Q. I’ve read your book and some of your blogs and I really would like to change, but I’ve made such a complete mess of my life that I don’t know where to start. How do I begin?
A. You begin by praying. And if you don’t know how to pray you just say, “God help me.” Then you take one step at a time. Begin daily asking God to help you. And, remember, don’t be so hard on yourself. God loves you and there is nothing you could ever do to make Him love you less. Don’t look back at your mess. Ask for forgiveness and then move forward acting forgiven and wanting to live the life He created you to have.
Q. I know that you are a Catholic. I am not. Do I have to be a Catholic before you can help me?
A. No! Absolutely not! It doesn’t matter what denomination, religion or lack of religion you might be or have, we all suffer and we all are in need of hope. I don’t profess to cure anyone, nor am I a licensed therapist or counselor. All I can do is give you my experience and offer what knowledge and wisdom I’ve mustered through my own sufferings that have taught me that there is so much more to life than living as a victim in the suffering.
Q. How can I know that God loves me?
A. Take in a breath. And let it out. With every breath you take, He is beside you, within you, around you. I think the hardest part about “knowing” is the ability to feel worthy of receiving His love, because how can we truly know it unless we accept it? That’s the real question. When I think about knowing God’s love for me, I think of Jeremiah 1:5—“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” When I think of God’s love, I think of how He knew me and wanted to create me, just as He knew you and wanted to create you and continues to want you to fulfill the purpose for which He created you.
Q. I look around me and all I see is everything getting worse and worse. How am I supposed to find hope in that?
A. God brings good out of everything—this I know for certain and would bet my life upon. There was a time when I felt that every time I turned around another bad thing was happening to me. “Really, God?” I would think and let the anger towards Him and everyone else around me build up until I was blinded by anything that could be good. I was so stuck in focusing on the “bad” stuff that I wouldn’t allow myself to see the good that was forming from it all. The more that I stayed beaten down, the more I made decisions that reflected that attitude—which brought on even more “bad” stuff. It wasn’t until I literally could not live stuck in that hopeless despair and anger that I finally gave it all to God. I felt there was nothing to lose because it was all bad anyway. Once I started to look up and see what He could do better with my life then that is when I started to see the good that was going on around me. Now I look back at that time in my life and I thank God for it…not that I’m glad it was done to me, but for the strength and wisdom I received having lived through it.
Q. I was raped by my boyfriend and now everyone acts like I’m the one who did something wrong. How am I supposed to get over this and move on with my life?
A. First of all, I am so sorry this happened to you. No one deserves to be raped, taken advantage of or abused in any way. When it is done by someone you trust, like your boyfriend, it is a deeper wound to heal and it often is harder for others to understand because they can’t fathom that person acting in that way. Stick with those that love you and are there to support you through this difficult time. You can’t make others believe you, but you can stick to the truth and soon enough the actions of your boyfriend will be revealed. Please go to counseling and talk about what happened to you. Talking is the best healing, along with prayer. And, remember, what has been done to you does not define you. One step at a time is how you move on with your life, trusting God has more for you in this life. You will get through this.
Q. Like you, I suffered with feelings of unworthiness for years. I’ve finally come to see myself as a beloved child of God and now I’d really like to help others, just as you are doing. How did you get started?
A. I started by helping through my church with teens. I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to help them not make the same mistakes I made. And, if they felt they already had made those mistakes or things had already been done to them, I wanted them to know that their life was not over or defined by these things. From there I just kept talking and telling about what had happened to me and how I overcame the depression and despair. More and more people wanted to know so they asked me to speak to their groups. Honestly, I wish I could give you a formula for how I got started, but it truly was a multitude of little moments that led up to what I am doing today. My advice would be to just start talking and sharing your experience and offering your time to groups you think could benefit from the wisdom God has given you through your journey. If you are feeling called, then know that God will open the doors.
Visit Shannon’s blog at http://www.shannonmdeitz.com/category/blog