Man. The past few months have truly been a journey. I’ve struggled with expressing myself for such a long time that I’m grateful to finally be able to articulate and record my thoughts on this blog. It is such a strange thing for a writer like myself, who uses writing pieces as an outlet, to be unable to express thoughts on a particular situation. That’s how much pain and confusion has been present these past six months. It was almost as if my thoughts were so clouded that I couldn’t find ways to understand them, let alone explain them. I like to be upfront with people about my testimonies, so i’ll just put it out there:
Six months ago, I was sexually assaulted.
That’s right. Me. Violated in one of the most degrading and horrifying ways there is; And it knocked me, almost completely, off of my feet. Disorientated and discombobulated were understatements to describe me at the time. Now obviously there is no good time to expect something bad to happen to you, but I just could not understand how weeks before the incident I was the closest I’d ever felt with God in my entire Christian life, and yet something so terrifying could still happen to me. Looking back now, I realize that this way of thinking showed I didn’t fully understand how God works.
When people say there are many stages to trauma, boy are they right. The first few weeks I could not think straight. My mind was a mess (it reminded me of that SpongeBob episode with the little SpongeBobs running around in his brain, haha.) I was missing appointments and deadlines at school. I was forgetting to eat meals. I was experiencing panic attacks. I felt like a zombie, just aimlessly going through the motions of life. I found myself drowning in a state of numbness.
Scared, lonely and feeling completely naked, what I needed most was community. I needed people who loved me to surround and hug me while I sobbed and mourned my own self; But no matter how much I knew I needed it, community was the total opposite of what I wanted. I hated the idea of people feeling bad for me and I wanted to avoid the questions people would have, like “well, what exactly happened?,” and “did you try to stop it?,” both questions I could barely make sense of in my own head. Isn’t it crazy that community is one of those things we as humans need, especially when we’re feeling vulnerable, yet its what we stray away from when its needed most? The other day a sexual assault support group therapist talked about how babies cry when first born because they are naked and vulnerable, forced into a completely new environment. She asked the group how people normally get those babies to stop crying. “We hold them in our arms,” she said, “we comfort them with our touch.” Each person in the group spoke of the intentional things done daily to avoid physical touch from people. It’s unnatural.
Well, anyway, I just love looking back on these six months and seeing God’s hand working in the midst of the pain. Nearly two months before the assault I was accepted to a CRU summer mission trip that began a month after the incident. I had absolutely no idea how necessary and meaningful the trip was going to be when I applied. When it was finally time for me to leave for the trip I did not want to go because, well… community. I knew I was going to be around a body of believers and I’d be worshipping with them even if I was feeling like doing the opposite. It was easily one of the most amazing trips I’ve been on. I couldn’t believe how perfectly placed this trip was. I really really needed to be around the loving people I met there. A few weeks after returning from the mission trip I began working as a counselor at a sleep-away Christian family camp, where I taught the cutest little K-2nd graders bible stories. I was completely out of my element working in so much nature, but I was surrounded, yet again, in community- God’s community. I realize, now, how important it was for me to be in these places while the healing process began.
I was angry; but not at my offender. I was angry at God for allowing me to be, what felt like, broken into pieces this way. I allowed myself to use that anger and confusion to stray away from Him and things of Him. I’ve found myself trembling on His truth, running, trying to hide. Stuck in a place I do not belong. If you were to look at my life you would barely be able to tell that I was made to be set apart, that I am not of this world. After everything that happened I no longer opened my bible. I didn’t want to pray, or have alone time in the mornings. I’ve found myself going to parties more, and church less. My love for ministry became clouded. Things were truly going downhill until an old friend came back into my life; another seemingly God-ordained event. This friend just happened to be moving back to our home state of New York the same time I was. He introduced me to a new community of believers that quickly became friends of my own.
I’m finding my way back into community again. I’m letting those broken pieces reassemble themselves to create a different, more powerful me. I’m ready to dust myself off and put God back on the forefront of my life, where He belongs. I find myself understanding God more than I have before. He has everything under control, no matter how crazy and out of order things seem to be right now. When we keep our eyes on Him during the storm we barely notice the details of it. It’s only when we take our eyes off of Him, out of fear and lack or trust, that we begin to sink down into the anxiety and worry, kind of like Peter when he tried to walk on water with Jesus.