He brings you new life.
I never fully knew what that signified when I was younger. I understood that you make the decision to follow Jesus and try your best to be like Him. I wouldn’t truly grasp what new life meant until I had felt the weight of hitting rock bottom. How incredible and such a blessing it is that you can be so full of shame and guilt and suffering, and He can come along and wipe it all away. Clean your slate and make you new. How fortunate are we that we have a Father that loves us that much?
It is said that He creates beauty out of ashes. That He can take something so torn apart and worn and make it bloom. That’s what He did with my broken heart.
When I was a teenager, I had all a girl really dreams about at that age. I made good grades, was very athletic, had my share of boyfriends, was considered pretty, had a bright future for college. I think that probably made me a target as I reflect back on it now.
You see, I was the target of a predator.
You don’t know how hard that is for me to share.
Because immediately after saying it, I feel judged. I feel the questions rise.
“Why didn’t you report him?”
“Why didn’t you tell someone?”
“Were you not smart enough to realize what was going on?”
I’m not going to share every detail of the story, but I will tell you the important ones. The ones that are painful to recall, the ones that help you relate, and the ones that led to my being made new.
He earned my trust first as a friend. He confided in me, asked me for advice in various situations. He was likable, and seemed to be pursuing me quite aggressively looking back now. He shared personal stories that made me feel for him, which is my weakness if you’re wanting to take advantage of me. I wanted to help him. He began to make me laugh, shower me with compliments, and just be genuinely nice to me it seemed.
Then one day he kissed me, and a switch flipped.
The sweet and kind words turned into uncomfortable ones.
“I keep imagining you with your clothes off”
“I love to watch you walk away from me.”
“I bet you’re really good in bed.”
These words plagued me on a daily basis whether they were whispered as I passed by or texted by phone.
I had confided in a friend when he had kissed me before all of the harassing began, confused as to what to do since I would have to see this man several times a week. But it was the wrong friend. Instead of helping me and encouraging me to report him, that person shared it with others.
I tried to hide myself because I felt so ashamed. I blamed myself that it had happened. It was my fault that I had allowed someone to take ahold of my young mind and take advantage of my soft heart. That it was completely my fault. I was estranged from my friends and alone inside myself. I fell apart. I had no one to turn to. I felt so judged and picked apart, I felt so alone, and pushed all of it deep down inside myself and prayed that I would forget it all had ever taken place.
Over the next few years, with a raw heart, I felt so fully the pain of others. I would watch people as I traveled every day, read words being said on social media, hear devastating stories on the news, and my heart would literally explode with compassion. I wanted to hug the sweet lady in the parking lot whose eyes looked like they were carrying so much. I wanted to stand up for the girl on social media that was getting blasted for making one mistake. I wanted to scream from the rooftops that we are all human and we make awful decisions but they do not define who we are.
I walked in others shoes. I defended the weak. I understood their pain. And out of all of these ashes that were left from my light being burned down to nothing when I was a teenager, all of the sudden there was a bloom.
It was small, but it was there. And it bloomed bigger and brighter. And the bigger it became, the bigger my heart for others.
As a teenager going through all of the pain, I always wished for a do-over. I would pray,
“God please just let me rewind a few months and I won’t make those decisions. I’ll be stronger. I won’t let anybody take advantage of my softness. No, I would be harder. And smarter.”
But as I sit here today, I wouldn’t. Because who would I be today? Would I be so compassionate? Would my heart feel so much that sometimes I think it’s going to burst? People always ask why God let’s bad things happen. And I truly believe it is because those bad things mold us. They help us become who we really are supposed to be. They bring us to our knees crying and God picks us up and cradles us in His arms and shows us the wonderful plans He has in store now that we have let ourselves fully becomes His.
Because rock bottom is where He finds us. It’s where we cling to Him most.
He took my ashes and created something beautiful out of them. I now run a business whose sole purpose is to create objects that allow others to share their stories with one another. To share their hurts, their scars, their victories, their joys, and their testimonies. And Jesus is at the center of it all. Everyday I come to Him and ask what He wants me to do with my day. What I need to share on social media that someone needs to hear. And it all brings me so much joy.
I would never be where I am today without falling. Without being picked up in His arms and covered in His grace. He has saved me. And I have been set free.
If you are curious to if I ever reported him. Yes, four years ago but I do regret so very much not reporting him sooner. He had repeated this pattern with other girls and had damaged them way more than he had me. I still to this day hold myself responsible for them. To anyone that has been sexually harassed or assaulted, I know that it’s hard to tell others. I know you feel like you’ll be judged and feel stupid and alone. But what you might not realize is that the ones who truly love you will surprise you. They will lift you up and hug you and console you and be more amazing and understanding than you can imagine.
But if you can’t do that for yourself, do it for her. The girl that will be next if you keep quiet, because they will not stop. You will not be the last. It will save others hurt and heartache, and it will set you free. I am praying for you tonight. If you ever need someone to confide in or advice, please email me. I am never too busy for you. I will listen without judgment and respond with all of the help and wisdom that I have. Be brave sister, for you are not alone.
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