Living a Purpose Driven Life- Only ONE Lead

Allowing the Lord to lead has not been a straight and narrow path, since I had to learn the purpose of suffering and through that accept a heart transplant and learn not to second guess any moves He makes; my role is simply to follow- only ONE Lead. One of the most important purposes of suffering that has played out in my journey relates to revealing what is in my heart.  As Commissioned said in one of their infamous songs, “Gold without fire isn’t real gold,” the truth is that our hearts are developed by enduring the pressure of time, circumstance, and the presence of pain; this is the only way strength of character is shown (Job 42:1-17; Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-5; I Peter 1:6-8).  The other highly relevant purpose of suffering relates to trust; similar to Job the point is to settle on the fact that if God had the power and wisdom to create the universe and everything therein, this is reason enough to trust the same God in times of suffering (Job 1-42).  His purpose for us is it dependent upon circumstance.

Just looking back over moments in my life, I have to admit that God was right there leading and orchestrating all (even when I felt He turned His back on me and His purpose for me was ruined).  The one time when I had these thoughts, giving me a feeling of breathlessness was when I was raped in college. I ran from what happened and acted as if that traumatic event altered nothing about me or my personality but it did!  I dealt with people differently, harshly, and pushed many away as well as kept people at a safe distance from me.  I believed every lie that the enemy told me regarding who I was and my end; I thought I was marked ‘forever damaged’ because I was a virgin when it occurred.  I believed that I had to do anything in order to keep from being hurt again, I developed a hard shell and cold ‘it is what it is’ demeanor.  In my mind, my purpose and who I was going to be ceased to exist the second I was violated.  I was numb for years, over ten years specifically, since I told no one what really happened.  Showing vulnerability and softness, being open were no longer options.  I would not let anyone, male or female, get too close to me emotionally or physically; sarcasm and harsh speak helped to build my wall of defense and comfort.

I wasn’t just numb emotionally but physically as well; in fact, it’s funny the only times that I really ‘felt’ any sensation bodily was when I danced.  Ballroom, mainly Latin, dance became my escape, when I moved to the music, rhythms I would temporarily feel free–like I did before I was violated.  I remember going to great lengths to try to hide what happened but some clues certainly came to the surface.  I used to consciously convince myself not to jump when any male I knew tried to show me affection even if it was a simple hug.  I even flew off the handle every time my mother would bring up the idea of my needing to have a first visit with a gynecologist.  I didn’t believe I needed anyone.  No one came to help me when I was screaming at the top of my lungs and trying to bash my attacker’s head in with the telephone that I just couldn’t manage to reach.  In fact, I didn’t think I needed the Lord because when I really needed Him it seemed like He didn’t even bother to hear me call–He too, was another disappointment.  My mind constantly raced since I was carrying such a heavy load.  I promised myself that I would not allow anyone, especially a male, to get too close or comfortable in my life.  No one would have access to where only the Lord belongs, and at that time God was given limited access to my heart and spirit.  My inner court and sanctuary were to be high security, inaccessible, and completely off limits; leaving only my vestibule which was as far as anyone could get (if I let them in at all), this way I could always escort them outside of my life with no further hurt, harm, or danger.

One night, while in a salsa club, I was dancing and enjoying myself; I opened out, did a few side steps, and let my lead spin and dip me when I started tearing up.  I played it off like I had something in my eye but I kept thinking about my broken spirit.  I trusted my dance partner (lead) more than I did the Lord; I mean my lead would never have to say a word but I knew that my job was to follow him and his non-verbal cues.  On the early morning drive home, I was crying uncontrollably because as much as I tried to lock the Lord out of certain aspects of my life He still saw fit to give me a small taste of what it’s like to feel naked, unashamed, and free–through dance.  All I needed to do was hand over all of myself–broken pieces, my darkest thoughts, anger, resentment, disappointment, confusion, defense mechanisms–to my Father in order for Him to make a strength exchange; this way I could be exposed and free in Him permanently and learn to let Him be my Lead.

Fast forward through almost two years of counseling, as I had come so far–willing to do the work to heal and allow God to show me that He was always right there, I found myself in a “grateful to God” stance at every turn.  My countenance changed; I was smiling and laughing more, empathizing with the pain of others, and revealing more of who I am in order to better serve others I encountered.  I no longer had flashbacks, nightmares from being violated, I was not numb anymore, and I had a comfort with the Lord expressing my feelings which also gave me comfort in sharing my feelings with others. During a prayer shut-in, I allowed God to use me, worshipped in tears more than I ever had before, and boldly wrote the first prayer request for every survivor of child molestation, rape, and sexual abuse, that they be healed and FEEL whole on one of the large sheets of paper on the wall.  One of my amazing family members prayed over me regarding what I am now a conqueror of and decreed that I am free and a powerful vessel for God to use to lift up others.  At the end of it all, I am no longer angry with the Lord, what I have gone through built spiritual muscle and taught me to love, trust Him so I’m grateful.  To be brutally honest, I would go through the worst point of my life again if I knew that I could help someone else and if my suffering turned to strength for another person, bless the Lord.

As I continue to move through this life’s journey with my Heavenly Father, it has become less of a struggle to simply follow my Lead–even when the music, rhythm, and circumstances of this life change. After suffering, healing, and allowing the Lord to turn it around for my and others’ good, experiences such as unemployment, losing friends and family members, and an out of state move all became heart softening experiences and trust exercises!  …it feels amazing to be bold in literally every aspect of my life now; to be FREE and free to follow and move with the Lord as HE leads.  Gracias por todo, en total, a través de él todo lo que Dios Padre (Thank You for all, in all, through it all Father God)!

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Alisha C. Gray

Alisha C. Gray

Alisha C. Gray, MPH Alisha is currently the Project Coordinator for both the Disease Burden & Simulation Unit and Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Program within the Global Pediatric Medicine Department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She also writes grants for Childbirth Survival International, an NGO that provides health services and information for women and children largely in Africa. In prior roles, Alisha has worked to advance influenza emergency response in Mexico, Panama, and Chile by presenting epidemiological data and facilitating communication and service initiatives between in-country Ministries of Health and global health partners from the Pan American Health Office; she also helped to reduce the incidence of guinea worm disease in South Sudan by providing clinical care and designing health communication strategies aimed to eradicate the disease. A graduate of Florida A&M University and Drexel University School of Public Health, she is an extremely passionate and energetic traveler, public health advocate, and servant leader especially dedicated to vulnerable populations. Alisha lives by Galatians 2:20- “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Alisha C. Gray

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4 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience. It HAS and it WILL give others the same courage to speak their truth! This was an awesome read! May God continue to Bless you!!

  2. Alisha I thank God for allowing you to open up. I know for a fact this was hard for you to do. I just feel that someone is going through the same thing and needed to read about it.

  3. Reading this made me face my reality, my demons, my struggles that I am constantly dealing with every single day. It forced me to actually tell myself what I am doing to destroy me. I REALLY needed to read this. THANK YOU Alisha. I love you

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