I realize the odds of this letter and message getting to you are rather slim but I need to write it anyway. Fact is, I’m writing it for myself almost as much as I write this for you.
I’m not going to insult you by pretending to understand the exact weight, horror or enormity of what you endured during your years of captivity but I want you to know; in my own way and from my own corner of a remembered hell, I fully understand. Details aside, it’s enough for both of us to know only this because the rest– well, it really doesn’t matter anymore.
I want to say thank you and to applaud your decision to live, here and now. Thank you for choosing to live– not as victim or even as survivor.. but instead to live, most importantly as a witness–a voice of hope and truth.
We both know it would be much simpler to hate. It would be understandable and even encouraged to some degree. To most, it would seem natural and right to live from a place of anger and unforgiveness. But we aren’t like most.
We know that the anger and hate would only prolong the captivity, keeping us in further bondage tied with the angry vines of thorny bitterness. To live there would be to daily choose weakness and we are strong.
I want you to know that I think of you often and even now, I’m praying for your days ahead as you carve out and walk the path God has chosen for you.
I know there will be times of great struggle as you will have to fight to get beyond the natural impulses of fear and memory…. those moments when you are faced with making choices that would seem normal to others but feel foreign to you because in so many ways, you now must learn to live beyond the coping skills and survival modes once so normal and necessary to your every day life.
You are going to have to learn how to see yourself differently, to see men differently…. to learn how to trust again.
I’m here to tell you it’s possible. It won’t be easy and it takes a while, but it’s possible. God will be your guide.
Now, my ultimate concern and prayer for you dear Sister, is to be able to stand firm. As terrible as it was to be locked away for that period of time, in a sad, sick way that prison was a shelter.
It was a shelter from the sometimes equally cruel world which will now try to exploit you. Be on your guard. This world of media and talk show and book deal and exposé will further try to rape you of your remaining dignity…to steal your story and own you as if now you belong to everyone and must be put on display like a freaky side show act in a public circus. Be wise. Be strong. Be His.
Surround and protect yourself with honest, godly women and constantly seek deep discipleship. Live and pour from there because we need your voice from that place.
You have captured a nation with your earnest strength and courage, with your outspokenness and calm demeanor in the face of your depraved enemy. You and I know these precious gifts were forged in the fires of adversity.
Every long day of those eleven years fashioned and crafted your resolve into a cutting diamond-edged steel, a steel which, I recognize has been gilt in gold by the saving knowledge of God.. who no doubt spoke to you in the darkest of those moments…you knew it was Him the same way I did.
Oh, some will question the reasonableness of such faith. Some will certainly mock it asking what sort of loving God would allow such pain, such horror.
We know. We can’t explain it fully, but our lives will bear witness and testify to that beauty which often comes from ashes. We will testify that God is good even when people are bad. Because as hard as it is to accept and understand, we know…
some are sent to palaces and some are sent to prisons.. but both are sent to be strengthened for special service and then released…
for such a time as THIS.
And what is THIS now?
This is for the one who is still missing…lost and exploited, ashamed and alone.
For the one who has lost hope of ever being found or rescued.
For the one who made a bad choice and now believes there is no chance for life beyond her prison bars.
This is for the ones who live believing no one could ever want them and they’ll never be clean or found worthy of love again.
We know freedom and forgiveness can be found because the Son has set us free and we are free …and forgiven indeed. So we live , witness and testify now… especially now…because they need to know Him too. Bless you.
Your Sister in Christ,