God Used My Trials


Trigger Warning: This post involves rape. If you are sensitive, please tread lightly. It is not my intention to cause more pain, but to show how God can use even our worst trauma for good.

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Genesis 50:19-20 (NIV)

We moved from my childhood home in sunny Southern California to a one-traffic-light town on the outskirts of a Washington rainforest right before I started eighth grade. I made new friends, quite different from my old friends. And I met my first boyfriend.

When you’re fourteen, they call it puppy love. I thought it was real because he claimed he loved me, too. He was older and cute in a rugged sort of way, with shaggy long brown hair and a scruff of facial hair, not quite a beard and mustache.

One day he asked me to go for a walk, just to talk. The biting cold drove us indoors to his house. In my naiveté, I never saw it coming. At the tender age of 14, my 105-pound frame was overpowered and violated. Without a second thought, he crushed my spirit and devoured an innocence I can never redeem.

It can sound like a platitude, or worse, this oft repeated verse. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV).

Surely, Paul didn’t mean all things? He couldn’t have meant the rape I suffered? God certainly can’t bring any good from the suffering, shame, and depression that followed me for decades after?

Or can He?

Even now—as a powerless, frightened little girl lives in me and I sometimes struggle with deep despair, doubting God’s blessings—God reminds me I am His beloved. He has empowered me to survive any trial. I may feel powerless and frightened, but the truth is He will not allow me to be utterly destroyed.

Trauma and loss are inevitable for all of us. I’m not alone even in this dreadful experience of sexual assault.

When I consider my experiences in the light of God’s purposes for my life, I see the blessing. His bigger plan becomes less fuzzy, if not clear. I see how my troubles drew me closer to Jesus as my only refuge.

The path my life may have taken—had there been no pain, no loss of innocence—is one in which I may have never understood my need for a Savior. When all is well, what does one need saving from? But I did need to be saved from a darkness that grew deeper with each successive trauma I experienced. I desperately needed rescuing so I could live this wonderful, light-filled life He gave me.

I like the woman God has shaped me into, even if suffering was required for the Potter to mold this piece of clay. God did not plan or desire my suffering, but He certainly used it to develop in me the compassion, mercy, and humility that have become my hallmark. In all my experiences, He worked for my good because He loves me. He has called me to use my experience to give hope to others.

Do you need this hope today? It’s just a story away. I’d love if you would share your story so that God can begin to use it for good, too. If you don’t know how to even start writing your story, check out my guided poetry journal, which you can request here: https://anotherfearlessyear.net/i-believe-you.

Hey! It’s Christmas Day!

“This Gospel anticipates a world far different from C.S. Lewis’s Narnia,where it is “always winter, and never Christmas.” But the promise of the Gospel is that it is always Christmas. To be “in Christ” is to enjoy each morning as a Christmas morning with the family of God, celebrating the gift of God around the tree of … Continue reading “Hey! It’s Christmas Day!”

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A touch of Narnia

Christmas can be a torment and tribulation for so many. I have no doubt it brings grief. Family, friends, finances– mixed liberally with heavy doses of materialism and manipulation will always bring us issues.  The music and decorations are mostly Novocaine. Stress builds up. Pain increases. And we certainly want none of that.

Being mentally or physically ill often accentuates these issues. I’m not sure why exactly, but suicide increases during this season. Perhaps the challenges Christmas brings just overwhelm a person who is struggling hard just to keep his or her head above water. Consider the following:

“Christmas is for children. But it is for grown-ups too. Even if it is a headache, a chore, and a nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chilled, hidebound hearts.”  

–Lenora Mattingly Weber

As I think about, it is helpful for me to see it as a “mirror.” It is my reflection back to me. What we see, is who we are. If we have issues in our own life, the Season will just magnify them.  But this doesn’t mean it’s bad, far from it. There is always conflict, but this spiritual combat can bring us success. Some things must be fought for in order for us to appreciate them.

I’m convinced that in all of this, there is opportunity.  The chance to connect to Christmas. The very idea is quite strange.  But Christmas can be an exquisite treat.  It is made by mixing love and truth in generous portions. As we look hard for it, there is something that moves us to a place far beyond us. Grace makes us to stand and look, perhaps for the very first time.

When we truly process this, we’ll find Christmas. And honestly, it is more than a holiday. For the Christian, it is special time. And yes, there will be times when it may be trying, but I think Christmas has become a time of great joy and anticipation. Perhaps the Lord goes ahead and meets us on road.

“The universal joy of Christmas is certainly wonderful. We ring the bells when princes are born, or toll a mournful dirge when great men pass away. Nations have their red-letter days, with their carnivals and festivals, but once in the year and only once, the whole world stands still to celebrate the advent of a life. Only Jesus of Nazareth claims this world-wide, undying remembrance. You cannot cut Christmas out of the Calendar, nor out of the heart of the world.”   

Anonymous

Be at peace, dear one. You’ll make it. God has promised.


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Happy Thanksgiving

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Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
3 And gathered out of the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.

Psalm 107:1-3, NKJV

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Losing Time

Wooden_hourglass_3“The most important thing to remember about depression is this: you do not get the time back. It is not tacked on at the end of your life to make up for the disaster years. Whatever time is eaten by a depression is gone forever. The minutes that are ticking by as you experience the illness are minutes you will not know again.”

— Andrew Solomon (The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression)

This morning we turned our clocks back one hour. I much prefer this adjustment over the spring moving them  ahead, as I always feel cheated when I have to do this.

Losing time is one of those quiet issues that a mentally ill person often faces. The days spent in bed, the hours “hiding” in our rooms, the minutes frittered away with dull and anxious thinking are forever lost.

I have to believe that somehow God intervenes on behalf of the broken believer. That He can redeem all the time wasted in depression and its misery. The loss is tangible. But so is His redemption of me.

“Then I will make up to you for the years
That the swarming locust has eaten,
The creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust,”

Joel 2:25, NASB

The prophet Joel saw the devastation that swarms of locusts had made on Israel’s crops. He observed the damage they had inflicted, and the loss they brought.

The theme of restoration runs through the Old Testament. It has the idea of reparations and repayment for God’s people. In many places God speaks a word of promise to those who suffered loss.

“He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.”

Psalm 23:3

David’s shepherd psalm speaks hope and life to those of us who’ve suffered loss, “He restores my soul.” Psalm 23 describes the deep essence of God as a shepherd caring for His own, We can find in Him the restoration we want and need.

God’s heart for wayward sheep is huge. He loves those with a mental illness, and He comes to us willing and capable to redeem all our past yesterdays. He brings us beauty out of the ashes:

 “and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.”

Isaiah 61:3, NIV

All we have to do is wait. Lay out your issues of loss before Him. Let Him become the Lord of your past.

your brother, Bryan

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