Megan’s StoryThu Oct 21
Megan was raised around the church, but faith didn’t belong to her parents, let alone to her. It was something they only visited occasionally, the way you might go to the Zoo. It was there, just a few minutes away from their home in San Diego; but knowing there was a Zoo up the freeway affected her life about as much as knowing there was a church around the corner. That would all change for her when she was around sixteen, though, and not for the better.
When Megan was a freshman in high school, she was dating a good Christian boy, and things were going about as well as you’d expect for two teenagers. That was, at least, up until the time she was sexually assaulted by three classmates. She turned to drugs and alcohol to cope, and while her parents wanted to be there for her, they didn’t quite know how. Instead, they turned her toward their local church.
She began to go to youth group, and quickly joined the Worship Team. But Megan remembers that “I wasn’t in a good place at the time. There was a lot of lying, hiding and pretending to be in a place that I wasn’t.” The church she had found, like too many others, had set up an unrealistic expectation of perfection that was unachievable—especially for a young girl struggling with someone else’s sin. “They didn’t meet me where I was at,” Megan told us over the phone recently, “they wanted to whitewash my past. […] I found myself playing a role; feeling the pressure to be like the girls around me who seemed like they had it all put together.” Megan descended into a world of pretending to be one thing at church, and another thing everywhere else. “It got to the point where I couldn’t look in the mirror anymore,” she remembers, “all the shame of what I went through, paired with the lie I was living—it got to be too much.”
Despite her hidden pain, Megan reconnected with her old boyfriend—who she now was on the Worship Team with. After some time they began sleeping together. This was the path that led her to a low she didn’t previously know was possible. After the fourth positive pregnancy test, Megan mustered the courage to tell him, and eventually, their youth pastor. Ignoring the pain of a young woman and instead focusing on the optics for his ministry, her pastor bluntly informed her that she couldn’t attend that church anymore.
Scared and confused, they together told his parents. Megan remembers feeling like she couldn’t tell anyone this secret, but she realized that for the first time, she faced a problem that she couldn’t hide or lie about. Despite their involvement in the church, they offered to take her immediately for an abortion. “I wasn’t thinking about what I wanted,” Megan told us. It was all so fast, and she was just going along with what her boyfriend’s parents seemed to want for their son. An ultrasound confirmed that the pregnancy tests were false positives, and while the technicians assured her that this happened from time to time, Megan’s boyfriend and his parents refused to believe her. They ostracized her, accusing her of making the whole thing up. “I had lied about a lot, but not this,” Megan told us. “[At this point] I thought church was about hiding the truth, and I didn’t want anything to do with that anymore.”
God had other plans for Megan, though.
“Through all of this, I had a rude awakening. I was so hurt that they thought I had lied about this, but I had been lying about so much else because of my shame.” Shortly after this epiphany, Megan remembers opening YouTube and running across one of Pastor Matt’s sermons. “It was just on my feed, which was weird, because I had never heard of Sandals Church and had never really watched sermons on YouTube.” It was Pastor Matt’s message on the Enneagram Three from the YOU series from a few years ago. “I listened to that message, and that [was] the moment that everything changed for me— […] hearing Pastor Matt put words to something I had always been doing, but didn’t know why. Getting real with myself and acknowledging what happened to me—and what I had done—and inviting Jesus into those spaces is what changed everything.”
Megan was immediately taken with what she had heard, and soon her parents began to see the change in her. She sat them down to watch the message, and inevitably, the entire series together. They learned that her dad, like Megan, was an Enneagram Three (her mother is a Two).
Her journey of course didn’t stop there. Megan continued being a part of Sandals Church Online, graduated high school, and went on to college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where she studies sociology in hopes of working on the problem of human trafficking. She balances her free time between surfing and passing out sandwiches to the local homeless population with a group of Christians she has met in the area. “God has given me a vision for building a worshipful community in SLO,” she told us, and we have every intention of helping her do just that. She is also organizing San Luis Obispo’s first ever faith-based support network for survivors of sexual assault and abuse, with over 50 women beginning their journey toward healing and hope. She is proud that she can use her story to show, in her words, “how God brings purpose to pain and uses what the enemy meant for evil, for good!
Some of Megan’s last words in our phone call really stuck with us. “God can’t bless someone we’re not—he has a plan and purpose for us; not who we are trying to be. […] There is nothing hidden that God doesn’t already know and love you with. [Learning about being real with ourselves, God and others], I think of what I would want to tell my younger self: that Jesus died for you; not just the parts of you that you like or that you consider good enough, but every part of you.”