I’m sure that the new year has a lot of people thinking about what their purpose in life might be, or what gifts God has given them. I know there was a time when I spent hours of the day wondering what that was. In the grand scheme of things, I suppose it really wasn’t all that long ago, only a few years. So much has changed since then, and I have learned so much. I can’t tell you why, as I really don’t know, but for some reason, I feel like this is something I should share.
This story begins in 2008. This was the year I turned 18. This year was the year that I decided what I wanted to do with my life. It was the year that I went away to college and moved into a dorm room. It was the year that I became a sexual assault survivor. But, it also became the year that I did a lot of soul searching.
Not many people know, but in my spare time, when no one knew where I was, this was the year I spent hours praying. In the meditation chapel on campus and sometimes just lying in the sun. For hours, I would clear my mind and think and pray and those were the hours that gave me peace and kept me going.
In those hours, something I began to ask God was what I was doing here. I felt understandably directionless. I wanted to know what my purpose was. Something most of you wouldn’t imagine is that I also spent time praying for the person who assaulted me, one day in particular I remember tearing up, telling God that I forgive that man and asking him to change his heart and make him a better man.
That year, I also realized what I was doing here. I knew what God wanted from me. I wouldn’t understand it until a little later, and I wouldn’t see all the joy and blessings that would come from it, but I knew that I had a beautiful gift from God, a special reason for being here, and something good to put back into the world. I am far from perfect, so please know that I am saying this out of wonder and thankfulness, not to make others feel less.
I have been given the gift of a loving and forgiving heart. Forgiveness, compassion, and love for my fellow man flow naturally for me. I’m not saying I don’t get hurt. I’ve been hurt a lot during my short life. I have never been able to hate. I have always been able to forgive, and for that I am incredibly thankful. When I realized this, that God has blessed me in this way, I knew that practicing forgiveness and love would be my purpose. I had no idea where that would take me, or how that would grow in my life, and I didn’t know how blessed I would be. Life was hard, but in the summer of 2009, I moved back home and my life changed and began to take shape.
I left one life behind, not knowing what was ahead, and all that left room for the path I am on now. I was home and those ties were the roots I needed to feel grounded and safe again. Being there, having roots again, being surrounded by the love of family and my church family there at home soothed me and put me on my feet.
I was toddling, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard or that I didn’t feel anxious about where life was taking me, but it didn’t take long for more changes to come. Something changed that would honestly change the path of my future in a very real way. In more ways than one, and that something, that someone, came at just the right time. God gave me love. When I was broken, slowly healing, God gave me something I wasn’t looking for and did not think I was ready for.
In the summer of 2009, David came into my life. I fell in love with him. I honestly can’t explain it any other way than knowing that this was true love. It didn’t make very much practical sense to us. I hadn’t asked for it. But that space that forgiveness had left waiting in my heart, that one free soft, clean, bright, and lovely space was the one that I know God filled with love for the man I was meant to love, who was meant to love me.
In the 3 years we have been together so far, I have seen a glimpse of the spirit of God in the way that he loves me, the way that he forgives me when I fall flat on my face, his patience, the diligence with which he seeks me out when I put walls up, and all that he has taught me about love. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it.” We aren’t married, but that wonderful example of Christ-like love is what I have been given. He is my first love, and he has taught me so much of how to love and shown me that I am so much more capable of love than I imagined, and along the way I have grown in love and forgiveness, and he is a part of that.
I thank God for that and the many changes and blessings that have happened in those 3 years. They have filled me with love and brought me closer to God. They helped me feel His love and forgiveness more deeply and abundantly as well. I am stronger for the change in direction that my plans took when I moved home and I am so glad that I have been led to the path my life is on today. It isn’t what I imagined it would be, but it is so much more incredible and I feel like I am more and more realizing my purpose. I cannot wait to see where this path takes me in the years to come and I look forward to growing and learning everything I can about the blessings I have been given and putting them into action.