I couldn't bring myself to utter the words; and they were escaping my parting lips, warm tears streamed down my face as I fell to the alter. "Thank you God."
"Thank you for saving me, and keeping me from my end."
Rape was suppose to end me, it nearly was. It shuttered my ideals of a beautiful world. My romanticism around love, relationships, and people shattered abruptly as someone I trusted took advantage of the only body my spirit has known to occupy.
I was broken. I was moving forward in life in pieces. And if I am honest, the only this that could seal those gaps merging my pain into purpose was gratitude. Giving thanks gave back the years, the tears, the anger and confusion that all too often comes post-sexual trauma.
How can one live in gratitude when dealing with so much pain? Some might even call it insensitive when speaking of tragedy and trauma. My response is that there is no perfect time or moment, and there is certainly no short cuts towards healing.Rather, it is a path you walk motivated by choices. I can recall those subtle but impactful moments early on in my journey towards healing. Those earlier years when the choice to forgive or hold onto hostility was a constant daily struggle. There was nothing much I had to hold onto, except the notion that I was alive, and survived. "So...now what?"
Now...I have a choice. I can live with the perpetuation of this painful experience and memory or I change the narrative. The chapter you just lived may not change, but we have the opportunity to turn the page. Turning the page doesn't mean you ignore what has happened. Turning the page is a choice. What gave me the strength to turn the page of a painful past, was gratitude.
At the alter of my church, on the cold floor of my bathroom tile, in the bed buried my head in pillows , in the car approaching my campus, in the conference room of my job, I was thanking God for keeping me. I was thanking God for keeping me in my right mind, for surrounding me with people (that knew of my experience) who were patient, loving and supportive. I began to thank God more frequently for strength I knew I could only receive through Him. I was weaker than I ever felt emotionally, and mentally, but as 2 Corinthians 12 8-10 states, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I look towards exercising gratitude daily as the key component to activating God's strength in my life. There are times I will admit, I was faking it until I made it... There were moments I would say thanks with a hardened heart. But bit by bit, God started chipping away at the pain and mending what was broken. Little by little, the act of giving thanks became more and more genuine. Gratitude filtered the ugly truth I had experienced so that the next chapters I walked into would invite more healing, and purpose beyond the painful stories of my past.
I implore you to begin to thank God for where you are INSPITE of what chapters you've already lived through. The pages will write themselves, and every day you will see gratitude give back to your life what the once tried to take. This is your story, and I'm confident in telling you seven years after my personal trauma, gratitude will help shape that
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