By Sara Barratt
God's Brave Women - Sara's Story
I’ve always been the girl with the trust issues.
My fear of giving a man my trust started young. Back-dropped by the sound of breaking dishes and raised voices as my dad gave vent to his anger, I began locking my little heart away: “Men can’t be trusted.”
At seven-years-old my dad sat me and my sister down and promised he’d never get angry again.
At eight, I was sweeping up the shattered remains of another argument: “Promises aren’t kept.”
Birthdays, Christmases, and Easters hidden upstairs in my bedroom or outside in the car because I didn’t want to hear my parents fight: “Maybe I’m just not worth it.”
By the time I was a teenager, I’d distanced myself to the point that I no longer felt anything during the outbursts and arguments. Sometimes I cried. Most of the time I didn’t. My emotions were numb, my trust safely kept behind lock and key.
But I still craved love. I knew Jesus loved me, but there was an ache that remained. I remember one night, curled up alone on my bed, thinking there wasn’t a man alive on earth who loved me. Really, truly loved me. I did cry that night, lonely and hurting.
"I knew Jesus loved me, but there was an ache that remained. I remember one night, curled up alone on my bed, thinking there wasn’t a man alive on earth who loved me."
I didn’t have boyfriends growing up. I was far too shy for that and besides, all I wanted was a one-in-a-million love, the kind that would last forever and be safe. None of the guys I knew fit that qualification. But like all girls, I dreamed of my happily-ever-after. My first true crush—the first guy I thought actually liked me back—ghosted me after a few months, leaving me reeling and wondering what on earth happened, what I’d done to deserve being dumped so unceremoniously.
Then I met Ryan.
It was music that first drew us together. He liked country and so did I. He was cute and charming and a Christian to boot. It didn’t take long for me to fall—hard. He told me he loved me and promised that his heart was all mine, his pretty words assuring me that this was the one-in-a-million love I’d always craved. That it would last forever. That I was safe.
For several months it felt perfect, all my hopes and dreams becoming reality. Until Thanksgiving evening, when he finally confessed that there was another girl he’d never gotten over, that he’d been using me as an emotional crutch, and even though he’d talked of marriage, he didn’t have plans anytime soon.
I cried again that night, my tears soaking into the wood guest bedroom floor as I lay curled up on my side, heart shattered and mind numb. And again and again, for every day and night to come for weeks. Sobbing into my mom’s shoulder one evening, I whispered, “I can only hope God will help me trust again, because all the men in my life have hurt me.”
That evening was the beginning of a journey of healing. There was nothing I could do with the pain except give it to Jesus. So I turned to God with a desperation born from heartbreak, begging Him to heal me and make my hurting heart whole again.
"There was nothing I could do with the pain except give it to Jesus. So I turned to God with a desperation born from heartbreak, begging Him to heal me and make my hurting heart whole again."
Months followed, filled with wave after wave of grief and loss, as God took up my shattered pieces and slowly pieced them back together. An expert at the surgery required on a broken heart, He took my invitation of healing and went deeper than I bargained for. Instead of simply healing the lies I’d believed about my boyfriend or even my dad, He went to the root and confronted the lies I’d believed…about Him.
"Instead of simply healing the lies I’d believed about my boyfriend or even my dad, He went to the root and confronted the lies I’d believed…about Him."
Through every storm and season of my life, Jesus had always been my everything. He’d carried and sustained me, but I didn’t realize that even in the midst of His tender love, I’d been projecting the same lies upon Him that I believed about everyone else.
It wasn’t just that I thought men couldn’t be trusted…deep down I wondered if God could be trusted.
The promises people made were as flimsy as tissue paper… how could I know that God would keep His promises?
I hadn’t been worth it to my dad, my crush, or my boyfriend… maybe I wasn’t worth it to God either.
Somewhere in the recesses of my heart, I doubted if God cared for my pain. Instead, I was afraid that He would take away everything I loved, ask me to give up everything I held close. Maybe God didn’t truly love me.
Layer by layer, lie by lie, He went deeper, healing my heart, showing me His love. I thought I only had trust issues with men. He showed me I had trust issues with Him. And that was where the healing had to start.
"I thought I only had trust issues with men. He showed me I had trust issues with Him. And that was where the healing had to start."
As I clung to Him in the midst of the pain, I encountered a love that was holding me back, a love that promised to never leave. As I stood beneath a starry sky one night, He gave me two shooting stars and the promise that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.” (Psalm 147:4-5) Somehow in the vastness of all creation, the precious love of God reached down and showed a brokenhearted girl that if He knew the names of the stars, how likely was it that He would forget hers?
Months after my boyfriend broke up with me, I wrote in my journal, “I have been forsaken and wounded by the men in my life. It seems like my heart carries a burden of hurt. From dad. From Ryan. This pain would be suffocating—yet I have hope. Because I know that the more abandoned I am here on earth, the more support I have from Heaven. Christ sustains me. I’ve encountered a pain I felt might destroy me, but I survived. I’m okay. Or at least I know I will be. There is a peace that is born through pain, a hope that is birthed through heartache. But it is only found in the security of Jesus.”
"I’ve encountered a pain I felt might destroy me, but I survived. I’m okay. Or at least I know I will be. There is a peace that is born through pain, a hope that is birthed through heartache. But it is only found in the security of Jesus."
Psalm 27:10 says, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take care of me.” In every moment of my life, I can look back and see the truth of this promise and see the hand of my Lord taking care of me when others did not.
It takes courage to believe this. It takes an audacious kind of faith that can look beyond present circumstances to the presence of Emmanuel—our God with us. It’s a brave thing for a hurting heart to risk being fully surrendered and held in the hands of our Almighty God. Yet there’s no safer place to land. For while people may fail, while their promises may break, and their love may be weak, God’s love is as strong as it is tender and His promises as sure as they are good.
"It’s a brave thing for a hurting heart to risk being fully surrendered and held in the hands of our Almighty God... For while people may fail, while their promises may break, and their love may be weak, God’s love is as strong as it is tender and His promises as sure as they are good."
Perhaps the bravest thing we could do is simply to take God at His word. To trust Him and believe that He is who He says He is, that He’ll do what He said He’ll do, and that His love—His one-in-a-million love—lasts as long as eternity and in it, our brave and broken hearts find their safest haven.
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story.
And by the way...
You are Brave!
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Sara Barratt is an author, speaker, avid reader, chocolate lover, and editor-in-chief for TheRebelution.com. She is the author of Stand Up, Stand Strong: A Call to Bold Faith in a Confused Culture and Love Riot, as well as the host of the podcast Do Hard Things with the Rebelution.
When she’s not writing or dreaming up new book ideas, she loves spending time with family and friends, taking long walks, drinking copious amounts of tea, and scribbling down random thoughts that eventually get lost in her purse.