The last year has been an incredibly difficult one for me. I said goodbye to a 25-year career, friends and family I once believed loved me, and a life I thought would always be mine. Without warning, it was all on it’s way out the door, leaving me alone, terrified, and wondering what in the hell just happened. Every single door that could have been shut, was slammed behind me and not a single person peeked in to see if I was even alive. My entire life I had been good to people, had been beyond generous, and I wondered how this could happen to me?
In my darkest moments I would vacillate between thinking, “God knows the truth and will turn this all around,” to “where in the hell is God at and why would he ever let this happen to me in the first place?” Every time it seemed as if something was going to go my way, in some absurdly unusual way, it would all fall apart, insuring continued pain. I couldn’t fathom how anyone could have so much terrible luck. I was angry at God, but that rage quickly turned into feeling abandoned. I would cry, asking him how he could continue to let this happen when he knew how I’d always treated people and how much I’d given and loved everyone. Why me?!
Why did I have to have a life that had been overrun with pain from the age of five? I would scream at God asking where he was during all those times I was being raped as a child. What kind of God lets that happen to a CHILD? Repeatedly? I would move on to the rest of my life remembering how every single time I was starting to have some happiness and peace, again some atrocity would happen that left me hurting and suffering. I would question why he even let me be born? Why did he create a child who would endure so much throughout her life?
“Of course I made mistakes,” I would scream, “but I never hurt anyone and I always tried to help everyone!” I would just crumble to the floor, sobbing, eventually falling asleep feeling quite certain that the God I had loved my entire life, had not only allowed the devil to consistently torture me with delight, but had not even cared enough to protect or save me, in spite of how much I had needed him.
I was sitting outside speaking to Alec, tears streaming down my face, as I expressed these sentiments to him. Without batting an eye Alec said to me, “Maybe God has been outside the front door fighting monsters you never even knew were there. Maybe he saved you from more than you ever know.” It was a genuine moment of clarity for me. I shudder to think of all the horrible things I escaped because God slayed those beasts, before they ever reached me. I knew in my soul that Alec was right. I was so busy focusing on my own sorrow that I never stopped to consider how much worse things could have been had God not been on my side.
I began to sob, apologizing to God. I think God loves us just as we love our children. I remember bouncing on my mom’s bed when I was a little girl. She kept telling me to stop and I would get off the bed quickly with a “yes, Ma’am.” As soon as she left, I climbed right back up, bouncing for all I was worth. I decided I wanted to do a flip, and so with a big bounce and all my might, I flipped. I did not land on the mattress. I landed with my tailbone on the footboard of her bed. The pain was sudden, intense, and I let out a blood curdling scream.
My mom came rushing to find me in pain, screaming for all I was worth. She grabbed me into her arms and comforted me. As she wiped my tears away she told me that she wasn’t mad at me for not listening to her, but that it broke her heart to see me in pain. I don’t have a lot of memories from my childhood, but that moment of love with my mom, is one of my favorites. She didn’t care that I overtly disobeyed her, she loved me anyway. She held me, told me how much she loved me, then she got my pillow, my favorite blankie, and my “Doobie Bear,” and tucked me into the couch with some warm tea. She sat in the chair beside the couch, reading and watching over me. I felt loved.
In the painful aftermath of my failed gymnastics attempt, I was surrounded with love. My mom could have said, “that’s what you get, you won’t jump on the bed again, will you?” But, she didn’t. She loved me through my painful mistake. She told me later that she knew I was going to keep jumping on that bed because I was a little hardhead. I’m certain this is the same way God loves us. In spite of our mistakes, he comforts us. He wraps his loving arms around us and once we are still, we feel his presence.
In the darkest hours of this last year, I realized I needed to surrender everything to him. I had never truly done that. I would somewhat surrender, but not entirely. I prayed, begging him to show me what he wanted me to do with my life. I asked him to open the doors I needed, promising him that if he did, I would walk through them without questioning. I decided, in spite of how dreary the outlook seemed, I was walking by faith.
I promised him that when any additional people abandoned me, I wouldn’t chase after them, trying to convince them to stay. I told him that if things didn’t go the way I hoped, I would trust that he had his reasons. I can tell you it is an easy thing to say, but it is incredibly difficult to do when you’re experiencing the panic of day-to-day life. Reality can be harsh and in the middle of the storm, when you have 17 cents to your name, it’s hard to say, “God, I trust you.” It was something I had to practice. I would remind myself daily to have faith. It was at this point, I began writing You Have Such a Pretty Face.
It saved me.
I found my true purpose in this life. As I began to heal, I found the courage to tell my story. It’s very difficult to be open about such unspeakable truths, revealing to the world secrets you have kept hidden for an entire lifetime. I know for sure, though, that if a single person is helped by my truth, then it has all been worth it. I also know that if I can survive the landmines that the devil has littered my path with, others can too.
I tell my truth because I know there are people hurting this very moment, doubting they can make it one more day, questioning God, wondering where he is while they suffer. Because I have experienced that pain and agony, I want to assure you that he is there, right beside you. He will never abandon you. He has his arms around you, loving you this very moment. It might be hard to feel him amidst all of the chaos, but in your silence, you will hear his voice. He loves you and will never leave you. He will open all the doors you need, if you seek him first.
My life has not instantaneously become a playground. Things are still not easy, but I am continuing to heal, working as hard as one person possibly can. I pray every morning, asking God to use me for what he wants, and to help me touch as many hurting people as I can. That’s why I tell the unedited truth, why I say the things other people hide, because lies don’t help anyone. I am a real person. I hurt like everyone else. I have scars, but I no longer feel the need to hide them because I am a survivor and I know my story can help other people. Mostly, though, I am loved by the greatest power on this planet and I find tremendous strength in that fact.
I know when I was deserted by the people I loved and trusted the most, God carried me. There was definitely only one set of footprints on the path of my life at that time, because I wasn’t even strong enough to walk. Now, though, there are two sets of footprints, because he holds my hand wherever I go and I don’t go anywhere without him.
He will hold your hand too. Trust him.