We carry pain around, often hidden. Many of us have experienced horrifying traumas, and we don’t always soon learn to speak of our pain. Yet, at just fifteen years old, Decha shared a story at the September 17th Story Show that was one of these stories. Trauma. Pain. Heartache. The truth.

She was scared. (Like, bouncing around, shaking the jitters out of her hands frantically.) I was scared. (Like, wondering if this was too much for her. Honestly, I wasn’t concerned about the audience reaction, because I believe this story is Decha’s, for her to do what she will, for her healing and the claiming of her worth.)

Decha is a survivor of childhood abuse. She is beautiful and strong and gracious. She is humble and so, so very brave.

She did it. She spoke the awful truths, and then she claimed her worth. She did this with such maturity and so powerfully, that a standing ovation was the only option for the crowd. We had chills, and tears, and we were all changed by her courage.

But before that, we the audience, were terribly uncomfortable. Not because Decha made us uncomfortable. Her words didn’t need to be explicit (they weren’t) for this story to cause a racing heart and squirming in the seats. We were bearing witness to the story of a tragedy. To something evil, that happened to a very young and innocent girl. This makes a person nauseous and shaky.

That’s okay.

This is good work for us. This is a good discomfort. This is a community effort to honor pain, look it straight in the eye and collectively steal the power from it. Something happens in a room of listeners. Something powerful and spiritual and good. A burden is lifted, and that is our responsibility to our brothers and sisters walking through life with us. To ease burdens, show a kindness that stretches us–that is why we are here.

In the middle of Decha’s piece, she spoke a few words of the Christmas song, The little Lord Jesus no crying He makes…This may have seemed random, but we left it in her piece on purpose, when we edited together. Decha happens to be a Christian and I was completely blown away by this seemingly random line in her story. Decha wasn’t even sure why it popped in, she was just writing her heart and soul out and words were flowing from her pencil while she scribbled in the coffee shop/book shop. (You see, she is a true writer, one that needs to look around for scrap paper in random places to chase the flow of poetry coming out of nowhere and everywhere at once.)

When that song left that line in her piece, Decha may not have even known that it was the shift. It was the change in her story. She went from sadness, fear and strife, to writing of her worth, her abilities and her beauty. This is the power of that line, of redemption that came.

Redemption in the middle of abuse. Grace in the aftermath of trauma.

Not long after the Christmas song line, Decha stops the self-hatred. She makes a decision, like a foot stomp and a slamming door, She speaks loud and clear, DONE. She revisits the day that she looked up to the sky and decided to live as an overcomer and claim the power within her heart and soul and spirit.

ENOUGH, she says. Enough. I will write my own story now. I AM DONE. The old is gone. The new has come.

It was mind-blowing. It was magical. It was life-changing, for this Story Show producer lady.

Decha is going to keep writing, keep growing up, up, up. She is going to love people so well. She is going to have really hard times and really good times. She is going to keep claiming her life. This pivotal moment on a stage helped continue her redemptive story.

Our discomfort is nothing compared to what she has lived. Our discomfort was nothing compared to how nervous she was before getting behind that podium. Our discomfort was an honor, and so we stood when she finished and we erupted in applause, and became part of her story.

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