[Guest Post by Laura] – Finally at the age of twenty six–I was settling into my own apartment in a country that I loved to do the ministry that God had called me to do.
With the help of teammates I had successfully managed to purchase a car, appliances, furniture and other necessities. While these are things that most people do earlier in their twenties, my early twenties had been spent moving between countries and ministries, always living in a furnished apartment or at my parents.
The next day was a staff meeting, and I was looking forward to suggesting a few ministry ideas that I had.
Plus, I had plans to go purchase a couple of picture frames for my apartment.
Everything was coming together, and I was excited about living the dream I’d had for seven years.
What I didn’t anticipate was being woken up that night by a man entering my bedroom. Then there was another man and another.
In that instant I knew what was coming.
I knew that I no longer had a car, laptop, camera, cell phone or anything of value.
I also knew that I would be raped.
When the men finally left me tied up in a brush area outside of my gated housing complex, I felt as though I had been fighting for days.
And instead of a staff meeting, the next morning involved speaking with police, going to the hospital, calling my parents, taking medicine and crying.
Through it all I kept clinging to God and His Word.
No, it didn’t make sense.
No, it certainly wasn’t something I’d wanted to happen.
But I knew what I’d been taught about God, and I knew that God doesn’t change, even when my life falls apart.
I tried to pray, but there weren’t words.
I began to slowly make my way through Psalms because I figured that’s the book of the Bible you’re supposed to read when life is horrible.
Whenever anyone asked me why I seemed like I was doing okay, I told them it was because of God. This calm, collected woman wasn’t me; it was God working through me.
Even though those first days were more than difficult, I saw God’s justice in action when the man who raped me died a few days after my home invasion.
Two weeks later I boarded a plane and continued the long healing process. There were counseling sessions. There were more tears. There were days when I all I could do was accomplish one task on my list of things to do. There was the struggle to regain my independence, to not live in a state of fear. There was the constant mental effort to focus on how God had helped me in those terrifying moments, not on why He allowed it to happen.
That first year was filled with progress and difficult days.
But God was always there, and my relationship with Him was far stronger at the end of that year, than it was the day before I was raped. The second year of the healing process involved moving back to a country where I’d lived several years earlier.
I got up each morning, taught junior high and high school English and came home exhausted. But God was still working in my life, forcing me to deal with new situations and awkward questions, all while providing amazing friendships and incredible experiences.
I began to feel as though the worst was over, as though I really had survived, as though it all wasn’t a horrible nightmare.
The third year brought joy.
Joy in ministry, in life.
I began to write, to share parts of my story with others. Life seemed a bit easier. I began to figure out who I really was now.
While I was finding joy, God was restoring my dream–doing youth ministry in a foreign country. As I watched Him work, I was amazed at how for the past three years He had been picking up the pieces of my dream and slowly putting them back together again, shaping them into a dream I never could have imagined.
And as I begin year four of the healing process while rapidly approaching thirty, I continue to be in awe of how God can take something as horrific as rape and use it to make me more like Him.
Laura currently lives in California but is in the process of preparing for another international adventure. God has given her a heart for teen and young adult girls, as well as a love for drinking coffee and living overseas, and she loves when all three of these come together. She writes regularly about life, travel and healing on her blog http://continualtransition.