“I may always be known as the girl that was kidnapped.” Most would probably be able to guess who this quote belongs to even if I didn’t mention her name.
Elizabeth Smart: The girl who was kidnapped. At age 14, this bright and lively girl with a big future ahead of her was taken from her own home and held prisoner by a horrible man who claimed to be a prophet.
This would have undone anyone. She was so close to her family, yet so far removed at the same time. During that time, Elizabeth saw and experienced unspeakable horrors.
She was raped, abused, neglected, starved and forced into polygamy before she was even old enough to get a driver’s license.
We could call Elizabeth a “poor girl.” And many probably do. We could look at her and feel sorry for her, hope and pray nothing like this ever happens to our own children.
“As a 14-year-old girl, I remember just stopping and thinking, ‘Wait a second.’… I remember thinking, ‘No, that’s not possible,'” she said. “‘One human being couldn’t possibly do that to another one. No one’s that evil.'”
Elizabeth, of course, quickly found out that yes, some people are just that evil. She lived with that evil day in and day out for nine months.
When she was rescued, back with her family once more, it was her mother who gave Elizabeth some profound advice.
The now 31-year-old called this advice “the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given.” She explained how her mom told her that “the best punishment” would be for Elizabeth to simply “move forward” and “be happy.”
“By feeling sorry for yourself. By holding onto the past, by reliving it, that’s only allowing them to steal more of your life away from you.”
Watch as this incredible and inspiring woman conveys her powerful story. A story that will no doubt relate to so many people in a very personal way.
When she shared how she took her mom’s advice, how her captors no longer held power over her and her feelings, I couldn’t help but tear up.
“I realized that forgiveness is not for the other person,” she said. “It’s for yourself. Life is so worthwhile and no matter what has happened to you … each of us deserves to be happy.”
Wow. Profound words we all need to hear. Elizabeth Smart is truly an inspiration and an example for anyone who has been through something similar.
She has since gone on to become a wife, a mother, an author and a speaker. Her story has reached millions and continues to do so.
Whatever you’re going through or have been through, allow Elizabeth’s words to sink in. Your past does not define you.
Like Elizabeth said, “Bad things do happen, but that doesn’t mean that they need to define us or destroy our life.”
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