“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”—Genesis 50:20
This post will be slightly different. As much as I love the ongoing theme of “Unity in the Community”, this post is one I have been strongly convicted about. This will be another personal post. I have been wanting to write about this for a good while now but the time was never right. There were other things I needed to sort out and expose in my heart before I could begin to open up about this.
In life, there are trials and seasons we must endure to get to the place of godliness God has destined His children to become. A great mentor once said, “Your real testimony is what helps you”. We learn through our experiences. This is not an easy post to write and in being transparent—this is a cross I wish wasn’t mine to bear.
The image used is a photo of a tattoo I have on the left side of my back. I was conflicted on whether or not I wanted it shown. As a millennial in the church, and as a woman in general, there are things in my life that I need to speak into existence for me to begin dealing with in a real way. In the span of the past month or so, I have been in what God has called my “Season of forgiveness”. There are things in my life that I have buried, suppressed, self-medicated, starved, purged, and self-harmed beneath the surface. These dark times from my past came to the surface at a conference I attended recently in Colorado Springs. Since that time, I have wrestled with unforgiveness. What I’m about to talk about is a large part of my testimony of how I was called to Christian Ministry. It also plays a large role of why I want to go into Christian counseling.
I mentioned in my previous post that 2010 was one of the worst years ever in my life. I spent a year at a Charismatic Christian Bible college in Shawnee, Oklahoma called Family of Faith. What started out as a great experience evolved into some of the darkest emotional and spiritual abuse one can imagine. I don’t want to go into specific situations that happened at this college but to give you a general idea of what I endured:: I was told that because I was Cherokee, my heritage and cultural traditions were not welcome and therefore were not allowed to be practiced. I was already struggling with my heritage and my identity as a Cherokee woman and this was like the final blow and it caused me to turn my back on my heritage. Time progressed and things got more intense. I am a high-achieving student. I set a strong standard of excellence for myself. In what was a disastrous family counseling session, things were at an all-time high. My grades were horrible, I was battling depression that was almost to a life-threatening level. Things at home were strained because I wouldn’t talk about what was happening at school. All of these factors finally came to a head and the dean of the college told my parents that I was nothing more than a D and F student; she went on to say that they were wasting money for me to go to college. This particular individual continued and told them that because of how rebellious and toxic I was becoming, the world would be a better place without me in it. Needless to say, it hurt to hear. There were negative choices I made. I admitted that I turned in a downloaded paper for a class and a few other negative choices I had made.
I came home for Christmas break. My father was experiencing the worst “Dry drunk” behavior I had ever seen. He was disappointed and upset about what all was said in that family meeting. I don’t remember what prompted it but he was angry and in a bout of blackout rage, he grabbed me by my shoulders and threw me up against my doorframe. I couldn’t tell you what happened the rest of the night. I woke up the next morning and went about my normal routine, pretending it didn’t happen. I never dealt with it in a counseling setting and never told anyone until just a few weeks ago about what happened that year.
I mention such a personal and private time in my life because I believe in being transparent. More so than that, I believe that it’s in these dark seasons that true character and faith are revealed. My faith crumbled. Looking back at this time all these years later, it was God who carried me through it. At the time, I thought He had abandoned me when in reality, I turned my back on Him.
Today, I have come full-circle. I had a meeting with my mentor in Bacone’s Center for Christian Ministry. I opened up about some struggles I’ve had recently and the above situation was mentioned. I incredulously said, “How am I still alive? After all the stuff I’ve done, how did I not die of suicide or accidently?”
This mentor is also one of my professors, whom I both respect and love dearly. Their thoughts and opinions are invaluable to me. They looked at me and in a tone of voice I’ve never heard before said, “Sarah. While God allowed you to make your own choices based on your own free will, He has His hand on your life. He let you make your own decisions but He wasn’t going to let you die. You have a strong calling on your life for ministry. You’re alive today because of the grace of God.”
This. This is why I want to go into Christian counseling. I firmly believe that what I experienced was spiritual abuse in its purest form. While I spent a lot of time traumatized and years battling my sense of self-worth, I made a decision last year that I wanted to use this time in my life to help others. I realized about a week and a half or two weeks ago that I was finally at a place where I could speak out about what happened to me. Life goes on and the only way I can move on with my life is to forgive the college administration at Family of Faith of the damage that was caused. I’ve come to realize that it was hurting me more than them and I will not let this impact how I do ministry. I realized that I was at a crossroads. I could either take what happened to me, allow it to draw me farther away from God, or I could turn it around and use what I learned to be more effective in my ministry as a Christian counselor. I chose the latter.
My future career plans after I graduate from Bacone next year include going on to pursue my Master’s in Christian counseling and ultimately become a family and marriage therapist on an Indian reservation. Ideally, on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. I want to work with children in foster care and girls who are suffering from depression, eating disorders, and addiction.
In order for me to better minister to my future clientele, I need to address my own spiritual strongholds. This is why I’m allowing this part of my life to be seen. The photo of the tattoo next to this post is on the left side of my back on my shoulder blade. There was a scar left from where I hit my doorframe. The phrase, “Whisper words of wisdom, let it be” is a constant reminder to me to always speak life, even in the darkest times. When I’m angry or scared, it reminds me to speak positive energy and life, even if I have to whisper.
The reason I chose the verse at the top of this post can be summed up as this:: in a situation that Satan meant to destroy me, God intervened. The weapons and principalities Satan tried to use against me, God shielded me from. While I was wounded in the battle, God carried me through the darkest season ever in my life until I was strong enough to walk on my own.
In closing because this was a lot longer than I intended, I just want to encourage whoever is reading this to remember that God is always in control. You are more than a conqueror in Christ. If you’re ever in a season of dryness, brokenness, or darkness like I found myself in, I want you to remember that God has a plan and a purpose for the season you’re in. Try to keep your eyes fixed on Him, a trusting heart, and a teachable spirit. As painful and dark as I know days like this can be, remember that He makes beauty for ashes and these struggles bring forth more growth and maturity. Ultimately, always remember that these days are necessary and it’s all about being obedient and relying on Him to get you to where He has called you to be.
Stay strong, lovelies.
Love and light,