Count It All Joy

February 5, 2012

My cold hands held on to the back of the metal chair in front of me.  White knuckles to keep from shaking.  I hated the purple dress and strappy black shoes.  I wanted to scrape back the carefully curled and styled hair into a pony tail, scrub off the makeup and run.  Just run away.  To somewhere safe. It had been such a good evening.

Count it all joy.

Surely this counted as a “diverse trial”.  I could still feel his breath on my neck, his hands at my waist and those awful, ugly words raced through my head. Over and over again.

Just breathe.  Count it all joy.

I had promised myself, were I ever to be in that position again, I’d do something.  I would stand up and defend myself.   And yet, I had frozen.  My adult self reduced to a three year old who didn’t understand.

Count it…

That was 10 years ago.  It is hardly the worst thing that has happened to me yet it resonates down through my life as the first time I realized that predators lived inside the church and they looked like middle aged men who are flattered by surrounding themselves with naive young women.

He was wrong.  I wasn’t flattered and I wasn’t naive.

When his advances weren’t strongly rebuffed I was subjected to weeks of tiptoeing around him in our little fellowship.  Trying to be “nice” while he continued to pursue me.

I should have told my husband.  I was so ashamed by my own lack of strength and we were so young in this love thing that, somehow, the lie twisted into the perception that he’d somehow think I asked for this and, since I hadn’t told him sooner, I must have wanted this attention and…

I didn’t know how to count it all joy.

I can now.  Looking back on that situation.

I did say no.  I was protected.  I did, eventually, sever all ties.   I was kept.

I learned to be stronger.  Not to flinch.  Not to freeze.  Not to accept his behavior as a reflection on me but to allow him the full weight of his own choices.

Counting it all joy isn’t saying that the difficult and the terrible are filled with joy but rather that there is joy in our being kept despite the difficult and terrible.  It is in the testing and the trying that we grow.  That patience is allowed to have “its perfect work”.

Five years ago, in a different town, a different man, a different scenario.   A different me.

I turned away from that man and I didn’t look back.

Can I count that joy too?


Will it happen again?

I don’t know.  I’m not the interesting young thing anymore.

And I’m not quiet either.  My husband is not ignorant.

For that growth alone?

I can count it joy.  All of it.

  • Dear Heidi, thank you for sharing this poignant, difficult, painful experience. That you can count it all joy is such a work of grace! I know you today as a woman who I can’t imagine someone taking advantage of because you’re wise and mature…but this story gives a glimpse into how people arrive at a more mature place…many diverse trials.

  • Res Ipsa

    I hope you learned another lesson. Always tell your husband/father rightway. Men are hardwired for protection and we can’t do our job if we don’t know.

    First 6 months of our marriage mrs Ipsa had something like this happen. In that case it was with a much older guy who had tired hitting on her while he was still married and before she and I had met. This all happened at a different chruch than the one we were going to. The same guy showed up at our church after we were married (and after he had married someone else) and “hinted” around with my wife. She didn’t tell me for several weeks. After speaking with another older women at church she brought the matter to my attention. Problem solved.

  • @ Res, we have a very, very different relationship now than we did then. He knows, often before I do, if something is “hinky”. And he is never in the dark if I feel that way.

    @ Jen… Oh, to be wise and mature. I shake in my boots at the thought of being perceived that way! Thank you for your kindness. 🙂