Today, I had my last counseling appointment. Let me tell you it was a mix of emotions, but it is all part of this next chapter of my life. I have learned a lot in the last 3.5 years. And I realize I have grown a ton. I want to share a little bit about what I have learned through this whole process.
The first is that I was super fortunate. I happened to get a great fit in my first try. I didn’t have to shop around or try a few different people. It just so happened that the first person I had was a great fit. She pushed me, encouraged me and created an environment where it felt safe for me to be able to share my struggles. She celebrated growth and success with me, but more importantly she was compassionate and soft hearted during the challenges. She became a great support and she walked through one of the hardest chapters of my life with me.
In reflecting on these last 3.5 years working with her. I learned that it was okay to be open and vulnerable. That it was okay to ask for help, to admit that I was struggling and that struggling was okay. I learned it was okay to have days that were rough and to take a day or a few days off, but to never give up. I learned how to sit with the tough feelings and acknowledge them but that they didn’t have to have an overwhelming power over me. I found a place to have a voice. I could share crazy thoughts, tough things about my story, and could vent unfiltered emotions and it would be okay. I went from my first few appointments where I didn’t want to talk or really share anything because I didn’t trust her, to being able to go in and she could tell if something was going on just by looking at me and that it was a spot to push and to share what I never thought I would share with anyone. There were even a few times I couldn’t wait to go and just dump and share what was going on and then leave it there. That is some growth.
The biggest thing I have been thinking about during this week of good-byes to going on to the next chapter of my life is that I would not go back and change anything. I wouldn’t wish the hurt and the struggle on anyone else and would not want to ever be in that situation again, but I would not go back and remove it from my past. It is because of all the hurt and heart break that happened after being raped that I pressed in and dug in. I learned how to be vulnerable and open with an amazing group of women who helped me push in and learn and experience the love of Christ in the most amazing tangible ways. I made relationships that I would not have had. Compassion. I have gained compassion and mercy for people that I would not have had, this softened my heart. For a period it hardened my heart, but in the long run my heart has been left softer than before. I have gained the ability empathize. I have been through hurt and can now empathize where I wouldn’t have been able to before and that means that I will be able to walk through this journey with someone else down the road. I have learned that I can do more than I thought even possible. That I am stronger than I thought and that God really does fill any gap and cover every weakness. I know that I have a story, it’s my story, and it is a beautiful story that God wrote and it is His meaning it can and will be used for good.
It is because of where I have been that I am where I am today. I want to be doing work to help those who are coming over to our country as immigrants or refugees, I want to help them get the services that they need and to help them adjust to life here in the states. I would love to eventually be able to go abroad and do work in other countries in regards to widows, orphans and women who are in domestic violence situations. I have a voice, a passion, and it is something that I can do that will make a difference. My heart has grown in compassion and my drive for justice has only grown over the last few years. I get the hard stuff, I have been there. I have been ready to give up because it all seemed like too much. I have been hopeless, afraid, overwhelmed, sad, hurt, angry, felt inadequate. But I have hope, I know I have a purpose, a future and I know I can change the world because God is the author of this story and He has brought me this far and He is just getting started, he sure isn’t finished with me yet. And I am so thankful for the people He put alongside me to get me to where I am today, I would never go back and change my past because it makes me, a conqueror, a victor, it gives me tangible evidence that God exists, it gives me hope for others, eyes to see others hurt and a heart to feel it with them. My past is simply a chapter of my story, it may not be pretty but it sets me apart. And I am excited to go forward and see where these next chapters lead me.