My name is Holly.
I have always felt small. I am shy, quiet and tend to exist invisibly in a chaotic world. I was raised in a Christian home but my little girl heart did not escape the pain this world holds. Sexual abuse led my heart to believe lies that I was somehow damaged, dirty and broken. I allowed myself to live for others expectations and hated myself when I fell short of those expectations. Shame and threats kept my heartbreak a secret but it influenced my sense of self worth. I knew the shameful sorrow of abortion before I was old enough to ever become a mother. I knew shame.
As I grew older, I found myself living for good grades as an attempt to cover the disappointment I felt in myself. But behind the academics, I gave my body over to boys and men. My heart wasn’t worth protecting. I expressed my pain through cuts that decorated my arms and legs.
And when that was not enough, I lost myself in my artwork. Pencil drawings and acrylic paint that told the story no one else knew. My college years brought men twice my age to my bed, and alcohol became my escape. I convinced myself that my only purpose in life was to be used by men. I did not value myself enough to protect my heart from further damage. And furthermore, the farther I fell, the more I believed that God couldn’t possibly see me. And if he could, He’d want nothing to do with me.
At 20, i became determined to become a good person in an attempt to earn God’s love. I found myself involved in church, school events and doing everything “right”, but one fall night my nightmare resurfaced. I was walking out to my car from work around 2:30 in the morning when I was attacked and raped by a stranger. When he was done, he held a gun underneath my chin and every little piece of me willed him to pull that trigger. How was I supposed to live after that? The belief that I had no purpose but to be used by men was confirmed. If I even cried out to God, I believed that he’d be just as ashamed of me as I was. But something went through that mans head and he got up, ran away and disappeared. So I got up too, and forced my life into survival mode. A year went by and the smile and mask became such a burden. I was literally dying on the inside. I got up one morning, fled the safety of my dorm room and got in my car and drove with every intention of crashing my car. I wanted to die. After a very long drive, I pulled over and just cried. God intervened that day in a powerful way. He showered me with text messages from my church family that poured love into me without any one of them realizing where I was at.
That day I was invited to attend a meeting for an international woman’s ministry called LeadHer which completely transformed my life. I found a place where I could pour out in painful honesty the broken pieces of my heart and I was surrounded by prayer, encouragement, acceptance and love. The months following that first meeting, I developed friendships that became my support system and my family- and I began to pursue God. What I never expected was realizing that God was already pursuing me. I discovered that His love for me was unconditional. And that I had a purpose which was not to be used by men, but to be used by God.
I am still quiet and shy but that part of me is very different than it used to be. God has opened so many doors for me to share my story and to share my heart. He is using me for things that my mind can hardly grasp but every moment is an adventure that is worth taking. And every moment is a reminder of how much my Heavenly Father loves me. I cling to His promise in Isaiah 43:1-4 “…Fear not for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you..”
I live my life with the confidence that I belong to my Daddy God who loves me, who sees me, and who has redeemed me. I know that I am small, but it’s not about how small or big I am, it’s about how big God is.