You are believed.

Some things are hard to talk about. Some things are hard to believe.  Some things are hard. 

As much as I wanted to tell my counselor some of my worst memories, it was hard for me to open my mouth and say a word.  

That’s the thing about a traumatic memory.  You don’t just retell it, you relive it.  

Your mind struggles to process it, and your mouth hesitates to say it, but your body screams.  Your body remembers every detail.  

Others may doubt you, and they may even tell you, “There’s no way. I don’t believe it happened.” 

You wish it didn’t happen. 

You wish you could forget. 

You wish you had it wrong. 

But you know your truth.

You know your reality. 

You know your struggle. 

I believe you.  Three simple words that change everything. 

When I described my worst memory to my counselor, I barely had words. I started with just a color, and then the words poured out. 

I was shaking when she asked me where was Jesus in that room.  I was convinced there was no way Jesus would be in that room.  She gently encouraged me to find Him and when I finally did, I knew I had a witness. 

He noticed.  He saw everything. He believed me. He comforted me. 

I knew my counselor and my husband believed me, but I wasn’t sure if others would believe me.  It really mattered to me then and it bothered me a lot.  

Psalm 10 became a comfort for me.  I even made a poster and filled it with many of these verses.  

But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;

    you consider their grief and take it in hand.

The victims commit themselves to you;

    you are the helper of the fatherless. 

Psalm 10:14

He sees everything. 

He knows everything. 

He understands triggers. 

He’s aware of your struggles. 

You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;

    you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,

defending the fatherless and the oppressed,

    so that mere earthly mortals

    will never again strike terror. 

Psalm 10:18

If you didn’t hear those words, “I believe you” and you feel alone in the darkest memory of your life, you can ask God hard questions and find Him there. He believes you. 

I believe you.  

You are believed.  

You are led.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.

John 10:27 NIV

I told my counselor that I felt crazy telling her about the mean voices in my head.  She didn’t flinch when she asked me, “What do they say to you?” 

I started to list them:  Who do you think you are? No one wants to spend time with you. You are a burden to others.  You are merely tolerated.  You are bad. 

She explained this was negative self-talk.  She encouraged me to think about where those lies came from and also to focus on truth.  For example, what would Jesus say?  He wouldn’t say who do you think you are?  He would tell you who you are and that you can do anything with His help. 

I wanted to know what truth would replace the lies and I wanted to know His voice.  One of the ways I learned to hear His voice was to simply be still and listen.  I would pray and read my Bible to search for verses to help me when the mean voices were loud.  

The more I was able to speak truth back to the lies, the less they taunted me.  At first, it wasn’t easy to listen.  It was hard for me to be still. It took practice and I found the easiest place for me to listen was in the shower under the soft hum of the water.  

How did I learn to hear His voice? 

I’m still learning, but for me the key is to listen and pay attention. Sometimes it is that still, small voice. Other times it may be dreams, journaling, reading scripture, and listening to worship music.

We have to draw near to Him to hear His voice.  

The world is loud.  Social media screams.  Everyone has an opinion.  We are bombarded with so much information everyday.  How can we listen to His voice in the chaos?  How can we know His voice and focus on it? 

Practice. 

As I started listening to His voice, I was able to get more familiar with His ways.  I recognized He was speaking to me and I started to step out and obey.  

For example, one night I went to bed convinced I would never tell my husband my story. I had a dream that night that was so intense, I woke up determined he had to know.  Shortly after that dream, I told him. 

A few months later, I was driving home from a counseling session and I kept hearing “free at 40.” I felt like it meant I would confront my abuser when I was 40.  The thought alone terrified me.  I met with my mentor and I told her my story and shared what I thought God was saying to me.  She listened as I laid out my plans A, B and C.  

She let me explain the plans in detail, and then she told me to trust the Lord to work it out, and she sensed the plans should be C, B, and A instead.  

The night before my 40th birthday, I woke up early that morning and grabbed my phone and quickly typed what I would say to my abuser if given the chance.  I was typing as fast as possible as the words poured out.  

The day after I turned 40, I confronted my abuser and all I had to do was wait and the plans C, B, A unfolded as she had suggested.

Wow, God.  All of this made me want to listen and follow Him even more.  

He wants us to draw near to hear His voice and follow Him. 

Will we listen and let Him lead us?

How do you hear His voice?

Looking Back

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Flashback!

The awful memory pops up and crashes over me like a wave.
I kick.
The smell knocks me under and water pours in.
I can’t breathe.
Evil wraps around my ankles like seaweed and pulls me to the bottom into the dark abyss.
I sink.
My arms are raised but I am lifeless.

Still frozen.

A strong grasp.

He
rescues me.
His firm grip pulls me to the shore.
I hold on while
He
untangles the debris.
He
breathes fresh life into me.
He
pours living water over me.
He
Cleanses me in the brightness.

Now

I watch the waves, unafraid.
Taking slow, deep breaths
Going deep, never alone
I resurface, clean.

In the Sonshine
Sand dancing between my toes
Soaking it all in.

Loved.

 

Run towards HOPE

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When I sat on my counselor’s couch for the first time in 2012, I told her I did not want anyone to ever know my story. I just wanted to heal as quickly as possible. She assured me that I was safe to share with her and that healing would take time and hard work.

I could hardly say the words – childhood sexual abuse. I certainly couldn’t see myself ever sharing my story with anyone, especially my husband and children.

No way. No how. No never.

But God.

Fast forward to 2019… I went to Leland, NC for the Hope Run with Journey to Heal Ministries with my mom and daughter.  My brother and his family joined us as virtual participants.

HOPE RUN

It made my heart swell to have them with me. I was no longer hiding in the shadows of shame and darkness. Over time, God helped me to step into the light.

I can’t describe to you what it was like to get to the run, step out of my car and see the people.  It was surreal.

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In the sea of people, there were survivors and others were supporters, but you couldn’t tell them apart. Everyone gathered together in this one place and it demonstrated: “Your story matters, and we care. This is a big deal and we want to do something. It has to end!”

I truly felt seen and loved.

Childhood Sexual Abuse completely isolates you. The secrets are all yours to hold and manage. It is an incredibly lonely way to exist. But on this day, it was clear: survivors did not walk alone. They were surrounded by other survivors and supporters.

It was a beautiful sight.

It was time for the race to start and they were giving instructions.  My daughter was running in the 5K and I felt a slight panic rise in my chest as I thought of her running alone.  All the “what if’s” flooded my ‘I need to be in control’ mind.  Even as those thoughts pounded, I recognized how far God had brought me and it helped the panic to subside.  I used to be THE helicopter Mom, and never wanted her out of my sight. He’s taught me how to let go and to trust Him with my daughter. 

Journey To Heal Ministries

When I was no longer able to see her blond ponytail bouncing in the wind, we started our 1-mile walk. As I walked, I was so overwhelmed thinking back to that sofa in my counselor’s office in 2012. I was a frazzled mess, and finally desperate enough to run towards hope. It was painful, messy, hard and scary. I had no idea what healing would look like or where it would take me. I just knew I could no longer stay covered in the muck and mire of shame. I longed to be free.

I ran towards HOPE and He met me in my mess. He washed away my shame. He set me free. 

Do you long to be free? Does shame keep you hidden and afraid? Do you feel like you are all alone?

Run towards HOPE.

You are not alone. There is hope and freedom for you.

Step into the light of His love and His hope for you.

Running towards Hope is not always easy, but it is always worth it.

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go.  Hebrews 6:18 MSG

We left after the race and spent the afternoon on the beach. I thanked God for all He has done in my life and He gently revealed the next layers of healing ahead for me. These layers deal with food, health and my body.

I took a walk on the beach with my daughter and shared with her how next year, I wanted to come back and run with her. It will be painful, hard, messy and scary. But, it will be worth it.

She said, “Mom, we have 364 days ahead of us. You can do it! One day at a time.”

She inspires me, in more ways than one to keep running towards Hope.