In the summer of 2008, I laid to rest a part of me that I loved to hate. It was that summer that I thought I had finally murdered that girl that I was so ashamed of and that I could move on with my plans for myself. I was like Jonah. I was willing to go, but to go on my terms; to tell God what I was willing to do for him. It was that summer, in my stubbornness and in my disobedience that God wrapped his arms around me and allowed his tears to flow over me. What I had done was hardened my heart towards that girl that had once thrived within me. I had squeezed all the life out of her. God couldn’t redeem her or fix her; she was a problem that I had to take care of. She was my mistakes, my past, my burden. And mine alone. It was that summer that God said “My child, you have to give her to me. I love you and I love her. Please let me have her.”
This girl that had I killed came from the deepest and darkest places and memories in my soul and because of that, in the times in my life that I embraced her, we found ourselves in some of the darkest of places in the world and we were always in the deep end. As long as I had killed her and she was gone, I could live in the light. I guess that was the goal of killing her to finally be free and live in the light. I didn’t understand or rather accept that it was those deepest and darkest parts of my soul that God was standing and knocking. It was in those places that he longed the most to redeem and restore. And if I killed her and withheld her from him, I couldn’t be in the light.
God had asked for her many times before and I ignored him. It seems that each time it came up; I fought even harder to tuck her away. Until reaching this point, that summer, when I could scream out “That girl is dead! She is not me!” Like Jonah, I spent time in that boat running to Tarshish; telling God how it is that our relationship would be, setting the boundaries, defining my role in his plan. I ran to the Church and hid, it’s a good hiding place. I cleaned myself up pretty good. I blended in. I put on masks. I never lied, but no one ever asked the right questions. And I was just fine with that.
And for several years it seemed that I was just stuck. I was stuck in the belly of a whale ramming my head against his stomach, trying to get him to vomit me out—to just let me serve where I want or to just let me drown and walk away.
It was the summer of 2008 that God took my brokenness and starting walking forward with me. It was in that moment that I said, “She’s dead!” that God said “Oh really?” When Jonah came out of the whale, he obeyed God finally but went with hatred and cruelty. He went with this urge for all of Nineveh to die. I can’t say for certain that I knew exactly what my Nineveh was. Looking back on it, I think my Nineveh was myself because I ran from her so fervently. I hated her so desperately. I kept a box in my closet with all the things that reminded me of that darkness, just so I could look up and reminded myself how horrible and unworthy that I was. Like Jonah, I knew exactly what Nineveh was, exactly what she represented and I wanted nothing to do with her.
What was happening in me was this: God was asking me to journey deep inside myself to find him standing back in that place where he had been knocking my whole life; that deep and dark place that I wasn’t willing to approach or look at, and for some time probably was ready to approach or look at. He was asking for me to open that door and let him in right there. Not in the mistakes or choices that came from that deep, dark place but right at the origin of the deep, dark place—right at the place where not only my heart broke and my childhood dreams were shattered, but at the place that His heart broke for me.
It was in the summer of 2008, that I began to let God have real conversations with me, or better, conversations with the real me. Out of pride, arrogance, guilt, shame, and many more motives, I had killed that girl. But God resurrected her and is still resurrecting her. Today I can tell you that there is a girl that at one point in my life I named Tori, that once represented all the deepest and darkest places in my soul, who today because of the grace and love of God, shines brightly. His light has penetrated her deep, dark places that I never thought imaginable. I can stand and say that Tori is not dead, but instead very much alive and she has something powerful say. It is Tori that God has longed all along to restore and redeem and it is through her that he is fulfilling that little girl’s dream to be a missionary!