Recently I have spent a lot of time thinking about my answer to that question. And here’s why --
I am 35 years old and have lived the majority of my life as a surviving victim of sexual abuse. I was 11 years old when I was molested by someone close to me and I have lived with it every day since. I won’t ever be able to escape the memories. The fear, the shame, the embarrassment and the lack of understanding will always be a part of who I am. And I am finally okay with that because I know God is working in my life!
I have struggled throughout the years with being depressed, anxious and angry, but more than all of that, I have struggled with being okay. As a teenager and young adult, I really didn’t know how to deal with feeling happy or content, so I created chaos in my life because that was more comfortable to me. I pushed away anyone who tried to help me and clung to those who used me. I had a distinct pattern of toxic, unhealthy relationships.
If you’re reading this, maybe you can relate in some capacity. Whether it’s abuse you’ve suffered (like me), a loss of someone you love, or some other type of hurt that has consumed you for far too long, you understand what I mean when I say you can’t really make sense out of it. How do you accept it and move on when there are reminders everywhere?
I have lived the last two decades of my life regretting what happened to me, how it changed my family and how it changed me. I was 16 years old the first time I forgave. I say the first time because I have to forgive often. Not only do I have to forgive him, but I also have to forgive myself. Forgiveness has been the beginning of moving on and releasing the regret. It’s not easy when you relive it all the time and think about how you should have done things differently. “What ifs” are difficult to live with!
God has given me the chance to start over...more than once! He has put people in my life who love me to the best of their ability. He has loved me and been the security I craved and sought after for most of my life. He has given me the ability to love others the way He loves me. He has has given me salvation through Jesus.
I don’t shy away from telling my story. It’s the best tool I have to share how God has worked in my life. I don’t credit myself with anything other than being willing to let God heal me. It’s ongoing, I’m not done yet, but I’m closer now than I ever have been before!