This I Believe

Amy - Irmo, South Carolina
Entered on February 5, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

A Gift in the Purest Sense

My life has not been a perfect one, and there have only been seventeen years of it.

When I was just five years old, I became the victim of sexual predators. Some were in my neighborhood, unsuspected by my family. I had several attackers who I don’t even think were aware of each other’s existence. I was, however, painfully aware.

Throughout adolescence, I struggled with my self-worth. I didn’t believe that anyone could love me because I didn’t have anything to offer them that had not already been taken from me. I had been raised in a good Catholic family and had learned that your virginity was a gift to your spouse on your wedding night. It was a way to give your whole self to the marriage. My gift had been snatched. I had nothing.

Despite my burden, I grew in my faith. I formed a certain devotion to purity. I also became a youth leader in my parish and served on the state’s evangelization team. While hosting a retreat for Catholic junior high youth of the state, I was asked to give a talk on being made new in Christ. I had never really committed any major sin that I felt God had taken and ‘recreated’ me through.

As I racked my brain, trying to think of a situation that would apply to my talk, my childhood came to mind. I thought about the way I had felt about myself—despairing, alone, trapped. And as I recalled all of these things, these emotions, I realized that I no longer felt any of them. Instead, I felt as if I had been made new, as if my innocence had been returned, as if it had never been taken. I realized that it was not what had happened to me that mattered, but what I had done with what had happened to me. More importantly, what God had done with what happened to me. He had taken me, little, broken, insignificant me, and created a faithful servant who strives for perfection. He created a faithful servant who was now a witness to others in the importance of purity.

As a result of my experiences, and my faith, I believe many things. I believe that God exists, and that he wants to be involved in our lives. I believe that healing is possible. Above all, I believe that purity is a gift that must be preserved and cherished, but can never truly be taken from you.