Franciscan Spirit Blog

Finding Your True Identity

When my dad was arrested, it was a big headline on the front page of the small town paper in which I lived. The first day back at school after his arrest I felt the weight of the stares, heard the muffled whispers of accusation, and saw pointed fingers from my classmates. I ran away and wouldn’t return until I had to take my finals in the principal’s office. Everyone knew I was the daughter of the rapist.

Depression and suicidal thoughts took root in that trauma. Because I struggled with my identity, I found it impossible to share with others how I didn’t want to live and wished I had never been born. I’m thankful that God had other plans for me: good plans, good intentions, a faithful, and an unwavering presence that would never leave me.

My sister got custody of me. During the year I lived with her, she came to faith is Jesus. She was 19 and had taken on raising me. I can’t image how hard that was. As part of her wanting to be a good surrogate parent, she made me go to church. A young pastor proclaimed the basics of the gospel: God loved me. There I sat, a broken girl, suffering from profound PTSD, and feeling the weight of being the daughter of such a horrible man. It was unfathomable that God, the creator of the universe, loved me. I was not only loved by God, but God wanted a relationship with me.

Cracks of Light

A brilliant crack of light began to shine on who I really was to God. He began to show me that I was important enough for him to send his most valued treasure to earth to win my freedom: his only son Jesus. 

It took hard work to turn the language in my head from “I should die” or “I’ll never be normal,” to “I am valuable,” “I am infinitely loved,” and the one to that infused me with hope: “I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” That one was good because for so long I felt like I’d see nothing but horror in this life. But I wrong. I now have an abiding freedom and hope.

The exchange of lies for truth is like noticing something that had been there all along. It is like walking along a path in the woods you’ve traveled on many times and suddenly noticing a particular tree, or how the breeze smells, or noticing moss that carpets the forest floor. Seeing God’s goodness and good intentions is like that. The bad things people do to each other is not God’s plan or desire for us. 

God wants you to walk in that same freedom. Don’t give up friend. Stay with God and let his transforming power into your dark places.

– This is the second blog from Jennifer Osborn in a three-part series on mercy, forgiveness, and healing.

Love Your Neighbor by Eddie Ensley


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