By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—Lucinda Mills spent over 30 years writing her recently released book, “Let Yesterday Go,” a story about her personal journey through her life as a victim of sexual abuse and rape committed by her father, a church deacon. Now, the author and wife of a Southern Baptist pastor, Mills is using her tragic experience to help others through her personal testimony, her book and as a speaker at women’s ministry events.
Mills said she started writing “Let Yesterday Go,” in 1979. “I was hoping by writing the book it would help me put things in perspective,” she explained.
She tried to sell the book in the early 80’s, then again in the early 90’s, but it was a subject that no one wanted to touch.
Mills completed the manuscript when her father died in 2009. “I finally had an end to the book,” she said with a sigh. It was then that God opened the doors. “Within ten days of sending it in, I had a contract in hand,”
Lucinda and her husband were thrilled, but a book about such a sensitive subject brought challenges.
“I had to stand before the church in January and tell them, ‘I wrote this book about my life and I want you to know it’s out there.’ Then I couldn’t sleep,” Mills said. She began thinking about how much people in the congregation would know about her–much less than she knew about them.
“People make judgments according to what they see. When you put your private thoughts in writing, it’s really hard,” she said.
Mills said she was surprised at the response of some Christian agencies that would not allow her to do book signings because they believe the content is too graphic. “The Bible is graphic; people are suffering. Abused people and abusers, are sitting in the pews and need to hear the truth,“ Mills emphasized.
Mills shared that though God healed her, the effects of the abuse still linger. Even being in small prayer groups for a period of time causes her intense anxiety.
“It’s hard to be around a whole group of people and not feel isolated. The effects flow into every area of my life. It’s hard to knock walls down. You keep walls around to protect yourself. It’s hard to let people get close to you because things everyday in your environment trigger your thoughts. It could be something like a hand gesture, a look someone gives you, a magazine, billboard, menu, sermon…even Satan himself and you go with the thought and before you know it, you’re in a depressed state. You have to say, ‘No! I’m not going to let this happen.’”
Mills feels like she’s sinking in quicksand, moving her arms to get afloat and not go under, but she’s not going to let evil win.
“I say to Satan, ‘You’re not going to win! You’ve lost and you’re too dumb to know it!’”
Mills has been been surprised at how many women whisper in her ear that they too have been victims of abuse, incest or sexual assault. Some, men and women, cry as she speaks.
“It is time for churches to open their eyes and see where we are at. Abusers and abused people are everywhere. The Christian world doesn’t want to deal with it,” Mills said.
Mills cites five ways incest and abuse affect victims:
Mentally – it affects feelings, views of yourself, relationships with others, dreams, suicidal thoughts and split personalities, anxieties, trouble with long-term commitments, building walls around yourself
Physically – Depression, anxiety, sleeping problems, lack of energy, eating disorder, sexual dysfunction or illness, substance abuse
Emotionally – trouble with marriage, low self-esteem, isolation, trouble trusting others, hating the opposite sex, unable to be happy, desire to protect abuser
Spiritually – anger towards God, withdrawal from church, breakdown of communication with God and anyone who represents the church
Sexually – difficulty with intimate relationships, turning to prostitution, sexual dysfunction
Mills gives eight solutions that helped her through her crisis:
1. Recognize you have a crisis or problems in your life. You cannot begin to heal until you recognize things are not right.
2. Desire to be well instead of sick. Get off of the self-pity merry-go-round and stand on your own feet.
3. Christian counseling is necessary. Someone has to help you.
4. Deal with your anger towards God, yourself and others.
5. Accept Christ. Sometimes when you go through these difficulties you are so hurt and angry and crippled that you don’t want to turn to Him.
6. Forgive those who did you wrong, even if they don’t ask for forgiveness. If not, it is you that you are hurting. It’s like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
7. Take what you’ve gone through and use it to help other people with it. Mills references Genesis 50:20, where Joseph tells his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…”
8. Counseling is going to take time. You did not accumulate these feelings overnight, it took years. But with God’s help, and your patience, you can and will have victory.
Mills is available for speaking engagements, conferences and seminars. For more information contact her at [email protected]
According to the United States Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, there were 125,910 sexual assaults in the United States in 2009. (http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv09.pdf). In many studies, incest is cited as the most common form of child abuse. (http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbName=DocumentViewer&DocumentID=32360)