Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Real Hope

I am a survivor.

Specifically, I am a survivor of domestic violence and rape.

This month marks the ninth anniversary of meeting my abuser/attacker.

(How is this hopeful, you ask? Keep reading.)

In the past, these anniversaries brought marked depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. Praise the Lord, they do not hold that same power over me now. By God’s grace, I have a reached a point where I can own my story and look for ways to use it to minister to others. One way I can do that is simply by telling it.

Last month, I was praying for opportunities to share my story when I received an email from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. They were soliciting submissions for their publication, The Voice: The Journal of the Battered Women’s Movement. I took a deep breath, said a prayer, and sent in a personal narrative.

I focused my narrative on the theme of hope after abuse. Early in my healing journey, a counselor told me that a time would come when the abuse no longer dominated my thinking and my being. At the time, I thought it sounded nice, but could not imagine what it would be like to be free from my burden. It weighed me down. I thought it was the most important thing about me. I allowed it, and my abuser, to define me.

In my submission, I talked about working with a good counselor, but I did not talk about what truly made the difference in my life and my healing: Jesus Christ. Seeing a Christian counselor who helped me face and work through the pain of my past was instrumental in helping me reach a place of freedom. But only One made the real difference. I would still be trapped and lost if not for Christ. He freed me from the consequences of my sin and the bondage of my earthly restraints and freed me for a life of freedom!

Because I live in Him, and He in me, I am free from the stronghold of my past. He is my identity. He defines me. My past no longer rules over me; His love, grace, and mercy do! He is my savior and my Hope.

Yes, there is hope for life after abuse. The pain does fade. But I didn’t find true hope in counseling or books. They were helpful tools. Real Hope is a person. Because I know Christ, I know that I am not my past. I am a daughter of Christ, whole, forgiven, loved, and free.

What pain are you holding onto? What are you allowing to define you? You are not your past pain, current struggles, or fears of the future. Only one identity matters. You too can be whole, forgiven, loved, and free. Reach out and grasp the only true and living Hope, Jesus Christ.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. - Galatians 5:1