What’s a Story Without a Voice?

As I sit here and write this, I’m at 447 days of recovery.
Friday will be 15 months since I decided to take this journey.
Fifteen months of tears and victories and of learning more about myself than I ever thought I could.
Lessons learned, some the hard way, but learned nonetheless.
Disappointments.
Redemption and second chances.
All of which I’m thankful for.

But as I sit here and settle back in to my routine, I find most days of recovery to be rather boring or uneventful, mundane even.
This is where recovery gets dangerous and tricky.
It’s so easy for me to just get on auto pilot and just simply exist in this state of recovery.
It’s so easy for it to no longer be intentional.
And when it no longer is intentional, that’s usually about the time a relapse creeps up on me and slaps me in the face.

My story has never been an easy one to share.
There is a lot of brokenness and pain in my words.
And honestly, there are still some things that I haven’t quite dealt with even almost a decade later.

But then something sparked in me.
For those of you that follow this blog and those of you that know me personally, you’ll recall that in January I was no longer a part of the intern program that I’ve written so much about.
To spare you from the details, I’ll just say that it was much needed and there definitely weren’t any hard feelings.
I needed to figure out if this is where I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing.
At the time I stepped down, I wasn’t sure.
After two months, you couldn’t convince me otherwise that this is where God wants me.
I came back incredibly fired up and ready to launch full force into girls ministry within Refuge.
We kicked that off with a girls night a few weeks ago, which was a huge success.
No one has ever really just come in and focused on these girls, and I knew that that was where God was leading me to.

As I planned out and pulled off (with a lot of help) girls night, I knew that there needed to be a serious undertone to it and a time of discussion for the girls.
Initially, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to talk to them about.
After all, I had been an intern for all of fifteen minutes when Murr said, “Girls night. Plan it.”
The Sunday before our girls night, our evening service consisted of the Checotah Teen Challenge girls ministering to us.
What powerful stories each of these girls have.
Stories of brokenness and redemption.
Sound familiar?

The altar call that night was for anyone that felt broken and were dealing with the painful thoughts of depression and suicide.
As I stood there at my seat silently crying, I noticed two of our students walk down.
My heart ached for them.
I knew all too well what these precious girls were dealing with.
I soon joined them down there and just hugged them.
By the end of the service I learned that both girls were struggling with thoughts of suicide.
And I knew immediately what I was going to talk about.

I knew that it was time to share my story more publicly than behind the computer screen.
It was time to verbalize it.
I’ve always felt more comfortable writing you my story behind the comfort of a screen, because you can’t see the tears that often are streaming down my face.
But I knew that my story was for such a time as this.
So as the evening drew to a close, we gathered the girls, put on some worship music, and I sat down in front of them and shared my story.
As I shared, not only were tears streaming down my face, but down the faces of most of the girls there.
I encouraged them to share their stories and that this was a safe place to do so.
I reminded them that just because their stories may not be as painful as others, that it didn’t make it any less important.

As I finished sharing, we broke into two small groups so that the girls could share if they wanted to.
And share they did.
And my heart broke, but it also rejoiced.
It hurt for the pain that they were dealing with, but it was overwhelmed with joy for the bravery these girls had in sharing their stories.

By the time I got home that evening, my heart was so full.
And I knew that I was exactly where I needed to be and that girls ministry was exactly what I needed to do.
While my story is painful to share, it’s a story that needs to be shared.

Stories are meant to be shared.
But they need voices behind them.
And I’ve been quiet long enough.

I still have the dream of turning my story into a book, but I also want to share it in other ways as well.
I’m still not entirely sure what that looks like, but I’m excited to see where it may take me.