Growing up in church, I remember hearing that God would always love and protect me. At a very young age, I became a victim of sexual abuse. Because of how young I was, I never truly understood what was happening to me. My parents always told my siblings and me that we needed to let them know if anyone did anything inappropriate to us. I began to realize that what happened to me was not okay. This hurtful experience caused me to question my worth and lose my understanding of what being loved and protected by God truly meant. Because of this, I grew angry with God and questioned why he would allow something like this to happen to me. My way of moving forward was to try and hide the pain I was going through. I did my best to be outgoing and friendly in a group of people, but I would break down when I was alone. The enemy kept feeding me lies like—my friends will think less of me OR no guy will ever want to date me. I constantly questioned my worth and told myself how unloved I was.
At a high school church retreat, I met with one of the leaders and shared how angry I was with God. She prayed with me and asked God to soften my heart to what he might be trying to show me on the retreat. Later that evening, during worship, the band played the song “Oceans” by Hillsong. It was, at that moment, that the Lord began to work in my heart. I fell to my knees and wept because I finally realized that what had happened to me did not define my worth. The lyrics, “where feet may fail, and fear surrounds me, you’ve never failed, and you won’t start now” helped me understand that God didn’t fail me, but man did. I felt the Holy Spirit with me at that moment.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Sadly, in college, the same abuse returned as someone who I thought was my friend abused me. I remember thinking, “how could I let something like this happen?” after what I’d already been through. I felt myself returning to my old ways of thinking I’m not worthy. But, I prayed that God would protect my heart and mind—that I would be reminded of truth. I told my counselor and my parents everything that happened, and they reassured me that I was not defined by what happened to me. They continuously told me I was loved and valued and was a child of the King.
I’ve never wanted to share my story because I felt like I was putting a “victim” label over my head. I recently learned the power of storytelling and how God takes what’s broken in our lives and helps rewrite our story for his glory. I can now use what has happened to me to help others who have been through something similar. A verse that I have continuously gone back to is John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” The Lord has given me peace. I will go through darkness, but God has brought me light.