Me Too: Addressing Sexual Trauma

So many times, I have wanted to write personally on this issue. So many times, I have stopped myself.

I publicly acknowledge the presence of this topic in my life. I share related articles and blog posts and plug organizations constantly.

Because I know it’s important to. Because truth and acknowledgment aid in my healing, and they also aid in the healing and awareness of others.

However, anytime I have gone to write my own piece about it, I feel my words are inadequate. There is nothing I can write that fully expresses the weariness, anxiety, and anger that come with dealing with this topic every day.

The self-hatred and the shame.

The confusion and the wordiness and the silence.

Trust me, I know it’s not my fault. But multiple incidents later, it’s hard to feel as though you’re not doing something wrong. It’s hard not to feel at least a little bit like an object.

Sexual trauma has followed me throughout my life, and it lives in my brain. It is a part of me, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I have to spend almost every day reminding myself that it is not all of me.

There is more to me than my experiences. There is a big, bright world in which I can shine a light on this horrible reality, shut down the thoughts telling me I am unworthy in any context, and live honestly with those who understand.

It’s a process, and it’s far from easy, but it’s important, and it’s life-changing.

Sexual abuse and assault are incredibly isolating incidents, and as humans created to live in community with one another, isolation is one of the most dangerous things we can allow a foothold in our lives.

So I want you to walk this process with me.

No qualification, no justification, no questions asked.

If you haven’t been through sexual trauma, this may not make perfect sense to you, and I hope it never does. But this blog post is written for those who have.

Because if you have been through it, you know these feelings.

In whichever way or to whatever extent these incidents have reared their ugly head in your life, you understand what I am saying.

So let’s continue to let our “me too”s echo, and let’s create a supportive network together.

I’m here for you, and I hope you’re here for me.

With all that said,

many of you already know this,

but for those of you who need to hear it:

Me too.

-LG

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“Alive Alive Alive”

10 months without writing a single blog post. I mean, I’ve never been one to publish consistently, but I haven’t even written a DRAFT. In 10. Months. What the heck.

When I realized I wanted to post a few hours ago, I began to reflect on what has really come into focus for me lately. I like to remain relevant with myself, because I love being able to reflect on anything I write in its own posted and dated timing down the road.

As I was scrolling through photos, little notes, and paragraphs I have jotted down lately, I ran into this inserted poem by Clementine von Radics.

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I feel as though this one poem, these ten lines, particularly the three final words most accurately capture the last ten blogless months of my life.

People have commented to me left and right about how much traveling, exploring, and just general “seeing the world” I’ve done over the past few months; and I can’t deny the validity of that statement – I’ve jam-packed a lot.

So I’ve done some #SoulSearching as to why my life has been so filled to the brim with “adventure” lately, and my conclusion has been this (all of this, whatever follows):

For as long as I can remember, I have found it so difficult to feel truly settled within my own skin. I can’t exactly explain why. But sometimes I’ll get moments of washed over peace as depicted in this poem – moments of clarity.

To have more of these moments is the goal I’ve been so actively striving toward in this season of my life; and as change and progress always must, this striving has meant both pleasant and unpleasant things.

It has meant coming face-to-face with some truths and emotions I have suffocated and stuffed as deep as could be for the majority of my life. Allowing myself to truly feel and process through the pain of abuse and past experiences. Being wise in who I invite in to support me throughout this process, because not every person we love (though we do so love them!) is the correct choice to walk with us through every mountain and valley (and that’s okay!!!).

My safety and comfort are the priorities in my own healing journey. I owe nothing to anyone else in this regard.

In effect, this journey toward freedom and clarity has meant spending more time in places that inspire joy and light inside of me. Whether that be the water, a park, or some random new place I’ve never seen before. It’s all about being incredibly intentional in my pursuit of a brighter and more full life. I must make time for that which I want my life to reflect.

Learning to pay attention to how different environments affect me emotionally is one of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned. In a nutshell: Go places, work in places, surround yourself with people and things that brighten you, encourage you, and give you life to your spirit.

I have no desire to push through my crap and find some mediocre life on the other side. Both dealing with the hard stuff and uncovering joy take work, and I’m learning to be intentional about both of these pieces simultaneously (because apparently you really kind of need to do both to have a bangin’ life).

So I will travel and look at the ocean and stand on the mountain tops. I will learn to appreciate every little thing the world has to offer until I feel as though I am wholly me – untainted – and I am a bright and engaged part of the world around me.

My trauma has molded me, but it will not remain an active part of how I choose to live. I will not be held back by fear or darkness. I will absolutely not allow the negative to take away from my experience of anything beautiful this world has to offer.

(And I’ve found it has A LOT to offer.)

This process hasn’t been easy. There are moments the negative does take away from the beauty. But I have chosen in this season that I will not passively allow it to. I will continue to fight for my light, continue to fight for my freedom, and I will appreciate the clear moments as pictures of what can be.

For better or worse, I am on the continual pursuit of being “Alive Alive Alive,” and it’s a good place to be right now.

Catch ya in 10 months (give or take 9).

-LG

P.S. I think “bright” is my new favorite word. Or “light”. But “light” already was. So honestly both.

Why I’m Transferring Next Semester: I’m Finding My Life By Laying It Down

When everything you ever wanted isn’t everything you thought it would be.

It has been a crazy week, y’all. A crazy, crazy week. The Lord has done so much work in my heart, but I’m finally settled and experiencing this crazy supernatural peace and ready to share what’s up with you.

So yeah, I’m transferring next semester. Yes, I know it’s surprising. No, I’m not having an emotional meltdown. Yes, I’ve had an awesome first semester!

But here’s the thing, I am totally a five-, ten-year plan kind of girl, and I’d had this vision of my life for years: I was going to work and raise my family in an adorable southern area, preferably North Carolina or Tennessee. This of course meant I needed to attend college in the South, so I could make connections, build a community, and eventually intern and get a job here. Doing all of these things would allow the rest of my perfect life plan to fall into place. Basically, I had been waiting to get to place I am in now to be able to start the rest of my life.

What a system shock it was when I realized a month into college in the South that I was 100% a northern girl. It’s not that either the North or South is better; they’re just different. Stepping away, I realized my huge appreciation for the straightforwardness and honesty of people, the messiness, and truthfully, the total battle that is northern Christianity. All the things that often give the North the reputation of being “harsh” or “hard” – I could not love them more. All in all, the North has my heart and is now where I see my future.

As always, I want to form connections and build relationships where I plan to spend the rest of my life. The Lord is doing so much in my home community, and having spent so many years praying for and working towards spiritual breakthrough in the area, I don’t want to miss out on what is just beginning to happen. I want to be an active participant, and there is nothing holding me back.

So on December 13th, I’ll be packing up my things and moving home. I’ll be attending Manchester Community College this next semester, and I plan to eventually transfer to UConn as a commuter. It’s still crazy to hear myself say that. I never could have thought this is what my life would look like – I had a totally different plan, and it was hard to let go of my blueprint, but I am learning a huge lesson in humility and surrender. I know this is the best choice for me right now spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. It may seem abrupt, but the Lord is bringing me into a new level of my relationship with Him. He is doing a new work in my life, and I am choosing to walk in obedience.

It is not wrong to have dreams and visions for your future, but it is wrong when those dreams and visions become your god. I had made an idol out of my life plan. Similar to the Israelites’ desire for a king, I wanted this southern college life more than anything else, and Jesus let me have it. But guess what? It didn’t fulfill me (What a shocker). I guess I knew all of this in my mind, but I was totally deceived by my plan, and I needed to have this experience. I needed to see that the grass isn’t greener. I needed to have my perfect vision of my life crumble before my eyes. I needed to watch and learn that it is Jesus who plans my steps and not me. I have learned so much about myself in these past three months, and I wouldn’t change a thing. While this transfer may be sudden, I promise you, I am so incredibly at peace with it.

All of this goes to say that three months ago, I wanted the traditional college experience so badly, and I got it. Lipscomb has been so much fun. I’ve met incredible people (S/o to my froomie and all my other BFFs) and experienced so many new things (Honestly, bless Cookout milkshakes), but this just isn’t what I want anymore. I want to be closer to my family and chase hard after Jesus. I still want to take classes, work, and be involved in a variety of things, but I want to do all of this in Connecticut instead of Tennessee. It’s been a process, but I’ve finally settled into the truth that walking where the Lord is leading me is much more important than attempting to meet any man-made or self-imposed expectation. I’ve never felt more settled.

Whatever your role is in my life, I am so grateful for you, and I love you!

Thank you for being a part of my journey.

-LG

For the Weeks Darkness is Winning

It’s been a hard week. I have not stopped crying in the past hour. I’m crying as I write this. I’ve cried like 12 times today.

I’ve been really open about the self-harm and self-hatred I’ve dealt with in the past; the anxiety that still plagues me and the dark, depressive spells that sent me into multi-day bed binges.

While the anxiety still messes with me, the hatred and darkness have been gone for a while. I am a completely different person than I was in that time, and I’m glad for that. We’re all glad for that.

I love my life. I love everything about it. I love my school, my job, my family, my friends… I can’t complain about a thing.

But anxiety, sadness, fear… sometimes they just are. There doesn’t always have to be a perfect reason. They can just be. And they so clearly have just been for me this week.

I’m not looking to be a spokesperson, I’m not looking to do a therapeutic write-up of my week, I’m not looking for anything. Not today.

I’m just here to say that it’s 1:48am, I have slept about 7 hours total in the past few days, and it’s been a really hard week.

But God is good. I know He’s good, and I know this isn’t forever. I know eventually, whether it be tomorrow or two weeks from now, it will all come back together. And I know I’ll read this post in a year, as simply written as it is, and be glad I wrote it.

I’ve seen the light, I’ve chosen to live in truth and joy, and I know these things aren’t gone. Even if they feel clouded over right now.

No season or week can last forever, and I am so thankful to be in a place where I’m able to recognize that. A huge improvement from two years ago.

I am surrounded by people I love, and God’s promises are still just as true as they were last week.

It may not feel okay right now, but I know it’s going to be.

So that’s that.

Looking ahead (Goodbye, 2015)

Goodbye, 2015. You were sweet to me.

My license, first job, second job, first car, junior banquet, Israel, and so, so much more. I have so many memories and so much to be grateful for.

But 2015 went so fast, and the years seem to only be getting quicker.

As we enter 2016, I am only continuing to grow up. Time waits for no one.

I will attend senior banquet and senior trip, turn 18, graduate high school, start college in Tennessee, and who really knows what else? All I know for sure is there will be a lot of change.

My prayer for this year is that I would:

  • Remain steadfast in my love for God, falling more deeply in love with Him, grounding myself in His Word, and become more and more sanctified with each passing day.
  • Continue to cherish every moment with those around me, not growing weary or longing for a different and seemingly better place, but embracing the season I am in and loving the people I am with to the fullest of my ability.

Knowing that in 2016 I will enter into a completely new season brings a little bit of apprehension, but it mostly brings excitement.

I have been praying these verses will take firm root in my life:

My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside.

I have not departed from the commandment of his lipsI have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.”

-Job 23:11-12 (ESV)

As I close out this season, I am just thankful. I am really, really thankful for all God has done: all He has brought me to, all He has brought me through, and all He has pre-planned for me.

I go forth into 2016 knowing that He who created all we know has both far greater and more abundant plans for my life than I could ever dream up.

God has been so faithful to me, and I am excited to see what lies ahead.

Thank you for being a part of my journey.

Much love,

-LG

 

Victory in Jesus (feat. yesterday)

This post is a day late because I couldn’t decide if I wanted to write it or not.

Yesterday was my two year mark of not self-harming. It was a huge day to me, but a personal one and not something I would naturally make a big deal out of. I shared my excitement with a few select people and continued on with my routine. But all day, there was absolutely nothing you could have said or done to throw off my happiness (or throw off my groove, if you know what I’m referencing).

Sitting in my room, thinking at 11pm, I was completely overwhelmed with how beautiful the day was to me. My two year mark of not self-harming was about so much more than simply not self-harming; it was a testimony to every bit of the beauty and transformation that has taken place in my life since that time.

I am insanely grateful to not be bound by self-harm anymore, and I am not for one second minimizing how difficult breaking that habit was. But for me, walking out of self-harm was less about walking out of self-harm and more about walking into the light.

Breaking the chains of self-harm was the first time I ever truly understood freedom. Walking out the process changed everything and opened the door for the Lord’s healing and transformation in so many other areas of my life.

I am better for having been brought to that place.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” -Psalm 107:1

Two years of not self-harming is a milestone, but more than that, it is the clear mark of what the Lord has done and is continuing to do in my life.

Lord, You are so good.

-LG

God knows best

I am on a mission to read through the entire Bible in a year. As I was reading Genesis 3, verses 4-6 really hit me, and I haven’t been able to shake them.

But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.‘ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” -Genesis 3:4-6

If you have heard the story of creation and the fall of man, you know the context of these verses. God specifically instructed Adam and Eve back in Genesis 2:16-17 not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He provided them with an abundance of other trees in the garden to eat from: There was no need to rebel.

The serpent tempted Eve. He caught her attention with a series of half-truths, and suddenly she became completely fixated on the one thing she was never meant to have.

How quickly the devil in disguise drew Eve in, wrapping her into thinking God was hiding something from her. Something that would be for her and Adam’s betterment. It was in this moment that the goodness of God was first questioned.

This stuck out to me because we see it happen all the time today. My question is:

Why have we not learned the lesson?

If I could reiterate, Genesis 3:5 says, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Now, I can understand the draw of what sounds like a great opportunity to be like God and know good and evil, but here’s the thing: Adam and Eve, unlike the serpent, were made in the image of God. They didn’t need to become like God: they already were.

When Adam and Eve chose to listen to the serpent rather than God, they betrayed the trust He had placed in them and surrendered their God-given power and authority to evil. Evil entered in, they became aware of their nakedness, and they hid in shame.

God had their best interests in mind all along.

Now, I know this is by no means the most uplifting of posts I’ve written, but I found it interesting to really think about what led up to this sudden fall from perfection. It is by realizing how past mistakes occurred that we are able to avoid making them again.

We are to trust the goodness of God and allow Him full control of our lives.

Don’t be deceived: Only the Creator knows what’s best for his creation.

Four things I learned in 2014

2014 was a jam-packed, exciting, and defining year for me. Before moving forward into the new adventures that 2015 holds, I’d like to share a few things I learned along the way.

  • Being inspired means nothing if there is no action accompanying it. I watched a Mark Batterson teaching in which he said, “Now if you walk away from this message inspired by the power of prayer that’s wonderful, but really the objective is to walk away and establish a prayer habit.” That really hit and stuck with me as a simple yet so powerful truth. I think it speaks for itself: If you learn a lesson, apply the lesson. You’ll be better for it.
  • Embrace and enjoy the fullness of each season. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is where it’s at. Life comes and goes so quickly. In 2014, I let go of more places, relationships, and plans I had made for myself than I ever had before. Many of these changes were hard, but God was so faithful to show me that letting go of the old is an invitation for the new, and the new is so, so beautiful. When I stopped stubbornly digging my nails into the familiar and let God guide me, I went to different countries, developed relationships with people I never would have expected, and experienced Him in ways I never had before. Love where you’re at because it won’t last forever, and remember that God has greater things planned for you than you could have ever imagined for yourself.
  • Learn from those around you. These words of H. Jackson Brown Jr. have played a huge role in shaping who I am: “Every person that you meet knows something you don’t; learn from them.” Never underestimate the value of a person and their experience. Observe behaviors, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Everyone has something to teach you, and most are more than willing to.
  • Christ is the standard. This one is a shout-out to anyone who has found themselves trying to just be a “little bit better” than their other Christian friends. I’ve been there, and I’ve learned that hard way that’s not good enough. When we choose to turn away from the obedience Christ desires, darkness and death are immediately at work. Our goal each day should be to become more like Jesus in our speech, actions, and purity, and our standards for integrity and holiness are to be in support of this goal. Will we always do this perfectly? No. But when we fall, we are to pick ourselves up and get right back on track.

I learned a ton in 2014 and could share many more bullet points, but those four were definitely central to the year for me. I am excited to see what God has in store in 2015.

Thank you for doing life with me.

-LG

And where you are, Lord, I am free

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” -Galatians 5:1

There comes a time where you have to choose to leave the past behind and move forward. I am truly sorry if people have wronged you or if you haven’t gotten all of the apologies you feel you deserve, trust me, I’m in the same boat. But you cannot control other people; you can only control you.

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.” -2 Corinthians 3:17b

There are so many Christians still bound in the chains of their past: those who do not feel they are forgiven for sin, those who have bitter and hardened hearts, those who judge others, those who believe they have a right to be angry or unforgiving towards someone, the list goes on and on…

Listen to me, Jesus Christ gives new life.

All other ground is sinking sand. You will never feel complete living for anything other than God. He wants to be in relationship with you, to love you, and to heal you.

He is Prince of Peace, Deliverer, Almighty God, Redeemer. If you want to be joyful and thriving in the kind of life that the Author of Life can give, you need to humble yourself, lay at the foot of the cross, and allow Him to free you, to make you complete. (Listen to this song)

But, guess what? He doesn’t stop there.

“Jesus is not just about delivering you from something, He’s about delivering you to something.

. . . He wants to deliver you to

  • a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • a life that bears much fruit.
  • a destiny that was foreordained before He said, ‘Let there be light.”

-Beth Moore (x)

When we are walking alongside our Savior, we are able to be known not by what we have walked out of, but by who we are in Him.

As the Lord restores your life, He will use your story as a testimony to His grace and goodness. He makes all things new and nothing is more beautiful than seeing ashes turn to beauty.

Blessing The Lord with every last bit of yourself

The song “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman quickly boomed to popularity in the worship music world. We sing it at church and youth group and hear it on the Christian radio stations all the time, but are we truly living out the words?

I’d like to focus solely on the repeated lyric,

“Bless The Lord, O my Soul!”

Wow, what a wonderful lyric from a beautiful song. Yes, let’s bless The Lord. Woohoo!

It sounds easy, right?

Wrong.

Blessing The Lord doesn’t just naturally happen, It’s not always easy, and in fact, there are times when you really don’t want to. But I’m sure you already knew that.

The whole concept of blessing The Lord with all of myself is new to me, but I can tell you, there is no greater joy.

Writing was how I expressed myself for a long time and I haven’t been writing as much lately, but that’s okay and I’ll tell you why. I didn’t write because I was happy; I wrote because I was sad.

My life has changed so much in the past five months, all for the better. In the writing community that I was in, good poetry came out of misery and I have none to write about anymore. I am happy. I am joyful. I am finally everything that I never was and I am spending too much of my time dwelling on the contentedness of that to devote a second to the opposite.

When I do write now, it’s positive, it’s uplifting, it’s about what God is teaching me or what He has taught me. That’s because I am finally blessing The Lord with all of my soul and there’s absolutely no room for anything else.

Does that make sense?

When you sing “Bless The Lord, O my soul!” it is something you are telling your soul to do. You are telling, commanding, demanding that your soul bless The Lord, no matter what the circumstances in your life would naturally lead you to do.

When you are consciously choosing to trust in The Lord’s goodness and bless Him no matter what is going on around you, you world will change. I’m not saying that things will be perfect when you wake up the next morning, but bit by bit, your perspective will shift and instead of seeing what is falling apart right now, you will see what God is doing through it.

All I can say is that it’s the most beautiful thing and I promise you, if you haven’t already, you want to experience it.