I’m delighted to announce the return of the God and Suffering: Our Story series! Kicking us off is Helen Austin, whose story is so powerful because she is so full of hope, despite having been through such very dark places. She’s a gifted storyteller, with an important story to tell. Over to Helen:
**Warning: contains mention of rape and suicide**
I never knew life could change totally in just the space of a few minutes.
But it can and it did for me.
I’ll take you back a bit, to that day. Just over eight years ago.
I was walking down the street. Two men were standing at the end.
Not long later I was left in the corner of the building site wondering why they hadn’t killed me.
I had no idea in the moment that there would be many times over the next year where I would wish I was dead.
Life had not been easy beforehand anyway. I had tried to compartmentalise. I had tried to block it out. I had tried to ‘move on’. It wasn’t so easy. But I managed. I built walls. I became ‘tough’. I didn’t let the world scare me. So much so, someone once told me I had a heart of stone. I didn’t. It’s always been quite soft, I just had to protect it. But that day I could not protect my heart, or myself.
I was left feeling like I was nothing.
I was left unclean. Stained.
Used and abused, discarded like a rag.
It was brutal.
I was broken. Completely broken.
Shattered into thousands of tiny pieces.
After that day, the day I was raped, nothing was ever the same again and I did the only thing I knew how to, in order to survive. I closed ranks even more. I moved away from the area within weeks. Left the community I was part of, and went ‘home’ to the one I had grown up in. I didn’t tell anyone, for a long time.
I lost control. I drank. I smoked. I self harmed. I tried to kill myself. Twice.
But whilst standing on the bridge that I was ready to hang from, in an effort to make my second suicide attempt actually work, car headlights passing by stopped me, and a tiny flicker of doubt crossed my mind.
It was the last time I was to try and die.
And as the morning dawned the sun brightly seeped through the cracks of my black out curtains and flooded into my bedroom I decided I had to try and live.
Hope – the size of a grain of sand, so small I could hardly see it, though its quiet whisper I could hear – entered into my life.
That was seven years ago.
Fast forward to September 2015. Now.
Sitting in the garden, watching stars and writing. And thinking about how life changed yet again for me in 2013 when I discovered gold.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of using gold to fill cracks in broken pottery, or to weld together broken pieces. The object is then seen just as beautiful as before, if not even more beautiful.
Beauty is found in the brokenness.
See, once upon a time I had known Jesus. I had known He was good. And He was love. But after that day I couldn’t believe it. I used to think I wasn’t a Christian any more. I used to tell people I wasn’t one, but the truth is I was. I did believe. I just hated God. I was angry.
Until, through a series of what I can only call ‘holy moments’ I met Him again, and He became my gold.
I reached out, and He reached back because although I ‘wandered away’, He had never gone anywhere. He had been there all along, and was still there.
He was there, in the darkest of dark nights.
He was there when my light went out.
He was there when I lost all hope.
He was there when I screamed, swore and sobbed.
He was there when the tears fell behind closed doors, so no one saw.
But He saw, because He was there. Right there.
Weeping with me. And He has wept with me since.
Over the last 24 months as I’ve lowered the walls, and allowed the gold to run through every part of my broken shards I’ve discovered more and more where He was. And where He is.
He was there, and He still here, with me now.
Weeping when I weep, but also smiling when I smile, and laughing when I laugh, which are all things that as life is being breathed back into my soul I am learning to do again.
And I’ve discovered that this gold, this vibrant, extravagant, powerful gold that is God is restoring my soul.
I used to think the word restore meant ‘to return to its original’ and thought it was not applicable to me, and that it never would be. I could never be restored back to my former self.
Yet I’ve learnt ‘restore’ can also mean ‘to bring back to health, good spirits’.
Kintsugi does not make something to be exactly the same as it was before. It restores something back to good health, with its visible gold.
And so restoration with God does not mean I am being restored to look exactly how I did before.
I am still being restored. I am being brought back to life.
My soul, my spirit, my heart that was left so cracked is being ‘filled’ in. I am being pieced back together again, to look a little bit different to before, but with just as much beauty running through, if not more.
I have discovered the beauty of gold in my brokenness.
I have discovered the beauty of God in my brokenness.
Helen Austin is a Christian writer and thinker. She is a blogger who writes on numerous subjects including spirituality and feminism. Helen is a survivor of abuse and rape and is passionate about speaking out about violence against women.
You can follow her on Twitter at @helen_a15 and her blog at
“After that day, the day I was raped, nothing was ever the same again” – @helen_a15’s God and Suffering story:
“I never knew life could change totally in just the space of a few minutes.” – @helen_a15’s God and Suffering Story:
“Beauty is found in the brokenness.” – @helen_a15’s uplifting God and Suffering Story:
“He was there when I lost all hope.” – @helen_a15’s uplifting God and Suffering Story:
“Restoration with God does not mean I am being restored to look exactly how I did before.” – @helen_a15’s Story:
“I am still being restored. I am being brought back to life.” – @helen_a15’s inspiring God and Suffering Story:
Over to you:
- When you consider ‘kintsugi’, to what extent does that give you a picture of your own life? How does it help you to ‘reframe’ those parts of you that you are most ashamed of?
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