In church circles, I get asked a lot how I kept my faith. People ask me how I live my life not hating people in general because of everything I've been through. For most people, 90% of the people they encounter are good. For the majority of my life so far, the opposite has been true.
The answer to these two questions in inextricably linked:
I kept my faith throughout two decades of trafficking, including the majority of my childhood, through an understanding that if the overwhelming amount of evil I was experiencing was real, there had to be a counterpart that was equally good. For me, that was God.
I know God is real because I have experienced Satan. I believe first hand that the depths of depravity that I experienced is not something humans are capable of on their own. I don't believe that humans could really be that evil. I believe that an evil more powerful than them guided their evil actions.
Which is how I don't hate people. Because, while they chose to participate in evil, horrific practices that left me physically, emotionally, and spiritually broken, I firmly believe that Satan was encouraging that behavior, nudging them to do more and more depraved things.
For the sake of my healing, I need to believe that there is good in the world. I need to believe that there are people out there who will not hurt me in the ways I spent the majority of my life being hurt. I need to believe in a God of love, and comfort, and protection.
That belief has landed me surrounded by genuinely good people for the first time in my life. There is no one here who wants to hurt me. There is no one here seeking to rape me, sell me, or end my life. And I believe that is the work of a Savior who wants good things for me, who wants to spare me from the evil I grew up experiencing.
I don't believe God allowed me to be hurt. It took me a long time to get there. But I believe that God was with me in the aftermath. From the moments in between men who bought me as a child, to the stillness of night after a nightmare, to surrounding me with His people to lift me up, love on me, and show me what grace and compassion looks like.
I don't hate people, because when I'm with someone safe, someone who cares about me, I often see the Spirit of God within them and I know they are not the same as the people who paid to abuse me.
I keep my faith because I believe God kept me, even when I was broken. Even when I was angry. Even when I doubted Him. Even when I asked Him hard questions. Even when I demanded to know why He couldn't just love me. He kept me. So I keep Him. And that's what's kept me alive all this time.