To start off I feel it’s only appropriate to give a quote on being vulnerable:
“The Strongest you will ever be is vulnerable. No vulnerability means no intimacy. Authenticity to know and be known requires courage and risk but the reward is worth it.”Moral Revolution
This quote hangs in my office to serve as a daily reminder with every decision I make to choose to be authentic in every season. But let’s be real, it’s more of a reminder for those days when I beat myself up for sharing pieces of my story because doing so inevitably brings the overwhelming feeling of being bare to my world (like right now). I hope you find this post to be that little nudge you need to know that you are not alone.
My name is Lara Damian and for the past 26 years I’ve believed the lie that I was never good enough. Now some reading this may wonder how I came to share my testimony on this blog… glad you had the thought, I’ve had it about 100 times just this week. I am a firm believer that without Jesus, community, true relationships, and accountability, change can never happen. To go back to my statement of never feeling good enough, I say this, speak truth to the lie. So when Chelsea asked me to share my story, I prayed and felt this was the next step of faith I needed to take in what God was clearly calling me to do.
To begin you may ask yourself how a 26 year old girl from small town Texas, who attended Texas A&M University (Class of 2014!) has a job, pretty good personality and winning sarcasm is still single? Don’t worry I still ask myself that often and by often I mean pretty regularly. Before we dive into that question, which keeps me up most nights, we must first try to understand the little girl.
Growing up I was loved and cherished by my family (still am) in a Christian home where every weekend and most weeknights we were in church. Throughout my adolescent years I let the lie creep into my life that I wasn’t good enough and was unworthy of love. So naturally I chose meaningless relationships to try and fill the ache in my heart. The only thing those relationships led to was more ache that I soon found myself searching for other ways to fill. Instead of running to my father, the creator of the earth, I ran to parties, booze and boys.
When I finally went off to college I thought, “Surely now I’m old enough, my old habits will fall away and I’ll be swept up into that fairy tale love story” (18 year olds aren’t that wise). To my surprise, old habits don’t die when you refuse to put them down and allow Jesus to tell you who you truly are.
I let the lie follow me to college and I let boys speak into my life about who I was. By the time I made it to my junior year the jury was still out if I would even graduate, by that time the parties had faded, booze had worn off, and I was left not recognizing who I was. Then in walks the guy I thought would be my knight in shining armor, the one who would rescue me from the never ending cycle of dysfunction. Little did I know that the remnants of that relationship would still be around 4 years later.
To put it simply, I found myself in what my counselor diagnosed as an emotional and sexually abusive relationship. It wasn’t until I decided two years ago to see a counselor that I even started to put those pieces together, to try to understand the why and learn to forgive. And yes to have complete freedom in your life you have to learn to forgive those who have hurt you and even more learn to forgive yourself.
“Its funny how the moments you feel you are falling apart, if you learn to fall back on Jesus, He fills every crack with His overwhelming love.”
At my church, Hope City, I attended the Freedom conference this May and to say it was life changing is an understatement. Throughout the conference I was dreading the part were unforgiveness and abuse would be addressed because I knew it was a part of my life where I wasn’t ready to let go. Not because I like reliving the feeling of my entire body aching from a broken heart, but because I knew addressing the issue would bring to light everything I had kept secret. When it came time to get prayer I had already told myself, “forgiving him gives him a free pass, don’t say anything.”
The first thing out of the woman’s mouth was a quote directly from our Freedom Book “He wants to bring healing to your heart so that you can remember these past experiences without reliving the pain associated with them. God wants to show you how he can make all things new.” By the time she finished I was weeping to the point where I couldn’t even form the sentence.
After I pulled myself together as best I could I uttered the words only a few have heard. She said, “God sees you and He’s heard every cry, He’s been with you every night when you’ve cried yourself to sleep, you were never alone and you aren’t alone.” In that moment I’ve never felt so broken yet so full of love. Its funny how the moments you feel you are falling apart, if you learn to fall back on Jesus, He fills every crack with His overwhelming love.
To sum it up I leave you with the following statements.
First, if you think you can do life alone, think again. Had I chosen to never seek help I would still be on the never ending ride of blame, dysfunction, and ache.
Second, learning to forgive doesn’t mean minimizing the offense, it means allowing total freedom in your life and not letting your offender rob you of happiness.
Third, seeking help, even professional help, doesn’t make you weak it makes you strong. There is nothing weak about choosing to not let past circumstances dictate your future.
Finally the song that rings in my ears as I write this is “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury (it’s actually playing on my phone right now), his lyrics are simple but pierce right to my soul.
“When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me.
You have been so, so good to me.
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me.
You have been so, so kind to me.”
We serve a good kind Father who sees you in that mess you call your life and calls you out as a daughter who He loves. I stand here today to say I see in my future a healthy, functional, loving, and Godly relationship because I choose to put my hope in God and God alone.