William Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other would smell as sweet.” A name communicates a lot of things, but mostly, it identifies who or what we are talking about, gives clarity. I know that I have kept my name hidden, and I really want to explain the many reasons why. I pray you will receive my explanations with grace and understanding.
First, I choose anonymity. Some people call me Grace and I am good with that – wish it were my name, really. I know they get it from the title of my blog, “Grace Anchored Soul.” It makes me smile and brings me joy because it reminds me of God’s grace.
Some call me Abigail – and that is the name that I am published under. It means father’s joy. It became my pen name when the publisher contacted me. I chose Abigail because it reminds me of who I am to my Heavenly Father, that I bring Him joy. My dad always called me a curse, told me he wished I was never born. Once he put his hands around my neck to strangle me while screaming horrible things at me. But God preserved my life, redeemed me, and called me his child. My Heavenly Father rejoices over me and considers me a joy, not a curse. And so, for that reason, I chose Abigail as the name that people would know me by.
Others know who I am and call me by my given name – and that is fine, but their comments never make it on this site. Still others know who I am, but understand my need for anonymity and comment without my name (thank you).
Why anonymity? Some might think that I am hiding in shame. For many years, that would have been accurate. Now, as God has written His healing in my heart, I have made the choice to remain anonymous for the protection of my family as well as for the protection of my abusers.
For myself and my family:
I am an addict of the worst kind – although my dip into drugs was short-lived, it is a daily battle to stay sober. I have been clean one month short of two years. My children don’t need to pay for the mistakes of their mother. Friends and family who know that I have used heroin have responded with grace and love, but the church isn’t a safe place for people with sins like mine. Other children wouldn’t be allowed to play with my children – I have witnessed this with other children whose parents struggle. Not all parents are understanding and some would keep their children from my children in fear of me. So, I write under a pen name for my children’s protection.
And for my abusers:
My first abuser is dead. I hadn’t seen him in decades, but attended his funeral – I can’t explain why I felt the need to do that. I sat and listened to what a wonderful man he was, how he had surrendered his life to Christ and was now in heaven. All I could think was that he had molested me repeatedly beginning when I was four… how is that “wonderful”? The pastor shared the good news of Jesus, saying that the man would want everyone to know what he came to believe and live by: Jesus died for sinners like him. We sang “Amazing Grace.” I cried angry, busted up, bitter tears. He had gotten away with what he did to me. But then God reminded me that his sentence had been just and his punishment had been fair… just like mine was. Jesus had carried his sins to the cross, just like He had mine. Death was required and in mercy and grace, Jesus paid it for him. He is my brother and when I get to heaven, we will embrace. None of the harm he caused me will be between us. It’s hard to think or imagine, but it is truth, even on the days when I punch my pillow and weep over it. And nothing would be accomplished by ruining the testimony he had at the end of his life.
My second abuser was a teen. Mistakes made by a teen should not destroy him now. I have forgiven. If I ever suspected he was harming someone else, I would come forward. But really? He has grown into a really good man who fears God and has overcome the abuse that he endured as a child, as well as the abuses he committed against me. There is something to be said for that. He deserves freedom from the past, just like I do. He still lives near me and I run into him at the grocery store occasionally. He always stops and talks to me. I come home and cry, wondering how he can even look at me after what he did. In the end though, grace and peace win – Jesus loves me. Jesus loves him.
One of my abusers is an old man. He has not made peace with God. Do I think that publicizing his sins against me will lead him to repentance? Probably not. It would probably cause him to harden his heart even further. So, for the hope and prayer that he will repent and give his life to Jesus, I remain anonymous. Some days, it is hard. Some days, I want to point my finger and say, “My daddy hurt me and I want the world to know it…” but then God reminds me, “Vengeance is mine…” And one way or another, God will have vengeance, the price for his sins will be paid. He will either repent and turn to Jesus, allowing Jesus to carry his guilt and shame to the cross, just like He did mine, or he will pay the price for the things he did for all eternity. All eternity is a hard, long time, and so I pray he finds Jesus.
The other men who harmed me, well, I don’t even know their names or where they are. If I saw them today, I don’t even know if I would recognize them. I pray that they too will come to know and understand the redemptive power of Jesus.
For God’s Glory:
I don’t write to be known. I write for God to be known. I don’t want others to be distracted by who I am. Nor do I want pity from those who know me personally, but are unaware of my story. I want all that I write to point to the redeeming grace of God. In the midst of my pain, there is a God who is able to use it for my good and His glory. Just like Joseph said, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20), I long for Him to use the evil against me for good – to turn the ashes of childhood abuse to beauty!