“This will not define your life Stephanie. It doesn’t have to. It’s just a part of who you are, not all of who you are.”
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this, but I’ve heard it a lot. From different people in different places. All well meaning, but none with voices I could hear.
Because it felt like it defined me. It felt like it made every decision of every day. It kept me from looking the grocery store clerk in the eye, or walking into a meeting with confidence. It robbed me of feeling like a good wife or a good mom. It caused me to second guess myself constantly. And so when people would say it didn’t define my life, I would politely nod-smile-and agree, but inside I wanted to scream, “you have no ******* idea!”
And then it happened to my daughter. Not the same thing, but I saw her get hurt in a very real way. And I wanted to punch God in the face.
Why her God? Was it not enough to punish me? Can you not take your wrath out on me? Why her? She did nothing wrong.
Because if I am honest, for a long long time, I felt like I did something wrong to get raped. And even after correcting that distortion – the feeling hung on. And then I attached to her.
All I could see were years and years of therapy. Her standing in the checkout line experiencing panic and wondering what everyone around her was thinking. Her sacrificing her gift of dancing at the alter of anxiety and depression. It seemed so unfair.
And then someone said the phrase. The familiar phrase. The phrase I had heard countless times before.
Stephanie, it sure would be a shame if she saw this as something that defined her life, because it doesn’t.
And I don’t know what was different. Maybe it was that it was projected towards her instead of me. Perhaps it was easier for me to look at her with a hope and future than it was for myself. But for whatever reason, the same old familiar words rung with a different tune. They made sense, not just on a head level, but to my heart. It was as if she said,
Sweet friend – this has never defined you – and your shame didn’t shake loose and attach itself to her either – it doesn’t define either one of you. It wasn’t her fault, and it wasn’t your fault – you are both set free. Shame has no power here. It doesn’t get to win. This does not, will not, and can not define you. You both are daughters of the One True King. And you are already amazing.
Like I said, I don’t know what was different. Maybe my heart was just in a place where it was ready to hear. Perhaps the pain of staying in the same old bondage just seemed to heavy to bear any longer, and it finally seemed easier to just let go. For her, and for me.
And as I thumbed these thoughts through the chapters of my brain, old words from a hymn came to mind…
My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus’ name.
It’s a sweet frame to know this doesn’t define me – or her – or anyone who has been through trauma. But I have to be real and also know even though I feel set free today, there are going to be days in the future where my feelings shift. Because that’s what feelings do, they change. And so if I build my frame, my trust, my hope on anything other than the truth of Christ – the frame will shift along with my emotions or circumstances.
So the sweet words of truth that God allowed to pierce my heart have to ground themselves in Christ. I have to know…
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
All that defines me is Jesus. All that defines my daughter is Jesus. All that defines you is Jesus. We have faith, hope, love, confidence, and freedom in and through Him. And no matter what her emotions do, or my own, or yours, this truth cannot change. It is the sweetest frame that we can trust. We can bet the farm on it, and then some. It’s hard core ya’ll.
Whatever happened to you – no matter how ugly – there’s a new structure waiting to take over. He longs to take what happened and speak life into it and beyond it, so that nothing has the power to hold you back any longer. You are set free. And that’s a sweet frame.
My friend Amber James does some amazing jewelry. Seriously, I love it ya’ll. The other day she came up with a necklace called the sweetest frame. And since I was working on this blog post, I thought it would be the perfect time for a giveaway.
I am giving away one $30 credit to Amber James store which can be found here: http://the-antlered-rose.myshopify.com. To enter to win, leave a comment on this post, or the two posts below this one. Share some truth Christ is speaking to you. Maybe something He is working on in your life, or a favorite verse – just whatever is on your heart. I will email the winner Friday August 7th, so you have until then to enter!