If I could go back in time, I would visit myself at sixteen. I had been abused. Most of my friends had abandoned me. I felt completely alone and unloved. My heart ached for love and acceptance that never came. I saw no value in living, so I numbed myself to survive. I hated myself for what had happened. When I looked in the mirror, all I saw was a hideous monster looking back at me.
If I could say anything to my 16-year-old self, I would say this: “You have been hurt and betrayed, but you are not responsible for the abuse. You are not defined by your pain and suffering. ‘The Lord is there to rescue all who are discouraged and have given up hope’ (Psalm 34:18, CEV). God is always with you, and God loves you fiercely—forever.”
REFLECT: Our experiences—good and bad— shape us, but they do not have to define us. We can find ways to feel safe. We can talk to people we trust to help us move toward healing and even forgiveness. No matter what happens, we can allow God’s love to fill us and to make us whole.