When God Hands You a Blank Canvas
“I think a lot of times you don't realize that you have a blank canvas in front of you. But at any point we can wash our life clean and have a vision for the future.”
“I was the kind of person that floated from group to group because I wanted to be everybody's friend.”
At home her parents expected nothing less than perfection, especially in school.
“It was just kind of the "Do as you're told and get good grades." That's what was important to them?”
Michelle maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout high school and was active in academic and social clubs. While this pleased her parents, what she received from them in approval was never what she needed most.
“In terms of like love in the home, I really honestly didn't feel that. Not the way I’ve seen in other families where they openly communicate about love. “
After high school Michelle was accepted into a prestigious university in southern California. She approached her studies with the same dedication she had in high school. But she also carried along with her the same need to be “one of the girls”.
“I joined a sorority, again to be a part of something; different honor societies, different clubs at school. I created my life to be what I thought I wanted from what I watched on movies. Because that was my focus, that’s what I worked toward.”
Michelle was always up for a good time and was sometimes naïve about people’s intentions. One night she ran into a friend and agreed to have a drink with him.
“He was really adamant about wanting me to drink this drink, and just drink a lot. All I could remember is that the whole room turned black. It was like, I could see and then all of a sudden it just got blacker and blacker, and then I just went out. I woke up the next morning and I was on my bed in my room, I didn't know how I got there, but my shirt was lifted up over me, and he was forcing himself on me, and I couldn't move my body. I could think and I was coherent and I could just like, remember screaming in my head to get up. And I don't know how much time passed by, but finally I got up and I remember like just crawling to the bathroom and just trying to like sober myself up. And I was looking in the mirror and I was thinking, "Ah, is this – is this really happening?"
The rape left Michelle full of guilt and depression.
“I couldn’t trust myself. I didn't understand how I could let something like that happen. And at that moment I really literally felt that light just disappear.”
After college Michelle jumped from one career to the next…most with big paychecks attached. But none of them felt ‘right’. After blowing through 80-thousand dollars in one-year …she had to move back home with her parents.
“I was desperate for my life to change. I really couldn’t keep going the way I was going because I was a train wreck. I was reckless.”
Michelle came to learn her low point was where God could reach her.
“I picked up an old journal and I just started writing. It’s like it wasn't me speaking. It was something bigger than me speaking to me through my writing, letting me know that everything was going to be okay.”
Six months later Michelle decided to work toward pursuing her dream of starting her own business. She signed up for a training seminar. The experience was not what she expected.
“One of the early tools she shared about was forgiveness. And she had each of us write our name on a piece of paper and forgive ourselves. And at that point I was a bawling mess. I cried. I wrote down the person that raped me. I wrote down my mom and my dad. I wrote down a lot of people. She did, what I know now is an altar call, but she just basically said, ‘If you want to know my God, then come up to the front and I'm going to share with you who my God is, and I'm going to lead you to Him.’ I just surrendered everything because everything I was doing wasn't working, so that was when I knew. I just had a sense of hope again that there is maybe a chance that I could wash the slate clean.”
Michelle learned that through Christ, she could start with a clean slate. Her heart began to heal and she forgave those who had wronged her. She’s now a life coach, married with children…and…she paints. It reminds her of her road to salvation.
“Before I knew the Lord I had the safety of the cage. It was the home. When I finish it, it's going to have the door swinging open. I'm actually sitting on top of the cage. And then up here above uh is when I've taken flight and I'm soaring above.”