I was planning for my early blog posts to be all about the story of our land purchase, and I will definitely get back to that beautiful story soon, but something happened this weekend, and I felt compelled to share it with you.
One evening about nine years ago I went with my extended family to a local hibachi restaurant for my cousin’s birthday party. I was so happy to be with my family and everyone was passing around my sweet little baby, Lacey. We were enjoying our evening when a group of men came in and sat at the hibachi grill across from ours. My stomach dropped and I excused myself to the restroom. I paced around the stall, cried, and felt nauseous. I was shaking and crying out to God, “Why? Why did you let them come in here? What am I going to do?!”
In 1995, two of those men had done some horrible things to me. I was a foolish, vulnerable, intoxicated 18 year old girl and had gotten myself into a situation in a place I should never have been, clearly with company I should never have agreed to be around. They were predators, 20 years older than me. The details of that night are heartbreaking to dwell on.
In 2001, I gave my life to Jesus. I met my husband in 2006, married in 2007, and had my first sweet baby in 2010. My life was completely different and so, so good. Every promise God made to me, He kept. My husband has always treated me like a princess, he has seen me through God’s eyes, and never once held anything from my past over me. He has been my greatest gift, apart from salvation. Yet, here I was, shattered on the bathroom floor of the restaurant. I did not know what to do. I cleaned my face up and walked back to the table. The men sat across from me, drinking and laughing and carrying on. Inside, I was raging. I wanted to throw a chair at them. I wanted to tell my husband so he could go smash their heads through the wall. Instead, I took my sweet baby girl and tried to keep all my focus on her….playing with her and trying to make her laugh. Tears kept coming down and I tried to hide it from my family. I even pretended I needed to walk around and bounce my baby a little so no one would see my face.
The men didn’t even recognize me. I was nothing to them. They were the monsters in my nightmares, but I was no one to them.
We left the restaurant and I tried to obscure how upset I was. For weeks, it haunted me. I felt myself sinking into depression over it. So, I begged God to please step in.
He reminded me that I am whole in Him (1Thess 5:23). I am washed white as snow (Is 1:18). I am clean and pure and precious. He adores me. He protects me (Ps 121:7). I am loved (John 3:16). He has a purpose for my life (Jer 29:11). I am a child of God (John 3:1). I am chosen (Rev 17:14).
I made a decision to stop defining myself as the victim that I was and start remembering and proclaiming that I am a VICTOR! When I gave my heart to God, I became a new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:17). That girl was gone. While her story was a tragic one, I had to make a choice. I had been putting band-aid after band-aid on this wound and living with it endlessly. All the while, the Great Physician was standing there with this miracle ointment that could heal the wound. I had fought Him and not let Him heal those broken places, but it was time. I had to move past this place of brokenness. So, I let it go. She is gone. Her wounds are healed. She is made anew. Can someone in the back say, “praise God!”
This weekend, my now 9 year old daughter Lacey was on a camping trip with her American Heritage Girls troop (if you don’t know about AHG and Trail Life, you would LOVE it for your child! Christian scouting programs for girls and boys…chock full of goodness!). I had to pick her up for a dance class and then take her back to camp. My travels took me through a neighboring county that I have not been in very often. While driving there, I passed a building that stopped me dead in my tracks. A fuzzy memory of a place where I once made one of the worst decisions of my life (I was very lost and broken during that time). Heartbreaking. My soul literally ached for that poor girl. My eyes welled up with tears and I thought about how I wish her story had been different. I wish she never gone down some of those roads.
BUT GOD. The road I am on now….friends, please know that I am OK. I am by no means insinuating that “I have arrived,” I just know a few more things 9 years later down this path in my relationship with God. The effect these memories had on me this weekend was so different than that day in the restaurant years ago. I know I am loved. He adores me. I am protected. He has a purpose for my life. I KNOW it with everything in me. My past is part of my story, but it doesn’t define me. The cross has the final word and my God says who I am.
Saturday, it was almost like passing the cemetery where an old friend had been laid to rest. Only, my sadness didn’t engulf me; it was fleeting because I know she had a different ending. I know she really had a new beginning.
I don’t know if you are carrying baggage around or slapping a band-aid on a wound that has festered in your soul, but friend, I know a remedy. I know a Doctor who wants to heal those wounds. Your secret sins, your shame and guilt, the times you have been wronged or deeply hurt, the things that come back to haunt you…you don’t have to let them control you ANYMORE. My God wants to take these things away for you. Don’t let it affect your marriage, don’t let it affect your friendships or your self-worth, and certainly don’t let it affect your relationship with God or the work He wants to do in your life.
I am not saying you won’t have a scar from your past, but I am saying for the love, you do not have to let it be a festering wound, not ONE. MORE. DAY.
Perhaps you already know Him and just needed a reminder of this truth or maybe this is your first introduction to our King. Friend, go to the foot of the cross and set it right.
His love is greater than ___________ (literally anything you could think of for that blank). Grief, loss, cancer, exclusion, loneliness, addiction, depression, rape, infertility, infidelity, financial worries, spiritual attacks….He is bigger than all that. If you are in the thick of your battle or on the other side of it still dressing old wounds, He will carry you through it and give you a remedy. If you are waiting on Him in your battle, do not give up…He always shows up. It may not be the timing you wish for, but you are not alone and He is always working. I wasn’t planning on sharing this story, but I know so many people that are hurting deeply and I sincerely desire for you to know, speaking from experience, you DO NOT have to continue on that path.
I held my sleeping baby (my 5thsweet child) in song service Sunday morning and tears streamed down my face as I praised Him. I am so grateful. He is worthy, y’all!
THIS is living my best life.
Not trendy clothes or fancy cars, fun trips, exclusive parties, or some elite circle of friends. All of those seem to dominate the desires of our society today, but not one bit of that will matter in eternity. My best life is one that Jesus is the center of. Get you some of that!! You will NEVER regret it.
Discover your true purpose. Go find the story He wrote for you and share it with someone who needs it. In Christ, we LIVE. He came to set you free. He came to give you hope. He redeems. He restores. He gives you beauty for ashes. I feel differently about my scars now. They are testimonies to God’s faithfulness because of what He brought me from, and I straight up want to shout when I tell about what He’s brought me to. Get up. It’s time to leave the cemetery.