This time last week I was a big mess of emotions. I was anxious about a myriad of things. I was fighting this step of the journey and it took just about everything in me to get in the car. It was especially hard when I left my husband behind with no air-conditioning. The devil was upping his game as I walked out the front door, but I knew (and Matt knew) though it was hard I had to go.
|My Facebook post the morning I left|
As the landscape changed from crowded businesses to open farmland, I let the anxiety lift and peace take hold of me. (Thank you David Crowder for being so amazingly talented and putting words to my feelings so perfectly) I made my normal right, left, right, left off of the two-lane highway in my favorite small Texas town. As I drove past the farm house, so many warm memories flooded my mind. I wonder if the owners of that property know the connection it has to so many women. I was greeted in the parking lot of the big house by familiar, loving faces. That warm welcome continue inside as I hugged women (and men) who have been beside me on this journey. It was the most amazing reunion that I almost forgot what I was there for - to unpack junk - yuck.
Oh, there are so many details of the last week that I know I will share with you. Again, as I did with Rachel’s Vineyard, I will stop myself from giving you every detail because everyone’s experience is different and I would never want my experiences to taint yours. Today I am going to share with you the one thing I didn’t expect to happen - the one person I never expected I needed to confront, forgive and love again.
The term “abuse” and “victim” had been haunting me since I was first asked to go through this retreat. As I prepared for my five days of Grief to Grace, I knew I would be facing the feelings of being a young girl who had relationships with adult men. I knew I would face my father issues. I knew I would face the verbal abuse received from my ex-husband. I knew I would face my prostitution. But I didn’t realize that God had a different plan for my time. Yes, I discussed these things, I put words to feelings and shared openly (those who love my “refreshing honestly” would be proud - I let it flow).
But then God said, “it’s time for you to face you”. I foresee another, long post about compassion and an amazing young woman that God gave me this weekend, but right now I want to say with excitement that God had me work on me! Confused?
Of all the people I thought I would work hard to forgive during this weekend, I never imagined that God would have me focus so intently on forgiving “that girl” - the 17 year old me, the 23 year old me, even the 30 year old me. He pushed hard and even though I fought, He would not let me stop until I could bring her to where I am today.
At the end of that process I was asked (as other participants did the same) to write a letter to the child of god who survived.
Here is my letter to “that girl”
I have always called you “that girl”, “that girl I mourn” - I’ve always kept you an arms distance away, shaming you with my thoughts and my words. I’ve always thought, “I should forgive her”, but now I realize I need to ask you to forgive me.
Well, take a deep breath my love.
I am sorry that my words have hurt you all these years. I am sorry that I have left you there in my box of shame - refusing to allow you to see the light of day - the amazing light of grace that I’ve been living in. Rejection is hard, it sucks and I have rejected you time and time again.
I am sorry.
I was afraid of you, afraid if I let you be close to me that I would mold into you again. In my running from you, shamming who you are , not having compassion for you I severed some of the best parts of me.
You deserved (and still deserve) to be loved. Even in your awkwardness, you are loved. And I know that is all you wanted, someone to take your hands look you deep in the eyes and say, “I love you 100%, not matter how much you fight me I will hold on.”
Oh my crazy, wild, unique girl that I have muffled for so long, I love you 110%. Oh, I think I love you even more than that. I owe you my life. You surviving , even though through my adult eyes seemed like an act, kept us together, kept us hole. You helped us survive years of crap, crap that wrecks your soul.
You did this (imagine my arms stretch wide spinning in a circle). Look around, this amazing life, this awesome husband, these beautiful daughters - you created this - you and God. God had a plan even in the darkness of our life and you held on. You kept us together.
Where I am today is all because of you.
As a dear friend said to me recently, “you will one day realize how luck I am you’re in my life, not vise versa”. That day has come, my sweet girl. I want you to know that I didn’t pick us up and save us - YOU DID!
YOU saved us. YOU got us here. I want YOU here to enjoy the blessings of our new life. Take a deep breath, come out of the box and enjoy this life!
I love you and I can’t do this life without you!
Oh, I have tears as I read through this again. I feel like I am talking about one of my children as I say, “oh I just love her so much.”
That my friends is progress, that is healing, that is HUGE!
And I am oh so grateful to God, to the team who led me through this and to the amazing people who lived those five days with me. And I am thankful for you, your prayers and your support.
This is healing! This absolutely amazing, bone-chilling, Holy Spirit driven healing!