Fearfully and Wonderfully Me
I didn’t get a head start in life. My father sexually abused me from age 12 – 19, forced me to play the role of his wife, beat me, raped me, and even shared me with others. I didn’t know how to handle the pain, shame, and false sense of guilt from those years of abuse. Life was, at times, almost not worth living. And, I considered ending it.
I met my husband Mack when I was 19. He was my knight in a shiny Camaro. He gave me the courage and support to escape, and I didn’t look back. I left behind the father who had abused me, and I left behind my mother who blamed me for it all. I left with a couple of pillow cases stuffed with my clothes and a determination that my past wasn’t going to hold me back. I didn’t really know how to deal with what happened to me, so I did the best I could at the time. I locked seven years of my life up behind a closed door in my heart. And then, I threw away the key. Mark Twain said, “The two greatest days in your life are the day you are born and the day you discover why.” Thirteen years after leaving home I discovered my “why” and answered God’s calling on my life when I shared my story publicly for the first time.
Fast forward to 2016. My father re-entered my life by sending hurtful letters to my grandparents, whom he hasn’t talked to in nearly 20 years, and demanded they end their relationship with me and pretend I no longer exist. Determined to no longer be the victim, I gathered my courage and filed a report about the abuse I endured as a teenager.
“God doesn’t mind questions. It’s doubt He hates.” John C. Maxwell
My father was charged with three felonies, including sexual abuse, and as the victim and a witness, I was called to testify at his trial. There wasn’t much physical evidence – it’s been 18 years since I left home. Some key witnesses didn’t testify. And, after five exhausting and emotional days, the jury determined there was not enough evidence to convict.
Aside from actually living through my teenage years, it was the most difficult week of my life. My faith was tested, my courage was tested, and my determination to be a survivor instead of a victim was tested.
Resilience is the difference between, “I didn’t die” and “I learned to live again.” Ria Story
But, what happens to us isn’t as important as who we become because of it. I got up the next day and went for a 17 mile run. It wasn’t pretty – I had barely slept or eaten all week and I ended up walking the last couple of miles. But, I did it. And with every mile, I felt stronger. With every mile, I proved to myself once again that resilience isn’t about not getting hurt. It’s about bouncing back. It’s about rising above the ashes of adversity and burning brighter BECAUSE of the flames. Resilience is the difference between, “I didn’t die” and “I learned to live again.”
“Tragedy doesn’t necessarily change us. More often, it just brings out more of who we are – or were – all along.” Nora Roberts
I’m living again. With a new sense of purpose and perhaps more clarity and focus. I know who I am and what I’m about. I’m filled with joy at the blessings I have. I’m grateful for where I’ve been and what I’ve come through. We can transcend any experience when we realize there is a purpose to it. God doesn’t cause the pain in our lives – but He can use it.
I realize there are many women who are like I was, ready to step into the role God created for them and live an abundant life, but not sure how. I know there are women who, like me, don’t know how to overcome a past hurt or a present obstacle constructively. We don’t always know how to overcome issues like shame, self doubt, lack of self-worth, limiting beliefs, lack of confidence, or lack of influence with others. We often simply aren’t equipped to do so. So, we turn to behaviors that don’t serve us such as: shutting people out to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable, over exercising to increase a sense of control, over eating to feel good, or not taking opportunities because we are afraid of failing.
I struggled at times with all of the above and more, and that’s where my passion was ignited to help others overcome as I have.
I’m far from perfect, but I’m Fearfully and Wonderfully Me. I help women maximize their potential in life and leadership to become the woman God created them to be. I speak, teach, and write on foundational principles and tools of transformation that help women to:
- Maximize their potential in life and leadership.
- Develop 360 degrees of influence personally and professionally.
- Develop self confidence, self worth, and resilience.
- Overcome adversity, shame, and limiting beliefs.
- Achieve balance in all dimensions of life.
Regardless of what happens to us in life, we always have the freedom to decide how it affects us. We always have the ability to make better choices and thus improve our circumstances. We always have the power to choose joy in life.
And that, my friends, is the message I’m called to share.