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I dedicate this post to some of the bravest people I’ve ever known.

Unspeakable horrors happened to you. Your earliest memories expose trusts broken by parents who should have loved you – protected you.

Grown ups who bought and sold you to satisfy their warped desires.

I saw the hurt in your eyes when I begged you to stop telling me. I couldn’t even bear to hear what you had somehow managed to live.

~

You were just a boy, 10 years old when you left home. You chose a life of prostitution. Somehow you had glamourized that life-style. You thought that you’d make lots of money.

Then you’d go get your brothers – rescue them from your abusive addict of a mother. And raise them on your own and give them a chance for a better future.

~

You were only 17. You were nervous and ashamed. You were quiet and your eyes seemed so… so dead. I wondered if you were still in there somewhere.

You raised your shirt to show me. You raised your shirt because you couldn’t find the words to tell me. You raised your shirt and exposed your nakedness.

I choked back tears and forced myself to look at the burns and ugly scars that covered your torso.

Yes your pimp let you go but he made sure no one else would want you. I held you until you stopped crying.

~

You were incarcerated in the east and released in the west – far from home and everything you knew. You were like a possessed man – and seemed to have the physical strength of ten.

You scared me – you scared everyone. The anger and hatred in your eyes was so intense and frightening that I sat paralyzed when you crashed your fist down on my desk.

And then you told me that you were put in jail for beating three men within an inch of their lives.

With tears streaming down your face, you shared how you had tracked them down like animals after they’d brutally raped your sister.

~

Your mother was an alcoholic. You were born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. You made horrible choices. And although you were a full-grown woman you had the emotional maturity of a 12-year-old.

You’d been sexually abused most of your life.

Your teeth were rotting in your mouth.

You’d given birth to three children.

Each time you birthed a child, social services snatched them away from you. Each time they did so you felt as though they’d ripped your heart out. You never even held your babies.

~

These are all true stories. The stories of people I met while working at a coffee-house that served the homeless. My heart ached for them.

I wished I could take their pain away. I wished I could restore them to the way they would have been if only…

I pleaded with God to give them peace.

There was nothing else I could do

but tell them they had value

that they would have to dig deep to find a way to crawl out of their personal hell

that they had what it took to find a way

that I believed in them.

It’s a wonder that they survived

I believe in you

These four simple words have the power to transform. They shine light on the truth of who we are meant to be. When struggles come, when we feel that all is lost, that we just don’t have the strength anymore:

to keep fighting;

to do the right thing;

These words, when lovingly spoken by someone who cares for us, help us to go on.

Hopefully, we’ve all experienced them in times of need

And they have given us courage when we were afraid.

They have flooded us with light when it’s been too dark to see.

I believe in you doesn’t fix the past, but it’s a place to start.

Is there someone you love who is struggling?

Stand by them.

Believe in them until they believe in themselves.

Maybe it’s you who is struggling.

Please don’t give up.

Dig deep.

You have what it takes.

I believe in you.

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