Hi loves- so be warned, this is a really long story......
I mean, realllllyy long.
But it's a story I've been wanting to tell for the longest time and haven't had the guts to type it all out.
Because our lives are woven together by common threads that connect us from season to season, this story has to be in parts.
Part 1: The Penny.
My father is an amazing man with so many wonderful qualities. One of his quirks, however, is that he loves to send chain emails. The kind of emails that are titled, “is God in the white house” or “60 puppies to brighten your day.” On one particular day my sophomore year of college my dad had sent me an email that told a story about a millionaire who was walking through the city with his friend. The two men passed a $100 bill on the side of the road, then soon after they passed a penny. The millionaire bent down to pick up the penny. In confusion, his friend asked, “you’re a millionaire, why did you stop to pick up a penny?” The millionaire simply stated, “because I wouldn’t be a millionaire without one hundred million pennies.” The story appropriately was followed by: share this with 10 people you find valuable or you will be poor the rest of your life. Well, whether my dad was a sucker and forwarded it to 10 people, or he simply just wanted to send it to me, it ended up in my inbox and subsequently never left my heart. I began to see pennies everywhere. Something else you need to know about me is that I doubted my worth growing up like it was my job. From my beauty, to my talents, to my friendships, relationships, anything and everything; I had no value in my own eyes. But with this image of a millionaire stopping to recognize the value of a mere penny and actually appreciating it, something clicked in my spirit, and because we have such an amazingly sweet and tender God, every moment that I began to doubt my worth I would see a penny. It was uncanny. And every time I saw a penny I was flooded, even if just for a moment, with the truth that I was valuable to the Lord. For the last four years or so, close friends of mine began to show me love through pennies and it has served for an amazing memory stone of my value and just how much I’m worth.
Part 2: The Little Girl that Messed Up.
Let’s just say, that my track record isn’t squeaky clean. Who’s is, you say? True. I’m not at all saying I’ve messed up more than anyone else, please know that, and please know that I am aware of the situations where I was completely victimized, but I am a warrior. I am a powerful woman of the Lord who’s light radiates brighter than any scar I have on me from my past. With that said, I’ve processed through some things that have played a huge role in understanding the depths of the Lord’s heart that I do now. Some of my first memories as a kid were sexual. I had a good friend in grade school that I would always have sleepovers with who kissed me one night that I slept over, I was molested by my sisters boyfriend when I was in middle school and he was in high school, I had an abusive boyfriend in high school who took advantage of me multiple times, as well as sprinkling in a handful of poor decisions on my part with different guys. Long story short, I didn’t know my worth and wanted to find it anywhere as well as showing myself that I did have the power, no matter how many times I had been taken advantage of. I got into a better group of people and didn’t have many more heavy situations until later in college. I had a serious boyfriend for about three years, and while it was a great relationship, it ultimately wasn’t the right one for either of us to choose. Unfortunately, the two of us had made the mistake of not being wise and we ended up sleeping with each other. This really did something in my spirit, because when we broke up any doubt or fear that I had no value or worth came flooding back. Any pain from feeling used, or feeling of defeat from constantly doing things I didn’t want to do was more overwhelming than ever and I flung myself into a few rough months. In that time, a friend from my past came to visit me in college, and long story short, in a trusted environment where he was welcomed and invited, he raped me.
I say all of that not to delve into the mess of my mistakes, but simply to show the process that got me to where I was. Everything hit all at once, and I turned to Jesus, received my grace, and shut every emotion off. I treated it like a business deal that was done and I could move on to the next order of business.
A few months later I had graduated college and began a job at Grace Fellowship Church in Snellville, Ga and felt like I could breathe again for the first time in a year. I felt like I could wipe out the mess and just start somewhere new. Not long into the summer, a man named Chris Moerman was speaking on a Sunday morning about the wisdom of the proverbs and the stories of Hagar and Tamar in terms of making mistakes and having things done to you that were unjust and un-welcomed but that somewhere in there we are given the grace and freedom to breathe life into ourselves and the people we have sown death into our lives with. I can’t explain it any other way than simply to say that I felt like I wanted to throw up, cry, dance, and hide all at the same time.
I wept all through that service and left knowing I needed to have a few really tough conversations with some people. So, I did. And Jesus is so good. But, then it came time for me to call the guy that raped me, because remember, he was at once a friend. The conversation could not have gone any worse, he could not have been more immature, and I was so angry. But, for the first time I felt like I was able to let it go just a little.
I titled this part “The Little Girl who Messed Up” because at the time that’s how felt. It wasn’t until later did I realize that I’m in fact the little girl Satan messed with, the little girl that was bullied and Jesus stepped in for.
Part 3: Bethel School of Worship – Redding, Ca.
A year went on from the time I had that last conversation until one Sunday morning that next summer. I was a few days away from leaving home for a few weeks to head to Redding, California to be a student at Bethel’s School of Worship. The same man, Chris Moerman, was speaking at my church again about having the mark of a disciple that is a lover. Holy Spirit began to speak to me that I was only as good of a lover of others as the lack of anger I had in my heart. I didn’t realize how much anger I had for the time I was raped. In that moment, I realized that I hadn’t cried about it in a year and was simply just suppressing anger that I had for him, but was also very aware that I had no desire to let that go. The woman who disciples me said to me that night that I had a grid in my mind where I compartmentalized things, and until I made a place for every time God spoke, or I shattered the grid completely, that I wouldn’t be able to really move on from this. I had no idea how to do that., but I felt that if I forgave him, he would win, and how could my God want that for me?
One week later: Bethel School of Worship Day one, morning one, session one, in walks Kris Vallotton. I honestly don’t know what he started talking about, because a few minutes in he said he felt the spirit was leading him this way and he began to talk about forgiveness. He said that one of the main things that blocks us from the breakthrough that we want, is our lack of forgiveness over others. He then stopped for a moment to collect himself, and make sure that he wanted to say his next point, and then he quietly explained, “women, if you’ve been raped, you’re foolish to trust that person again and let them back in your life. But you’re just as foolish, if not more, to not forgive them. You’re holding a spiritual block over their life. Do you know that if you forgive them it doesn’t mean they win?”
My heart sank. I felt the presence of the Lord all over me while everything in me melted.
He then told those of us to needed to forgive someone to stand, to which I out loud said, “nope.” He almost continued before stopping himself to correct his previous request and commanded us who wanted to actually forgive someone to stand.
Suddenly, somehow, I was standing.
With my hand over my heart I could feel it racing. Weeping while Kris instructed, I whispered these words:
[his name] I forgive you for what you did to me. I release you. I give you permission to live a happy life, free of my hold over you.
Self, I release you. I forgive you. I give you permission to live a happy life, free of the hold I have kept you under.
And just like that, Kris was done and onto his original topic. Completely wrecked, I saw myself outside to thank Father for softening my heart and releasing me from myself. For the first time, I felt truly free from the weight this held over me, and from any mark that had been on my life from it.
Part 4: The Tattoo
During the previous year I had already decided that I was going to get a penny tattoo. Since there is no time like the present, I decided to get it in Redding. The artist was a previous BSSM student in Redding who’s wife was a previous student as well and the second I walked in the door, she saw me and her spirit affirmed through a word of knowledge that The Lord had healed me.
Later, on the last day of the worship school, Jen Johnson had a word for our 800-person class that she saw a penny stuck to a mirror and that the Lord was saying not to doubt our worth and to not despise small beginnings. Later, I got to talk to Jen about what the Penny meant to me and she had me share and release the truth of my worth and their worth over our entire class. I shared my story and the story of Hagar in the dessert where God meets her face to face and she gives him the name El Roi meaning The God who Sees. He saw me, he sees me, and I am the servant girl banished to the desert who is held in a place of authority and honor to give God a name.
At the end our send-off prayer tunnel, Jen placed a penny in my hand and said, “penny girl, this is your trophy. Don’t ever forget your worth.” Then, Holy Spirit whispered to me:
This is the trophy you can carry from the battlefield to the bedroom, see this penny and remember that I healed you. Remember your worth, and that you have something to fight for again.
I fell to my knees in thankfulness that Father loves me so much to heal me and give me something to fight for again.
Part 5: Bethel Atlanta
It’s been about two years since I was raped, and the Lord has done nothing but show me love, grace, compassion, tenderness, mercy, and healing. A week or so ago I got a phone call from a number I didn’t know, and it ended up being the guy who raped me. He said he knew he didn’t deserve it, but he asked if he could have a minute of my time. The Lord gave me the peace to say yes, so I let him say to me whatever he needed to. He started to thank me for being grace to him always, for forgiving him when he didn’t deserve it, and apologized for what he did to me. He then went on to tell me that he had found Jesus and started to truly hear the voice of God over the summer, mind you, the same time I had finally forgiven him, released him, and released myself to be free.
Part 6: The Key.
When I got back from California, I had recently heard about The Giving Keys through a few friends, looked into it and fell in love. At the time you had the Worthy key from So Worth Loving. The word worthy and the idea of worth obviously means so much to me and so I couldn't NOT get that key immediately. Within all of this - I met an amazing girl named Shelby that I have been able to love and share this story with, and a few months ago I was able to share this entire story with her, encourage her in her worth, remind her of who she is, and give her my key. The key to knowing your worth, is knowing that you HAVE worth and that our worth is not made up of a string of crap that we've done or that has been done to us. Our worth exists because we do, our worth is impenetrable because it is golden, and there is nothing we can do to wreck ourselves so much that we aren't worthy of love, acceptance, joy, peace, or freedom.
My heart is heavy writing this story, because I can barely comprehend the glory, grace, and power the Lord has to write and re-write the pages of my life that I have screwed up and made ugly. Father loves my ugly. He is faithful to redeem. He is a God of restoration and the hero who stepped in for me, the little girl who Satan bullied. I am not the little girl who messed up that Father is upset with. My radiance in him out-shines any scar that has marked me because he is powerful and loving enough to heal me. I'm so thankful that I have this key to freedom and that I was not only able to physically give that away, but that I can release that for the rest of my life.
Yes and amen.