Hey Best Friends,
Today I tuned into a webinar hosted by Leslie Vernick, author of The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. She gave some awesome insight on how to go from victim mindset to owner mindset. I started thinking about her message in terms of my own life. When I was going through some of the worst things in my life, I didn’t realize I was following “steps” to pull myself out of the muck (mud). Once I heard her webinar today, I realized I turned my tragedies into triumphs by following some of the exact steps she outlined and partnering with God.
My life seemed to be doomed from the start. I was born into a home where domestic violence was modeled for me on a regular basis. At the age of five, I was sexually assaulted by neighborhood boys. I had been raped at gunpoint by the time I was 16, lived a life entrenched in the drug culture of my neighborhood in my early 20s, and as many of you already know, survived an ambush where my ex-husband shot me and my daughter in the parking lot of her school when I was 38. If anyone should be in the corner somewhere, devastated and trying to pick up the pieces of my fragmented life, it should be me…but it isn’t. I have an incredible ability to bounce back from life’s circumstances because I let God lead me through my journey, took life’s obstacles one day at a time, and ultimately changed the trajectory of my life because I didn’t allow my circumstances to keep me stuck in the muck.
Steps I Used to Go from Tragedy to Triumph
We have to take ownership of the outcome of our stories. Yes, something horrible happened that we couldn’t control; however, we can control how we respond to it and what happens next. Leslie taught us in the webinar that we are the writers to our stories. I have a question for you: do you let your circumstances define who you are OR will you decide who you become from here? Here are some key things I remembered from her webinar that I actually used on my road to healing and prayerfully it will help you too.
- Don’t focus on what you lost. Focus on what you were fortunate to keep. Many times we sit around and think about all the negative things that happened to us. We think life is unfair, people are mean, and we are doomed to be stuck in our situations. We focus on all the things that are wrong instead of what is right. Right after the shooting, my mouth had to be wired shut for five months (5 loooong months…yes 5, LOL). This happened and it plowed right through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. All I could think about was the food I would miss during this time. I had to be reminded that I still had my life and my family and that was far more important. When thinking about your situation, pray about what’s right first, then pray about what you need God to fix. You could say, “Thank you that I have gas in the car, food on my table, clothes on my back, hot water to wash with, and a warm bed to sleep in.” When you start thinking about what’s right, your whole situation takes on a different light. Learn to look for “the good” in everyday situations.
- What you feel or tell yourself always feels true, but it isn’t always the truth. Your thoughts and feelings are connected, but that’s not who you are. That’s not your identity. Thoughts and feelings change, but your core (values and virtues) remain pretty constant. The Bible says in Proverbs 23:7, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” If you think you are less than worthy, used goods, too fat, too ugly, not smart enough (or other lies we tend to believe) then you will become the reality you envisioned. You should pay attention to your thoughts, cast down any lie from the enemy (sometimes that is you), and learn to see things differently. As a young woman, I would tell myself that no one would want me. I was too fat. I didn’t have a sexy figure. I was messy. I wasn’t smart. Why? These are the messages I was fed over the years by the men I loved. I had to begin to speak the truth about the situation AND the truth about what God says about me. He says, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; I am the apple of His eye; I am the head and not the tail; I am made in His image.” When I began to replace the lies with the truth, I started changing my man-made identity into a Christ-filled identity.
- You have choices about the next chapter of your life. Yes, something bad happened to you. Someone raped you. You got breast cancer. Your car was wrecked and you have no money to buy another one. Your husband beat you. Your child was killed. Your mother died when you were young. Your significant other cheated on you and now you have a disease that you can’t get rid of. Your house was taken from you. I could go on….but I won’t. These things are terrible and we need to acknowledge them. Many of them happened and you didn’t have any control over them. Guess what? You have control over what happens next. I began this blog letting you know that I was a product of childhood domestic violence, sexual assault, and attempted murder. However, I am going to end letting you know that I took all those negative things that happened to me and allowed God to turn my ashes into Beauty. I opened an organization that helps sexual assault and domestic violence victims. I am an inspirational and motivational speaker and share my story in hopes of building resilience in the people who hear me. I fight for a change of laws in our state and country so victims’ rights are protected. I didn’t stay stuck in the muck. I used the muck (mud) to make bricks so I could build something life-changing for God and His people.
Sometimes we are stuck in the muck of life and don’t know how to get out. We have to realize that our stories are not our identities. Something bad happened to us, but we don’t have to get stuck there. We have to focus on what is right and not what we lost in the process, start telling ourselves the truth of what God says about us, and change the next chapter of our lives. I did it. I am still working on it daily. If I did it, you can too! We can change our lives after any tragedy, one day at a time and with God by our sides.