In case you missed it, I recently went public with my story— all of it. My homework for counseling this past week after all of that happened was to write a letter to that former version of myself, back when everything happened and I felt like all hope was lost. This is what I wrote. It’s my prayer that this letter might encourage you and help you find your own words of grace and kindness and love to speak to your former self, too.
Dear former Me—
You are loved. I know your world feels shattered tonight. I know you feel like everything is ruined, like you are now ruined. I know you feel alone and abandoned and so, so scared… but you are so loved. There is nothing you could ever do to make that untrue. There is nothing that could ever be done to you to make that untrue.
I know you feel like all hope is lost and nothing will ever be okay again, that you’re stuck with him and this shame forever… but hear me: it gets better. I know it seems impossible. I know. But he is not the end of your story. What he did is not the end of your story. Nothing that happened is beyond God's love and grace and forgiveness.
He can set you free.
He will set you free.
Believe me, He will.
And it will be beautiful in ways you can’t even begin to imagine now.
I wish I could take it all away from you or speed time up to get you through it all sooner somehow, but I also think it all plays out in a way that is powerful even though it is painful. There is redemption in it. There is beauty in it. There is hope in it. What the Lord does in and through you in the years between then and now is stunning.
He completely transforms everything. He never gives up. He never condemns. He never turns away. He is with you, always. His heart breaks as yours does. He hurts just as you hurt. He is angry just as you are angry. He is broken just as you are broken. He hates the evil you experience.
And He heals you. He restores you. He restores your family. He restores your peace, your joy, your confidence. He makes you into a new creation, and His redeeming, transformative work never stops, never will.
So much good is coming. You can’t even begin to imagine.
I won’t lie and say it will be easy, but who God transforms you into is someone you will be so proud of.
She is strong.
She is brave.
She is softer.
She is honest.
She is open.
She is at peace.
She forgives more freely, loves more deeply, laughs more easily.
She is beautiful.
She is beloved.
Sweet, sweet girl… take heart. Your Savior, Your God, He has overcome the world and everything in it. This is not the end. Your life is not over. God has not given up on you. Your parents still love you and they always will, even though you are afraid right now that they won’t. So many people are in your corner, even though you feel alone right now. You aren’t alone. You won’t be cut off or shunned or pushed away. You won’t walk this road by yourself.
You will be surrounded by so many incredible people. Their love will help heal you, help you be strong, help you see the goodness of God in all of this. You will find a community you never dreamed was possible. You will find you can love again, be loved again, discover wonder and joy and goodness all over again. It will be glorious.
You will not be the same girl you once were.
But she will be loved.
And you are loved now.
The road to finding freedom and peace and healing is long and hard and messy, but you will get there by the grace of God.
He is so good.
He is faithful.
He loves you wildly.
I know you are hurt and angry and lost and broken right now, and you are allowed to be. Feel those things as you need to. Your hurt and your pain are real and they are valid.
But don’t give up.
Hold on to hope.
Freedom is coming. It is.
New mercies are in each new morning. He will be your strength and shield, your peace and comfort.
I’m so proud of you. I know you can’t even fathom that right now. But it’s true— I’m so very proud of you and who you are and who you will be and who you have been from the start.
I love you so much. Even now, when you feel like love is the last thing you deserve after everything that has happened, I love you. I do. Every little piece of you, even the things you don’t want to admit or acknowledge or let anybody see.
I’m so sorry you have to go through this. I’m still angry at the evil and hurt you have endured and will endure for far too long, but I also rejoice in knowing that the evil does not win. The darkness does not win. That boy— that abuser— does not win. This is not the end of your story.
You are a conqueror.
You are beloved. You always will be.
You are not alone. You never will be.
I love you always.
Carry on, brave one.