused more by the victims’ behavior or dress than the choices of the perpetrators.
Lisa Radcliff has lived this whole narrative, being sexually abused as a child and then spending decades learning to unravel her experience. Abuse left her with a cluster of fears: not just fear of (some) men but also fear of bridges, enclosed places, bees, bats, tractor-trailers. “Fear monopolized my life,” she reports.
That picture hardly seemed to match the Lisa that I have known for more than 25 years. Lisa in my mind is a woman who is quick to serve church and community, God-fearing, and bold to the point of sassiness. I never would have guessed that she had such ugly experiences as a child. No-one ever does! reports Lisa. But she has taken the hard and brave step of telling her story: that she was regularly abused by a local man, a friend and neighbor who enjoyed a sterling reputation in the community. She could not convince the adults in her life that he was wronging her, and so she was left to her own resources to protect herself.
Hidden With Christ is not just another tell-all: yes, it is Lisa’s story, told with vulnerability; but it is also a thorough, rigorous development of God’s solution to her prison. She starts out by warning the reader against simply giving a Bible Band-Aid to cover up the hurt. But on the other hand, she says:
…Scripture is the only thing that can truly change a heart. As an author, I can’t sit down and listen to every reader’s story. It’s not possible for me put an arm around you and offer comfort other than the words of this book. But I know that God’s Word is living and active and can give the peace that victims so desperately desire.
And that is precisely what she sets about doing, taking us through dozens of verses, but more importantly, giving a precise sense of how those texts answer the problems she and others face. Now, I am always a bit surprised when I hear some friend interpreting the Bible and sound doctrine with such aplomb; usually, as in this case, it’s because we have never talked about the topic, and they have been praying and mulling over it for decades.
Lisa also gives some concrete help on how to help others who are suffering; and how your church might prevent such abuse within its walls.
Lisa J. Radcliff is a fellow blogger, and I can highly recommend her site. You can find it at http://lisajradcliff.com. From there you can link to her second blog, “People, Puppies, and Parables: Seeing God in the Everyday.” The puppies in question are the dogs (22 so far!) that she has trained for The Seeing Eye, Inc.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: Let me recommend two other books written by friends who have worked through God’s teaching on their own issues. Again, both are available on Amazon and as Kindle books:
Brent McNamara, No More Hiding No More Shame: Freedom from Pornography Addiction (rev. ed., 2017). I wrote the Foreword for it.
“Book Review: Lisa J. Radcliff, Hidden with Christ: Breaking Free from the Grip of your Past,” by Gary S. Shogren, Professor of New Testament, Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica