Because You’re a Survivor

I sensed her whimper before I heard it. My eyes sought her out the moment the words were spoken aloud. I watched them register. Watched her flinch away, closing her eyes against the memory. And all I wanted to do in that moment was wrap her up in my arms, clamp my hands over her ears and whisper, “You didn’t hear that, baby.”

But she did hear it, and nothing I could do would remove those words that had already dug their sharp claws into her fragile heart.

If time could be rewound, I would have spared her that reminder that stabbed like knives into an already bleeding heart. But then, if time could be rewound, she’d go back a month and make it so that there was nothing to be remembered. No tragedy would befall a girl who held all of time in her hands. But the only place time rewinds is in her eyes where she relives the moment for the hundredth time.

And I realize that she will always be this way. She will always cringe as certain words—certain sights and smells and sounds—send her back to that moment of helplessness and despair. And even if I could have sheltered her in that moment, I can’t shelter her forever. And the hardest thing is realizing that she doesn’t even know what it means to be sheltered anymore.

And as she drowns in the depths of her pain, these are the lyrics that beat in my heart:

Baby, baby, you deserve so much more than a lifetime of being trapped in that moment where the victim song became a familiar melody to you. You deserve to be sheltered a little bit longer—just a little bit longer.

You weren’t meant to be an empty shell, broken and haunted by events that were always beyond your control—even when you were in the thick of them, they were beyond your control. You were meant to sing. Loudly. And you were born to dance. Freely. And you were always made for shining your light even when you’re shining all on your own.

And I know it isn’t fair that you’re the one who has to relight the candles when the whole world has gone dark, but, baby, can’t you see that you’re the only one brave enough to rekindle the flame? And I would wrap you up in my arms and carry you the rest of the way, but I think your legs are actually stronger than mine if you’ll only remember how to use them. And I know the world has been rocking crazy here of late, but you’re more sure-footed than you realize. And you—you know the way. Even in the dark, you’ll find your way.

I’ll be here to hold your hand if you need me. I would never expect you to try to navigate this life all on your own. But, girl, if you’re looking for someone who will simply cry with you, you’ve turned to the wrong arms. Because that’s not what you need. It may be what you think you want, but it’s not what you need.

And mine will always be the voice that whispers, “Girl, you’ve got this. I know you’ve got this.”

Because you’re a survivor; not a victim.

There are no victims here.

And maybe I can hold you while the world rocks crazy, but, baby, you can take it from here.

you can take it from here

You Have My Permission

It was the day I failed her. The day I ran out of words and didn’t know what to do. The day she reached out to me, and I brushed her off because I felt incapable of helping her. That was the day I left my tears on my steering wheel and walked into Bible study with my head held high. And wouldn’t you know that would also be the day our small group leader would single me out. The day he would remind my friends, “Rebekah’s not perfect. Rebekah has tears.”

I hated those tears and how they flowed in that moment. Hated that he had chosen this night to point out my weaknesses, as if he knew how badly I had wronged her.

That was the night we all became real. The night we apologized for not seeing when another was hurting because we were all too self-absorbed to notice that needs existed outside of our own. That’s the night my friend said to me what I should have said to my friend whom I had failed a mere hour before.

“I’m sorry,” he confessed. “I’m sorry.”

Then he told me why. Explained how I had always seemed so above him because he had a past I could never possibly understand. “And that’s ridiculous,” he said. “I should have known…”

And that was my permission… To be free. To be vulnerable. To show that I have weaknesses and prove that I have scars. To not be the strong one for once in my life.

There I sat among a group of my peers who were seeking the Lord together. Some of us had walked with God all our lives. Some of us had only recently found Him. Some of us were by all appearances “perfect,” while others had a past that would make you cringe. But not one of us was better than another. Not one of us had reason to be either proud or ashamed. Because not one of us was free of struggles, temptation, or trials.

We’ve all failed at one point or another. We’ve all found ourselves on our knees, begging for forgiveness.

So how is it that we forget that even our saints are struggling? How is it that we neglect to reach out to those among us who are hurting? And why is it that we hide the depths of our pain behind a thin veneer of perfection?

This is me apologizing for all the times you’ve been overlooked. All the times someone has seen you without ever stopping to imagine what heartache you may be experiencing.

And this is me giving you permission to be honest and vulnerable and free. Because I know what it is to fail, and I know what it is to fear that failure. But mostly, I know what it is to carry things alone.

You are surrounded by a community of believers who are waiting for permission to speak freely.

Give it to them.

Give it to yourself.

You have my permission.