Last year, at the age of twenty-two, I walked into Selah, alone. I was in a brief period between my school finals, recovering from a multitude of bad antidepressants, and heading out for a month long trip to a high sex trafficking area in Kenya to work with women and children affected by HIV and AIDs, also alone. Up until Selah I had felt that the large majority of my faith walk was alone. I didn’t fit the mold of a cookie cutter Christian girl and felt punished, instead of encouraged for my desire to lead and my passion for the Gospel. Whenever I heard God’s voice calling me to action I also faced feelings of shame and guilt for having the desire to say yes to Jesus.
When I was raped as a teenager by someone in my youth group, I spoke to a church leader and though I was assured I’d be forgiven I was also told to repent for whatever role I had played in my suffering. I left that church and continued to relentlessly seek Jesus, but I couldn’t help thinking, if these are the men meant to “lead me to Jesus” I will never be close enough.
A few years later I started doing ministry at my alma mater; Ohio University - a notorious party school in Athens Ohio - my current pastor had not only made a point to let me know that it wasn’t a holy place to be but also preached in his sermon that following Sunday that he would never allow his daughter to live in such a place. The problem was that I was completely committed to the truth of John 1:5 that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. I believed God was using me to reflect himself in the darkness and I wasn’t willing to compromise.
I was left questioning my callings, confused by the truth I was reading my Bible and the manipulation that seemed to be happening at the pulpit. When I finally went to Selah I saw real women pursuing the Lord in so many beautiful ways. I found affirmation that a women's place is at the feet of Jesus no matter where that is or what it looks like. I was able to head into one of the most transformative months of my life no longer alone but knowing deep in my spirit that there was and still are women marching along side Christ right there with me.