Beauty from Ashes
I don’t often tell others why June 21, 2009 is so significant to me. It’s not the trauma of my attack that stops me from opening up about it. It’s the overwhelming emotions I have when I reflect on what God did in me after it all happened.
I went through three years of cognitive therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. On top of that, my life was crippled by fear and anxiety. I suffered chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, and in my most dire moments of emotional need, I was abandoned by those I loved. The list of medications I was on for anxiety and panic seemed endless. I avoided going anywhere at night and slept only when the sun began to rise. If I did go to work or school, I was regularly overcome by panic-inducing flashbacks as that terrifying night replayed over and over in my head. If I met a man who even slightly resembled my attacker, I would instantly notice a metallic taste in my mouth as the adrenaline kicked in, and I’d instantly become riddled with fear.
In some ways I was now the strongest and most resilient I had ever been, but at the same time my life was empty. I felt like the best parts of who I am were stolen from me that night.
When it seemed as though all hope for my ability to live a full life was gone, I was invited by someone to church. I walked through the church doors empty that day, but as worship started I began to feel the Holy Spirit moving on the inside of me. My heart began to soften, and while I was more aware of my brokenness than ever before, for the first time in years I felt a glimmer of hope. That day I let go of all my emptiness, anger and fear, and gave my life to Jesus.
I got plugged into Radiant Church, opened up to some spiritual mentors there, and it changed my world. As I opened up more and began to grow, it felt like new layers of trauma were exposed; but each time it was as if Jesus was right there with me, soothing my pain. Slowly but surely, week after week, I would show up to church open-handed, and as I did, the chains that bound my heart were broken and I found absolute healing in Christ.
Pastor Lee once said that the greatest weapon we have is our testimony, and when I heard that, all the lies the enemy had told me about my past were gone. I can’t imagine going back to that girl that was a shell of who she used to be. Wondering why this happened, why everyone had left. But it was there, in my darkest, most broken place, that God met me and gave me true purpose. He never once left me when I felt panic seizing my body and gave me a reason to smile every day. I am here today to proclaim that no one should be afraid of the journey. God is with you every step of the way, never leaving or forsaking you. He can do exceedingly abundantly in our mess.
He exchanged my grief and pain for beauty, purpose, peace and love. Now that His love is alive on the inside of me, I will never be afraid again.
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