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.


Grieving Nashville May 4, 2010

Filed under: Grief,Nashville flood — Ashley @ 11:03 pm
Tags: ,

A deep sense of loss. Grief.

We didn’t lose any material possessions in this flood. No one I know personally was killed.

So why am I so sad?

I am grieving. Grieving Nashville.

I think you might be feeling this way too, if you live here. Especially if you lost property, precious photographs, irreplaceable heirlooms, or–and I pray not–loved ones. But even if you “lost” nothing, you may be experiencing complicated emotions ranging from fear to anger to helplessness, along with some survivor’s guilt. I know I have.

We’re grieving. We will have to work through this strange kind of grief, one that is totally foreign to me, personally. This is my first natural disaster. My first time feeling like my entire city has been pulled up by the roots and will never be the same again.

Places in which I made so many memories are now gone. My first house is likely underwater. I may never be able to drive my future kids to see it and tell them all the stories that happened in the first house their Dad and I ever lived in together. The lessons I learned there. The person I became there.

So. I have been angry. Downright furious, especially at the thought of having to return to “business as usual” the day after it stopped raining.

I have been sorrowful. When the pictures of the Opryland Hotel started coming out on the news, I couldn’t shake them. This was the place we walked around several times a year. This was where we always brought our friends and family visiting from out of town. This was where Aaron arranged for us to have our engagement photos taken, without me knowing we were getting engaged later that afternoon. I couldn’t help but break down and let the pent-up tears burst out.

I have felt unsafe. While the rain was pouring down, while I watched the footage of flooded communities, while I heard friends tell how they lost cars and possessions, I felt completely vulnerable. Would we be next? What should we do? Will we be okay?

In the midst of the fear and heart-wrenching sadness, I somehow managed to hold it together. I did what needed to be done. I survived. But I didn’t do it alone. More than ever, my husband proved to be my steady, unshakable companion. My sister kept me in reality and helped me gather water and supplies for our house and neighbors. We made it. The One who “sits enthroned over the flood” (Psalm 29:10) carried us through the storm.

So. What do I do now? God brought me here for such a time as this. We each have a role to play in the days to come. Whatever our new reality looks like, whatever our new city looks like, we each have something to offer. I don’t know what it means for me yet, but I know I am loved and I know I am not alone.