The Cross of Vulnerability
The release of my book Glimmers of Grace: Moments of Peace and Healing Following Sexual Abuse
+JMJ+ I woke up with a feeling of terror and dread this morning. I couldn't figure out what it was all about until it hit me: my book is being released on E-book this week.
Seeing things come this far is very surreal and exciting but, at the same time, it's also a bit terrifying to realize that other people will be able to read what I have written. There is a huge amount of vulnerability that goes into writing a devotional like Glimmers of Grace. I opened myself up in ways that I never thought I could or ever would. The last year has been a roller coaster ride and the entire process of writing this book has been far more emotional and spiritually and physically taxing than I ever realized it would be. Then again, the rewards have been far greater. In the beginning, a dear priest friend warned me that, if writing this book was truly God's will for me, then He would help me but, at the same time, I would face the resistance of the devil. I was taken by surprise when indeed the spiritual attacks started almost immediately.
Very little about this entire process has been easy and smooth. I recall weeks where my brain felt like complete mush and I could hardly form a coherent thought to put on paper, days where lengthy pieces of writing mysteriously disappeared, and there was one unexpected computer issue after another. Then there were the feelings of doubt (doubting God and my own abilities), anxiety, worthlessness, and unworthiness. There was, in my mind, no point in writing, no point in reaching out. There were many days when I found myself in a deep, dark, and hopeless place in my mind. I was often plagued with the idea that nothing I could ever say would ever make a difference to anyone. On more than one occasion, the individuals who were involved in reviewing/editing my writing felt that even they were being attacked. At one point, my editor felt as though, as soon as she sat down to read my manuscript, she couldn't stay focused.
I could have backed down from the calling I felt deep in my heart so many years ago – the calling to reach out to survivors of sexual abuse - and, to be perfectly honest, I almost quit on more than one occasion. My heart episode in June 2019 that nearly took my life was the tip of the iceberg. That's when I most seriously considered backing down. I remember saying, "I've had enough! I'm done!" That's also when I realized that I had a choice to make: give up or pray harder, let go, and trust in God more. I did a lot of praying and reflecting and was eventually able to continuing writing. I chose to continue writing this book for Jesus and for the survivors who I prayed (and continue to pray) that this devotional might be help. By God's grace, the book is now finished and ready for (limited) release. It will be available in hard copy on August 24. As mentioned earlier, it will be available for preorder and on E-book this coming week.
While any kind of writing involves some amount of vulnerability, writing a book such as this can be especially challenging. I am an introvert by nature. I don't open up easily to just anybody but, by writing this devotional, I opened myself up in order to share what was in my heart, therefore also opening myself up to criticism, negativity, harsh judgment, and misinterpretation. That's a risk I took when I embarked on this journey and, when I think about it, those really aren't new challenges for me. I've faced all that in the past (particularly when I first came forward with my story of sexual abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest) and more. It's still scary to deal with it now and in this way. Honest writing truly opens you up in new and vulnerable ways. You're essentially allowing others to get a glimpse of your mind and heart. You're allowing complete strangers into a very personal, very intimate and difficult part of your life.
Over the years and through life's many curveballs, I have struggled to trust in God's will and in His timing. Just like every part of healing that I share about, this is a struggle I especially try to be honest and open about because I believe it's something many of us struggle with. In my own life right now, although I know that God knows best, surrendering all to my Creator has been difficult simply because I don't know what the outcome of this book release is going to be. Will it make a difference and help others who are struggling and suffering? Will it bring hope? Did I say everything that God wanted me to say? Did I listen to Him enough? Is my writing good enough? Will readers understand what I'm trying to say? The anxiety and negative thoughts swirling around in my mind have been overwhelming at times, causing me to look deep into my own heart and at God's plan for me. Worry and doubt are exactly what the devil wants. He's a very clever psychiatrist – not a great one, but certainly a clever one. God, on the other hand, desires to bring us peace and that peace comes from surrendering to Him. In the end, the success of this book matters little. What matters (to me personally) is that I did what I felt God was calling me to do and that I allowed Him to use my story to speak through me and help others. That's it! Writing this book has changed my life and I am so grateful for that, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to share a part of my story in such a unique and profound way. Whatever my doubts, God has a plan for this! He will bring something good from this!
I'm nervous about putting myself out there. I'm nervous that whatever I wrote won't be “enough.” I'm nervous about disappointing others, about disappointing myself and, most of all, about disappointing God. Many times, Jesus tells us, “Don't be afraid!” I'm doing my best! And I'm doing my best to rely on the many gifts God offers to each and every one of us to help us through difficult times. We have all been called to embrace different crosses in life. For me, one of my crosses is that of vulnerability and I do struggle to embrace it at times. One of the things I've realized is that, even when I doubt myself and even when I feel anxious and far from courageous, as long as I'm doing what God calls me to do, everything will work out as it should. I don't know whether Glimmers of Grace will change lives or not. What I do know is that it changed my life, it's brought me closer to my Faith and closer to God, and God has a plan for my writing.
I pray that, for those of you who feel called to read my book, you will be blessed. I hope you find within its pages truth, beauty, goodness, and that God will work through my vulnerability to give you hope, strength, and courage. And I pray that, for those of you who are suffering with your own vulnerabilities, that God give you the grace to persevere and trust in Him.
For more information about Glimmers of Grace: Moments of Peace and Healing Following Sexual Abuse, please see my “Books” page for more details or click on either one of these links:
Some Reviews of Glimmers of Grace:
"Glimmers of Grace is a powerful book and tool for victims of sexual abuse. The author, a sexual abuse survivor, offers small and great glimmers of grace to guide the reader to find grace, healing, and freedom, as well as to overcome fears and harmful thoughts, to build trust again, and to gain control of their life. I recommend this unique devotional, which contains a journaling component, for victims of sexual abuse and those in counseling roles." Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle. EWTN TV Host, international speaker, and award-winning and best-selling author of more than thirty books, including: The Kiss of Jesus, Family Consecration to Jesus Through Mary and Mother Teresa and Me: Ten Years of Friendship
"Faith Hakesley wants to be a friend, companion, and instrument of grace as God guides readers on a journey of healing. A survivor of clergy sexual abuse, she writes with graced vulnerability for others who suffer. Readers who take this devotional with them on their journey will doubtless be blessed with abundant "glimmers of grace", as Hakesley calls them - moments of light, touches of joy and consolation, little revelations of God's loving presence. Hakesley has produced a real gift for hurting hearts, and a testament of the possibilities of God's healing."--Rev. Thomas Berg, author of Hurting in the Church: A Way Forward for Wounded Catholics
"Child sex abuse is a plague, potentially creating a lifetime of trauma and wounded relationships. Catholic clergy sex abuse has led people abandon the Church because they feel that God has abandoned them. Faith Hakesley is that rare person who has survived Catholic clergy sex abuse, and who still loves the Church and her teachings. This devotional will bring encouragement and hope to other survivors, their families and anyone who wants to help them heal."--Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., Founder and President, The Ruth Institute
"Throughout history, at moments of real crisis in the Church, the Lord has raised up witnesses who are able to provide a powerful corrective. In "Glimmers of Grace" Faith Hakesley provides just such a heroic witness. She offers practical steps to victim survivors from the perspective of a person who has experienced clergy sexual assault first-hand. Saint Pope Paul VI said "the world no longer listens to teachers, it listens to witnesses." This book is a desperately needed witness of how to move forward from clergy sexual assault while still praying and working for justice."--Father John Hollowell, priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis