A Colorado native, long winding roads and sweeping landscapes set the backdrop of Cassidy’s childhood. Cassidy grew up the middle child of three siblings. Her father departed abruptly when she was three years old, leaving her mother in the lurch and Cassidy with unanswered questions. After working a full day, her mother often pawned off the children to a nearby relative in the evenings to pursue other relationships.
When Cassidy officially joined the family, and as she settled into routine, it was clear that she was emotionally flatlining. Cassidy had trained herself not to show emotion early on, and the trauma of her childhood was gaining on her.
A few years after the adoption, the family uprooted to California. Her brother’s anger had isolated him, making it difficult for him to bond with the family. One night after the move, in a rage, he sexually assaulted Cassidy, with further threats of violence. Cassidy prayed to God, asking for healing, for help.
Later that year, Cassidy received news that her biological mother had passed away. She hadn’t had contact with her mother in three years. The loss of her mother’s life - of what could have been - was more than Cassidy could bear. In a state of emotional paralysis, Cassidy began to sink. Her adoptive mother made repeated attempts to draw Cassidy out, but she was unresponsive.
It wasn’t until a couple of years later, at the steady persistence of her mother, that Cassidy shared about the incident with her brother. Her family’s response was more than she could have asked for. After ensuring Cassidy’s physical safety, her parents decided it was time for Cassidy to get help. Cassidy agreed.
In her first months at Christian Encounter, Cassidy felt a mixture of relief and homesickness. She learned she could rely on the structure to keep her on track, even on the days she wanted to push against it. She learned healthy boundaries and of the safety created by these boundaries. Over time she learned to trust the staff and interns and respect their authority. Even still, it was difficult to let go of all the pain, the trauma, the loss. After all, it was all she had known.
Several months into her stay, Cassidy was sitting on the bathroom floor, blood spattered everywhere, calling out to an intern for help. She had been cutting again to relieve the pain. The intern came to her and shared her tears. Then the intern proceeded to bind her wounds. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3).”
A picture of Jesus.
As the months passed, counseling sessions became more difficult as she began to push herself to dig deeper. “Each time I wanted to try to take control of my life again, God would remind me that He is in control and to trust the process.” God brought verses before her during morning devotional times: “I am always with you…” “I will guide you continually…” Cassidy felt prompted to take the next step in obedience through the public profession of baptism.
Not long after, Cassidy and her peers headed into the Tahoe National Forest on the annual 15-day backpacking trip. By day four, the physical and mental exertion of the trip had taken such a severe toll on her body that she was given the news she would leave that day. The day before she had relied on others to keep her upright and moving forward, and the night before others had stayed by her side as she wrestled with sleeplessness and fits of panic. Upon reflection, Cassidy realized that through others, God was giving her another picture of Jesus.
These pictures of Jesus have given Cassidy the courage to continue to enter into her pain. The picture to the left was taken at the end of the 15-day backpacking trip, after Cassidy rejoined her peers to finish what she started.
Today, Cassidy continues to confront her past during counseling, in the hope of a brighter tomorrow. Though she is at war for her life, her soul can have peace. And, on the hardest days, she knows she has brothers and sisters to walk the road with her.