Can I share a God-sized story with you? Last week I had the honor of hanging out at the Carol Vance Unit in Houston, TX again. I got to take a tour of the prison and see the work that @prisonfellowship is doing in Texas. While I was visiting, Darryl Brooks, our director asked me if I’d be willing to speak to the men during what’s called “Community.” It’s a sacred space held daily for all the men in our programs there. At first when he asked, I was terrified. I’m a survivor of both sexual and domestic violence. It’s a big deal that I’m even here visiting. What on earth could I possibly say to 300 convicted criminals? But I decided, by grace God, this opportunity is bigger than I could ever comprehend. So I did it. In front of 300 felons, I shared about the shame of being a survivor of sexual and domestic violence at the hands of men. I talked about my struggles with shame, with unreal expectations, with rejection, and how God helped me turn each of those struggles around. And I talked about the gift of Traveling Light. Letting go of that baggage and running hard toward forgiveness and reconciliation. I was shaking and nervous the entire time I spoke. But by the time I finished, the men in that room gave me a standing ovation. They thanked me for my vulnerability and shared openly about how much my story meant to them. They too, have experienced shame and rejection. They too, must learn to let it all go.
Later that evening as I was processing the day’s events, God reminded me that I was molested in Houston. All my shame started there, dumped on me as an innocent child. But He is so much BIGGER than I could ever even imagine. God has taken the shame of my abuse and is using it to redeem everyone. Even men in prison whom most of us would ignore. Perpetrators and survivors. He loves each of us the same. God is slowly but surely moving me from an activist to a bridge builder. And I’m just leaning in. - 8 hours ago