From Ashes to Beauty is a blog series inspired by Isaiah 61:3
"to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified"
and Brett Younker's song "All Things New".
"You give beauty for our ashes
And a hope that's everlasting
The past has been redeemed
Now forever we will sing"
In this series we will take a deeper look at the lives of women who have gone through suffering, and the ways God worked to take their pain and make something beautiful from the ash.
These are going to be true stories, raw, and vulnerable, a bit painful at some points, but ultimately beautiful, hope filled stories. We are going to look beyond the pain to the bigger picture of each story. The hurts in our stories are not the end, but only the beginning.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
— Romans 8:28
This series is for women by women, but men are welcome to read and be a part of our journey's.
There will be no set schedule for these post, but I will continue to share them as long as God continues to provide them.
Each story will be accompanied by a set of portrait images of the woman whose story is being represented in that post.
My hope in sharing these stories is that we may be more aware of God's presences in our times of sorrow, and see his hand working to heal, protect, encourage, and bring us closer to Him.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
— 2 Corinthians 1:2-5
By Haley Huskey
It amazes me how easy it can be to push something that greatly impacted your life to the side and almost completely forget about it; without being aware, it affects you in countless ways. This was my experience. Finally admitting to myself in 2014 that I had been molested started me on a journey in which I learned that opening my heart (including the broken bits) to God and allowing myself to process the pain that one event had caused was the way to a life of freedom.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” - 1 Peter 5:7
I was in my first year of ministry school at BSSM. To kick off the school year, the students are sent on a retreat to get to know each other and encounter God together. It was our second day at J.H. Ranch when a guy started speaking to me about something he felt God wanted to heal me from in my past. He said he felt that someone had greatly mistreated me. As the memory of what had happened came rushing back to me, I began weeping (an action which was about to become very familiar). Unfortunately, our conversation was awkwardly cut short as there was an announcement that our group was to gather for an activity. It consumed my mind for the rest of the day and that evening in worship. I was filled with so much anger, screaming in my mind “WHERE WERE YOU, GOD?”. I did not know what to do or how to process my emotions. But knowing (in my head) that God was perfect in all of His ways, I realized that somehow He did not deserve it. I am very thankful that -- as misguided as it may be -- God can handle our anger towards Him. The book of Job is a perplexing part of the Bible, in which we get to read about Job’s frustration and anger from the pain he experienced. At times he cries out to God seemingly without any filter and says things to God that would have many of us horrified. However, after Job repents, God is able to say that Job has spoken rightly of Him. As far as we can tell, God was not incredibly angry at Job for his words.
“After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: ‘My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.’” - Job 42:7
It is hard to know what God truly meant by Job speaking what is right of Him, but it seems to me that God values honesty over “saying the right thing”. Job’s words certainly did not change God’s mind about choosing Job as His servant; God still takes pleasure in Job. In the midst of experiencing emotions similar to some that Job experienced, I asked a friend to pray for me. I did not let her know exactly what it was for, but I felt desperate. After that night, I proceeded to try to forget about it…which was entirely useless.
For what felt like months, I would be talking to people and they would say something that -- though completely unrelated -- would trigger the memory. At this point, I realized what happened to me was molestation and I decided that one day I would tell my future husband about this and that would be all who needed to know…a ridiculous conclusion, I now realize. God definitely had different plans. As it kept resurfacing again and again, I was forced to face what happened and finally ask God how to get past this; I had to open up. After another week of me avoiding it, I was home alone with my sister. We were talking and once again, the memory came to mind and I finally let it out. I remember the feeling of shaking and weeping uncontrollably in the process of speaking, but was filled with relief after my sister reacted in a momma-bear, protective way. I had no idea I needed this kind of reaction, but that is what began to give me the realization that it was not my fault and I should not be ashamed. I praise God that she was the first person I told, because her reaction set me on a motivational course for healing. I was suddenly determined to get through this and felt like I needed more people on my team to recovery, so I opened up, in tears again, to my beautiful small group of women at BSSM. I still did not understand why God would let this happen or how a person could do what was done to me, especially since I was so young when it happened. I continued to ask the question, “where were You, God?”
Every day at school, we would open up with worship. One of these mornings I finally saw, in my minds-eye, an answer from God. I was taken back into the memory and as it was happening, I saw that God was weeping in the corner of the room. He then told me “I chose to give people free will, and as much as it kills me when they use that gift wrongly (especially when it hurts my other children), I honor that choice.” I cannot express to you how much weight was lifted off my shoulders in that moment or what a mess I was after that encounter, but truth was restored to me then. God is a good, good Father and He gives good gifts to His children.
“So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" - Matthew 7:11
Free will is a gift, and though many will misuse it, God does not take His gifts back. We cannot earn a gift or disqualify ourselves from having it. We can twist it, we can use it how it was meant, or we can put it in the back of our closet and forget that it ever existed. However, we cannot give it back to Him.
And now, with that revelation in mind, I am able to move forward. In my heart, I have forgiven the man who violated me and honestly wish him the best. I pray that God has filled whatever void was in his heart that drove him to do such a thing, that he is living a life free from guilt because God has forgiven him, and is free from such temptations. Isn’t it so beautiful how God will forgive us from absolutely anything we have done if only we will accept Him into our lives? He has forgiven me for every single thing I’ve done and I hope to do that for anyone who ever wrongs me.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” - Colossians 3:13
This is the true way to freedom - forgiveness. It’s how Jesus set us free and it is how we set ourselves and others free.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” - Galatians 5:1
To anyone who is walking through the process of healing right now, know this: you are not alone. Nothing, absolutely nothing can separate you from the love of God.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” - Isaiah 41:10
He is there even when you don’t feel Him, He loves you even when you feel like He is against you. You can handle anything when you cling to Jesus. When you feel like you can’t last another second, cling to Him. You WILL get through this, For He is greater than it all. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
Follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jesus) to freedom and know what it means to be washed clean.