My bedroom wall was covered in medals, plaques, and trophies from running hurdles and sprints throughout my high school and college years. I saw a simple saying that stuck with me that read: “Don’t take credit for what God has done.” Even though I wasn’t walking with God then, every one of those medals found themselves in a box that I haven’t seen since.
I didn’t make a choice to seek God for myself until my mid 20’s, when I moved to Columbus with Suzy and Katie. I fasted for my first time and I remember praying, “Lord, I want to get to know you for YOU, not for what others have taught me to believe.” Kinda like when you choose to get to know somebody for their heart and not for their reputation or outward appearance. I wanted to discover God’s heart for myself and asking to see things from his perspective.
Paradigms are made to be shaken and are made to be rocked. I don’t want to imagine the simplicity of a mind without such a breach. Nor do I want to imagine being the same person for the rest of my life, without growing and transforming in positive ways. Rich Nathan, Senior Pastor from Vineyard Church of Columbus said, “One of the most spiritual things you can do is to CHOOSE.” Learning about the power to choose shook my paradigm. I chose how to perceive, respond, and make the most out of my circumstances, broken heartedness, crushed bones, sexual assault, betrayal, anger, and bitterness…. the list goes on. This was a time to make choices that could build my character and grow closer to God.
Choices are always there.
When I couldn’t walk for months, hid the fact that I was raped, and feared being pregnant; I had some serious choices to make. I chose not to feel sorry for myself and to focus on my relationship with God while asking him how I could grow from it. I chose to forgive rather than to carry bitterness. I chose to eventually ask for prayer and receive counseling instead of pretending nothing ever happened. Oddly enough, I even thanked God for suffering because it’s during those times of pain of which I’ve grown the most.
Healing is a choice. Jesus is my healer and time is not. To say that only time will heal is choosing neglect and hopes that you will forget as time simply passes. I had a dream that I saw someone fall down the center of a floating world. I saw the sheer terror in his eyes as he screamed and flailed his arms in hopes to grab something, but he didn’t. It was too late. In my dream there was no place to land, so he would spend the rest of his life in fear and forever falling. Perhaps this is a picture of my life without healing or without Jesus. I don’t want this picture for myself or anyone else to live in such fear, or to simply rely on time to heal.
I have been speechless and humbled by your responses when I shared “What REALLY Happened.” It seems impossible to find the right words to share how thankful I am for every genuine response. It was even more overwhelming to receive a number of private messages with people sharing similar experiences when they were sexually assaulted, but have kept it to themselves for years. Wow, thank you for trusting me, and opening up this frightening chapter of your life. I know it’s not easy. While you are open, please consider prayer and counseling no matter how long ago it was or how scary it may have been. I’m speaking to you from my heart to not ignore it or pretend it didn’t happen. Perhaps I went through what I went through to be able to connect with you at a relevant level, and encourage such healing for yourself. Life is not meant to be done alone and pretend we have it all together wearing our happy little church faces. Perhaps you were the one who sexually assaulted another, please consider being open for prayer and counseling, as well, because through Christ it’s never too late to change.
One of my Starbucks moments with my prayer journal and Bible, Philippians 4:17 really hit my heart. Another paradigm that was rocked, was to seek the fruit of the gifts, and not simply the gifts themselves. I realized that this whole traumatic year was and is a gift, and for me its more than just having to learn to walk again, healing, and counseling, but seeking what comes from it all. I hope to make the most of every opportunity(Ephesians 5:13-17). Maybe the fruit of it all is to encourage you to receive healing as well.
I really like Pastor Steven Fertick’s (Author of Sun Stand Still and the pastor of Elevation Church) sermon in Walking in the FOG (Nov 26, 2011) where he talked about being at a basketball game with his wife and two little kids. Michael Jordan walked by them and Pastor Stephen attempted to explain how phenomenal of an athlete he was, being arguably the best athlete of all time. He went on and on explaining his greatness when one of the little boys eyes lit up and got really big and asked, “Can we get some popcorn, Dad?” His point was that sometimes the greatest moment is right in front of us but we are caught up in the little things. I choose to look for the “Michael Jordan’s” in my life and asking God how I may respond to them.
Just as the simple saying that stuck with me as a teenager leaving all my medals in a box, I still can’t take credit for what God has done. He is the healer, time is not. You all have encouraged me with with great strength, but even that, I can’t take credit for any of it. It’s been the most traumatic year of my life, but by the grace of God, also the best year of my life. I have yet a lot to walk through and grow from. Sure, maybe I do feel like a bird that had its wings clipped, but its ok because I’ll seek the Lord for new ways to fly. I can be caught up in the little things, like the possibility I may not compete professionally as a snowboarder or I can choose to focus on the greatness of this very moment. Not to mention, many more paradigms to be rocked while I’m at it.
Here are some references that I have walked through over the years to build character and grow closer to God. Although I didn’t use RAINN, I found it to be a great recourse for sexual assault:
Vineyard Church of Columbus. Seek counseling, soaking prayer, and community. 614.890.0000
Sauni Shuster for no-cost legal support to victims of sexual violence. firstname.lastname@example.org 614.530.5570
Breakthrough Biblical Counseling Program www.breakthroughministries.org
Dr. Sandy Burkett, Counselor 740.389.2910
http://www.rainn.org/ RAINN: The nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. One of “America’s 100 Best Charities” – Worth magazine