A few months ago I started, She Matters: The Mended Heart Project, a project to bring awareness to stories of overcoming sexual abuse through grace and redemption and an attempt to give survivors a voice. My amazing friends got really brave and poured out their hearts and their stories. And me? Well, I hid. I applauded their bravery and avoided sharing my story at all costs. But now it's time. It's time to be brave. So here it is friends...
To check out more on this project, see the original post here.
I was three years old the first time I learned not to trust men.
Three the first time I learned that my body was not mine alone.
Three years old the first time someone I loved and trusted deeply betrayed that trust.
Three the first time I learned that my “no” was insignificant.
Three years old. A sassy, spunky, three year old who loved baby dolls, dress up, and Bible stories.
I wish I could say that was the last time.
It stopped when I was seven and I thought I might finally breathe again.
But it wasn’t over.
My teenage years reminded me of that hard truth in other ways. Men are not to be trusted.
The message resounded in so many ways at the hands of men I should have been able to trust.
Then, I went to college.
I thought surely being surrounded by Christians would change the pattern.
I fought to trust again. I fought to rewrite the narrative over my life.
I was 20 when a stranger slipped something into my soda at a party.
The lies that Satan had whispered over my life forever now felt like they were being shouted.
“You are the common denominator here. It has to be your fault”
I spent hours, months, years, wondering. Was I too much, or not enough? What had I said/done, or not said/done?
I dealt with my pain in a lot of ways. We all do really. Sometimes the pain is so big it just has to find a way out. We find subtle ways to run away, to hide. Or we choose to be numb.
Here’s the thing about life and pain-- You don’t always get to write the plot line, but you can always choose a new ending.
I could write for days on the ways I sought to numb the pain. Maybe one day I will, but tonight you need to know this.
I was 20 years old when my story changed.
God began writing a new narrative on my life. I spent the next year learning a new truth:
There is ONE Man who can be trusted. In every season, with everything.
You see, when I finally gave my heart, in all its shattered pieces, completely to Him, He gave me the grace to open it again. He gave me fresh eyes. He rebuilt my view of men.
It happened in coffee shops, in living rooms, on long car rides, and on trips around the world. He showed me another side. He rebutted Satan’s lies with truth.
It happened as I watched Godly men love their wives well.
It happened as I stood on the other side of the world and watched a man wash prisoner’s feet and cry over babies with AIDS.
It happened in a coffee shop when a friend’s husband looked me in the eyes, listened hard through my tears, and said to me the most healing words-- “You do know that being a bratty teenager never excuses the inappropriate behavior of an adult, right? Don’t you ever apologize for that.”
It happened when I saw the righteous anger of a man over injustice.
One by one, moments taught me to trust again, to believe again.
God used the men right in front of me to remind me of His character.
He took the ashes of my life and painted beauty.
Here’s what I know—I would not trade one moment of sorrow for the beauty that has risen out of it.
A lot of tears, scripture, and counseling later and I’ve regained the joy of that spunky 3 year old.
A friend shared this quote with me a few years ago—
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” –Kahlil Gibran
The depths of my sorrow have become the heights of my joy.
I’ve learned to run hard into the pain because we have to feel it as deeply as we desire to feel joy on the other side.
But my God is good and He is faithful. He not only redeems every hurt for my good (Romans 8:28), but He teaches me to dance again.
“You have turned my morning into dancing” Psalm 30:11
I think we're all a little broken. But, perhaps we are all a little brave too.