It's Time To Rewrite Our Stories
So many questions.
S O C I A L I N J U S T I C E. It’s the “hot topic” right now. Every news channel, every social media post, every conversation between friends and family seems to be dripping with tension, heaviness, concern, and opinion. It seems like 2020 is a year of a lot of different dilemmas, and people are searching for truth.
What should we do when there is a global pandemic in the new millenia?
What is real and what is a distraction during this election year?
How do we use our voice to right the injustices that we see and experience?
So many questions.
Along with many of you I’ve been doing some hard work, searching my belief systems, my thoughts, my choices, my truths. It is important work. It is hard work.
Growing up I lived in many different types of low income settings, some of which included trailer parks and apartment buildings that were riddled with drugs, domestic violence, and crime. These (mostly white) neighborhoods were toxic and chaotic, yet somehow brought comfort because it was there that I saw other homes that looked broken like mine.
It was in these homes that I was tortured, neglected, enslaved to a lifestyle of being raised by addicted parents who would do whatever they needed to do to try to feel better, often to the detriment of my body and my mind. It was in these neighborhoods that I made friends with other kids who were similar or worse off than I was. It was growing up like this, that my life would be shaped, filtered, and ultimately launched from.
Our neighborhood regularly had intoxicated/high people walking about. Screams from neighboring houses were a common experience, and police were often dispatched for various reasons. However, in my neighborhood, no one was afraid to die at the hands of the police, and quite frankly, there were hardly ever any arrests. In the middle of my own personal hell, I was never questioned by the police, by a teacher, by a nurse or physician at the hospital as they attended to my broken bones, my scars, my fractures. They never commented or asked questions about my free lunch status, the dirtiness or lack of clothing, or my starved frame. They didn’t ask me why I was crippled with fear and hid in the background, trying not to be noticed. Every system F A I L E D me.
I escaped my childhood hell when I was 16 and left home. As I sat with my guidance counselor in school and we began to explore what “options” I had, hitting dead end after dead end. I still remember the day that she looked at me, with tears in her eyes, and told me that if I became pregnant than I would have so many more options. Another failed system.
At the age of 18, I went to college and was introduced to many new ideas that I had never heard before. I remember sitting in my sociology class and hearing the professor discuss “white privilege” for the first time. After growing up the way that I had, I struggled to listen to any “authority figure” and when she demanded we go to a protest and march for affirmative action for a grade in her class, she lost me. How could I have been privileged? What was the truth?
Over the course of my next 15 years, I started to be able to unpack all of my very real, very American experiences. See, in this country there are endless amounts of experiences, lenses to see through, personal truths, failures, and wins that make up the “American dream”. And there are two sides to every story. My experience is that “white privilege” probably did affect me, but not how most would expect. Had I not been white, in a white neighborhood perhaps my parents would have been arrested. Perhaps when I went to the hospital, I would not have been believed to be a clumsy girl who fell down the stairs again. Perhaps if I had not been white,then someone would have noticed that I wasn’t just “shy” in the back of the classroom. If I had not been white, perhaps innocence would not have been presumed. Perhaps.
What makes my story, and every story, both beautiful and painful is that we ALL get to give voice to our version of truth and our personal accounts. Then these stories rub against our neighbors, producing togetherness or isolation based on their reactions. That last paragraph is uncomfortable. Uncomfortable to write, and probably uncomfortable to read. In the midst of that friction, most people, like myself, are looking to belong and find others to affirm our experiences as valid and worthy. But worthy of what?
I spent a LOT of years looking for affirmation from the world, hoping this would allow my victim status to somehow experience a love that would heal or change me. And no matter how many people felt sorry for my story, it didn’t matter, healing wasn’t coming. I thought I would be broken forever.
U N T I L. . .
“I can recall the moment of breakthrough, when the dark cloud and heaviness of this world’s systems lifted off me and I was flooded with the bright light and warmth of true love.”
In fall of 2014 I met Jesus. Like, really met Him. In my devastation and brokenness, I came to Oaks Rising hoping that something…someone, could finally fill the deep emptiness and darkness that overwhelmed me at the very center of my being. After a few hours of praying, I can recall the moment of breakthrough, when the dark cloud and heaviness of this world’s systems lifted off me and I was flooded with the bright light and warmth of true love. In a moment, I not only heard God’s voice, but I felt the supreme hand of the universe willingly invade my belly and pull out the black mess that was rooted into the core of who I was. And as quickly as the darkness was taken out, I was flooded with love, peace, and overwhelming joy.
D E L IV E R A N C E. S A L V A T I O N. F R E E D O M.
I didn’t know these words, or their meanings. I just knew that I had grown up in brokenness, and now I was new: Like, really new.
Since then, I’ve been able to search out the meanings of what took place inside of me, to find the scriptures, stories, and teachings that have proven over and over that the only answer to social justice and personal experience is Jesus.
The truth is that the police, the hospitals, the schools, the local government… none of these worldly systems would ever give me the answers I desperately needed to make real and lasting change.
The truth is I can quote back scripture to you to encourage you to believe that what God has shown me is THE correct response to the problems plaguing our country. But there is no one answer, just like there is no one experience that sums up the complexity of the human experience.
But there is TRUTH and His name is Jesus. What He has done for YOU – for YOUR story – is to awaken YOU to see your life through the redeeming work of the cross.
You see, my experience, my life was to awaken ME to MY calling. To become divinely aware of His truth through my story (ultimately it is HIS story anyway).
Jesus is not a far away idea or spirit living in the sky to “one day” make things better. He is the Son of God, come to manifest righteousness here and now so that we ( you and I) can be counted among the righteous. He came that we might know Him as the light, that we would walk in light (heaven on earth), that we might be the light.
To unlock our story we need to approach God with humility and ask for help. This week during my morning devotional, I read Proverbs 20:27 “The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being.” And while this idea wasn’t new to me, it stopped me in my tracks.
See, even our human spirits, my human spirit, is powerful in the hand of God. The breath He breathed into me while in my mother’s womb counts; it has a story to tell. When that light He placed inside of me illuminates my soul (my thoughts, my feelings, my will, and my experience), it comes out as an opinion and ultimately a call to action or inaction… This light shows what is in my heart.
So here we are. If you made it this far and are still reading, where do we go from here? And that is only a question that you can answer. My prayer is that you would take my story, my testimony as an invitation to seek out His divine ILLUMINATION for yourself. Allow God’s light to flood YOUR innermost parts, revealing HIS TRUTH in your story.
I pray that you would allow Jesus to rewrite your story to manifest His Glory. I pray that you would awaken to your destiny and align your story with who God says you are. And I pray that you would have the courage to follow where He leads you from that place.
As the late Billy Graham so boldly declared “Only the supernatural love of God through changed lives can solve the problems that we face in our world.”
You can watch this video testimony about how I met Jesus in my Freedom Session…
If you’d like to learn more about how you can experience freedom from trauma and abuse please click below to begin Rewriting Your Story.