A few years ago a young woman was sexually assaulted on the Stanford campus. She was unconscious at the time of her assault. Two men on their bikes were riding by and noticed that something unusual was happening, they dropped their bikes and ran to her, stopping the assailant. She was rushed to the hospital and did not wake up until the next morning. Her life, of course, was never the same. She couldn't remember what happened that night, but her body had the physical evidence that someone had used her body without her consent. This young woman has written a memoir about her experience. She was catapulted into a completly different life, one of lawyers, investigators, recovery, and courtrooms. She was taken to the brink of her identity, and she had to choose to overcome! She was given an anonymous name for her own protection, and now that she has released her memoir, she has also released her true name. Chanel Miller.
Chanel has become an advocate for women. Through her experience she quickly came to understand that women are not treated with the respect that God intended for them. When women experience abuse they are often blamed for the crime that happened to them. Careless words are thrown at them, lies that become internalized and challenge the core of who they were created to be. Questions of blame swirl around them such as "Why didn't you run?" "Were you drinking?" "What were you wearing?" This was her experience.
Now, years later, the man that assaulted her served 90 days in jail, and is now free. Yet, she has served years within the prison of her mind.
Her process, the long journey back to herself, reminded me of all of us. His crime also reminded me of the incredible forgiveness each of us have been offered and given. Many people were outraged that this man only served 90 days for a crime that was violent, invasive, and wrong. How could this be fair?
As I've considered this God continues to remind me of His Gift. In my own life I've struggled with the actions of others towards me, and also my own actions towards them. Why didn't I walk away? What was I thinking? How could my trust have been so betrayed? Who am I?
Walking through the pages of our lives isn't always easy. It requires some difficult turns and choices. Sometimes it demands a fight, other times complete surrender. Acceptance of where we are pokes at our existance, and others times acceptance is not an option. Truth can hang out just around the corner as lies wedge themselves deep within us. Nothing is easy! Yet, we still get to choose the direction of our hearts and minds. This has been my fountain of refreshment.
As children of God there is a blanket of forgiveness that covers us. The blood of Jesus, bright and crimson, wrote "Forgiven" on His elect. "Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us." Romans 8:33-34. Wow! this is hope.
Not everyone chooses to be God's elect, but when they do, this also applies to them. Not everyone knows of the gift offered to them. I haven't always known. I haven't always believed that He created me as strong, worthy, loved, chosen. His royal child, forgiven. Many are walking around without this information, living lies that fold into crime, pain, death. We choose to serve a sentence, rather then reach out for freedom.
The prison we live in inside our minds is far more confining than any real place. The punishing words we tell ourselves, the lack of belief in the blood of freedom, the diminshed hope of eternal life. We sometimes treat ourselves like a crimanal, locking ourselves away for years. Then, when we are released we feel the punishment was not long enough, failing to see that what Jesus did opened the prison door from the beginning, we just chose not to walk out. Believe me, I've sat inside the door, refusing to live in freedom.
It feels like this post is rambly, and maybe not even getting my point fully across. But, I leave you with the question, are you living within the bars of your own mind? Does guilt, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, lies, etc hold you in there? What choice can you make today to begin your walk towards freedom?