Part 1: The Strength to Name
At the age of 17, he'd never taken a trip to the zoo. Thus, our time had been long anticipated, welcomed by the North Carolina humidity and heat; we made our trek to join the crowds to see the animals. Elephants, baboons, polar bears, lions, and giraffes were the highlight of our viewing pleasure. He was captivated and ecstatic to see the wild creatures. In the sweltering heat, we laughed, ate Dippin' Dots twice, traveling from one exhibit to another. It was delightful to watch him be little, unashamed by the enjoyment of experiencing the zoo through his childlike self. That day he felt small and young; happy and carefree, a firm contrast to the reality of his childhood and mine too.
By the end of the day, I was exhausted and so very grateful for the beautiful day at the zoo. As we were sitting down waiting for the shuttle bus to take us to my car, he turned, looked at me and revealed an incredible statement, "Anna, I do not see you as my social worker." Without further explanation, I curiously replied, "Oh, well who do you see me as?" He answered, "I see you as my older sister." Being an only child, from precarious family, it felt mutually fitting to accept this invitation. So, I gently responded, "I have no siblings. I will gladly be your big sister." Underneath the blistering June sun, there we sat, two orphaned hearts, from widely different backgrounds, joined together by the hope of a family.
Years ago, I would not imagine this story and others similar would be my experience. As I stepped into anti-trafficking work, I naively expected to be uninfringed by the people I ministered to, my hypothesis could not be more incorrect. Instead, I've watched God purpose my own story of sexual abuse and trafficking to intersect with those we've ministered to at Restore One. I've witnessed God redeem profound places of woundedness, allowing my story to slowly start to shift from fragmented pieces into accounts of graceful strength.
“I’ve watched God purpose my own story of sexual abuse and trafficking to intersect with those we’ve ministered to at Restore One." - Anna Smith
As I've journeyed alongside numerous other boys and men, I've admired their courage and bravery for saying yes to their restoration through the work of naming their own story. It takes great strength to sit with others as they name the truth of their own story of heartache; it takes greater strength to face your own. In recent years I too have been able to give words to my personal stories of harm. I've learned it's bold to call out the marks of abuse and allow for grieve and rage over the damage. Naming these truths of our past, paths the way for restoration to transpire, a process that frees the heart to dream again and enables us to recognize the beauty of our core. In the month of June we are daring the community of Restore One to take a look at naming their own stories, and join us in believing for healing to transpire!
INWARD SPOTLIGHT WITH MIKE:
Mike Eggleston serves as the President of Restore One. To learn more about Mike CLICK HERE.
Mike, how has it been for you to own and face your own story?
Freeing - shame keeps you locked up! Before, I was always afraid if others knew my story, they would think less of me; now, I know that when I share appropriately, I give myself a chance to heal, and hopefully, provide hope to others who have been in my shoes.
Can you provide a word of encouragement for those who are naming their stories of harm for the first time?
Every healing journey has to begin with telling another person - a live, human other person. There is no other way!
Mike, what is your hope for the first four residents who will likely be just starting their journey of healing?
That these boys will learn that they didn't do anything wrong and that it wasn't their fault.
At Restore One we believe recovery is not a linear process, but a circuitous adventure, one that we hope to invite many boys into, starting with the first four at The Anchor House. This summer, God willing, we are opening the doors, and we ask that you join us in commemorating the resilience of these first residents who are saying, "yes," to naming their own story by supporting the Summer of Strength Campaign through giving, sharing and praying. Join us every Monday on Facebook Live 8:00 pm EST with Emily Fitchpatrick to hear updates and receive encouragement.
In Grace & Sincerity,
Anna Marie Smith
Anna Smith serves as the Co-founder of Restore One, to learn more about visit www.sheisannasmith.com
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