Today. I went into a tattoo parlor for my tattoo I’ve been wanting forever to cover up scars from hurting myself as a teenager. A compass, but instead of North- South, I have my kids initials.
The tattoo artist opened her shop early just for me. We chatted as she drew out the design. After a moment, she grew silent before blurting out, 'You know, you remind me of someone I used to know.'
I looked at her carefully. Two of us from such different worlds. 'Where did you know her from?' I asked.
She took in a deep breath. 'From a hospital.' She said.
I felt a tingle down my spine… the one that tells you something big is about to happen. 'What hospital?' I asked.
She named the one that takes suicidal teens. My mouth dropped open. 'I was there too.'
She screamed, 'I knew it!' And grabbed me in the biggest bear hug ever.
Yes. She was there. When I was a teen. When the scars on my arm were fresh and covered in gauze. And now, she was the one to put the tattoo over them that says “Sozo”— healed, whole.
I look at it now… My arm, a place that once represented hopelessness now represents love… More beauty from ashes than I could have ever dreamed. It reminds me that God was with me then, knew me then, (I know, kind of 'duh' but it still hit me hard) even though I didn't know about him.
My name is CeeCee James, author of the bestselling memoir series, "Ghost No More". I am a survivor of, and an advocate for adult survivors of child abuse.
The past cannot be changed, however, we can chose how we face our future. I can't go back to undo the things that were done to me, but I have the last word in how I deal with my life onwards. I have chosen a path of faith and happiness and you can too.
Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.
– John Piper
No matter how it feels, you aren't alone. Never give up. There is light at the end of the tunnel. There is no guarantee that it's going to be easy, and I don't have all the answers. But I promise God has a way to bring beauty for the ashes in our lives. I hope my story will help by showing my personal struggle and the different ways he has done it in mine.
Bravery. Courage. Do you feel brave?
Bravery might not look like what you expect. It’s not a feeling. It’s an action. And that action sometimes looks messy.
Being brave for me is a battle. It’s a battle that I fight day in and day out. It’s a choice I have to make to continue to press forward into who God says I am, even when condemnation tells me otherwise. It’s a choice to believe God is who says he is, even when fear tells me otherwise.
It’s not easy. But I won’t give up.
I know what it’s like to not have hope, to feel shame, fear, and condemnation. I know what it’s like to feel abandoned, unwanted, and hidden.
And I know what it’s like to feel the hope of Jesus. To feel his peace and his love. Bravery is what keeps me pressing forward towards that truth.
Be strong and take courage. God is with us. God will bring healing to our wounded areas, and give us beauty for our ashes.
I’d just like to remind you—You are amazing. You are a gift. Your identity isn’t what someone has ever said about you. Your identity isn’t how you think you compare with someone else, or how you think you could be better. You’re made for good things, deeply loved, talented, and valuable. And you deserve love. You are stronger than you think.