Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Life in the Balance...Honoring this Anniversary Date

It's been a full year since I've written here. That wasn't intentional. I've been working on a new book which is both exciting and terrifying. I'm not sure it will ever be anything the public has access to, but it has been on my heart, so I have focused my writing efforts there. 

Anyway...I'm here today. It's that time again. April 26th, the day I both look forward to and dread. Today marks 32 years since the day I was raped. It's funny to me how each year feels so different. Last year I wrote of how I am not the same as the victim I was back in 1990 in the parking lot of my high school. That remains true. And yet, this year I feel the sadness a bit more. I feel the weight of all I have carried since that day, and at the same time I feel the relief of allowing the Lord to carry the burden for me. Don't mistake my sadness for not healing. Not even close. 

I carry zero bitterness or unforgiveness about that day. I know that sounds so ridiculous to some who will read this and think, "How in the world do you forgive someone for rape?!" I hear you. And the truth is, you don't. Forgiveness is something that I believe only the Lord can instill in your heart. Apart from my relationship with Jesus, I am a girl who would carry around hatred like a badge of honor. But Jesus took that need away. He replaced it with the knowledge of my own need of forgiveness and well...I'm changed because of Jesus. By his stripes I am healed from that. 

And yet...I hurt. I am learning that hurting is ok. We are made to do hard things. We can carry hurt and still be free and healed all at the same time. We can balance memories that haunt and hope for the future together. We can feel both peace and confusion in the same moment. We are remarkable creations, made in the image of God himself, so quite capable of so much more than we recognize at times. 

Today I feel melancholy, knowing the full truth of my healing and restoration all the while feeling the sadness of the brutality I experienced. And that's all ok. Our journeys don't have to take straight paths; we are allowed to not feel "ok" some days. Some will tell you that God isn't concerned with your feelings. I vehemently disagree. He designed us to be humans that feel, that experience emotions. How could he not care for them when he made them? I don't think he wants us to be guided by them because goodness knows, they are fickle! But our feelings and emotions have value. Today my feelings tell me that I have walked through trial and fire. They also tell me I've experienced loss too great for me to bear without Jesus. But they also cry out with joy for the victory I feel over shame and depression and defeat. So many feelings and emotions, so different, and so very important to me and to my Father. 

I have chosen to take this day each year and do something fun. It's my way of making new memories for this date, to change the trajectory of how I approach this day on the calendar. And so I will spend the day with my favorite human ever (my husband!) laughing and celebrating and remembering that I am not defined by April 26, 1990. I am defined by the One who gave me life, then gave his life to ransom mine back again. How can I not celebrate that beautiful truth? 

I know there are so many others walking this road of healing. Statistics paint a horrifying picture of the reality of sexual abuse and assault. If that is your story, please hear me say that I am so very sorry for the road you're walking. And please look at my life and see the healing that is possible. Memories cannot  harm me; they are just memories. The time in that parking lot was just a blink amid the stunningly beautiful moments of my entire life. He took innocence and trust and safety from me for a moment. He doesn't hold them forever. 


I realize that some of you who will read this don't know or believe in the Jesus I love so much. But I know him to be a healer, constant and true and worthy and good and just. And he is for us. He is for me. He is for you. If you are hurting, he wants to heal. If you are broken, he wants to put you back together. My life is a testimony to his ability to do so. 

So today, I celebrate and grieve all at the same time. I will laugh and I may cry. I will sit in silence and I will talk my husband's ear off I'm sure. I will feel the weight of that day and I will feel the ease of my security today. It's a delicate balance at times, but it's a beautiful life. God is so very good, friends. Celebrate with me today. 

If you have been assaulted and need help finding a therapist or just want to chat with someone who has walked the road you're on, please reach out. Find me on Instagram at hollybird72 or email me at hollybird72@gmail.com

Keep walking. Keep feeling. Keep trusting. 

Walking with you,