Thirty summers ago I knew a sandy-haired 9-year-old girl who loved the outdoors. She was what you might call a tomboy. She enjoyed observing bugs, loved the color purple, and spent her days running around the neighborhood with her same-aged cousins. Her knees were scabbed, she was a bit shy, and her life was pure innocence. Until it wasn’t.
One afternoon, as the girl dug around in the dirt to see what new winged or crawling creatures she could discover, she was approached by someone she knew. Responding to an offer to come look at an exciting specimen across the way, the dirty-kneed girl pranced down the street eagerly with her friend.
Upon their arrival, the friend quickly showed the girl the specimen….and it wasn’t anything new after all. She could see this type of insect in her own yard. When she turned to say as much, her friend had disappeared into the recesses of the house. In curiosity, the girl began to make her way down the hall, and at the friend’s encouragement to come see the new toy the dad of the house had brought home, she hurried to her friend’s side. Only, there was no new toy. Instead, the girl heard the shush of a zipper, saw bared flesh, and felt strong, rough hands gripping her arms, trying to force her to touch areas of the friend’s body that the girl knew she should not and did not want to touch.
With a loud “No!’ and a bit of a struggle, the girl freed herself and ran home. She did not tell her mother what had happened. Her carefree days at home and in the neighborhood were over. The girl became fearful any time she saw the friend, and was no longer able to trust the opposite gender. She suspected everyone of foul play, and tamped down an anger that she truly did not understand.
The sandy-haired girl was able to avoid any actual physical harm that hot summer day thirty years ago, but she has suffered all the same. Her decision-making skills and her ability to trust people, even those close to her, have been damaged. She second guesses herself and others. She has had to battle anger all her life, and it flares up the most when she feels she is being lied to or forced into situations. As a woman, the girl is sometimes still sad and afraid, and she only wishes there had been someone to whom she could tell the truth all those years ago.
She struggles. Because of sin. And it hurts.
Can any of you relate to this story? Maybe some of you have been in a similar situation, or perhaps something even worse. I am here to tell you today that the girl in the story has hope. And so do you.
The girl eventually met a new friend, THE FRIEND that is found in Jesus Christ. Though she still does not understand why past events took place, she has come to know the ONE who carried her through. He is her Healer, her Savior, her ultimate Friend when there is no one else to talk to, to empathize, to comfort. He is always there, has always been there, even when she did not know Him.
My reason for sharing this story today is so that we can get real about the hurts in our lives. We all have them. I have others, yet none were as significant as this one moment in time. The words and actions of one person can have life-long effects on the “victim.” Whether you have been physically, mentally, or verbally attacked, you know how other people can hurt you. There are emotions and fears that I still struggle through to this day because of that one part of my story.
I have found, and am still learning daily, that the key to moving forward and working through my hurts, is forgiveness. Just this morning I heard a woman speak about the “dark cloud” of bitterness that can move into our hearts. That bitterness and unforgiveness will keep us from finding the freedom that Christ offers through His forgiveness of our sins, and through our own forgiveness of those who sin against us. I have experienced that cloud, and it is never a happy place to find myself.
My prayer for you today, sweet friends, is that no matter your hurts, no matter your circumstances in this very moment, that you will reach out to the One who loves you more than any other. He is waiting to wrap you in His arms, to wipe your tears away, and to redeem the time, possibly the innocence, that has been lost.
Though I would prefer to forget that summer, I cannot. To this day, I remember how I felt and what I saw. Yet, there is hope. There is hope in a God who loves me unconditionally. There is peace to be found in His love, and in the knowledge that He suffers right along with me. He did not want me to experience the hurt and anger that have come with life experiences.
With sin comes pain.
I heard Rachael Carman speak recently at a homeschool convention and one of the most significant things she said during one of her talks was that God uses everything.
“God wastes nothing.” ~Rachael Carman
Isn’t that freeing? He can use me. He can use you! Even while we are still wading through the muck and mire of our lives, He can and does recreate us. A beautiful testimony; an honest word spoken at just the right time to the very person who needs to hear you say, “I hurt, too.”
Let’s get real about our lives today. Ask God to reveal to you what to share and to whom. He will guide you, one moment at a time. And He will use your deepest, darkest moments in the pit, to help lift others up out of their own.
That summer changed me, but it did not break me. Instead, it is part of my story, and I’m asking God to use it however He sees fit.
Summers That Changed Us Series
This post was a part of the “Summers That Changed Us” series going on this month at Managing Your Blessings. Be sure to check out other great posts in the series!