by Gloria Nesloney
Entering through the back door, as quietly as I could at sixteen years old, I thought to myself, Shhh! don’t make a commotion when sneaking into the house after curfew. You do not want Mom to find you. Be careful and go straight to your room. It is essential to wake up on time and not oversleep. Mom should not know I was out till 4:00 a.m. I reached my room, trying my best not to walk on the one board that squeaked when stepped on. I fell asleep, as if nothing happened. I was so glad no one woke up or saw me come in late. I woke up early the next morning, prepared for school, then returned home after class, ready for the weekend. I put my book satchel on the floor and sat on the couch for a while before dinner. That’s when I knew I was in deep trouble.
When I was younger, I would attempt to step outside the bounds just far enough to cause trouble without being caught. I avoided getting noticed. Everything from the night before would come back to haunt me—not that I did anything terrible, but my guilt over breaking curfew was bad enough. I could hear the accusing voices echoing in my head. Mom was livid about me coming home late. I knew the consequences of getting caught were going to be required. Most youth would have received a spanking, time out on a chair, or some extra chore in their homes if they ever got into trouble. Oh, but getting those kinds of punishments was far more acceptable for me to receive. Instead, the one thing I dreaded the most was the ultimate taciturnity imposed by Mom.
Like most students my age who did something defiant, I pretended all day that I was free from a guilty conscience or blame as long as I did not boast of my activity. When I woke up that morning, Mom stayed in bed. Little did I know that Mom was tired because she went to bed late after waiting up for me the night before. That was a good thing for me. When Mom was preparing for dinner, I entered the kitchen to see if she needed help. She never said yes or no. I asked a few questions that should be easy to answer, but I never received a response. I knew I was in trouble, but I did not know for how long.
Eating dinner with a knot in my throat did not make initiating conversation easily. So after dinner, we went to the living room to watch the evening news. Still, Mom had not conversed with me. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I apologized before she even said a word to me. I knew Mom was upset, trying to remain calm and collected to keep from crying or bursting out words she would regret. Finally, the news anchor began talking, and Mom pointed to the television as if to speak to me. The news report was grim, about a young girl injured in a traffic accident. Mom broke her silence as she mentioned how disappointed she was at how irresponsible I was for not telling her that I was out and would be late. She had worried that the girl in the news could have been me. That's the day I understood the severity of my disobedience. It wasn't that I was so bad, but I had not considered my Mom's expectations. All I had to do was call to let her know I would be late. I know how my Mom forgave me for that moment and other times when I disappointed her.
At nineteen years of age, nothing would have prepared me for the nightmare I found myself in after moving out of my hometown and on my own. I became a young lady with opportunities to travel the world as a United States Marine. My behavior and actions were, at best, curious, self-sufficient, and responsible. I ensured the safety of my surroundings. I occasionally called Mom to let her know of my exciting expeditions. That was until my world turned upside down. I suddenly found myself in despair, silence, and melancholy when I was violated of my physical boundaries, and robbed of my identity. I lived in a world of voices that screamed at the torment I had been through, but my audible words never struck the vocal cord to be heard by those around me. I stopped calling home.
Time passed, and the violator of my body took residence every night in my dreams. The shame kept me scared and hidden for two and a half years. I became petrified of people; even innocent people looked like perpetrators. Indignation filled my thoughts, telling me there was something different I could have done to keep this tragedy from happening to me.
The web of lies became my truth, saying, “You are no good; you are worthless. No one will believe you. You cannot run. I will chase you down and violate you again and again. You cannot hide. I will find you. If you tell anyone, I will kill you.” I had reason to believe these claims. I isolated myself, shut down, and was voiceless. I would have rather been hurt by sticks or stones because at least there would be healing from the scars and deep wounds. But the dishonor writhed in me, and the words spoken were vile, vicious, and full of despair.
Recalling times in my life of a playful, fun-loving, chattery, innocent little girl was dim. It was more difficult since the past was replaced with echoes of wrongdoings, anger, and hatred towards those who hurt me. If I was going to live life, I needed to find a way to get out of this prison in my head. I did not know how. Nevertheless, I would end up hurting others or myself if I did not get the help I needed. It was a long journey from this solemn road of destruction to a life of abundance and freedom. I needed to break that record and make new memories. It was not easy, as the past kept trying to keep me quiet.
Eventually, after lots of crying and sulking, I intentionally sat on the couch in my college dorm and began to pray. I asked the Lord, “When will this be over?” Then the Lord asked me, “Do you remember when your Mom gave you the silent treatment and how it made you feel?” I said, “Yes.” Jesus said, “I will teach you how to give the silent treatment to the negative voices.”
I asked, “How can I do this?” He said, “Read and apply My Word.”
I opened the bible, and the bleak thoughts were muted as I began to read. Instead, my mind was pondering on the refreshing words from every page I turned while I read scripture. I started to not only forgive with words, but I began to feel the forgiveness. Ultimately, I concluded that I could do nothing about what happened to me, but I had a choice to remain there or move forward. I choose to forgive and move forward.
Allowing time to heal from the trauma gave me a sense of freedom. I never realized that I was the only one hurting because the perpetrator had moved on. I was the one who held on to the chains of bondage that kept me in the prison of my mind. I have found forgiveness in silent treatment, therapy, and counsel. I had no idea that silent treatment has a negative impact when utilized incorrectly and has a priceless way of being beneficial.
Silence in aggressive forms is rejection, confusion, forgetfulness, disgust, numbness, hiding truth, depression, fear, and unforgiveness. The benefits of being silent are endurance of accusation, refraining from saying things that one might regret, long-suffering, patience, listening deeply, gaining peace that surpasses understanding, longing for truth, heightened awareness of self-control, waiting for the voice of truth that can be encountered when one muffles the negativity or past traumatic experiences.
Meditating on scripture has helped my mind stay observant on moving forward. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8 KJV. I have other scriptures that I will meditate on depending on my assessment of my thoughts. Another scripture that has helped me forgive others is “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Matthew 6:12 KJV. This scripture reminds me that I must also forgive if I am to be free. I am sure I have offended someone in my lifetime.
Examining my heart according to the word of God has brought me a clear conscious. As I go through my day, I detect myself smiling once in a while when I notice I have not had disruptive thoughts throughout the day. Finding small nuggets of truth draws me closer to the will of God. How? I can forgive quickly, find healing, and bring others out of the captivity of tormenting lies. When I go through a time when excruciating recollections try to encroach, I become deliberate about my silence in a positive way.
One of the practices I have is to assess my current thoughts. I ask myself the following inquiries: Whom do I need to forgive today? What did they do? How did it make me feel? Can I make peace with their faults against me? Who did I offend today that needs to forgive me? I think about what I am thinking about. Is what I am thinking pleasing to the Lord? What scripture can I apply to the situation if I have negative thoughts?
Now that I am maturing in my faith and following Christ, I realize the day I came home late from curfew, I was caught because my Mom knew all along. I could not hide anything from Mom. Even though there were other episodes of insolence, my Mom stayed silent that day not because she was angry. It was because she was deeply concerned. From that day on, I only stayed out late after calling. Though I knew I was forgiven of my youthful tendencies of rebellion, my Mom helped me understand that true love forgives. The darkness increased when the traumatic events happened, and my truth was muted. The chains got thicker and heavier. I had to finally give up doing things my way and ask for help. The speechlessness kept me bound as long as I was unwilling to forgive the adversary or myself.
I chose to forgive once and for all. I am not negatively impacted by silence anymore. I hold my peace. When I am silent, it is because I know that it is to keep me from saying things I might regret. I acknowledge the lies and drown them with the truth of God’s holy word.
Today, I cannot and will not hide anything from the Lord. He already knows. I have to confess and ask for forgiveness. If you tend to have silent treatments, remember to ensure they are for your good. Keep yourself free from lies, and speak the truth of God’s Word, even amid the chaos and noise. Let your silence make others wonder why you are not overtaken by the calamity targeting you. In doing so, you will gain a reward that the unexpected blessing of forgiveness brings: wisdom through silent treatment.
Practice Forgiveness through Silent Treatment: Your journey to freedom starts with admitting you were offended, violated, rejected, or betrayed. Ask yourself and answer honestly: Write it out, and then read it to yourself.
Whom do I need to forgive today?
What did they do?
How did it make me feel?
Do I want to forgive them today?
What actions do I need to take to forgive them?
List at least three scriptures that pertain to your situation that you can meditate on to help you find truth in place of the lies. As you begin this practice of forgiveness, you will notice that your oppressors become fewer and further between. Positively use the silent treatment to achieve a victorious life.