A New Creation
The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;
He delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the
brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
- Psalm 34:17-18
August 16th, 2015 is forever etched in my memory. On that day my life changed forever, as I joined the statistic that no one ever imagines they will be a part of. I became one of the 1 in 4 women who will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Unfortunately, my story is not uncommon, as this is a reality many women and men face every day.
I will never forget the feeling of being paralyzed by fear as I was violated in such a vulnerable state. I still have such a vivid memory of seeing myself in the bathroom mirror after it was over, and the look on my face was of complete devastation. I have never felt more helpless, alone, and humiliated in my life.
I pretended that I was okay for a long time. But in reality, the weeks and months to follow were filled with feelings of anxiety, shame, and guilt. I told myself that it was my fault. I was at a party I shouldn't have been at, doing things I shouldn’t have been doing, and therefore I somehow deserved it. One of the feelings that lingered the longest was a sense of dirtiness. This feeling wasn’t something that could just be washed away by taking a shower; it stayed with me and impacted me every day. Little things would remind me about what had happened, and a wave of feeling unsettled and unclean would wash over me.
It wasn’t just the reminders of the assault that made me feel unclean, but also the guilt and shame that came along with it. When it happened to me, I froze and didn’t fight back the way I was supposed to. I now know that this is a common reaction, but it caused me so much guilt. I kept telling myself that I needed to get over it because I could have stopped it, and other people have been through so much worse.
I am realizing now that those thoughts are lies that God does not want me to believe. It took me a long time to understand that this happening to me was not a punishment from Him. I sit here today knowing that this event does not, and will not ever, define me. I do not need to feel unclean or unworthy because of the actions of one man. God does not want me to feel shame and guilt because of what someone else chose to do to me.
When I feel dirty, I am reminded that He doesn’t see me that way. He doesn’t see me as broken beyond repair. He doesn't see me as less pure or less innocent. He sees me as a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” I cling to this verse when I am feeling defined by my past. I still feel pain, and honestly, I probably will for the rest of my life but little by little He is piecing me back together and reminding me that my identity can only be found in Him.
If your story is similar to mine, please know that you are never alone. God is with you through this pain, and He will never leave. One of my favorite passages is Isaiah 42:2-3, which says “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God.” Even when it seems like everything is falling apart, and you can’t shake those feelings of uncleanliness, unworthiness, or shame, He is there. Know that it was not your fault. No matter what you were wearing, what you were doing, or who you were with, you did not deserve this to happen to you. I pray that you find comfort and healing in Jesus, but also that you find the strength to reach out to others; you do not have to go through this alone.
1. Where are you feeling guilt or shame in your life?
2. Are there areas in your life where you need healing? How can you reach out to God to receive it?
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for making me into a new creation when I feel broken and unclean. Help me to receive healing from You, God. When I feel alone, remind me that I am loved. When I feel afraid, help me to feel safe and protected. When I feel dirty, allow me to feel clean. God, thank You for always being with me through it all. Give me the strength to get through the darkest moments, and fill me with a hope that only You can provide. Amen.
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