I’m going to be bouncing around with this blog between past experiences and the current day. Today, I’m excited to write about this past weekend.
The last 3 years have been a constant journey of hills & valleys. Very few plateaus where I could gather myself, but I persisted. I really had no idea how I was going to get through the past years, but knew that God would be by my side always. There were several days where I thought to myself, “Lord, you really must have a sick sense of humor for the constant battles I’m facing. How am I going to do this?”
Recently, I began to get excited to see how he was going to get me through this season of life. I wasn’t as anxious. Let go, have patience and watch with wonder how God works for the good. Watching the last 6 months unfold, it definitely shows me that God is by my side and that life is revealing itself as it should.
Four months ago, on June 29th, I was able to face my rapist and make peace with everything. You see, after working with three detectives over the course of almost three years, my rapist was behind bars. The damage done mentally & emotionally from the rape is as bad as the damage done going through the process of pressing charges & going to court. I will write about all of that in future posts and the awful hell I endured. But, this is a positive post, so let’s get on with it!
June 26th I had people in to pack my belongings, June 27th they loaded up my belongings to travel to Minnesota and on Thursday, June 29th I faced my rapist at his sentencing and on Saturday, July 1st I left Washington, DC for good on the first flight out. The first thing I was able to do when I got home was have brunch with a great friend and then go and celebrate the wedding of two former students, now friends. The Lord couldn’t have worked it any better. I felt safe being around familiar people and it was glorious! I’m home.
All through the summer, things unfolded as they should. I was anxious about getting a job, but nothing ever felt right. I had a few interviews, but nothing panned out and I was okay with that. Now, my hard-working family probably have other thoughts about this, but I know that they are all seeing the benefits of me having time off to ‘right the ship’ and get back on track.
I came back to MN and it felt good, but I was exhausted both mentally & physically. I was also very apprehensive to see people. I felt like a failure. Even though I had just gotten done doing one of the bravest things of my life in confronting my rapist and reading my victim impact statement, I still felt like a failure. My identity was always my job and here I was, tail between my legs, back home.
In a rural area you know lots of people and you run into them a lot at town festivals and county fairs over the summer. The #1 question asked was of course, “why did you leave DC?”. I wasn’t ready to come out with my story yet, so for the first two weeks I stumbled around with my words. And, the people who have known me for a long time were skeptical that I just up & left DC with no job lined up. They knew something was off. I told people, “DC wears on you. I wanted to get home to be with family. The best view of DC is in the rearview mirror.” All statements were true, but I still felt like a fraud. Slowly, I was able to piece things together to form a confident statement without talking about the ‘real’ reason.
The county fair is my favorite time of the year. I grew up showing dairy cattle in 4-H and the county fair was, and still is, like my own personal Disney World. I hadn’t gotten to attend our county fair for over 5 years, so being there this past year was like a big welcome home party. I volunteered for 4-H, worked the malt machine and caught up with old friends. It was perfect. Just as God planned.
The rest of the summer involved a family fishing trip, lots of time with my family, the Minnesota State Fair, and quality time with friends. Anxiety started to come back once fall hit and I didn’t have a job yet, but I knew it was all in God’s timing so I decided to continue to enjoy my ‘sabbatical’.
Fast forward to getting to facilitate some listening sessions around the state and getting to see former colleagues. Seeing them again made me extremely happy and reminded me that I want to continue my career in agriculture and stay connected to these salt-of-the-earth people. These people are the ones who worked with me as a young career-woman and guided me in the right direction to being a good leader. Again, the Lord knew what he was doing.
Which brings us to this past weekend. I was afforded the opportunity to travel to Kansas City and do a workshop on servant leadership with 90 graduating seniors in college. This was my first presentation in about 6-months, so I was a little rusty. I also didn’t know if I was still relevant. I hadn’t worked with college students in over five years. Fortunately, once I got started and found my stride I remembered how much I love public speaking and working with college students. It was the quickest 2-hour workshop I have ever done (not sure what the students thought)! It felt good! I shared stories about my life and being a servant leader. Being back in my ‘wheelhouse’ was amazing. For the first time in several months I felt like I belonged and that I could get back into my career. I’m home.
Later on in the weekend I was able to attend a gala for the sorority that I was in during college. The friends I made at this tiny sorority that focused on agriculture are still my best friends today. There was no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t attend the gala. It was a given. I wanted to see friends that I hadn’t seen in ages and I wanted to celebrate the sorority that changed my life. Do you know what is funny? I never really thought about the fact that this would be the first time seeing many of these women since I came out about my assault. It honestly didn’t cross my mind, which to me is a win. The assault and the thoughts of others didn’t even cross my mind.
It was a beautiful, glorious night! Over 250 people gathered to celebrate our sisterhood and to raise money for the upkeep of the house and for scholarships. We were all dressed in our best clothes and there were lots of hugs and memories shared. All ages of ladies from current college students to women in their 80’s. My heart was full.
Throughout the night I received several hugs and heard from friends who said that they are thinking of and praying for me. Those words & hugs really meant a lot. I knew that putting my story out there might turn me into a leper and people might not want to talk to me. But, what I’ve found out is the exact opposite. People are rallying behind me and it feels good. I was dressed in a beautiful red & black gown and I felt like I floated in it. I belonged there. I was home.
I honestly haven’t been this content and at peace in over three years. Going back to the roots of my life before I moved away 5-years ago has been cathartic. My life is built on a good, firm foundation. There are good people in this world and I have the privilege of getting to go through this journey of life with many of them. Thank you, Lord.
I’m still job-hunting, but am starting to do some independent consulting gigs and public speaking appearances. Am I worried about finding a job? Not anymore because God has brought me this far and I can’t wait to see how much farther he will take me. I’m happy & I’m home. Nothing else matters.
Steven Curtis Chapman’s song ‘Glorious Unfolding’ sums it all up.