Thursday, December 4, 2014

Nineteen

If I look back at my life at the moment or the year that changed everything it would be when I was nineteen. It's a time in my life I don't share with everyone. I hear the Lord telling me, "It's time My daughter." Are you willing to travel back with me? If so, you just may find yourself within my story. 

At nineteen I didn't know the Lord as my Savior. I knew there was a God, but what I knew of Him wasn't much. As I turned 19 quite a few things happened in my life. My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. I began attending cosmetology school and I met a man who would change my life forever. 

I was excited to be attending school. The artist in me was coming alive and I enjoyed creating and meeting new people. Making connections with others gives our lives such wonder. My dad was pretty excited for me as well. I often experimented on him as I gave him haircuts. They didn't always turn out the best, but to my dad, they were $100 cuts and he was always willing to praise me for the job I did. He carried my business card in his pocket and shared with everyone where they needed to go for their cuts. Just thinking back to that moment makes me smile. But not all of these moments are smiling moments for me. 

As I dad grew more ill I was falling apart. I was told he was getting better, but that wasn't to be. You know, a girl is always daddy's girl no matter what age she is. At nineteen I was just beginning to know my dad. During my teen years I was pretty much just all about me. But at nineteen I was getting to where I wanted to know more about my dad. We fished together and shared a bond that was unbreakable. 

But during this year of life I was going to be shaken to the core. All I wanted to do was escape. And here came my escape. A man much older. He was already in his thirties. Here is this man bringing roses and taking me to fancy restaurants. He was filling my heart with everything I was needing to escape. I would later marry this man and would be raped by him. For now, that's as much of that story as I can share. As you can imagine that pain still goes very deep. In this same year after being raped I would divorce this man and move back home to spend my dad's remaining months with him. Sadly, there were not enough months to catch up. 

I was broken and bruised and holding in every ounce of pain. I was told, "You have to be strong for your mother. She needs you now more than ever." And you can imagine all the one liners people gave. "In time you will heal and this will be past you." Oh mercy, if they only knew the tremendous amount of pain I was carrying. 

Being raped. I can still go back in the blink of an eye. That moment took something from me that will never be restored. My life would literally be changed by this man and his actions forevermore. I held this in and didn't share with anyone. The one I wanted to share with most of all was my dad and I couldn't. How could I possibly lay more upon him? No, I would be the daughter who would be there and close myself off to the world. 

I had my license now and was working. Visiting my dad daily at the hospital. Going home and doing laundry and endless chores for my mom and no one had a clue. I felt like each day a part of me was dying. How long could I keep up the charade I was living? I was so mixed up. 

I can tell you that the God I knew little of I hated and didn't want to know anymore about Him. If He was really God these things wouldn't be happening to me. At nineteen things should be blossoming. A girl is just becoming a woman, but in so many ways I was still a little girl. I began looking in all the wrong places for something to satisfy my empty heart. My dad now gone life was nothing what I expected it to be. I began making poor choices. Seems like one right after the other and there was nothing that could bring me to even feel something remotely happy. 

But there in a few years would be my girls and they would change my life in ways I never expected. Unexpected blessings that brought me to a new place in my life. Through my daughters I was growing. I was a momma and was so proud of my children. It was me and them and that was enough. But it wasn't. Something was missing. I would still ache. That emptiness still remained as it would creep in when I least expected it. 

At twenty-three I would marry my now husband of almost twenty-five years and He would share Jesus with me. At twenty-four I gave birth to our son and I would accept Christ as my Savior. I can tell you that coming to accept Jesus as my Savior changed my life forevermore in ways that I find hard to explain. I carried a new peace and a faith that I would grow into as each year passed. 

I still held questions about my past. I asked the hard questions to God. The biggest was, "God, why did all those things happen and why did You allow them?" As time has passed one thing I have learned and know with all my heart is that God didn't do those things to me. He didn't cause them. He didn't ordain them. Those were acts of Satan. I believe with all my heart Satan knew I would one day accept Jesus as my Savior and he didn't want that. He was trying to stop me, to destroy me in every possible way. 

But what I find amazing and as tears flow so easily now, even though I didn't know my Savior at nineteen, He knew me. He was near and He was present, guiding me and seeing me through to the place where I would one day accept Him as my Savior. 

Over the years God has given me glimpses of my past where He was with me. I don't have all the answers as to why things happened the way they did, but one thing I do is that God never overlooked me. He knows my entire days. I trust Him and know that if answers are important He will provide those in the perfect time. 

I believe when we share our stories, our intimate moments where life shakes us to the core, we can impact others. Not by anything I have done, but what my Jesus has done for me. I am not the same girl I was at nineteen. Through His forgiveness I am able to forgive the man who hurt me and changed my life forever. That isn't easy and it took me a long time to come to that place of forgiveness. I held anger for many years. But I believe that God understood that anger and in His perfect timing of healing over the years He has grown in me a place of forgiveness. 

God doesn't cause evil in our lives. Many times we blame God for what happens. We don't understand and we certainly don't have answers. Praise Jesus I am in a place of faith and walk with my Savior. I have His promises and His Word. I feel His presence and power. The Holy Spirit lives within me. At nineteen I didn't know Him. I didn't have a relationship with Him. The world sees heartache and trial much different than a Christian. We don't have all the answers, but we do have our Jesus and He is everything. He is enough. He is our hope. He has to be because without Him we have nothing. 

I know God did not ordain the things that has happened to me in my past. But through them He has brought beauty. He has given me an understanding and sympathetic heart. He has given me a heart of mercy and filled me with a desire to look beyond myself and serve the God who took my shame and brought forth a garden of blossoms that continue to grow. 

We have a God a restoration. He uses what Satan intends for evil and takes it to produce beauty. What God has done for me, He too can and will do for you. I don't know what you are facing today, but know that there is a God who wants to be a part of your life. Most of all, He wants you to be a part of His.

"For I know the plans I have for you-this is the Lord's declaration-plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-12


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