Thursday, April 26, 2018

28 years...

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the over wrought heart and bids it break.” (William Shakespeare, Macbeth)

 It's been 28 years today
336 months
 1460 weeks
  10,220 days
  245,280 hours

Suffice it to say, it's been a long time since I was raped in the parking lot of my high school. Today's weather is remarkably similar, a slight chill in the air but sunny nonetheless. I'm listening to a bird sing outside my window right now, and I can actually remember hearing the same thing the morning I was raped as I walked out of my house to go to school. Little did I know how that night would end. 

If I sit here long enough, I could likely detail every moment of that day...the test I took in Mr. Weidmar's class, the songs we played in jazz band, the clothes I was wearing that day...all of it. And yes, I can recall every detail of the act of rape itself, even after 28 years. If I allow myself to dwell on those memories, I can get to a really dark place. Just because time has passed, don't think that the hurt isn't still there. It is, and it's raw and gnawing. 

In years past, I've approached this day with more joy, feeling grateful for my healing and so thankful for how the Lord has restored me completely. I've rejoiced that my suffering hasn't felt like it was in vain because I've had the honor of sitting with countless other ladies who have walked this road too, and I get to tell them that healing is possible. I STILL FEEL ALL OF THOSE THINGS. 

But this year has been different for some reason, Maybe it's the "me too" movement. Maybe it's all the media about sexual violence. Maybe it's something altogether different; I really don't know. But what I do know is that I'm sad this year. I'm not depressed and ready to kill myself. I'm not weeping hysterically all the time. I'm not secluding myself in my room and eating chocolate until I fall into a sugar coma. I'm just carrying about my life with a sadness in me. 


I'm learning that it's ok to walk through these kinds of seasons. My sadness doesn't mean I'm not healed. On the contrary! I would argue that my sadness is a sure sign of healing- I'm allowing myself to feel the pain I stuffed down for years as I struggled to make sense of what I'd endured. No more stuffing here. I'm sad, and it's ok to say that. It's ok to feel that sadness. It's ok to cry (gasp!) It's ok to let others see that just because I'm healed and whole and redeemed and no longer a victim, I can still feel great sadness over the loss I endured at the hands of that man. 

Healing isn't removing all the memories or pain. Healing is learning that those memories and pain have no power over you anymore. And today, I can assure you, these memories have no power over me. The Lord has overcome, and He has healed me. 

A friend shared a  song with me recently, and it has become my anthem of healing. It's called "I'm No Victim" by  Kristene DiMarco, and it is beautiful. Here is the bridge:

I am who He says I am
He is who He says He is
I'm defined by all His promises
Shaped by every word He says

I can choose to be defined by the act of rape or the words whispered to me during that act. I can choose to be defined by the choices I made in the aftermath of the rape, the dysfunctional ways I handled the trauma. I can choose to be defined by what some in the world would call me- damaged, defeated, wounded beyond repair, a victim. I can choose to be defined by my own fears and frustrations. I can choose to be defined by only the memories of the pain. And yet... I CHOOSE to be allow the Lord to define me. 
I choose to believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by him (Psalm 139).
I choose to believe that I can live fearlessly because He is my light and my salvation (Psalm 27).
I choose to believe that I am a friend of God (John 15:15).
I choose to believe that I am made new (2 Corinthians 5:17). 
I choose to believe that I am found holy and blameless before the Lord (Ephesians 1:4). 
I choose to believe that I have been made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5). 
I choose to believe that the peace of God guards my mind (Philippians 4:7) and that He will supply all my needs (Philippians 4:19).

I can't end this without saying this: If you have been raped or assaulted or if you find yourself in a dangerous relationship today, don't stay silent. Speak up and get help. If you need me to point you to some good options for help, I'd be happy to do so. If you're struggling with believing you're worth the effort it takes to heal, let me assure you that YOU ARE. And I'll happily  believe it for you until you're ready to believe it yourself. Don't wait any longer to take the first step to healing. It is possible. You do not have to be defined by what happened to you any longer. I'm living proof. 

To God be the Glory for that truth....