whether or not Your lips move

You speak to me

I shouldn’t be alive. September 25, 2010

I’ve been fairly open about my childhood experiences and past traumas among friends, family, and church family, but not so much online. I don’t think it is wise to put too much about yourself out there for the whole world to have access to. But the more I learn about child development for my master’s degree and the deeper I dig into different types of research, the more apparent it becomes that my past experiences will play a part in my destiny.

Without airing the gory details, I will let you know that I was neglected and abused as a child. Some of that abuse was sexual, and it happened more than once and came from more than one adult. I have always had vivid memories of parts of that abuse; God has mercifully allowed my subconscious to block the rest of it. I went through most of my life overcompensating for the feelings of powerlessness, fear, abandonment, and helplessness that stemmed from those experiences. I “learned” that being alive meant being in constant danger on some level and that I was on my own. Later I would learn that, too, was a lie. Praise God that He had His hand on me from an early age and had instilled in me a love for Jesus and His Word practically from the time I learned to talk– otherwise you’d likely be reading the blog of a staunch atheist.

People with a past like mine are several times more likely to commit suicide, have 30 or more sexual partners, be drug addicts or alcoholics, and be abusers themselves. If I’m doing my reading right, the “post traumatic stress” sexual abuse victims experience can parallel what war veterans experience. As I look at these statistics of what is “normal” for someone with my experiences, I become more convinced that there is only one reason I am alive. One reason I have an ounce of compassion in me. One reason I am able to rise above all the (insert choice word here) I have gone through in my almost 30 years. And that reason is JESUS. God’s love and grace.

I think that it would be easy, and even expected, for me to use all the trauma of my past as a REASON not to believe in a loving, protecting God. I bet some people would expect it and maybe even think I had a right to it. But you know what? God didn’t MAKE those people do those things to me. Did He allow it? Yes. For only reasons He knows and perhaps has yet to reveal. But, as I live, I trust Him. I can’t always explain it. But I do.

I have had personal, close encounters with the living God that are undeniable. Beyond and through what I consider to be the total truth of the Scriptures, I have personally experienced peace that is totally and completely illogical in the face of my past. I choose to forgive the people who molested and hurt me, even though there are days I would rather not. I am not living in denial of the things that have happened to me. I am forced to deal with that reality nearly every day. The only explanation for my being alive and my being effective in any sort of way is because the power of God is in me through the Holy Spirit.

I still have problems. I still struggle with this stuff. There have been times that all I can do is scream bloody murder because I can’t handle “it,” whatever “it” is. I may always wrestle that demon of depression, but after each match it stays down for the count a little longer. Studies show that I may always have overactive fear responses and not handle stress as well as a “normal” person, which can lead to chronic health problems (anyone who knows me can see that is true). But I know that ultimately, I win. Because God wins. And I’m not talking “end times” here, although that’s obviously true. But I mean in the here and now– in whatever length of years God chooses to give me on this hunk of dirt we call earth. I have to cling to this– that He has a purpose beyond what I can understand for all the awful things I have experienced in my life. That He will use me in someone’s life– yours– to point the way to Him.

How the traumas I experienced will play out in my destiny… I don’t know what it’s going to look like. I know I have a choice in the matter though, at least as far as my attitude and response. What Satan intended for evil, God can use for good. I can allow the memories and facts to weigh me down and render me useless. Or I can use them to help myself and others.

I’m gonna have to go with the latter.


16 Responses to “I shouldn’t be alive.”

  1. Angie Says:

    Wow girl.
    I know that was so hard to share but you did with much courage and grace. Thank you for sharing some of your story.

  2. Denice Says:

    Girl, You and I have more in common than you’ll ever know. Glad you were brave enough to share. Not sure I ever will be. Somehow or another (and I know I should not) but guilt is the big thing for me. But God is good and it’s Him that I live and move and have my being!

    • Ash Says:

      Wow… I am so sorry that you have experienced this, too. Sending prayers and love for that.

      As far as guilt… one thing I have definitely learned is that there is a big difference between ongoing guilt and conviction of sin. One comes from Satan and the other from the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 7:10 tells us that “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” If I’ve truly repented and received God’s forgiveness for something, and yet continue to feel that awful, consuming guilty feeling, then I know that feeling is from the enemy. The same is true for any residual guilt about things that happened to me over which I had no control– that guilt is from the pit of hell, not God.

      I definitely made bad choices as a result of the things that I experienced, and I have to take responsibility for those things and deal with some of the consequences. But the feelings of guilt over those things have lessened as I focus on seeing myself the way God sees me– in Christ. Still a struggle now and then, but I’ve experienced so much more freedom in recent years.

  3. Leslie Says:

    So proud of you for writing and publishing this blog post. love you girl.

  4. Mindy Says:

    Thank you for breaking the silence that so often keeps us from moving forward or relating to one another on a deeper level. May the love of God continue to overflow in your life – and may your bravery lead others in courage and strength.

  5. Sarah Martin Says:

    That had to be hard to put on “paper” but by sharing your story, someone else will identify and be encouraged. Beautiful, Ashley.

  6. Michaela Says:

    Thank you so much for the encouraging comment on my blog! That is so inspiring to hear of someone who kept that commitment. Just curious, how did you find my blog? Your blog is really nice! God bless.

    • Ashley Says:

      I found it through the True Love Waits twitter and it is also linked to on the Life Truths facebook page. 🙂 Thanks for coming over to my blog! 🙂

  7. andreahasfaith Says:

    The Lord is using you in such a mighty way. I will lift you up in prayer now that this post reaches hundreds even thousands more. The Lord continues to put this Ministry on my heart as well looking forward to see where this leads and to helping so many that are victims and may they never be afraid to speak out with the awareness that will soon be brought to the forefront so these little children will know they are not alone and they have a voice. God bless you richly and may this be your best year ever. In Him, Andrea

    • Ash Says:

      Thank you so much, Andrea. I am humbled and honored by your intercession on my behalf! We need to be addressing this topic in the church on a regular basis and I hope to see that be a reality someday.

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