Foreward: Flawless

“There’s got to be more, than going back and forth, from doing right to doing wrong, ‘Cause we were taught that’s who we are. Come on get in line right behind me, You along with everybody, thinking there’s worth in what you do. Then Like a hero who takes the stage when we’re on the edge of our seats saying it’s too late. Well let me introduce you to amazing Grace.”  Flawless, MercyMe

Here we are.  All the questions have been asked, and rarely answered.  Many ask me why?  Why would you put all of this out there for the whole world to see?  Why can’t you just move on, some ask.  Well let me introduce you to Grace.

“If your life were a Hollywood movie, most people would walk out before the end”.  I remember the day Dr. Petit said that to me.  Those were the days I was not taking care of myself.  Drinking water was rare and eating was even more rare.  By that time I had found my ability to cry, but my dehydrated body only yielded tears without salt but ones that still clouded my vision as I stared at him when he told me that.  I think that was the first time I realized that maybe you need to know this story; these stories; this body of work, or perhaps the word is trauma; but more importantly the word I am looking to share with you is HEALING.

“No matter the bumps, no matter the bruises, no matter the scars, still the truth is the cross has made you flawless.  No matter the hurt, or how deep the wound is, not matter the pain, still the truth is the cross has made you flawless.” 

There were many years I would have thought that those who asked (or are asking) those questions were correct.  Why, why would I unearth all of this, and does anybody care anyway?  For the better part of 3 decades I lived on the precipice of life and death.  I would ever never taken my life on purpose; too many people would have been hurt.  But had you told me during any of those times that I was going to die; I would have been okay with that.

You see, I didn’t understand that the same God that I claimed to love and trust was the One that gave everything for me.  The price He paid on the cross covered all of it.  All of the abuse.  All of the hurt.  All of the unspeakable disgusting acts that were perpetrated on me at any given age; some of which I’ve yet to articulate to another human being.  I had long claimed Paul’s verse in Phillippians as my life’s verse.  In the first chapter, the 12th verse, Paul writes to the church “The things that have happened to me have really served to advance the gospel”

So, that is why I am doing this.  I want that verse to be true about me; I want it to be true about my life; I want it to be true of what did happen to me; what didn’t happen to me; what I did have; what I didn’t have–but most importantly the healing that came out of nowhere and literally blindsided me.

You will notice that I use a lot of music in my writings.  Perhaps this is not traditional, but there were so many times that music ministered to me more than church or the Bible.  So, forgive the many musical references and for those of you who share my love for music, you are welcome. 🙂

So, to my critics, or just those who love me and don’t want me to bring more pain into my life, I will steal the words from this song to explain to you why the time is now to do this.

“There is a time to hold your tongue time to keep your head down, there is time but it’s not now.  Sometimes you got to go uninvited, sometimes you got to speak when you don’t have the floor sometimes you got to move when everybody else says you should stay.  You got to ask if you want an answer, sometimes you gotta stand apart from the crowd,  long before your heart could run the risk, your were born for this.” Born For This, Mandisa

There will be difficult parts for you to read.  I would like to warn any of you who have been a victim to abuse in any form to consider consulting with a professional before you read my story.  While there is so much healing, some of what you read here can be triggering to you.  For the rest of you, my hope is that you will come to know and love the Only One Who got me here; and all the people He used to do it.  Some of you will be able to help others after reading my story.  Some of you will be helped because you will recognize the emotions but more importantly, you will know that there is a way out; that there is a place where the “hurt and the Healer collide”

“Could it possibly be that we simply can’t believe that this unconditional kind of love would be enough to take a filthy wretch like this and wrap him up in righteousness?…..Let me introduce you to Grace, Grace, God’s Grace”

So, here we go:

In a letter to a judge Dr. Petit wrote these words:

“In my 30 years of practice, Amy’s (sic) PTSD has been the most severe requiring medication, talk therapy and state of the art post trauma reduction therapies.  Her working through these multi-factorial traumatic abuses is nothing short of heroic.  She has fought courageously and continually to achieve the levels of health and function that she enjoys today”

I am not sure about the heroic part of the courageous part; but I do want to start my story with his definition of me NOW versus 6 years ago, though he still maintains that people would walk out of a movie about my life.  Here’s hoping that won’t be true about this book.  It is a story of ridiculous healing, amazing redemption & journey back to life after abuse, neglect & abandonment–it’s God’s story, may He be glorified!

The Center C

11111081_10152858530472204_6574320571921383640_o (Photo Cred Tomas Turner) Crushed. Conflicted. Confused. These are all words that describe my thoughts, and emotions regarding my alma mater closing. I am able to visit those emotions, again, as I type them. I find myself sitting at my computer, in front of a TV, or on the dock starring out into space; trying to make sense of it all. I desperately cling to whatever song will shuffle next on my phone when I am in the car. As the miles click by in my aimless driving around, I find myself more and more confused, and then there are those tears from nowhere, again. Speaking at the final service was surreal. I had not experienced anything like that day before and part of me thinks I probably never will again. As I was being introduced to speak, I literally could not swallow. My next memory is walking off the stage. It was as if I wasn’t there, at all. I have had the chance to go back and watch it and certainly hope that the Lord was uplifted to all of you who were also looking for a definition for the way you are feeling. I am glad they didn’t have the dorms open for us to visit. It was difficult walking into Cathcart Hall. Some of my best memories in the world occurred in that building with some of my (still) best friends in the world. Seeing Ben Puckett lead the service, with amazing composure was incredible. I closed my eyes and remained silent during all 4 stanza’s of “Holy, Holy, Holy” partly because I can’t sing, but mostly because the sweet tradition and the beautiful sound of parts being added one stanza at a time. Hearing Kris give a testimony with her patented sweetness in her voice and smile on her face was extraordinarily difficult. I knew the road she has ahead of her. Watching people take sports jerseys from the gym was hard. Driving off campus was brutal. I pulled over to the side because I did not want to make that turn onto Gulf to Bay. Cars began to line up behind me, as many felt the same as I. Some were taking pictures and others were just sitting in their cars, waiting for, perhaps, the ability to drive through the tears. I finally did turn onto Gulf to Bay, but I refused to look in the rear view mirror. It turns out that my emotions or reactions to this are not unique to me. I never thought they were.   But, I find myself grasping at a way to process all of it, and sometimes I still find my jaw dropped, like it did when I first got the news. And then I hear that still small voice; the voice the represents the center “C” in the name of our beloved alma mater. And now I am responsible to do something with that message, but for now I am grateful for the reminder of why we all loved this place so much; Jesus resided there with us and He was so important to the founders that they put His name in the name of the college; in the center. While we had some precious memories as students, I think we all can agree that under any administration it was the college’s desire and goal to keep Christ centered there and to teach us to keep Him centered in our lives. So, as our little college on the Gulf of Mexico has closed it’s doors, I for one am grateful, that I was taught the importance of the center “C”—and when I forget that and make Him anything but first in my life; there are always consequences. I did that after school and had severe consequences for not keeping Him in the center of my life. There were a lot of people there that day. My hope is that the final chapel served as a reminder to keep Him in the center of our lives. It was evident that some people there had been through difficult times since leaving our little school. I wonder if we asked them what sustained them through difficult times what they would say. I wonder if they (I) can see through the pain and suffering and remember Him for Who He is. He is the Alpha; He is the Omega; He is all- knowing; He is all- powerful; He is everywhere.   He is the same yesterday, today and forever. So, yes, He is here during this very dark time for countless people. We have to remember the center “C”—that is the only way we can get through this; it is the only way we can get through life. It’s hard to understand that the same God Who ordained and sustained the school for 50 years is the same God Who ordained it’s closing. It is an incredibly hard pill to swallow; as hard truth often is. Yet it is comforting to know that He is here to comfort us; to provide for us; and to sustain us. The closing of the school equates loss for most of us. Whether it be the loss of a job; the loss of a place to go to college this year; the loss of driving by that beautiful campus and feel the alumni pride; or the loss of a good friend who has to move away; a piece of our hearts is gone. Ironically, the closing of the school has reminded me that HE is the only thing that NEVER CHANGES. He is the One Who will always be there for us. He desires relationship with us; He loves us unconditionally; and He grieves with us. If we are to live a life abandoned to Him, then we are reminded that often means sacrifice; it often means pain; and it always means that Christ is the center of our lives. Not unlike the center “C” in the college we love so much. Our anthem now is to remember we were commissioned from college to shine a light on Jesus; to be a picture of Jesus; to follow Jesus and to make Him the center of our lives and to teach others to do the same. “Oh Christ be the center of our lives; be the place we fix our eyes; Be the center of our lives. And You’re the center of the Universe, Everything was made in You, Jesus Breath on every living thing; Everyone as made for You. And we lift our eyes to heaven, and we wrap our lives around Your life; we lift our eyes to heaven, to You. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face; and the things on Earth will go strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace”–Charlie Hall

Comforted. Challenged. Charged. That is how I feel now.