Author Interview: My Peace I Give You

dawn eden

Dawn’s book, available on Amazon

A few months ago I had the opportunity to pick up Dawn Eden’s beautiful book, My Peace I Give You.  I won’t lie, I was a little hesitant at first because the book’s subtitle is “Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints,” and well, that sounded a little scary and intense. This isn’t something I’ve dealt with personally and my thought was “I don’t want to be exposed to a lot of unnecessary sadness…”

But then I saw a quote from the book concerning forgiving those who have hurt us, how we need to make a mental image to put people into the Sacred Heart of Jesus and let Him deal with them. But not in a “deal with them” sort of way. More like a “Jesus, I give this to you.”

And my reaction was, “this is a concept any human can understand, something we can all be encouraged to do.” So I decided to read the book. And it was worth my time. It wasn’t filled with first-person horrific accounts of personal abuse; instead the book looks to the lives of the saints to help all of us deal with hurts and wounds. It’s brilliant in its focus and scope, guided by the Holy Spirit.

I asked Dawn if she’d be willing to answer a few questions for me, and she was kind enough to oblige. Thank you Dawn!

1. First off, I really enjoyed your book. I cried several times — not out of sadness, but of the beautiful hope you convey. You must feel light as a feather discovering these riches God has to offer you!

I am so happy that you were touched by hope when reading My Peace I Give You. There is a word of counsel that I give in the book which I myself sought to put into action when writing it: we find greater healing when we choose to act from our wellness and not from our woundedness. I had the choice, when writing My Peace I Give You, to focus on the ways in which I am still a “work in progress” or to focus on the lights I have received–the joy and hope given by Jesus through sacred scripture, prayer, and the sacraments. I chose to focus on hope because I know that, however I may feel at a given moment, the truth of my life lies in the love of God that has sustained me and enabled me to reach this present time.
Being hopeful doesn’t mean being “Little Mary Sunshine” all the time. It means refusing to define yourself by the darkness. It means being able to say with the Psalmist, “This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High” (Ps 77:10 KJV).

2. You use examples from the lives of the saints to show that good can come out of evil. Is there one saint whose story resonated the most with your experience?

Blessed Laura Vicuña’s story resonated deeply with me because she was not only sexually mistreated by her mother’s lover, but also endured emotional suffering because her mother tried to get her to comply with the abuser. In this way, her experience is similar to my own and to most people I have met whose abuse took place in the home. In my experience, the deepest wound is not the wound of the abuse itself. It is, rather, the “mother wound” of those whose mother could have stopped the abuse and didn’t. Blessed Laura is a wonderful saint for people suffering this wound, because she, without ever excusing or minimizing the evil, gave a witness of heroic forgiveness. As she lay dying after resisting her abuser’s attempt to kidnap her, she forgave both her abuser and her mother.

3. I love this quote from the book: “We begin to see that even our most painful times contain beauty, inasmuch as they led us — however tangled our path — to our present life in the love of God.” So are you saying we shouldn’t be afraid to suffer?

Fear of suffering is part of being human. St. Thomas Aquinas points out that Jesus himself was fearful of suffering; he quotes Augustine, who said that the One who had the true body and the true spirit of a man did not have counterfeit human feelings. What harms us is when we live according to our fear. Jesus did not live according to his fear. He lived according to his Father’s will, and he had confidence in that will. We need to have that same confidence. It is very hard–it means taking up our cross daily–but it is the only way to live authentically, learning to pour ourselves out in love of God and neighbor.

4. There is so much hope in your story. We all suffer from painful memories — times we have been hurt in one fashion or another. But your book reminds us to unite that suffering to Christ for his glory. Is there a quick explanation of HOW?

Uniting suffering to Christ will be a different experience for each person. I think the common denominator is that we each have to have our own interior dialogue with Jesus. Once you start the conversation, you can make small interior offerings or petitions throughout the day: “Help me, Jesus.” “This pain I feel is my offering to you, Jesus. Please use it to save sinners.” “You suffered too, Jesus. Show me how to bear this as you did.”

5. Confession vs. therapy: explain the difference!

Confession wipes away the sin that stains our mind and heart so that we can receive the healing grace God wishes to give us. Therapy helps us develop coping strategies so that we can learn to be gentle with ourselves and others, thriving in our personal relationships and our vocation. By the way, do check your therapist’s credentials. I once learned the hard way that just because someone has a reputation as a “faithful Catholic therapist” doesn’t necessarily mean he has a degree from a recognized school or has authentic board certification.

6. Do you hear from many readers who have suffered similar abuse? How has the book helped them?

Since My Peace I Give You was published, I have heard from numerous readers, men and women, who have told me the book helped them. I think what helps them the most is realizing that they are not alone and that there are saints with wounds like their own. Another neat bit of feedback comes via the Amazon website, which shows which passages of My Peace I Give You are most highlighted by those reading it on Kindle. According to Amazon, the most popular passage in the book is, “All suffering contains within it the opportunity to become more like the One who suffered on the Cross.”

 

dawn headshotAbout Dawn:

Dawn Eden is the author of My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints (Ave Maria Press, 2012) and The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On (Thomas Nelson, 2006).

Born into a Jewish family in New York City, Dawn lost her faith as a teenager and became agnostic. During her twenties, in the 1990s, she was a rock journalist in New York City, interviewing performers such as Elton John and Brian Wilson. She went on to work on the editorial staff of the New York Post and the Daily News.

When Dawn was thirty-one, she experienced a dramatic conversion to Christianity that ultimately led her to enter the Catholic Church. Her first book, The Thrill of the Chaste, became a surprise hit, published in four languages.

In My Peace I Give You, Dawn offers a Catholic spirituality of healing for adult victims of childhood sexual abuse. She has shared its message throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Slovakia. My Peace I Give You has been published in Spanish and Slovak translations, and is soon to be published in Polish.

Father James Brent, O.P., Director of the Dominican Friars’ Angelic Warfare Confraternity, wrote in a letter to confraternity members: “For anyone who has suffered from sexual abuse, Dawn’s book is a must read. The testimonies of victims who have read it are powerful testimonies indeed. But in my opinion, anyone who suffers from the wounds of sexual sin in any way whatsoever will also find in this book a powerful aid for healing and renewal.”

Since the publication of My Peace I Give You, Dawn has been the subject of a profile in the New York Times Magazine and has been interviewed on several EWTN programs. She holds an sacred theology licentiate from the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception and is currently continuing her studies toward a doctorate.