Do you believe in love? That's a question I found myself pondering as I tethered between wanting to take my life and wanting to live again. I can recall the summer of 1999 in NYC, feeling the heat of the season pressed against the chill of my heart. Everything felt so cold, so numb, so out of touch. My heart seemed trapped behind an ice wall that just couldn't seem to break. What happened to the girl who was so vivacious and spirited? Who had stolen her life?
I asked myself this question time and time again as I pretended nothing was wrong and wondered why no one seemed to notice me slipping away. Day by day I put on my shiny persona and pretended that I was the same Sybil everyone knew, hoping that someone would see beneath the surface. I was profiling on the outside and crying out on the inside. I can recall the last suicide note I wrote to my mother, thanking her for being a lifeline when I had no will to live, but letting her know that her job was over because I was tired of holding on. You see, in 1997, I was raped. A person that I knew very well sexually assaulted me, and like many other women who go through that experience, I said nothing. I spent three years of my life in denial that "the incident" ever happened, and wishing I could wipe it all away. I tried to drink it away, party it all away, but nothing seemed to take the pain, humiliation, and shame away from the fact that this happened to me. That one incident had me questioning all of the love and meaning that my life once held, and pushed me into the dark hole of depression. I felt so hopeless and dejected inside that life had lost all meaning. I didn't want to die; I just didn't know how to live.
After three years of warring with myself, I feel like God cornered me. I can remember sitting up in my room in the middle of the night screaming and crying because I couldn't escape the truth about what had happened to me. I had the worse night of repetitious dreams where the assault kept repeating itself, and I couldn't get away from it. When I awoke, I immediately called one of my best friends and admitted for the 1st time that I was raped, depressed and now suicidal. We talked through the night and eventually fell asleep on the phone, but God met me in my dreams. At this moment I heard God saying "do you love me? Do you trust me?" And I thought my answer was "yes," until God responded "If you loved me you would trust me with your life instead of taking things into your own hands. Try me, give me a chance at teaching you about love." And this was the beginning of my journey towards belief in love.
I took my time to get to know the God in me. Each day was almost like a date, where I planned the time I spent connecting with nature, embracing the world with God's eyes, connecting with other people and laughing again...I mean really laughing, and feeling GOOD on the inside. It wasn't before long on this journey that I met a man (a super fantastic genuine MAN) named Kwaku. I knew from the moment that I met him that he was extraordinary and had intentions to connect with my heart, but I remember feeling intense fear and asking myself a thousand questions..."Am I capable of loving anyone right now?", "Will I destroy this relationship with doubt and rejection?", "Will he be good to me?" and the list goes on. I tried to dismiss myself from his life by removing all emotion and always giving him a way out. But none of that worked. God sent Kwaku as an extension of God's love in my life and physical proof that there is beauty for ashes and joy for mourning. His devotion to my heart has been unmatched, and no past hurt or present wound could keep him from loving ALL of ME. So, I loved in return! And now 14 years later, we reap the abundant fruit of a real, true, love relationship with two beautiful children who we adore. We get to share our love life with the world as an example to anyone who desires to connect with the love and light of God through family.
Over the course of time and experience, I learned to receive God as love and love as God intended. Here are the four things that I learned about love:
1. Love chases you - with each new sunrise, I learned to see God. I began to appreciate nature and all of the beauty that the earth possesses. I could see God in the simplest form, and I began to understand that His expression of love for me is not in one dimension, nor one experience....His love is multifaceted, and if I fell in love with His way of loving me, I would experience the many sides/ways of being loved.
2. Love heals you - I was at the lowest point in my life, feeling overwhelmed with pain and isolated by fear and hurt. I hated the silence until I learned to hear God's voice. Listening to His voice and connecting with His peace in silence soothed my heart and gave me comfort during very intense turmoil. Those same moments where I was at war with my thoughts became sweet tender moments between a Father and His daughter. And, with that connection, I have healed and become whole again.
3. Love protects you from yourself - If you had met me, Sybil, in 1997, I was self-destructing yet pretending to be the happiest, healthiest, most present person in the world. Well, love entered my life and protected me from the desire to drink, to party, and to die, and destroy my temple. Trusting God meant releasing myself from some of the choices that were set to take me out, and think and act more like the daughter of a king!
4. Love teaches you - I didn't know God until I learned about His love for me. Understanding His love elevated my thoughts, decisions, and desires all around abundance. I can say with honesty that I now know God's grace and mercy are real, and I have a personal mission to share that with the world.
When you believe in love, God's ability to move in your life is much easier. And, the evidence of His glory becomes more real to the world.
Sybil Clark Amuti is the founder of Legacy Row brand consultancy and The Great Girlfriends, a thriving personal and professional development podcast for women. She holds a B.S. from Dillard University and an M.S. from Columbia University. For over 15 years, Sybil has delivered world-class strategy to some of the most renown brands, such as Scholastic, Tony Robbins, Sony Entertainment and more. She is happily married to Kwaku, and mom to Sam and Dylan.