What seemed like million eyes were staring at me as I walked up on stage, grabbed my guitar, and found a comfortable spot between the stool and the microphone. The nervous flutters in my stomach had settled in and somehow I had to get through this song. The lights dimmed.
After I finished singing I carefully positioned the guitar in its stand and returned to the microphone. I don’t know exactly what sprang forth from my mouth. Likening it to an outer body experience, I heard myself speaking, but wasn’t sure where it all was coming from.
What I do know, is that it was the first time I had ever addressed a crowd of my peers in such a personal way. Speech and debate was one thing, I had medals for that sort of stuff, but bearing all in front of a bunch of teenagers was another. Several audible gasps reverberated through the pine walls as I shared that I had been raped by my then step-dad.
Earlier that day I had participated in a game that sparked all of this. There I was a senior in High School out in the middle of Sugar Pine Forest with a blindfold over my eyes, my hands out on the shoulders of the person in front of me, and tears running down my cheeks.
“Why is this so hard?” was all I kept thinking. I didn’t want to take another step. Then instead of holding on to the shoulders of the person in front of me, my counselor moved me to the front with no one to hold on to. It was the faith walk and apparently I had none. Mad at myself for what I lacked, I cried even harder for crying about it in the first place.
“Just one foot in front of the other, that’s all you have to do. Let go. Quit trying to control everything and trust that I have a plan, but you have to follow,” the Lord spoke to my heart as clearly as if we were face to face.
I don’t remember my counselor’s name, but I will never forget his tall and slender physique, nor will I forget what he helped me to realize that day. As we debriefed the game, he was aware of my story and asked if I would be willing to share what God had been teaching me. I wanted to say no, but felt this was one of those times I needed to have faith and follow.
I’ll never forget the tears in their eyes as they came up to me, one after another, to say thank you for sharing, and that it had happened or it was happening to them too. Several asked for advice on how I got out of it. I had the opportunity to pray with each one of them. I even was blessed to hold the hand of a young girl as she called her mother and told of painful situation she was in. My story was helping others.
In that moment at eighteen years old, I realized that it had not all been in vain. That the Lord was going to use my painful past to bring hope to others, and instantly all that I had endured was worth it. I now had hope, and this pain now had a purpose.
This excerpt of my book writing that demonstrates beautifully how in a single moment, without the realization, I was simultaneously a hope seeker, a hope finder, and a hope bearer.
It also shows that the beginning of my own hope was found in serving others. Up until that point, I lived with the darkness that I’d always be messed up. I believed that I was broken and unwanted. I had no hope that life would ever be any different.
It was only in getting outside of my own despair and into the lives of others that I began to hear, and see, and expect, and believe that change, that hope was possible.
We see it the lives of people whose struggles are more difficult than our own. We hear it in listening to the stories of other who’ve triumphed over darkness. And, it’s in us that others find hope.
If you find yourself lacking hope today, go find someone to love on. Get involved in their life. Listen to their story. Share yours.
We are all created in the image of Christ therefore His hope resides in each one of us. We just have to move out of our own darkness long enough for us to recognize its light, His light in others.
If we can hope, we can believe, and when we believe, anything thing is possible.
What about you?
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