I was a missing teenager in the spring of 1990 at the age of thirteen going on fourteen. I cannot even recall how long I was gone, but it was somewhere around a few months. I had run away from home a few times previously and I was a troubled child who had been acting out.
However, this time, I did not set out to go missing.
I skipped school one day and was sitting on the swings at a park when two grown men whistled at me. They called me ‘beautiful’ and there was something about that kind of attention that made me respond and walk closer. My self-worth at that time was in the gutter, so I was vulnerable to whatever attention I could find. The more attention they lavished on me, the more vulnerable I became. When one of them asked if anyone would be looking for me or if anyone would miss me, I should have known it was a red flag. But, I was a child and I truly believed I had no worth or value. My response to their inquiries was, “Nobody would give a [expletive] if was gone. They’d probably be relieved.”
I was offered alcohol and I walked into their house. I did not make it home that night.
The baggage as a result of that season has taken me on a long, dark journey. I was finally able to allow God to throw the luggage key into the sea of forgetfulness and I still struggle daily to remember forgiveness.
I was eventually dumped in an alley and I crawled through the mud to sneak away. It was raining that day and I think it was a Sunday. I found myself wandering around in a part of the city I did not know. Two sisters came across my path and, when they saw the shape I was in, they intervened to get me home.
My mother took me to the children’s hospital to be examined by a doctor. A very kind nurse held my hand throughout the ordeal and asked, with tears on her cheeks, “What did those people do to you, honey? You can tell me. What did they do to you?”
I could not speak. My mouth was void of any sound or any words. I stuffed it all down as hard and as fast as I could. Then I zipped up the shame in the deep down and locked the door. I blew it all off and wouldn’t even speak to my own mother about any of it. When I sat at the police station, speaking to a detective, I had trouble with names, locations, and details. I stuffed everything down even further and shut my mouth tight. I became very angry at my mother and began to build a wall against her.
Suffice it to say those days were very hard and the next 26 years of my life were even harder.
But, remember how I keep saying that I can look back and see God’s fingerprints all over my life? That is how I know deep in my soul that the Lord knows exactly what happened to that lost little girl. God needed me to know that He knew. God needed to rescue me out of the trauma I was stuck in or I was not going to hear His voice.
The last five years of my life ended up bringing people into my life that were able to confirm pieces of my story until the puzzle started to fit together much more clearly. I still struggle with many things and can feel uncertain about how all of this sits with me. I scribbled furiously into a notebook and my husband helped me to carry the heaviest burdens. A collection of names, dates, locations, and vehicles got started. I let those details go on a piece of paper and handed it over to someone else. It is in God’s hands now. I pray daily for Him to allow me to remember that vengeance belongs to Him and Him alone (Romans 12:19).
The Lord has such a beautiful way of bringing the shattered pieces of our lives together in order to restore us. 26 years ago, my mother’s friend was deeply involved in holding my mother together. He took the time to try and share the word of God to a very traumatized teenage girl. Over the years, he continued to cross my path when God needed me to hear His voice. There were times I resented that God would even dare to use a man to speak to me about Jesus. When my will to live broke, this man spent hours in prayer and making telephone calls.
God brought this man into my life again recently and he accompanied my mother and I on an evening out. Later, we sat at my dining room table and my mouth was finally opened. Suddenly, my voice was in the room as I shared painful pieces of my story with my mother and my mother’s friend. I broke. I sobbed. I wanted to get angry and scream.
I cried out to God, “My Jehovah Rapha! God is my HEALER!”
Suddenly, I was in my mother’s arms and we held onto one another for a very long time. I felt the safety and security of God wrap around us. I felt the soothing ointment of the Holy Spirit fall over us like a warm blanket. Restoration came rushing in like a flood.
God brought me home again and placed me in my mother’s arms.
I was once a missing girl, but…
…Jesus found me.
Abba! My Father!
Thank You for restoration and redemption. Thank You for having so much mercy on me. Thank You for the fingerprints and the clues You left behind so that I could find YOU instead of continuing to see nothing but darkness. My lips will ever sing Your PRAISE! You are my Light and my Salvation.
I am pleading with You to bring missing women, men, boys, and girls back home. Rescue the slaves and set them free. I ask for healing and restoration that surpasses any human understanding to pour out upon the wounded souls everywhere. Please let Your compassion pour out upon the lost, the broken, and the missing.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
This post appears in the book: Shattered in Him © 2016 JD Mays