I Gave Jesus My Pain
My school years were plagued with frequent flashbacks and panic attacks, followed by long periods of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The doctors said these issues were the result of being molested throughout my childhood by a very close family friend.
My father worked with him for years. My family enjoyed his company, and we all spent a lot of time together. When I was six, he molested me on a camping trip. He continued molesting me on camping trips over the next three years.
The night at the Gauntlet that Perry spoke about sex was the night that changed my life.
My parents believed me when I disclosed what happened right before my 9th birthday. They took the necessary legal actions and were always supportive of me. Knowing that they trusted me and valued me enough to say “my child is more important than our relationship with this man” was huge because I didn’t even value myself anymore. At first I didn't understand what the abuser was doing, but after it was explained, I just felt used and jaded.
Trying to Recover
My parents poured time, energy, and money into my recovery, but I didn’t get completely better. Certain things would trigger panic attacks: the smell of the kind of soap he used, organ music (he had been the organist at our church), and even simply being away from my parents. I didn’t go to a sleepover for two years.
The counselors gave me different methods to cope: relaxation techniques, trying to distract myself, keeping myself busy. They helped, but there was still a void in my heart. Through my junior year I still suffered migraines and nausea from the PTSD.
Sick of the Struggle
When I heard about NewSpring's Gauntlet summer camp in Daytona Beach, I felt like God wanted me to go for reasons unknown to me. And the night at the Gauntlet that Perry spoke about sex was the night that changed my life. He said sex isn’t just physical and used rape as an example. He then told over 2,000 students that he was molested.
How could Perry have the courage to do that in front of so many people, when I couldn’t come to terms with it myself? I realized that it was because he wasn’t relying on his own strength.
Despite asking Jesus into my life around age 7, I was never willing to fully turn my struggles over to Him. I was drained physically, emotionally, and spiritually — exhausted from trying to do it on my own for almost ten years. I finally gave up.
Healed in His Strength
When the invitation was given, I needed to pray with someone, so I found a leader. I told him my story and said that I wanted to stop relying on my own strength, and we began to pray. I said "I’m giving this to You, Jesus.” And I felt Him say, “Ok. I can handle this. Give it to Me.” It was as though it finally clicked with me that only Jesus could bring full and complete healing to my heart.
I was liberated. Immediately I began weeping. I had taken the most important step in my healing process. God wanted me to go to the Gauntlet to finally surrender the hurt, the pain, the anxiety, the depression, the flashbacks, and the shame over to Jesus.
Now when memories arise I just pray and ask Jesus to strengthen me. Knowing He’s on my side helps me so much. He took my pain, so I don’t have to struggle with it anymore.
Committed to My Calling
Before the Gauntlet, Perry talked about how to discover God’s calling for your life. I realized my calling: to be a counselor for those who have been sexually abused. Because I have experienced the healing that Jesus has to offer for those who have known the pain of sexual abuse, I am absolutely sold out to God’s calling for me. Through the Gauntlet, Jesus changed my life.