*The following blog post has been one in progress for many months… hence the wording sounding like it should have been posted in January rather than April. You may soon come to understand why words were hard to come by, but hopefully you will finish out this post also understanding how one thing not hard to come by is the grace of God.*
Beginning this new year felt more weighty than any other year simply because it is also the beginning of a new decade. All of us are completely different versions of who we began the past decade as. For some, we have achieved goals we only dreamed about; we are right where we hoped to be. Yet for others, life has crumbled in ways none would hope for, and most days it is hard to understand why our lives took the path that it did. For most, the past decade has been somewhat of a mix between the two. Without a doubt, though, everyone has experienced a time or another marred by an inherent disease bestowed upon humanity from the beginning of time – sin.
I noticed that one reason this year felt so much different to me is because I basically live two lives now. One life is in Albany, GA with my family and friends who I grew up with. These people have seen me figure life out, figure faith out, and navigate faith-testing trials. My other life is in Chattanooga, TN where I am currently living. Those who I know and love in this city know a much different me. They know me post significant growth and maturity (significant is a key word because we are always growing and maturing – I am not done, thankfully!), and post definitive trials that nearly crumbled me but instead formed me. As I thought about the people I love who have all in some way played an important role in my life, I decided I wanted to write this blog – a blog that will give each person insight they may or may not have into my life so that they could better understand not just me, but the God I serve. It’s been a few months now of drafting this blog, deleting all of my words, starting over, feeling a knot in my chest, taking breaks, and coming back to it again. Some know why this is not easy for me to write; everyone else will soon find out. However, we are not called to the easy things of life. I hope that through this blog and through my story you, reader, are able to see the name of Jesus proclaimed confidently. I hope you are able to see how sin, wrongdoing, evil is not victorious for our God has already won the war. I simply ask that you bear with me, and you soak in the grace of our God and Father in how he rescues us even from the deepest and darkest of pits.
“There is no treasure so wonderful as that continuous experience of thy grace toward me which alone can subdue the risings of sin within: give me more of it.”
The Valley of Vision
When I look back on my past decade, I can become quickly blinded by the sin both committed by and against me. Sin of any nature no matter what affects more than the offender(s) involved – it affects all who are close and even those to come. It clouds the vision of even the strongest believer and can cause us to stumble and question grace. The weight of a particular sin experienced in my life cut deep in ways that will take even more than the so far 6 years for me and probably others to fully heal from. This sin I am talking about is one too often left in the shadows – sexual abuse.
I am not here to give every single detail of what happened to me. I am not here to argue my side of the story against those who believed me to be the offender instead of the victim. Honestly, I’m not even here to tell you about the pain I went through being apart of a big scandal in a small South Georgia town. While God most definitely sustained me through all of that through the means of my church, family, and close friends, it is a story for another day. No, what I want to tell you is that while sin is destructive, the grace of God is greater.
How is God’s grace greater than sexual abuse? Greater than being stripped of innocence and dreams of entering into a marriage one day pure? Greater than walking the halls of high school with rumors and accusations of being a home-wrecker, a slut, and more swirling around you? Greater than the deep depression and anxiety that followed the fall out, and still manifests itself in different ways at different times today? How is God’s grace greater knowing that I still feel scarred by the actions committed against me?
His grace is greater because of His healing love for me – the ways this love manifested itself then and still today is beautiful. During that year of abuse in high school, I felt His Spirit press on my heart constantly, letting me know He was with me. In the tears I cried, the pain I felt, the fear I was crippled by, He held me close and cried with me. In the sermons I heard and the people I was surrounded by who loved me, He gave me opportunities to be rescued – yet in my own fear I did not take those opportunities. In His own timing, He brought the sexual abuse to light to my parents and finally rescued me. In the halls of high school, He made Himself present through few close friends who came to me in love and gentleness, letting me know they stood by my side. In my home, while there was much brokenness and pain, He gracefully strengthened our family through the trial in both love for each other and trust in Him. Since that time, He has beautifully and humbly used my story to encourage others who have experienced similar abuse both here in the States and overseas. Most importantly, He has walked near me as I fell into a deep spiral of sin for a few years after high school, and patiently waited for me to return to Him. His love for me never changed. His grace for me was never rescinded. His bond to me was never broken. Oh, what a loving Father.
Honestly, I could write a book on all that I experienced and all that God has taught me through this experience and the nearly six years that have followed. I’ll spare you the lengthy read, though, and leave you with a few takeaways:
- God’s grace is greater! He alone is able to heal you from any pain and suffering, and He desires to see you transformed by faith in Christ and brought into life with Him.(2 Corinthians 12:8-9; Ephesians 2:8-9)
- God’s Word, God’s Spirit, and God alone is sufficient. I found that to be true in the support system of family and friends He gave me, along with sound, biblical counseling I received (and still do every once in a while). (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 19:7)
- God provides in times of need – you need only to seek after Him and embrace Him. He gave me multiple opportunities to receive help during that year in high school, and while I failed to take them, I saw His passionate, unrelenting love for me in how He came in and rescued me anyway. (1 Corinthians 10:12-14; 2 Corinthians 9:8)
- God restores and transforms. Sin is scarring. Every year I think I have healed in all the ways I needed to, and then another level of pain arises that I didn’t realize was there. Yet, one truth I have learned is that God is able to heal my scars and restore me. Why? Because it is through Christ’s blood on the cross, His righteousness, His sacrifice of taking on the scars of sin for us, that I am able to be made new every day in light of His death and resurrection. (1 Peter 5:10; 1 John 5:4; Psalm 116)
I’ll end with this: a relationship with the Father such as this is completely possible for you who may not know Him. This is just one experience in my life in which God has sustained me through it and healed me from it. Myself and my whole family can attest to many more! If you do not know the Lord, know that you are created in His image. Although you have been marred by the effects of sin and separated from His love, it is through faith in His Son that you can be reunited in grace with Him. Christ came to earth, lived a perfect, sinless life, died on the cross in our place, defeated sin and death through His resurrection, and ascended back to heaven to intercede on our behalf to the Father. You are able to enter into life with the Father because of this!
If you want to talk more about this blog in any way, please feel free to reach out. My hope is that you finish this knowing that God’s grace is greater, I am healed, and I am free in Christ to share my experience so that His Name may be glorified.
I’m hoping to continue writing blogs occasionally and consistently about lessons the Lord is teaching me, experiences He gives me, and about who He is. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this little bit of God’s story of my life.
“But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
2 Timothy 4:17-18
So much love for all who read my words! ❤