Touching His Robe: Reaching Past the Shame and Anger of Abuse by Leslie G. Nelson focuses on the path back to peace and a relationship to Christ, after suffering abuse. First and foremost the book—and probably this post—should come with a big fat trigger warning. I think Nelson actually does a pretty good job of addressing her experiences and this issue in a sensitive way. But she does talk at length about her depression, anger, flashbacks, and thoughts of suicide. As I was reading the book, I just kept thinking that if someone were in the thick of these emotions and experiences, this book would be an incredibly triggering read. If you are in the midst of dealing with these things, and most especially if you are having thoughts of suicide, this is no time for self-help books. You need to seek real, personal and professional help, ASAP.
My other issue with the book is that Nelson is taking her individual experiences, and using the lesson she learned for a more universal application. I’m not saying that it is not helpful at all, but it is worth noting that not all victims of sexual and physical abuse handle it in the same way or with the same range of emotions and reactions that this author did. There isn’t a one size fits all way to cope.
However, for those that have had experiences that are similar to Nelson’s, and are in a safe place to explore it, I think this book has something valuable to offer. It may be even more beneficial for loved ones and caretakers of survivors to read, since it highlights a lot of what happens internally, that many do not understand.
Nelson’s narrative is engaging and sweet, but the thing I like most about this book is her scripture application. I kind of want her to write a scripture study book, highlighting that there is more than one way to apply these stories. You can tell that, through her own trials, she has really searched the scriptures for applicability to her life. And she has found it in ways that differ from run of the mill interpretations. There is, of course, the story of the woman with an issue of blood, as told in the Gospels (from which the title of the book is derived). Nelson uses this story to illustrate the strength and faith required to reach out to the Savior and utilizes the gift of the atonement in the healing process.
She also uses the story of Moses and the holding aloft of the serpent. But instead of the more common application to the principle of obedience, she invokes this story to help us understand the principle of forgiveness. It was an application I really enjoyed, comparing the withholding of forgiveness to the venom of the serpents – more dangerous to the person who needs to forgive than the offender. Another unique scripture study she brings in is the raising of Lazarus, and the application here is to the atonement and how we let it process healing in our lives. I think she draws an analogy here that really works as well.
My favorite is when she talks about the story of David, Abigail, and Nabal. She draws on James Ferrell’s The Peacegiver and uses this story to illustrate aspects of both forgiveness and the atonement. This led to my favorite passage in Touching His Robe, “Visualize Christ coming to you as Abigail did to David. He kneels before you, and offers you all that you should have received – safety, security and love. Christ offers you gentleness, love and healing. He mends all the broken places so that you are stronger than before…” It’s a part of the book that can be applied to anyone who is dealing with the pain of being wronged at the hands of others.
If you’re interested in this book, you can get it HERE.