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What Rape Did to My Life

Rape left a jagged wound on my life, but God has reminded me how He has redeemed my darkest story and continues to use it to reach into the lives of others.

Rape left a jagged wound on my life, but through the media bombardment since the horrifyingly lenient sentence for Brock Turner, God has been reminding me how He has used my darkest story to minister to brutally wounded girls.

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Even though I’m reliving bits and pieces of my own story, I can’t look away. Its like I’m standing in solidarity with her by acknowledging the truth of her story; she was not exaggerating, not being dramatic, not lying.

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So, I’ve quietly read the articles and the letters: first, from his victim, trying not to let her eloquent words reach too deeply so I don’t break down three feet from where my daughter is playing cowgirl.

Then I read the plea from his father who said his son didn’t deserve to have his whole life ruined.

and I tried not to let anger consume me, knowing I need Jesus every bit as much as Brock Turner does.

But he stuffed pine needles and other foreign objects inside her. . .

. . . and I mentally inhale as if icy water has shocked my flesh.

It wasn’t sex. It was power. He sat over her and gratified every sick and twisted desire he could until he was caught.

A lot of experts can spout statistics and theories, but I can tell you, even when it’s two kids kissing, and the boy gets ‘carried away’, it’s still rape; it’s still about power. It is ‘I can’t control myself, so I’ll control you instead.’

I’ve tried to tell myself I don’t need to tell my story, but I really, really do, even though it breaks my heart.

Because this is one way I can reach into the silent scars we carry, and bring the discussion into our schools, our homes, and our churches.

It is a forever kind of hurt.

A boy my dad didn’t like, didn’t like the word no. I was so innocent I didn’t even understand what he wanted as he roughly forced me around the car in our high school parking lot between ninth period and badminton try-outs.

To this day, I don’t know why I didn’t fight him harder; I felt disconnected and frozen. When I finally controlled my panic, I gathered all my strength, pushed him and screamed; he stopped.

I was bleeding from where he stole my virginity, but later he left a note in my locker saying nothing had happened, calling me a crazy liar.

I thought it was my fault because I had wanted this cute, popular boy’s attention. And I liked kissing him; maybe it was my fault for kissing him.

The secret places inside my head held that spaghetti ball of lies and guilt and shame for a long time.

My life kept moving forward, but in my immaturity I believed the rape had destroyed my entire identity as a Christian because I lost my purity. (The church’s silence on this issue to our youth is deafening.)

I can’t erase the image of the well-meaning youth pastor demonstrating how sex binds us together with two pieces of glued construction paper, which ripped as he peeled them apart, shards of my pink innocence stuck to the black.

I was supposed to wait until marriage. Wasn’t I supposed to stop him!?

Rape left a jagged wound on my life, but since the media storm over Brock Turner, God has reminded me how He has redeemed my darkest story.

Well, I felt ruined now, dirty and used. The rape shredded to tatters the scrappy remnants left of my self-esteem after years of rampant, vicious bullying.

My sense of self had forever become compromised around men. Rape victims often respond by avoiding all male contact or seeking more male attention, craving protection or becoming promiscuous to lessen the pain somehow by desensitization.

I had the attitude of why wait now? Look what NO had done. If I said yes, at least I wouldn’t be raped again.

But I was, in college, because the college rape culture was (IS) so extreme that drunk meant it didn’t matter, “I’m so drunk . . .” was the 80s equivalent of “What happens in Vegas . . .” (shouldn’t this have changed by now?)

Movies like “The Accused” tried to start the conversation about changing the way we legally and culturally approach rape, but it was so horrifying to watch the way she was re-victimized by the legal process and the press, that I knew I’d never be able to press charges.

So I lived with this albatross of rape hanging around the recesses of my mind. Believing I was worthless, I sought relationships that treated me cheaply. I lived with cruelty and even abuse, afraid I’d never be loved.

Every relationship I had after rape, was shaped by the wounds. Sex was forever razor-wire tied to hurt, rejection, abandonment.

I didn’t get help for a long time, when I did, it wasn’t enough. Therapy taught me the words ‘it wasn’t your fault’ but couldn’t make them ring true in my heart.

And that’s why I have to tell my story.

Because 30 years later we’re still having this conversation.

We have to start acknowledging, publicly and legally and spiritually, that sexual assault affects every minute of our lives after it. We’ve got to learn to give our girls (and boys) ways to peel it all back as far as it goes, and really deal with it.

Especially as the church.

We need to do a better job of preparing our youth for sexuality: controlling strong physical urges, taking responsibility, maintaining accountability, respecting themselves and each other, seeking God before any pleasure of this world.

The church also needs to vocally reach out to other victims and survivors, protecting them and validating them, and giving them back an identity even better than the one they lost.

Because there is hope in Christ, even after rape.

Even though I still hurt, I know God is slowly helping me heal, by renewing my worth in Him, by exposing my hurts to the Sonlight.

Therapy taught me the words, 'It wasn't your fault' but couldn't make them true, only Jesus did. Click To Tweet

Today, I know that nothing in my life was wasted.

Romans 8:28 ESV  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

God took terrible events that happened because of the lost nature of this world and used who I am to help others.

I have been able to help reach into the broken lives of many young women because I understood. One student couldn’t even tell me what had happened as she cried in my classroom, tears spilling onto a missed spelling quiz.

I looked into her eyes and just knew. By showing I did understand, she was able to finally talk about it with me and her counselor, and eventually the police. She was safe that night for the first night in four years, and so was her eight year old sister.

If I hadn’t been there  . . .

Would I change what happened to me knowing all the girls who have needed my understanding in the years since?

No, I really wouldn’t.

God has given me this incredible ability to persevere and used this experience as a witness and testimony to the healing power of God.

I wouldn’t have had the bravery to share this before. But now I know I don’t have to cling to the shame of this. My poor decisions didn’t give anyone the right to hurt me.

I still have moments that it hurts. I look at my beautiful daughter and worry that she is too pretty, too friendly. It’s not fair that I have to prepare her for the violence sin perpetuates in this world.

I’ll do my best to teach her how to be safe, but I can’t be there for her every minute, only God can, and I know nothing will ever happen to her that He can’t heal if she surrenders it.

And that is my last point. No one and nothing is beyond God’s redemption. His word is full of redemption stories, even murderers who God mightily used after their repentance.

The next step of my healing is learning to pray for the boys like my attackers, like Brock Turner. There is peace in the forgiveness that comes when I can pray for the salvation of those who hurt me.

They are not beyond His love and healing either, though their earthly consequences may continue, like mine do. God can offer peace and healing if they come repentant and humbled as I once did.

The church needs to take that message to them, too.

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Master Weaver – trusting God’s plan in the chaos

Life is the beautiful rug hiding in the mess of our trials and struggles. Trusting the Master Weaver for the beautiful life He is weaving in me.

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I’ve had lots of messy, hurtful times in my life: my husband’s combat tours, gossiping neighbors, financial struggles, marital tensions, infertility, health crises, times that felt like they were breaking me apart.

During those moments that felt like my world was breaking in two, I’ve held tightly to this promise.

Romans 8:28 ESV  “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Because sometimes in the middle of it, I couldn’t see how. I’ve sat in the mess holding my heart in my hands wondering how God could possibly being doing any good.

God promises He uses all things for our good, but sometimes, we can't see how. We have to trust our Master Weaver. Click To Tweet

And then I would start to see the hints of God’s hand using those messes, and I pictured the weaving of Persian carpets, some of the most intricate, most beautiful in the world, woven together with absolute precision.

But in the middle of weaving, it is a bit of a mess. Strings hanging in random directions, lots of white threads, etc. Only the master weaver knows what the finished product will become, while we only see how perfectly the pieces fit together once each part is completed.

Life is the beautiful rug hiding in the mess of our trials and struggles. Trusting the Master Weaver for the beautiful life He is weaving in me.

I can’t always easy to see how the messy parts fit, but they always do.

April 2013, I had an arthroscopic hip surgery that was supposed to “fix” my hip. Instead, my hip was completely destroyed. After a total hip replacement in January 2014, I was recovering nicely, then dislocated my new hip. I had to spend 6 1/2 weeks in an immobilizing brace. Unable to sit up, lay down, drive, shower, dress, live in any easy way in that thing, I was STUCK at home. Frustrated, I couldn’t see how all the injuries, surgeries and setbacks could be part of God’s plan.

I wasn’t able to do anything!

Exactly what God wanted. He wanted me to stop running, figuratively and literally. SIT DOWN. Be still. Wait on ME.

So I spent months just being home, spending time with my daughter, focusing on my relationship with my husband and with God. It became an amazing time of dedicating my life to God and His highest ministry for me, raising my daughter and serving my husband through what I could be, not do.

My perspective on my purpose and my value shifted tremendously.

I can't always see God's plan in the chaos, but I can trust Him through it. Click To Tweet

During the difficult years waiting to be a mother, I cried, I ached, I got bitter before I turned it over to God. But if you gave me a chance to change it, I wouldn’t. God used every minute of the waiting.

He used that time to introduce me to my husband, to move me around the country, meet new people, to become the woman who was ready finally to be a Godly mother, raising my child for Him, not myself.

God gave me the absolute right child for me at the perfect time. He was teaching me to be patient, have wisdom and strength, and definitely, to be selfless in an entirely new way. I couldn’t understand why He wanted me to wait, but He was preparing me to be this tiny tornado’s mother. This child is a force of nature, and I had to wait for her to exist. I couldn’t have known that then and wouldn’t have missed mothering her for the world!

My struggles with infertility and our journey through adoption has allowed me to witness, minister, and support many women in similar situations. What a gift to be able to be a friend and sister in Christ in this way!

I think of all the young mothers I would never have met if I’d been a mother earlier, young women I can walk beside and support now, facing the same challenges, but as a mentor in Christ.

God has used our seemingly random moves in the military, but each was part of God’s plan in many ways.

In Texas, I met some women who truly changed my life, becoming sisters in Christ.  I cannot understate how important they have been to my life. They befriended me, supported me, helped bring me to a deeper walk with God, helped love me out of my shell, changed my life.

Also, our daughter was born there. Her birth mother chose us because she could meet us in person. God didn’t waste even the tiniest ripples of His hand.

Despite our struggles, the tiny ripples of God's hands in my life were never wasted. Click To Tweet

Then, again the army sent us away from all we knew. But it was here that I got to stay home and raise my daughter, play Candy Land instead of grade essays. Here, we found a new friends and an amazing church. Being here has absolutely grown me spiritually.

Right now, my husband and I are dealing with an assignment that is 16-18 hour days, 6-7 days every week. It is daunting for him, for me, for our daddy’s girl who misses him so, but God has been ahead of us, guiding our paths all along.

I can’t see why this might be the right place for our family, but I can trust God that it is. Surviving the storm together binds our hearts together in a way ease never did.

Surviving the storms of life strengthens us in ways that ease never did. Click To Tweet

I can rest knowing that God has a plan for my life.

Jeremiah 29: 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Many quote this verse from Jeremiah, but few put it into context.

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.  .   .   . 10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 

God promises He has a plan, but it includes 70 years of exile.

Christians often cling to Jeremiah 29:11. We like to think it promises easy lives. However, God really promised that He was with them in exile. He had not forgotten them and had planned this for their redemption. He didn’t promise they wouldn’t suffer.

Can you look back at your life and see times the Master Weaver always had a plan? All the pieces in your life that seemed out-of-place but turned out to be part of the design all along. Maybe you’re in that period of difficulty right now and can’t see how all the pieces fit.

God doesn’t waste anything. Every struggle and joy are a part of His plan for your life, unique pieces of you He can use.

Remember, God sees the finished product, and He is making a beautiful and wondrous work of your life.

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

So Master Weaver, sweet Abba Father, my hope is in Your complete plan for my life.

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