By Misty Raley

Thirteen  years ago, my whole life changed. At twelve years of age, I was tucked in the back of my closet, banging my head against the wall attempting to soothe my fearful soul. Tears streaming down my checks, I repeated at least a thousand times, “All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord; according to His purpose. All things…” My sister and I had just made a very important phone call that ended the violence in our home. Police were coming any minute, which should have brought comfort, but instead brought panic. My future was still uncertain. That was the first time I put my trust in my Christian faith instead of myself. My alcoholic father was incarcerated that day. My brave mom, sister and I, with the help of a handful of people, started to rebuild our lives. Since that day, my life has changed in leaps and bounds. I never anticipated becoming a millionaire, and well that hasn’t happened yet. But I genuinely love life, which my twelve-year old self would be surprised to know.

You may know fancy superheroes from comic books and inspirational people from 60 minutes, but I know some personally. I started a new life thirteen years ago with two incredible women that the world may never recognize as heroes, but they’re heroes to me. We ditched the fear, the secrets, and the no-can-do’s. One of the hardest things I have had to learn through this process is that grief and growth is a corkscrew effect. When the past comes to haunt, I have to remind myself that old wounds and fears can be revisited. That’s okay and probably really healthy in small doses, the past just cannot become a permanent resident in my future. I use to think I needed to bury the past and hide my story. I did not want people to mark me as a victim. But I’ve realized much like a corkscrew, I may revisit memories and hit old trigger points, but I’m always going up a higher level and seeing from a clearer perspective.

Nowadays, instead of avoiding telling anyone about the last day I called my dad, Papa, I embrace the story. On that rainy June day I thought my life would be forever marked as “unrelatable”. Now, I’m grateful to tell you that I tell people as often as it seems natural. I want to raise awareness about domestic abuse. Our story is far from unique. Thankfully, my mom refused to leave us behind. She waited until we were ready to escape together as a family.

This is my favorite story because of what it says about God and three completely unprepared and uncertain women who listened to Christ when he said to trust Him. Most people know that He can take beauty from ashes. But even more than that, He can remove all evidence that it even started from ashes. Moving into a second decade of recovery, I can tell you honestly I still untangle misguided truths and flat out lies because of the abuse I experienced. That’s why I love to reflect on what started it all. The person you see of me today is completely different than what I ever imagined possible back then. But I can say with conviction in my voice: ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER for the good of those who love the Lord; according to His purpose! If you are struggling with any kind of addiction, violence, or fear… there is still hope! Just take thirty seconds of courage, and begin to rebuild.

Misty Raley, from San Antonio, Texas, is newly married to Jason Gassaway.  She is a Business grad turned elementary school teacher. When she’s not tying students’ shoes, you can find her hiking, going to music festivals or stuffing her face with spicy food.