To Every Girl Who’s Ever Been Hurt by a Man

I’m a 25 year old single female. I’m energetic, outgoing, adventurous, and have high hopes for the future. I probably seem like a normal young adult at first glance to most people, but my life has been much different than most 25 year old women. I’ve gone through things and seen things that a lot of people haven’t. Ten years ago, I would’ve never imagined my life to turn out the way it did. Sometimes I wish it would’ve been different, but when I remember all the good, beauty, and redemption that has come from all the pain I’ve been through, then I remember that it was all worth it. I wouldn’t change any of it even if I could.

I want to share a part of my story with you. Particularly, the part about what the Lord has walked me through this past year of my life. But I need to give you some context first.

Five years ago, I was deeply hurt by a man that I loved very much, and who I thought loved me too. I know what its like to have my heart broken, and I’ve experienced deep pain. The kind of pain that hurts so bad it pierces into the depths of your heart and soul. The kind you can’t escape because it’s inside of you and nothing can remove it or make it go away. The kind that shouldn’t be numbed, ignored, or avoided because true healing only comes when you go through it. I was hurt, rejected, used, and abandoned by him, and I’ve been walking through the healing process for the past 5 years of my life.

It’s been a messy, hard, and beautiful journey. About a year ago, I realized that my heart had become hardened and bitter towards men. I developed a negative and degrading attitude towards them and wanted nothing to do with dating anyone ever again. My heart was hurt so bad that I thought I could never be with a man again.

And then I went on this thing called the World Race. An 11 month journey to 11 countries around the world with a bunch of other Jesus-loving young adults. We lived in community 24/7 throughout the trip and I was placed on a co-ed team for 6 months.

God works in funny ways sometimes.

As I lived in community with men, I observed them carefully and watched the way they treated others. It was during that time that God began to soften my heart towards them again. I began to see them as humans who struggle just like everyone else in this world, and I finally started having grace for them.

At the end of the day, we are all human. Whether you’re a man, woman, transgender, gay, straight, religious, or non-religious. It doesn’t matter because we are all human and we have all been deeply hurt at some point in our lives.

God helped me see that it’s not men who hurt women, it’s people who hurt people.

As I began to really get to know the men I lived in community with, I began to see how deeply they had been hurt also. I saw how genuine and caring they were. I saw their love for God and realized that there really are men out there who truly and wholeheartedly love the Lord.

Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle a lot. There are certain things that will trigger things from my past to come back and it’s really hard. It’s a constant battle for me to have grace. But it’s a daily choice for me to fight against lies with the truth of God’s word.

In this life, we will always go through hard and painful things, but that doesn’t mean we should ever stop fighting or give up, because it is so, so worth it when we get through it. When I look back at my life the past five years, I see God’s faithfulness, redemption, and goodness. He has healed my heart so deeply and intimately. He has strengthened me spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. He has been with me every step of the way and made me whole again.

The depth of pain we allow ourselves to walk through is directly connected to the depth of joy we experience. If we try to avoid going through pain, we are depriving ourselves of the depth of joy and freedom the Lord desires to give us. I have come out on the other side and I can tell you wholeheartedly that the deep joy and freedom I’ve experienced is so worth all the pain I went through.

So whether you’re a man, woman, transgender, gay, straight, religious, or nonreligious, remember that we are all people and we have all been hurt. Remember to have grace and fight for the truth. Don’t ever stop fighting, dear friend, and don’t be afraid to go through the hard part because that’s the only way to get to the beautiful part.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

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The Relentless Pursuit

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Every girl dreams of being romanced and captivated by prince charming. Every woman wants to be reminded often that she is beautiful and wanted. She wants to know that she is loved unconditionally, and she searches aimlessly for love because she just knows that is what will bring her happiness and fulfillment. God placed this desire in the heart of every woman. It’s a burning desire that can be so strong sometimes that a lot of women think that they need to be in a relationship with someone to be happy in life.

I know that desire, but I also know hurt, pain, and reality. I am not naive about relationships anymore, and I understand how challenging and dangerous relationships can be if they are not healthy. I know what it feels like to be completely heartbroken, rejected, and deeply hurt. I can’t even put into words what it was like to be in that place and be so helpless to escape. It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through so far in my life.

But now that I am finally out of the valley, I am so thankful.

I’m thankful for everything God has taught me through that time; I’m thankful for the people he has brought into my life; I’m thankful for His redemption; I’m thankful for all the good that he has brought from my situation; I’m thankful that he has used what I went through to help, comfort, and encourage other people; I’m thankful for His faithfulness and unfailing love; I’m thankful for my family who supported me every single day I cried tears of heartache; I’m thankful that God was with me every step of the way; and I’m so very thankful that He has finally brought me to good place again.

Now that I am finally in this place in my life, I am also thankful that I am single. So many people think it is a curse to be alone, but I feel very differently than most people about being alone.

I think being single is one of the most beautiful things in the world.

I think being single is a time to learn about yourself, a time to deepen your relationship with God, a time to have fun, a time to be free, a time to be adventurous, a time to be spontaneous and reckless, a time to gain wisdom and understanding, and a time to give all of yourself to the Lord.

Why does it have to be a bad thing to be alone? Why does being alone have such a negative connotation attached to it? Why have we made it into a bad thing?

I think being alone should be a good thing. We should embrace this time we have to be completely devoted to God in everything single way. Embrace this time to adventure with God, follow him into the unknown, and allow Him to change us, mold our hearts, and work miracles in our lives. This can be the best, hardest, and most wonderful time in our lives as God reveals who we are, where we belong, and what we are called to do.

As we pursue God, He is also relentlessly pursuing us. As we grow closer to Him, He is gives us the desires of His heart. Can you imagine your heart desiring the same things that God’s heart desires? Imagine your heart and God’s heart beating together. That is so amazing to me, and that is what I want to always pursue more than anything.

So I challenge all of you who are single – don’t let the burning desire to find a soul mate consume your life. Instead, be thankful, embrace your singleness, and pursue God more than you ever have before. I promise you it will be worth it.

 

 

Being Vulnerable

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Sharing your heart with people is not easy. No one likes being vulnerable, and it’s scary and hard to reveal who you really are deep down to other people. That’s probably why most people just hide who they really are and live a life of loneliness and darkness because fear stops them from sharing their heart with other people.

I think we are scared because this world is so full of judgment and criticism. Being judged is one of the worst feelings you can ever have. I know firsthand because I have been judged by a lot of people for a lot of different reasons throughout my life. No one wants to be judged, but it’s an inevitable and hard part of life.

Luckily, I have come to a sobering and relieving conclusion about judgment. I finally realized that other people’s opinions of me DON’T MATTER. They just don’t matter. Period. Why do we care so much? Why do we try so hard? In the end, none of it will matter. It doesn’t matter now and it won’t matter 100 years from now.

I know a lot of people struggle with insecurities, and I definitely do too. But please rest in the truth that only God really knows us because He is the only one who can see our hearts. So really, He is the only one who CAN judge us. Because after all, He is the only one who really, truly knows everything about us.

I need you to understand something – God knows every single thing about us. He knows how many hairs are on our head, he knows what we do when no one is watching, he knows all of our thoughts, he knows the motives of our hearts, he knows everything – and yet, He still loves us. He still loves us unconditionally – that means he loves us DESPITE all of our sin, all of the many mistakes we have made, all of the times we turned away from him, and all of the times we rejected him.
He still loves us.

Even after Jesus was nailed to the cross, spit on, mocked, beaten to a pulp, and murdered, His last words were spoken from a heart that poured out his love for us – “forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.

I don’t know if any of us will ever fully understand the depth of our Father’s love for us. I hope that we do one day. And oh, what an amazing day that will be.

So today, I hope that you realize that no one’s opinion of you matters because only God can see your heart, and only His opinion of you should matter. We should be living our lives for an audience of ONE. Do not become consumed with this awful, sinful, repulsive world, but allow God to fill your heart and soul with passion and joy that never ends.

Don’t be afraid to open your heart to Him, because He’s not judging you. He is only loving you in such a beautiful way that no one else can. And He is enough. He always has been and always will be.

“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.” -Matthew 10:30-31

A New Season

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I know it’s been a while since my last post. A lot has happened in the past few months. There have been so many changes. I am finally getting the chance to stop, breath, and reflect on everything. This is the first time I’m actually sitting in my favorite coffee shop with free time to reflect and write what is in my heart, instead of being here studying and frantically working to meet deadlines.

When a new season of life begins, it is really exciting and scary at the same time. Looking forward brings eagerness for adventure and a fresh start, but saying goodbye to the chapter that is closing is both sad and liberating. There are a lot of mixed emotions involved.

As of May 30, 2014, I am officially a college graduate.

I finally did it.

I finished college.

I now have a bachelor’s degree.

I can no longer call myself a college student. I still don’t feel like I have a degree, and I definitely do not feel qualified enough. It still feels strange to tell people that I have a degree. I am still getting used to it.

As I look back on the last five years, I think of all the late nights I stayed up studying and writing countless papers, all the cups of coffee that got me through each semester, all the tests I was terrified I wouldn’t pass, all the textbooks I read (or was supposed to read), all the money I spent on tuition, all the classes I took, all the people I crossed paths with, all the hard work I put in, all the stress I constantly felt inside, and all the times that I just wanted to give up.

It is hard for me to believe it is really over. I’ve been in school my whole life, so this is a big adjustment and transition for me. School has been a constant in my life for so long, and now it is suddenly over. I never have to go back. I never have to sit through one more boring lecture, or read another textbook, or do homework ever again.  You have no idea how relieved and happy it makes me to write those words.

But at the same time, I think I will actually miss being in college. While college was a really challenging and confusing time in my life, it was also a time when I matured the most, learned more about myself than ever before, and developed a true and solid perspective on life. I have learned so much over the past five years. College has helped form me into the person I am today – and for that, I will always be grateful.

Although my college years have come to an end, there is a new chapter in my life that is just beginning. I am so ecstatic to start a whole new adventure. I start working my first full time job tomorrow at a very unique and successful insurance agency. I am looking forward to having a “grown up” job and being able to financially support myself.

I know that God has so much more planned for my life, and I can’t wait to see it unfold. I am trusting Him with all my heart, and following Him wherever He leads me. I’m so excited to adventure with my Heavenly Father for the rest of my life. He has my whole heart, and I could not be happier.

“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” C.S. Lewis

True Peace

Life has been really crazy lately. I’m in my last semester of college and my work load is outrageous. I’ve also been working a lot on top of an overload of school work. It’s really hard to balance. Stress and anxiety have been overwhelming me a lot.

I hate that I struggle with stress and anxiety because I know that it’s not from God.

I know that God is a God of peace; He is not a God of stress and anxiety. I know that God’s peace transcends all understanding, and His peace guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

So why don’t I feel like His peace is guarding my heart and mind when I’m dealing with a stressful situation?

Maybe it’s because I am pushing Him away. Maybe I am pushing Him away when I don’t give Him full control. Maybe I am pushing Him away every time I don’t look to Him first. Maybe I am pushing Him away when I allow my problems to overcome me. Maybe He is desperately trying to help me, and I have been pushing Him away this whole time.

He’s reaching His hand out to me, He’s trying to speak to me, and He is freely offering me His peace and comfort, but I am pushing Him away every time I allow stress and anxiety to overcome me.

I think a lot of people struggle with stress and anxiety, and everyone deals with it in different ways. Some people turn to drugs or alcohol. Some people turn to relationships. Some people turn to working-out. Some people turn to sex. Everyone turns to something.

These things may work for a short time, they may fulfill you temporarily, they may make you feel good in the moment, but don’t they always leave your heart feeling emptier after?

I know that none of these things can fill the emptiness in our hearts. Only God can fulfill the deepest needs of hearts. Only He can offer us true peace. Only He can help us overcome the things we struggle with. Only He can transform lives, perform miracles, and change hearts.

He is reaching out His hand to us. He is offering us grace, freedom, and peace. He is freely giving us His love. Will you accept it?

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

The Road Ahead

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The past few weeks have consisted of traveling to sunny Arizona, almost missing class, creating treasured memories with one of my best friends, and attempting to write several blogs. I have had writers block for the past few weeks. Every time I tried to write, I would get stuck and leave my computer screen with an un-finished blog because I just couldn’t find the right words.

There are so many things I want to share with you, so many things I want to write about, so many thoughts in my mind, and so many passions and desires in my heart. Sometimes it feels impossible to put all of this into words. Writing out my heart is scary and hard. Finding the right words is so challenging. Getting stuck is easy.

I think I’ve been stuck because I feel so lost and confused at this point in my life. I have a lot of unanswered questions and unwanted fears. The future is always uncertain, but mine seems more uncertain than ever. The next chapter is so close, yet it seems so far – and I have no idea what’s on the next page.

This world is really big and intimidating when you become an “adult” – whatever that means. I feel like I’m supposed to be an adult, but I’m still a kid inside. I’m stuck in the middle. Sometimes it’s hard being a young adult – we are required to be responsible adults on the outside, but still dying to play childish games on the inside.

The future offers many different options and life presents incredible opportunities. There are so many places to see, people to meet, and adventures to go on. The choices are endless. I’m at a place in my life where I am seeking direction, looking for answers, and searching for the will of God. I’m asking for help and guidance because I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m scared and excited at the same time.

I wish could see life clearly and understand the future, but I find myself often realizing that I need help and I don’t know as much as I thought I did.

Maybe God doesn’t let us see everything or understand the future so we can trust Him. Where would faith come in if we already had all the answers? Maybe we are all supposed to be like little children asking our Father for help and direction. Maybe it’s okay to admit that we need help or that we don’t understand the future or that we don’t know all the answers. It’s okay to be honest.

Honesty is what brings us closer to God.

He wants us to ask Him questions, seek His guidance, and learn from His wisdom. He longs to teach us, to show us miracles, and open our eyes to beauty.

When everything feels uncertain, remember that God has a plan for you, a plan to prosper you and not to harm you. A plan to give you a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

This is just the beginning of a new chapter. There is so much ahead, and greater things are yet to come.

Facing Powerful Emotions

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If you don’t know my family, we are kind of crazy. I use the term “crazy” loosely. Like the time my mom camped out on the front lawn when she suspected that my sister and I were going to sneak out one night during our high school years. I have a lot more stories, but I think you get the point. My family is one of a kind. We are loud and obnoxious at times, but most people like us mainly because they find us entertaining and humorous.

My family is also very emotional. I was talking to my sister about emotions a couple weeks ago. She is one of the deepest, most intelligent, and compassionate people that I know. She said something during our conversation that I have found to be really true. She told me that our family has an overwhelming amount of emotions and sometimes we don’t know what to do with them.

Emotion can drive us to do unthinkable things. It can bring out the best in us or the worst in us. It can make us feel things we don’t understand; do things that we can’t explain; compel us to take action; and shape our perspective.

Emotion is complicated, confusing, and beautiful at the same time.

I have always struggled with my emotions. Sometimes I feel like they are all trapped inside and I don’t know how to let them out. Sometimes they explode onto the people I love. Sometimes they make me cry for no explainable reason. Sometimes they cause me to laugh uncontrollably. And sometimes they compel me to speak up for what is right.

Emotions are powerful.

They can take control of us if we let them. If we let them overcome us, our emotions can control our decisions, actions, and thoughts. Once they overcome us, we can’t step outside of our current emotional state long enough to think clearly. When this happens, it is usually when we make a lot of mistakes and bad decisions.

I experienced more emotion last year than I ever have in my entire life. I can’t really explain how it felt to be so irrevocably overcome by emotion. I cried more tears, forced more smiles, avoided more people, felt more alone, and hurt deep down more than I ever have before.

I hid my emotional pain from most people for a lot of reasons. I was ashamed of my circumstances. I was convinced that no one would understand what I was going through. I was scared to share what I was really feeling. I was afraid of being judged. I did not understand why I was going through such an awful, miserable, and uncontrollable time in my life.

Even though I was confused and broken, I trusted God. I clung to His word more than I ever have before. I was desperate for Him because I knew that He was the only one who could help me overcome what I was going through. I cried out to Him more than I ever have. I shared all of my pain with Him because I knew he was the only one who could completely understand. I surrendered my heart to Him because I trusted in His faithfulness and goodness.

As I look back, I can see that God was always with me. He was there even in the darkest days. In the times I felt completely alone, He never left me. He helped me, healed me, and walked by my side throughout the trial that I faced. He has always been faithful and always will be.

His love for me brings tears to my eyes.

How can I even explain His grace? Everything He has done for us is proof of His amazing grace and unfathomable love. If you are going through a hard time in your life, place your trust in Him because He cares for you more than you will ever know.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

True Friendship

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When I moved back home, I discovered that my favorite place to study is in a little coffee shop that makes me feel warm and welcome every time I walk in. The smell of coffee beans and the aroma of freshly brewed espresso fill my nostrils when I walk through the door. During the winter, the warmth of the fireplace gives me instant relief from the bitter cold and a steaming cup of chai tea always soothes my throat and motivates me to get my homework done.

Every time I am studying in my favorite coffee shop, I always see people talking over a cup of coffee. Seeing them reminds me of all the people I have met with in that same coffee shop, of all of the conversations I have had, of all of the relationships that have developed. All sparked by this little coffee shop where many friendships began and relationships grew deeper.

I have learned a lot about relationships recently, and I have come to truly appreciate all of my friendships. When you are going through the hardest times in your life, the people who genuinely care about you will always be there for you. They will cry with you, pray with you, laugh with you, grieve with you, smile with you, and love you no matter what. They will stay in touch even if they live on the other side of the world. They will always have a piece of your heart. Always.

True friendships are hard to come by – they are special, beautiful, and valuable.

Hold them as close as you can because they are one of the most valuable things you will ever have.

After experiencing heart break and pain this year, it became clear who my true friends are. It became obvious who loves me unconditionally. Regardless of the broken, shattered state that I was in, the people who truly cared were there. They did not judge me, criticize me, or discourage me. They just loved me. And that was all that I really needed at the time.

Recognizing all of this finally made me realize how priceless relationships are.

I was originally inspired to write this blog because one of my closest friends recently stopped by for a visit while on her way to start a new adventure across the country with her husband and 14 month old daughter. They have a beautiful family. Every time I see her, I am always refreshed, encouraged, and reassured. She is so strong. I don’t mean physically strong (although I’m sure she is) – but I mean spiritually, mentally, and emotionally strong. She is one of the bravest people I know. Her faith inspires me.

We have been through a lot together. We understand each other on a level that goes much deeper than the surface. I heard a quote today that helped me understand the mystery of deep relationships.

“The depth of your friendship is the depth of which you have in common.”

Getting to see her for the short time that we had together made me realize how rare and special our friendship is. We laughed, talked, and ate really good food. I tried to make time slow down so she wouldn’t have to leave, but it didn’t work.

The time to say goodbye eventually came. I hate saying goodbye to people that I love. I held it together on the outside, but I was screaming for her to stay on the inside. It was bitter-sweet. I’m so excited for the wonderful future she has ahead of her. But I couldn’t help but think of how long it might be before I will get to see her again.

She lives on the other side of the country from me now, and I know it won’t be easy or inexpensive to visit each other. But I know that we will always be friends. I know that I can always call her if I need someone. I know that our friendship is more valuable than all the money in the world.

So many times people try to hide behind a fake mask and portray themselves as something they are not. Maybe we as humans do this because we are scared. We are afraid to let people in. We fear judgment from other people. We are scared of being vulnerable. We don’t want anyone to see our hearts. It’s too risky, too dangerous, too intimidating.

Maybe for some people, they think it’s not worth it to open up. They would rather hide behind a mask and live a life of loneliness because they are not willing to extend a hand of friendship or let anyone see who they really are. But is it really worth it? Is opening up really worth the risk?

I promise you it is. True friendship is always worth it.

“Shared joy is double the joy, and shared grief is half the grief.”

Beauty from the Ashes

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Sometimes I just need to write. Writing is like its own therapy. A way to express yourself – your emotions, your thoughts, your fears, and anything else your heart desires. Writing finds a way of making you feel better after you have expressed your deepest self in words. You can get lost in the words you are writing and escape from reality for a little while. It sure is nice to escape when life isn’t going so well.

Lately life has seemed dull and meaningless. I think that is because I am in a time in my life when I am looking for my calling. I am searching for my purpose. I am seeking what I should do in the next chapter of my life. I so desperately want to live a meaningful and significant life. A life that reflects God’s love and makes a difference in the world.

A little over a year ago, I thought I had my life all figured out. And then everything fell apart. My life as I knew it completely turned upside down. Everything drastically changed. I was left feeling confused, broken, worthless, used, and unwanted. This time of year brings back the vivid memories of what happened to me last year. I try to forget, but I can’t. It will always be a part of me now. I will never forget. And I will never be able to change the past.

Despite everything that happened last year, I have realized something life-changing: my past does not define who I am and it does not have to affect my future.

You see, no matter how bad your circumstances are, no matter how far you have fallen, no matter what you have done, no matter what you believe about yourself, and no matter where you are in life – God wants to make something beautiful out of you. Because that is what God does, He makes beautiful things out of the dust. He brings beauty from the ashes. He takes our pain and grief and transforms it into joy and hope. He makes beautiful things out of us. All He needs from us is a willing heart, ready to be transformed.

Our lives were created to be meaningful and significant, and our past does not have to affect our future anymore. Life is a magnificent adventure, if we choose to live. I hope you choose to live, to be transformed, and to let God make something beautiful out of your life.

Thanks for reading, if you made it this far. I feel better now. :)

Can I just be honest?

I never in a million years thought I would start a blog, but lately I have had this burning desire to write. There is a passion that has built up inside of me that just needed to be put into words. I’m not sure why. I felt led to write what has been trapped inside and share it. Maybe, just maybe it will help at least one person.

I have read so many blogs about people who struggle. They struggle with so many different things in life – addiction, depression, eating disorders, and the list goes on. I can relate to a lot of those people in different ways. Maybe the people who read this can relate to my struggles also.

You see, everyone struggles with something, even if they try to hide it. I have learned that it is so much better to share your struggles with other people because they can most likely relate to you in some way. And even though it is sometimes harder, it is so much better to shine light on the darkest parts of our hearts because that is the only way we can find healing.

I have learned so much this past year. It has been the hardest year of my life, but it has also been a year that I have felt closer to God than ever before, a year that I have learned to appreciate all of the little things in life, a year that I have grown so close to my family, a year that I learned who my true friends are, a year that I have learned about myself, and a year full of joy and heart ache at the same time.

In spite of everything that happened this year, I struggled. Since I am being honest, I will just cut to the chase – I struggle with rejection. I did not realize that I was afraid of rejection until recently. And because of what I went through this past year, I have been fighting the lie of rejection. I fight it because I know it’s not true. I know it’s not true because I know what the truth is. The truth is that I am accepted into God’s kingdom, that I am chosen by Him, that He will never leave me or forsake me, that he was rejected by this world to save me, that He loves me more than I can ever imagine, that He will always be faithful to me, and that I do not belong to this world because I am a citizen of Heaven. This is the truth. This is what I cling to when I am flooded by the feelings of rejection. This is what I use to fight when I am attacked. And it works.

I hope that you can start this New Year with a fresh realization of who you are. Because you are wanted, you are cherished, you are accepted, and you are loved by an amazing God.