I remember Sept. 9, 2009. It was the day I first registered my business name in hopes of being an independent book publisher... Let's just say I published what's more commonly recognized as a pamphlet, not a paperback book (or Kindle version). I took a quick snap while writing this blog so you can see that I'm not exaggerating with the use of the term "pamphlet". Maybe "brochure" is appropriate? I joke, but Scripture has taught me to not despise small beginnings. (The heat index was over 100 today in Atlanta, this is affectionately called "summer hair". )
As one who loves words, I read the newspaper for both information and to seek out new words that can expand my vocabulary. I remember reading several articles in that sitting and reflecting on the words resilience and strength. Although they were not new words to me, they stood out on the thin, off-white newspaper as if they were highlighted. In fact, if I can be honest, those words jumped out at me.
What did it mean? I wrote them in my journal and went to bed. Before I closed my eyes, the same two words ran through my mind - strength and resilience. They seemed like the perfect pair. I thanked God for the strength and resilience to survive all that I had, and drifted off to sleep. The next day, while doing some chores around the house, I thought about what strength and resilience means to me; I felt the urge to put it into context and see how they relate to my life.
Resilience is the ability to bounce-back from difficult situations and strength helps you to press-on beyond your circumstances.
I recognized that resilience is a resolve and strength is an inner conviction. Both work hand-in-hand. They are essential in transforming from a victim to a survivor. Thus, Incredible Resilience and Inner Strength was born out of a personal belief that we all have it deep inside; we just need help uncovering it after being victimized. IRIS helped me leave the cycle of abuse and live in the cycle of hope. I wanted to become a champion of hope to those who were like me and my mother - abused but still valuable.
When I was younger, I heard this amazing story of how a dollar bill never looses its' value. It can be trampled upon, balled up, faded and torn. But its' value remained the same. That little story taught me so much as a child. I slowly began the process of redefining my identity. I can't let being a victim of crime, or a former foster child, define me.
It's hard to regain control of what you never really had a good grasp of, in the first place. As a young adult, I had a plan. But I also had a ton of insecurities and self-esteem issues that I had to work through, in addition to a few relationships that didn't work out. As I made small decisions here and there to course correct and keep my hands on the steering wheel of my life, I was comforted by the fact that there's no particular destination that I needed to reach. Life is a journey. It continually evolves; we should never arrive at one place and think "that's it for me!" No, it's a series of decisions. Where I am, today, is a result of who I was yesterday. In order for me to get to where I want to be tomorrow, I must first bounce back and exert strength today.
It's not a sprint, either. Life is a marathon. We stay the course, we run with endurance, we learn to love along the way. I wish that no one experiences what I did, or any form of relationship violence. But I know all to well when I speak at events, sign books for the abused, and volunteer at a local safe house by answering the National Domestic Violence Hotline, that the prevalence and occurrence of abuse continues.
And, so will I. Ten years and counting! Thank you for your support as I advocate on behalf of survivors like myself to encourage one another to create a new vision for love, relationships, and self. I'm thankful for all that was accomplished and I'm excited about what the next ten years has in store!