the days to follow .

[Notice— This post I had begun with the intentions of releasing on the anniversary of when I first gave my heart back to God. However despite it being on my heart to write, I no longer plan to write for quite some time to come. My pursuit of God is too fragile to disregard and if it is to strengthen then it requires full devotion. I will write again, in fact I suspect I will begin writing sooner than I anticipate, but for now this here is my final and very unfinished post— there was much more but most I deleted and the rest I never finished writing]

Sixty-five [11] days ago I published a post that highlighted the ways in which God had been revealing Himself to me amidst my suffering. We had made it to 300 days since I had given my heart back to God and when I published that final post, I had no idea what would come in the days to follow.. let alone the hours. Had the last 300 days been enough to prepare me for the 65 days to follow?

The hours that passed came first. My post was published in the evening and it couldn’t have been more than eight hours laster, an hour or so past midnight, when everything changed… Cold. Dark. Alone. Footsteps. Fear. Beating heart. Heavy breathing. Hands. Trapped. Pain. Cries. Helplessness. Loss of power. Unwanted skin. Deep pain. Pressure. Disorientation. Defeat. Rape… again. There was no one to go to, no one to hold me and no one to protect me.

The days.. Day 1 was the easiest. Between my poker face smiles and my distress meltdowns behind closed doors with T, the first day was somewhat a success. As the sun rose, the sight of myself was enough to make me nauseous. As I stood unclothed on the icy bathroom tiles, my lungs were yet to remember how to draw breath and my jaw had long since remainded tightly clenched. To cover the blackness of my face, I applied makeup; As if that itself was enough to cover up what had happened only hours earlier. I dressed in one of my staple Morrison dresses, I put over it a heavy woollen coat and I curled my hair. When I lifted my eyes to meet my reflection in the mirror, I smiled. For a few minutes I practiced that smile, I rehearsed my lines and I fell back into the all too familiar routine of suppression. I pushed aside the evergrowing desire to crawl into a state of nonexistence because I had prearranged commitments and I wasn’t about to let anyone down. TC’s mom had been planning a girls morning out for the two of us all week, TR had asked me to model for one of her photoshoots, and H was expecting me to go to dinner and connect group with her. From a practical point of view I knew what needed to be done behind the scenes in the days to follow: blood and urine tests, the morning after pill and eventually a pregnacy test. The day was back to back busy enough to avoid eating until after 8pm that night and even then the half salad I ate was hard to stomach. The more my emotions surfaced, the harder I worked to suppress them further. I put myself to bed just after 11pm and for the next 4 hours I tossed and turned in the dark. My phone lit up to reveal it was 3.24am.. it had been a full day and the knowledge of that haunted me until I fell asleep.

Day 2 was one of the hardest days. I woke to a deep gasp as my voice forgot how to scream aloud, it was nearly dawn. In the hour or two that I slept, I had nightmares that haunted me for weeks to follow. Nightmares by that stage were a regular, after all it was Thursday and since the previous Saturday I had had consecutive nightmares each and every night. However until the first night after the assault, all the nightmares played on past events, but that night they were all too real. I’ve spent the last 65 [11] days unable to be alone near my father and unable to hold eye contact or conversation; in my dream I was a little girl again, my mind replayed memories of my father dehumanising me, mocking me and following me to my room as I ran for safety, he would close the door like clockwork and the lights would dim, the silence would become deafening as nothing but heavy breathing and muffled cries filled the room, I needed to be quiet because there were people in the other rooms, I could feel the roughness of his thick fingers and the brutal skin to skin contact that followed. I gasped and woke. Trembling I carried myself to the bathroom and dressed myself as best I could, my hair was now half curled, my eyes were heavy, the makeup had rubbed off and my clothes covered my body so that no skin could be seen. I hated every inch of my being and the blame game begun, mounds of guilt and shame manifested themselves into each crevice of my being. I decided then and there that I wouldn’t allow myself to feel anymore; I would be numb becuase I knew that if I allowed the emotions to come, they would overwhelm me and I wouldn’t be able to survive that.

I knew that T had left a form for me at the front desk so that was my first priority, I needed to know that my body was okay. As I pulled up to the carpark, unexpectedly, so did T. Fear. As much as I was flooded with a sense of safety, I was also overrun with fear; I hadn’t told her everything, I didn’t want to see her, I wasn’t sure how to speak and the distress from the day before was enough for me to avoid eye contact. I left my car and started walking but it was too late, she had seen me and waved. I stopped to wait for her and in my numbness I built walls between the two of us, I couldn’t fathom what it would be like to let my guard down infront of her because as much as she has seen of me in the past, I couldn’t be held accountable for how I would present in a state of vulnerability. We ended up sitting down for little over half an hour that morning and aside from increasing nausea, I managed to remain guarded with minimal vulnerability. A wealth of emotions presented in small forms throughout our time together; hurt, pain, sadness, guilt, shame, anger, confusion, betrayal, loss, fear. I in all honesty don’t remember a lot of what we spoke about because between my raw distress and dissociation, I didn’t take a lot in. However I remember T saying that she hadn’t changed, she hadn’t moved, her view of me hadn’t shifted, her love and care hadn’t gone and she herself hadn’t left. I didn’t understand that and I didn’t know how to accept it. You see, she has said those very same things about God before and dare I say she was wrong? Sitting there with her I sobbed asking her where God was. Anger rose inside of me becuase He had left, He no longer cared, He was nowhere to be found, His love and care was absent, He was gone.. God was gone.. And after the traumatic view I had of my earthly father, I for the life of me couldn’t see God as my Heavenly Father. My jaw trembled throughout the majority of my time with T, from fear and a deep sadness that I tried so hard to suppress; it felt like the earthquake that comes before a tsunami. Our time ended with me crying in her arms and leaving so unsure of what would happen in the weeks to come.

I later found myself pacing up and down the isles in the chemist, passing time while I waited for my safe pharmacist assistant to emerge. When she came to me, I shook as I handed her the script for levonorgestrel. She lodged it for me and when she told me they didn’t have that specific one on stock, my voice broke as I asked her what else I could do. Her words faded as tears swelled in my eyes, I didn’t hear what she said and she looked up at me she saw my emerging distress. She sat me down and offered me a cup of tea, I couldn’t speak as I tried to hold onto what little dignity I had left in the middle of the chemist. Eyes watched me as the pharmacist came out and promised to sort everything out. I was humiliated and it was nearing 40 hours since the assault; I had stopped taking the pill weeks ago and couldn’t imagine what would happen if I was pregnant [I still can’t]. Time passed and when I got back to the home I was staying in, I took the pills and waited. I’d done everything I could, all could do now was wait for the weeks to pass before I would know for sure that my body was okay. As I layed on the bathroom tiles nearing midnight, the nausea had finally turned to throwing up and the self destruction hit harder than expected; I looked at the ring I had bought to symbolise my promise to pursue God above all else and in a moment of bitterness, I removed the ring and it would be 10 days before I put that ring back on.

By day 4 I was standing in church next to T. I felt most insecure as I stood beside her with curly hair that nor she or anyone else in church had ever seen before; I had mustered the strength to shower that morning, but the notion of straightening my hair was too much to bare, so for the first time in all the years I’d been going to church, I went with curly hair (trivial but the cherry on top of all else at hand). Pepp began and I remember trying not to fall apart whilst fighting the urge to run away. I didn’t think that being there would be as hard as it was on that first Sunday. As pepp drew to an end we split off into small groups to pray; I paired with T. As she prayed, ‘thank you Dear Lord that you are always with us, that you never leave us’, her words played on repeat for hours, a broken record. The remainder of the service was hard and it wouldn’t be until my birthday that I returned to church. After church I went back to my families home to grab some warmer clothes, my timing was poorly chosen and I walked into a war zone. As brutal fists collided with my body and unspeakable things were spoken over me, I left with more than what I’d bargained for. As I walked out the front door, I was told to go to hell but what wasn’t known was that I’d already been there all week.

I felt so betrayed by God because I had loved Him so deeply, you have all read and watched as I’ve fallen in love with Him for the first time; But where was His love for me? That afternoon I went to look for His love, I drove out to the riverside for the 3rd time since the assault but like both times before: I turned my car around before reaching the dirt road because I was too afraid to be in the very place where I used to meet God. I wasn’t sure that He would come and that abandonment wasn’t one I could to expose my heart to. As 8pm turned to 9pm and then to 10pm, followed by 11pm; I was still sitting by the riverside. I’d gone there as a last resort to be held, on my 4th visit I drove down the dirt road and parked my car in the same place I had many times before. I searched for God but my heart couldn’t find Him. As I laid my head back, I gazed at the starts and it seemed almost cruel that the first stars I saw formed a cross. The cross. Wasn’t that the breakthrough concept God gave me when I found that rusted bolt on the farm? Didn’t He tell me that in times where I doubted His love for me, all I needed to do was look to the cross? In shame I looked away. The sky was clear for the first night in a while, the river was glass and reflected the trees along the banks. In nothing but silence, I sat and waited to be safely held in a world that seemed everything but safe. The last person to hold me was T, by then that was a few days ago and before that it was weeks. My heart wrestled with the choice between breaking through or breaking apart; was there a way through this suffering that would bring forth new, deeper revelations of Gods love?

The remainder of the days that followed the assault were brutal, the nightmares were brutal and the lack of God’s presence was the most brutal aspect of all. God, how could He let this happen? He knew how much I was struggling.. Why did He allow for the trauma to once again become so tangible and present? Why did each night hold a new nightmare, never too different from the last but always a different man and a different scene? Why did each shadow in the dark present itself as a threat? Why did I feel so unsafe: alone at home, driving on the roads, walking through the shops? Where was God.. where was He? That same darn question. That same question. In my last post we reached 300 days and God revealed to me that when I asked that question, all I needed to do was look to the cross because there was no greater sign of His love for me. But as I held that old bolt once again, the cross didn’t seem to be enough. I hate myself for even writing that, let alone admitting it, because how dare I say that God’s biggest act of love wasn’t enough? I don’t have an answer, I just know that in my most raw feelings of hurt and betrayal, nothing was enough to convince me that God was still there.

As the days have passed, I’ve gradually remembered small pieces of my time with T on day 2 and I remembered being so infuriated with her for sitting before me and telling me that she knew God was still there. I felt that there wasn’t a more cruel thing that she could say to me because sitting there in those first crucial days, I couldn’t disagree more. It’s been 65 [11] days and I’m still wrestling with the concept of God always being there, this may very well be a concept I wrestle with for many years to come but I will endeavour to hold onto it for as long as I can.

On the 7th night I knew I needed God more than ever before, I was ready to believe; I just needed to be sure that He was still there and that He still loved me. I asked T and I was convinced that hearing her say it one more time would be enough, that then I’d finally be able to believe and I could be vulnerable with God. It turns out it wasn’t that easy. Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen. You see, it was all well and fine for T to believe that God still loved me, but that was her faith. The same goes with Ann Voskamp; I can read a billion pages in her books and God can use them to make Himself known to me, but at the end of the day that’s still her faith.. God keeps showing me that I can’t solely pursue Him through the faith of others. I was grateful for T’s honesty, but it would take more than her words for me to truely believe; I needed my own faith.

As the seventh day turned into the early morning hours, it became one week since the assault and ever so cruelly: it was the 19th of August. Day 8 held a wealth of tears, all the numbness wore off and the skin on my thighs tore until my hands shook to much to continue; the world around me went black, as my body went numb. I had never felt so heavy and there was no one. Anger and blame toward God overwhelmed my heart, suddenly I wanted nothing to do with Him and on that day I allowed myself to drown in self destruction. For the first time this year, all I wanted was to die. I couldn’t imagine how I would make it through this season and I for the life of me couldn’t understand why God was making me break; one soul crushing thing after the next.

Between day 8 and day 10, I stood to lose more than I had bargained for and I had never felt more alone. Where has this left me with God and my pursuit of Him?

With all God had revealed to me about vulnerability and surrender, I set out on the 10th day to meet with Him. I drove to Bremer alone in the early hours of dawn, whilst driving I went through the motions with my Father; crying, screaming, praying, silence. In my mind I was going to Bremer to meet God, I had an agenda and thought I was searching for Him but in hindsight I think I was searching for answers. You see, all along in the deep of my heart I knew exactly where God was, I knew He wasn’t tied to a place, I knew He was always there— But what I didn’t know, was how He could still ask for my heart after all the brokenness He allowed? How could He expect me to be okay with still loving Him with all of me, when He just spent the last 10 days taking my love and every thing that I held dear to me? How could He call Himself my Father, and then abandon me and betray me the way He did? How could He take those around me and leave me alone after the unspeakable things He stood by and allowed to happen? How broken did He want me to become? How could I meet with the One who broke me so? How could I be vulnerable in my brokenness? How could I allow myself to be safely held by the One my heart angered so deeply against? How could God love me after everything I’ve felt in shame toward Him? Would He even meet me if I asked Him to? Would He restore what He broke? If I gave Him all of me, would He fix everything for me?

I see the flaws in my questions, don’t worry, I do. I think my biggest flaw is the lack of perception toward the fact that God actually doesn’t owe me anything. Everything that is now broken; my heart, my faith, my relationships, my body— all of what is broken, belongs to Him. I had given Him all of that when I last chose the wholehearted way and what He chose to do with it was His decision to make. It would be so cruel for me to only give God all of me, on the condition that He give me what I want in return; that’s not how our faith works. Something else I lost sight of was the concept Ann Voskamp put forth: there is no room for blame amidst brokenness. It’s not God’s fault, it’s not the strangers fault, it’s not my teams fault, it’s not T’s fault, it’s not my families fault.. and no, it’s not my fault either. You see, if I spiral down the chasm of blame, I risk loosing sight of what I can gain from this. As brutal and as freaking broken as I am, where I stand now, I stand the possibility to gain all of God. If I could gain all of God, then would I not have all I need?

It’s been 55 [1] days since my day in Bremer where God pierced through my bricks and held me in my big emotions. I remember sitting, holding the rusted bolt from the farm, overlooking the endless sea, in Our special place: I found Him there, I knew again then that I’d find Him anywhere because in His word [Matthew 7:7-8], He told me that those who seek shall find and to those whom knock the doors would be opened; I knocked at the walls of my heart and God opened up for me.

Arriving in Bremer I drove another hour onward to Point Ann, there I hiked and stood on the edge of a cliff. The wind blew strongly as I neared closer to the edge, there I had two choices: I could stay in control or I could give God control through vulnerable wholehearted surrender. Both choices felt like suicide but as the wind blew I yelled at my Father. How could He who calls me His Beloved, allow such brokenness because Love doesn’t do what He did? How can He tell me He has a plan for me that won’t harm me but that would bring me hope, when all I felt was hopeless and hurt? Who was He to take all of what I had to offer, and then proceed to take what I couldn’t stand to lose? How could He think that stripping me raw would lead me nearer to Him? Why would I want anything to do with Him? Where was He?

I posed those questions toward God and so much more, I laid forth the most deep and awful truths from the deep of my raw heart. I then began to boldly and wrongfully challenge God, I told Him that if He was there then He would calm the strong winds because that was an impossible task and what He was asking of me (for Him to be my only one) was also an impossible task after everything that had happened. In response, the wind blew only stronger and I fell to my feet involuntarily, thrown to the ground I had never been that close to death. My body teetered on the edge of the cliff, overhanging the thousands of shards that laid beneath. In that exact moment I felt a wealth of anger toward God, I laughed at Him and sarcastically told Him that it appeared He had me right where He wanted me: on my knees in surrender. He didn’t give me the answer I wanted, He didn’t calm the wind, but you see that’s the thing about God, he doesn’t owe me anything; He just asks for full surrender and sometimes that surrender comes involuntarily but without it there is no life or hope. God had humbled me and I found myself fallen at the foot of the cross. In anger I told my Father that if we had any hope for a relationship, then He would need to do the intial work because I didn’t want anything to do with Him after what He’d allowed to happen to me. I told God that He would have to take my bricks and He would need to pierce through my walls. As I whispered out to Him my voice broke and the tears came in abundance, I told God I needed Him and as the tears rolled down my cheeks I told Him it was okay to take my bricks, I told Him that as hurt and as angry and as confused as I was [still am], I didn’t need to know what He was doing in order to know that I needed Him and I asked Him to take my heart and make it His home once again, I prayed for forgiveness and a softening toward Him, I prayed that God would help me to want Him more than I wanted to run away from Him. I once again wholeheartedly surrendered and gave everything to my Father, boldly hoping that this time I wouldn’t be faced with the same brokenness I was last time I chose the wholehearted way.

In the moment when I chose once again the wholehearted way, my eyes rested upon the most paper thin shard of rock, held on the edges cliff by merely 3 blades of grass. There is no scientific or logical explanation for how that fragile shard hadn’t long since blown off the edge into a hopeless nothingness. God showed me that I was that shard; fragile but held by Him. I cry still as I recall that because it was such a profound moment where God revealed to me that I was held by Him; even in my brokenness and fragility, when I am all alone I am still held by Him. The very fact that He still met me and that He still loved me despite what had happened to me and what I had done and felt in response, that very fact will never cease to amaze me. Even when I am least worthy, still He calls me His own.

In present tense now-

I went for a walk this afternoon, alongside the river where I now go again, I met with God and for an hour we spoke. I gave to Him my hearts most raw emotions, over and over again I petitioned them unto Him and asked in return for a safety and security that comes only from Him. We addressed the uncertainty that lays before me in my relationships, the prospect of pregnancy, the toll in my recovery, how I would heal and my pursuit of Him. God brought my attention back to the manuscript the two of us had been writing. The manuscript is near finished and I’ve prayerfully began researching potential publishers. But what God brought me back to was the concept of broken pottery. You see, when a Potter creates their masterpiece, it is flawless, but when their masterpiece shifts out of alignment with their will, they break and remould that piece until it again aligns with what they created it to be. In that same way, God created me and as soon as my alignment with Him shifts, He allows for brokenness so that I may become mouldable. God uses my brokenness to draw me back to a full dependence upon Him.

Over these past 11 days I have learned new aspects of who God is. You see, in the initial days I was at first so angry that I ran from God, I took back my wholehearted surrender and turned from Him because “how dare He”… oh golly, turns out it was more “how dare I”.. it took nearly losing my life on the edge of the cliff, for me to come face to face with the justness of God. Because as much as He is a loving God, a patient God and a forgiving God.. He is also a jealous God, a just God and a righteous God. It comes back to that beautiful concept of a trembling adoration. As soon as I lose that trembling adoration, that healthy fear of God and His power.. then in justness and righteousness He will of course allow for brokenness so that He can humbly bring me back to the foot of the cross. It took the reality of us all only being human for me to realise again that God is the only one I can depend on; not anyone or anything other than God. He does not allow hurt or suffering out of spite, He has purpose and His just filled decisions come from a place of love. His love is more divine and unconditional than my own love, or anyone else’s love.

At one point I began praying specifically about my relationship with T, there was so much hurt there and so many unanswered questions. I told God that I couldn’t understand why He’d bless me with a lifelong relationship and then take it days after trauma in such a cruel way. I didn’t know whose decision it was, how it came about, what others thought of me due to the decision, how T felt about it or how she could tell me that both her and God loved me, but in that same breath walk away without a word; All I knew was that she was gone and there was no-one else. There wasn’t one moment where I felt anger toward T, granted I felt things could have been handled more gently, but the only anger I ever felt was toward God. The last time I saw T she had told me that we would always be okay, she has always said she wouldn’t walk away, everything she’s ever done has been out of love and care for me, so how could I be mad at her? By the second day there was no distress, I knew a time would come where we would sit down and chat so I continued to hold hope that all would be okay. On one hand I now look back and wonder if what happened between T and myself was a blessing in disguise because it reinforces what God revealed to me many Sundays ago: He needed to be the One I went to first, T would be the one I shared with when I saw her in person, not in between because the says in between were solely God’s days; every day is God’s day. There is no way for me to pursue God wholeheartedly if He is not my number One.

Didn’t God know I already had no one? It was when I asked Him that question that He convicted me in the most vividly tangible way, that right there was the fault in thinking and the answer to everything: I had Him. God’s been showing me that I don’t need to understand, I just need to trust Him and seek Him through the deep pain. J told me that, nearly 3 years ago now, she said that all God asks of me is that I seek Him through the deep pain because He wants to meet me there. After all these years I’m still learning that lesson.

You see, a long time ago I told God that if something in my life, whether it be a desire, a relationship or a situation, if it doesn’t bring me closer to Him then I told Him it is of no value to me and I don’t want it. I told God that if that same something ever became more important to me than He was, then it wouldn’t be something that brought Him glory and therefore I didn’t want it either. It quickly occurred to me that whilst I’d long forgotten that prayer, God hadn’t. I wondered if perhaps that was why so many desires, areas and relationships in my life had been falling apart lately; it wasn’t only T. However in my recent weeks of increasing emotional distress, I admit that I had within myself begun noticing more red flags between T and myself, signs of a reminiscent unhealthy relationship and I grew more fearful. I tried to ignore those signs but knew deep down that my desire to draw near to God was weakening as I began putting my relationship with T above Him; she was a tangible sense of safety and during those weeks God was not. I have seen time and time again, even as a child, that each time I wrongfully or accidentally put anyone above God, both I and that other person suffer some type of consequence so that God is given back His rightful place; whether it be distance in that relationship, the end of the relationship etc. Whilst I still wish things had turned out differently, I am strangely grateful for where I am now in all relationships. I have once again found my safety and security in God, I know that He is still my Home and that even if things are not okay, He will give me what I need to get through and He will carry me where my feet can not. God has shown me that as much as I love people like T or R: I do not need them more than I need Him, as blessed as I still am to invest and carry out a lifelong relationship with my same people: it is my eternal relationship with God that I need to invest in first. It’s been a brutal process time and time again but I now realise exactly what T meant on the afternoon where she drew a line in the air from ourselves up to God: the relationship we have with Him is most important.

These words are not at all superficial, they carry weight and depth, they are lessons God has taught me and lessons that I have no doubt He will continue to remind me of over the years to come. We are all only human and we will never be perfect, thankfully God doesn’t ask for perfect, He simply asks for us to choose the wholehearted way.

In my deep brokenness, I will endeavour to seek God, I will continue to fall in love with the One who loves me, I have chosen the wholehearted way and no matter what is to come I will hold onto the truth that God still loves me and He is always there: even when I can’t see Him, He will carry me and give me what I need to get through; The cross is enough, His love is enough- it will always be enough.

– c x (22.08.2021)

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