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Redemption Even When…

 

Tears streaming, I sat and listened.  He went on to share about the past few weeks. Describing the rollercoaster of emotions and days he had endured since I suggested “the break” to pray about us and our future; I thought he would come back and fight for me.  He thought so too. What he didn’t know was the journey he was about to embark upon to seek full restoration and full healing for the final, perhaps first REAL time in his life, and the calling to step into that was immediate. 

Naturally, we left the conversation that day with a resolve to seek healing and let God take us on whatever journey we needed to go on.  Our hearts shattered in a million pieces and yet hopeful for the future – whatever God was doing. We knew God was at work, and he would certainly keep working to heal even the very broken things.

He would certainly keep working to
heal even the very broken things.

A summertime spent on my knees fighting for the freedom of a man I cared so much about. I was eventually awakened by some very hard truths and had no choice but to move forward and close that door for good.  What does a girl do when the wind is knocked out of her after the rug had already been pulled out from beneath her?  What felt like utter foolishness as flaming arrows of lies aimed at my betrayal. How could I see any redemption from this part of my story? Broken beyond words, I had to believe even then that God would continue to heal this man in his own journey.  And the thought of Jesus rescuing my heart was the only thing I could find enough courage to believe for.

In the days, weeks, and months to come I knew I couldn’t possibly begin to understand the depth of bondage or torment from shame that my ex had endured for so long.  10+ years, what began as a friend showing a friend, the enemy would latch on, and use his deception to lure in innocent eyes so they could ‘have that feeling’ just one more time.  Everytime things at school would get stressful, or fighting in the house between people he loved would happen, he would escape to that place of being wanted and needed.  The temptation to only use images once or twice a week grew bigger and stronger.  What once was a way to ‘escape reality’ with an endorphin rush of feelings and pleasure, turned into a secret beast that would haunt the daily thoughts of this young man as he aged.

Fast forward ten years of countless weeks, and sometimes months at a time, feelings of shame declaring “not worthy of love beyond the screen.” A man trapped in over his head in bondage was finally surrendering everything to have a real chance at love, life, and freedom.  The battle intensified as he decided freedom was the only thing that he wanted along with rescue for his heart.  And, while it felt like it came at the price of my heart; the redemption shows up in the journey towards health, healing, and freedom!

***

      Growing up in a Christian home, I seemed to have everything every child would need. I had the luxury of being a cheerleader and getting to experience all kinds of extra activities throughout high school. I even went to a Christian University where I just knew my dreams of transforming Hollywood would come to life.  As an adult I have a wonderful relationship with my parents, but as a teen on into my twenties I was haunted by the desire to be perfect.  For some reason, I made an agreement with a lie in my teens that I would never be worthy of love if I wasn’t skinny enough or pretty enough; and this began years of self-hatred through eating disorders and the constant need to please everyone or look perfect.

 I made an agreement with a lie in my teens that I would never
be worthy of love if I wasn’t skinny enough or pretty enough

By God’s grace, I had started to experience healing and through years of restoration, as I developed a healthier sense of self-image after college, I grew to know and understand Jesus, the love he offers without any prerequisites, and no strings attached. He just LOVES us. Without sharing too much of the in-betweens, I’ll bring you up to speed.  After years of God’s hand working both in and through my life in all sorts of amazing situations; I had come to a place where I understood I was fully loved and embraced by my Father in Heaven.  And, because of the love and freedom he offers, he was able to help me turn outward to love others who needed to know this love! Especially females who put their value and worth into the hands of men.

 

The sad part is, when you’re caught in a sea of addiction, whether it’s addiction to food, control, pride, power, drugs, alcohol, sex or images; it doesn’t matter how many people tell you how worthy you are, unless you really believe it and love yourself enough to stop in that addiction.   Hearing you are loved verses being able to receive, and know, you are loved is the thing that will cause the chasm between health and wholeness, and escaping bondage into freedom. Only a perfect love will set all of us free.

When I met my ex, thankfully through years of healing and learning how to love myself and see myself the way God saw me, I was in a healthy place.  I had learned of his struggle with pornography and thought he was getting healthy. Unfortunately for our story, the dangerous combination of him being addicted to images, and me being so wrecked by self-image; we had our struggles, but by God’s grace he covered our entire relationship with his protection.  GOD displayed himself bigger in our story BECAUSE of what he allowed at the end.  You see, because of his love for both of us; his desire for my ex to walk in true freedom, and for me to continue on my journey of seeing myself as God saw me; what the enemy meant for harm and destruction; God would turn and use ONLY for our good.

 “What the enemy meant for harm and destruction;
God would turn and use ONLY for our good.”

***

Fast forward some time, and I got the phone call asking me to consider getting involved in SHIFT – a student led initiative to fight sex-trafficking both locally and globally.  What John DeYoung, the Founder of Momentum Global and SHIFT, didn’t know was my full story.  I had shared my passion for using our voice and filmmaking abilities to make a difference in something that matters, like anti-trafficking commercials. When he asked me to pray about getting involved in a student-led initiative to fight human sex-trafficking, and then told me what SHIFT was doing for the 2nd Annual Conference; without hesitation I answered with an emphatic “YES!” (of course I would go on to pray about it too!)

You see, for me; I didn’t have the choice on whether or not I would date an addict. I don’t believe God caused the hurt that my Ex had from years of addiction. And I certainly don’t think he caused the betrayal or hurt I would go through as a result of this relationship.  What I do know is that God is sovereign, and as I had prayed at the very beginning of my relationship that I would be used for God’s glory regardless of if this man and I worked out for the future; what I believe God allowed was for me to be an instrument to help direct this man towards eventual freedom.  What the enemy meant for harm, God turned and used for good; and even today I am seeing him redeem our story with future stories we get to impact and futures of young men & women we get to pour into in hopes of having them not go down the road that leads to bondage.

 No young boy or girl thinks to themselves;
“when I grow up 
I want to become a buyer” or “I can’t wait
to become a prostitute and sell my body for sex”

Many users of porn and buyers of girls started with something simple.  I truly believe no young boy or girl thinks to themselves; “when I grow up I want to become a buyer” or “I can’t wait to become a prostitute and sell my body for sex” but I do think most young guys or girls who start to explore pornography or start to go down the road of using their bodies to generate attention and affection, it becomes that noose that’s only a matter of time until the rope is tightened and they’re lured in either by force or by bondage.

Today, as someone who has lived through just a portion of what millions have; it is my hope that by speaking into the lives of a younger generation of men and women we can prevent many from making the decisions that will forever impact their future!  By empowering younger girls to understand their identity, value and worth that comes from who they’ve been created to be, and not a sexual object. By empowering guys to use their voice to take a stand for how girls should be treated and interacted with as more than objects but precious and valuable beings.

Causing a culture SHIFT that will empower people to prevent the very things that lead to addiction and even worse, sex-trafficking. It is our time to use our voice to impact a generation that could change the statistics of future generations.  We have a lot of work to do in front of us, but we believe it starts with just one taking a stand for Freedom, Value & worth. And then another stand. And then another. . .

At the end of the day, despite the brokenness I’ve endured; my God is a healer & he has radically rescued my heart! I believe this for my ex and his journey towards freedom!  I believe healing and freedom is possible for anyone of you and redemption is possible too.  Boy oh boy is the devil going to pay for trying to take us out – just wait!  It’s going to be glorious!