If I were to start writing this post on my own, I’m afraid I wouldn’t know where to begin. My heart hasn’t had words to write for a few months now and my mind itself has been periodically wading through a season of cognitive deprivation. I told T on Friday that following a chat with E about sitting in faith, I wished I could sit down to write again but that I couldn’t because I wasn’t emotionally or physically ready. However it wasn’t until I sat in church this morning, thickly surrounded in love, when I realised that I didn’t need to be ready as much as I needed to be willing; I needed to simply be willing to allow God to openly speak through me.
The human in me longs to paint for you the most beautiful picture of where I am in this present moment: alone on a picnic blanket, blonde curls dripping water onto my soft lilac silk dress, two ducks swimming in the ponds to my right, bees and butterflies navigating their ways through the colours of spring, each and every imaginable flower blooming around me, the distant rustle of the gentle wind between the tall forests that engulf my home and the suns warmth on my skin. Perfect, isn’t it? Yet whilst that exact painted picture is indeed precisely where I sit now as I write, it isn’t the whole truth. What I haven’t disclosed is that my knuckles are still red from throwing up, I just took several laxatives out of fear, my body is bruised and aching, the scars on my legs are a constant painful reminder, my Morrison silk dress lays stained on my bedroom floor from my 4am return home last night and I am all too fragile. Not so perfect anymore, is it?
However, I am learning now, as the atmosphere grows cold and I wander up the stairs to wrap myself in blankets, that in life, the lack of perfection doesn’t take away from the greater awe. Yes, perhaps life right now is far from perfect, but that doesn’t take away from who God is or the power that He has. T spoke to me about fearing God, up until today I have been truely terrified but this afternoon as I now sit in bed watching the tree tops glow, I am not afraid of God but I do have a growing understanding of what a healthy fear looks like; awe. Despite how I have felt recently, I am not a hypocrite for going to church this morning or any other morning, nor am I a hypocrite for dwelling in the presence of God in my garden. I couldn’t be more honest though if I told you that where I have dwelled today is beyond polar opposite to where I dwelled last night or the recent weeks passed.
It was 3:36am this morning when I hopped into my car, heavily under the influence and physically shaking uncontrollably. The drive home felt unsafe and longer than ever before, but as much as I knew I shouldn’t be driving, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere other than in the safety of home; I needed the brick walls, the engulfing trees, the isolation and tangible reassurance that no one would find me. I got home and when I saw the deep red stains down the front of my beautiful Morrison silk dress, I sobbed; not for the dress that cost hundreds, but for the girl who wore it. I looked in the mirror and the girl who looked back at me was a devastating sight; smudged lipstick, tear streaked mascara, sticky hair and eyes that held the weight of the world — lost, very very lost. That girl has developed an unhealthy dependency upon alcohol and the numbness that comes with it, she has done many things to put herself in harms way, like laying intoxicated on highways in the dead of night, but nothing like what she allowed to happen last night. In a state of vulnerability and drunkenness, she found her body being carried toward the men’s bathroom by four men. As their aroused bodies pressed up against her, her own body froze and goosebumps covered each inch. They each whispered their own lies. As one held her, two touched her everywhere and the other grazed her face with his beard. Her mouth was forced open and bourbon was poured in before one man pushed his tongue down her throat as if he could suck the bourbon back out. Tears, a lot of tears but her body knew the game all too well and to stay safe it instinctively became the object they craved, as her soul dissociated and detached from the situation. If it weren’t for the security guard who blocked the toilet door, I can only imagine what would have happened. The men moved me out of sight and shoved their fingers and hands in places that were not theirs to touch, they led me out to the streets and started to try penetrate but by God’s grace two security guards stopped them and as I was freed, I ran into the women’s bathroom where two girls helped me into a stall. The three of us stood in a small stall, vaped smoke filled the atmosphere and I can’t remember what they said but their voices were gentle and the men were gone. I was a pitiful sight to see and as my head hit my pillow that night, my first thought was that maybe E was right, maybe I am a danger to myself and maybe I don’t know how to keep myself safe. My second thought was about how disappointed God, T and everyone else would be in me if they found out. I fell asleep with my heart still racing, my body still shaking and the traumatic experience brought back each other trauma.
Last Sunday I went to church raw because the Sunday prior to that I was stalked and left unconscious next to my car, a mans bodily fluids mixed with my blood over my body and my torn clothes, bruised and alone. I remember turning up to church feeling very unsure and unsafe, the whole service I sat close to T and during worship I stood against her and behind her, sheltered and reserved. I sobbed through that Sunday service, and when I went to go visit my family I was met with abuse and told that they no longer were my family, nor was I allowed to associate with them. A week passed and I went to church again this morning. I rose to an alarm after a mere few hours of broken sleep, I dressed myself and put some lipstick and mascara on, I drove to church and met T and her family. T complimented my lipstick and I smiled inside because despite everything and unlike the times before, this morning my makeup was for me and not to cover up. During worship I stood beside T, I still cried but this time I didn’t stand behind her in fear. You see, over these last two weeks alone, God has been subtly revealing Himself to me. I have been through the motions with Him; anger, sorrow, fear, doubt.. and now awe, love and gratitude.
There is genuinely no explanation that I can give you to explain why I was able to go to church this morning, I don’t know how I woke up or mustered the courage to step foot into God’s presence. The only explanation is God Himself, isn’t He the answer to everything? I think of those rusted bolts from the farm, His love; long, short, far, wide, deep, thick, tangible and always there. I am learning to accept the truth that I am loved, because I am loved. And I’m not saying that in a vain manner, but rather in a state of realisation and overwhelming gratefulness. Over this last week S, E and T have expressed love for me during appointments. I finally met with H for coffee again, she also expressed her love for me. The last thing T said to me after I hugged her at church last Sunday was that God loves me. Today I stood with little L in my arms and since she met me at the beginning of the year, she has been besotted with me in the most innocent way. C came to hug me after church and expressed her love for me. I won’t tell you that I understand how or why others choose to love me, but that isn’t for me to understand, it is just for me to accept. It’s like T has told me over and over again: “Just let God love you”. I am learning to let others love me and I am learning to allow myself to experience that love.
In worship today we sang the words; ‘God of my present, God of my future, You write my story, You hold it all together’. Before allowing myself to fully surrender to God, I asked T if God could still write our stories, even if we make bad decisions. In the moments that followed throughout the service I felt my bricks come undone as I asked God to undo within me, all that was not of Him. Last Sunday God began unravelling me but in fear I hid from Him and closed myself off out of anger and confusion. Today I stood boldly in His presence and silently gave Him the title of Author over my story. I asked God if the trauma and the bad things were things that He had written into my story, but they aren’t. God doesn’t write pain, that isn’t His plan for us. Though He does write the aftermath if we choose to let Him. As humans we have the choice of free will and because of our choices and the choices of others, pain inevitably enters into our stories. God is showing me that just because pain has entered into my story, it doesn’t mean He has decided to throw it away because it’s ‘ruined’.. no, instead God is showing me the ways in which He writes Himself into that pain and how He transforms my painful story into His story of hope, faithfulness and breakthroughs.
Do you know how many testimonies have already come from my story? Each post on this blog holds testimonies of who God is. The very fact that those men didn’t gang rape me last night is a testimony to God’s faithfulness, because if God wasn’t faithful to me then it would have been so much more than sexual assault that took place. The fact that I am in a safe home right now tells of God’s provision over me. I have tried to take my own life countless of times, but I am still here and that shows that God has a plan for me. Ps Norm reminded us this morning that God has a plan for each of us, one to give us hope and a future — Jeremiah 29:11 was the verse that came in last weeks church email and that was honestly the only reason I even went to church because 6 days post SARC all I had was questions for God. I may not have my parents anymore, but as the months have passed T’s family have become like family, H has become like family and there are people that God has written into my story who love me, that alone is testament to His own love for me.
For the days and weeks to come, I now sit amidst the storm in faith. I am broken, I am hurting and I am raw. But in the undoing, I choose to believe that God will bring restoration to my brokenness.
– c x (07.11.2021)