"Rid of My Disgrace" Book Review (5/5)

The (under-reported) statistics are staggering. At least one in four women and one in six men are or will be victims of sexual assault in their lifetime. This almost guarantees that "Rid of My Disgrace" will be relevant to either you, or someone you know.

For those who are like me, it may be hard to imagine the sort of pain that sexual assault victims experience, but we have to try. We are not resolved of our responsibility to bear others' burdens simply because it's "hard." Just as those who are victimized have to face the darkness before they can fully heal, we must also stand beside them and face that darkness as well. This is how we can share the love of Christ and provide a safe haven for those who have been victimized.

For those who have been sexually assaulted, my heart goes out to you, and so do the hearts of Justin and Lindsey Holcomb. I fully recommend this book because the authors do an excellent job of defining sexual assault, explaining its affects, and looking to the Gospel to heal a very real hurt.

The Holcombs recognize that the "internal trauma [of sexual assault] is not only done to, but also experienced by victims" and affects the victim physically, emotionally, psychologically, relationally, and spiritually. You may be experiencing denial, a distortion of your self-image, shame, guilt, anger, and/ or despair as the result of what was done to you. Know that these "emotions are important and valid. They are not just chemicals in your brain...they reveal what you believe about God, yourself, your experience of sexual assault, others, and the world."

This book aims "to integrate suffering, faith, emotions, and theology." I have read a decent amount of counseling books, and I must say that they do an excellent job at this. They do not just provide pithy and positive self-statements, but instead provide "God's statements about his response to [your] pain." "To your sense of disgrace," the authors write, "God restores, heals, and re-creates through grace. A good short definition of grace is 'one-way love.' This is the opposite of your experience of assault, which was 'one-way violence'...The contrast between the two is staggering." The authors will hopefully encourage you to "[refuse] to settle for the way things are" and be filled with a "relentless hope."

What you experienced was a destruction of shalom, the peace and harmony that God intended. What you experienced was a violation of your identity and value as an image-bearer of God. But God can, has, and will restore that harmony and identity to you- and so much more. "To your pain, the Gospel says, 'you will be healed.' To your shame, the Gospel says, 'you can now come to God in confidence.' To your rejection, the Gospel says, 'You are accepted!' To your lostness, the Gospel says, 'You are found and I won't ever let you go.' To your sin, the Gospel says, 'You are forgiven and God declares you pure and righteousness.' To your death, the Gospel says, 'You once were dead, but now you are alive.'"

(Disclosure: I was given a free copy of "Rid of My Disgrace" by the publisher but was not paid for my review. The opinions and impressions expressed herein are my own.)