Bruises cover the side of her arm, sprinkles of blood stain her shirt and, tears fill her eyes. The newspaper article was not just words on a screen, but it was standing in front of me. It was on that day that shaped my future as a person and a writer. It all started on October 7th 2013: The sun was piercing the classroom window and students swarmed the journalism room all anxiously waiting to be assigned a story. It was fairly easy for me to write an article, getting lost in the words I put down, but I never having an emotional connection to the words. Until October 8th 2013, the day my teacher revealed my article assignment: domestic violence. Confused on why my school would want to take on such a disturbing topic, I took on the challenge and began the journey.
A week had passed and every student I interviewed gave me the same awkward smile and wave goodbye response. It was now October 12th, 2013, and the only words on my computer screen was my name, I resented the fact I decided to take on the challenge. Frustrated, at 1:12am, I sat down with a coffee besides me and decided to base my article solely on facts alone. At this point I didn’t care about this subject anymore. As I was quoting the words “bruised, battered, and betrayed” from a psychologist, I heard a loud knock on the door. I opened the door and Sarah, the quietest and sweetest girl on campus, looked at me with tears in her eyes. She was a direct reflection of the words on my screen: bruised, battered and betrayed.
With tears in her eyes she mouthed out: “help me”. I took her in, sat her down, and listened to her narrate how she had endured abuse by her boyfriend. As she took off her jacket I could see her story come to life in every mark she had. The way her boyfriend kissed her face with a black eye, the way her boyfriend caressed her shoulder with his closed fist, and the way her boyfriend whispered sweet words of hate. She went on to explain how his words caused her to self-mutilate himself and eventually try committing suicide.
The more she spoke the more I could envision the brutal attacks happening in my mind. How could this happen? I thought to myself. What can I possibly do? Then it was as if time stood still. And like a whisper I heard God in my heart say “selfishness”. Every question in my mind all seemed to revolve around me. Suddenly, she stood in front of me grabbed my face and asked if I could write about her. It then hit me like a gust of wind on a hot day what writing truly was and what it meant. Being a writer is not about being able to piece together a sentence (although that helps) or even about being the best, it’s about the journey it takes to get there. It’s about breathing life into each word and not being afraid to put yourself—or your heart— in every word.
At the end of the article I realized how much strength it takes to truly become vulnerable in your writing. Sarah’s pain and heartbreak was evident in each word that I wrote and in every quote she spoke. Being able to tell their story allowed me to see myself through this piece. I saw the selfishness that we have as individuals. It’s like a seed has been sown into our biology. It was then, October 14th, 2013—the day the article was published—that I made a decision to stop thinking of myself and use the gifts God blessed me with to give a voice to those people who feel mute. I decided that I would not be a stereotypical Christian whose only action is a simple hug and an “I’ll pray for you” response. I decided to do more.
A week passed. Then it became weeks of face book stalking (I mean ‘research’). I finally found the guy who used Sarah’s body as his own personal punching bag. What now? What if he comes after me and I become his next target? What if he finds out about Sarah and she goes from being a survivor to another sad case. The more I stared at his name on the screen the angrier I got. Where was God when this girl was being beaten? Where was God when she was crying in the bathroom wishing that her life was over? Where was God when the knife grazed her wrists? I know that God would never abandon us, so why would He allow this. It was then that God reminded me of the night Sarah showed up on my doorstep. It was Him who saved her from that guy and led Sarah to my house. How could I have such a little faith in such a big God? That’s the thing about faith we only seem to have it when things work out in our lives the way we want them.
I continued to stare at his name on the screen and this time I felt peace. I wrote to him and told him about the article, I explained about the pain he caused, I elaborated on trauma he left, but I also revealed to him that the love I still had and the forgiveness I gave. I was happy. I was content. I was at peace. I had to let go and let God continue the work on his life. I continued to talk to Sarah and pray for the guy who forever changed her life. That’s the thing about faith if you have even a small amount of it major changes can happen. That changed happed about 3 months later when that once abusive man emailed me back and gave his life to Christ. Life is never easy and faith is even harder, but if you just continue to live for God you realize that “Life is worth living because He lives”
In the end, Sarah was able to read the article and she see her relationship through a different perspective. She got enough courage, along with four other girls, to leave their violent relationships. Seeing the change my article brought change me as an individual and an artist. I was no longer a writer. I was no longer just writing stories because I could. I was no longer just thinking and praying for myself. I prayed that my words would pierce the hearts of those who heard them. That my sentences would break any ignorance or arrogance that they may have—including myself. I prayed that my story would take them through a journey and change their lives completely. My change: I was no longer just a writer. I was a writer on a journey to fulfill my purpose in God through my gift.