Sandi Patty Bringing A Voice to the Voiceless
She has been dubbed, “The Voice,” and rightfully so. Sandi Patty has released over thirty albums and is the most awarded female vocalist in contemporary Christian music history. Over the past thirty years, she has won forty Dove Awards, five Grammy awards, four Billboard Music Awards, had three platinum records, five gold records, and sold eleven million units. In addition to her successful music career, Patty also uses her voice as an accomplished speaker and author, traveling with Women of Faith conferences. Her latest book The Voice: Listening for God’s Voice and Finding Your Own. In it she shares about her public divorce, being sexually abused as a child and struggles with self-image. Risen caught up with Patty in 2018 and talked about how she regained her voice after being sexually abused as a child, and how she hopes sharing her story will help others regain their voice.
Patty shares how she was sexually abused by a family friend when she was six years old and how she regained her voice.
“It has definitely been a journey. In a lot of ways, it continues to be so. I feel like I am on the other side of learning to find my voice, to speak up and speak out. It has been a journey of a lot of things. It has been a journey of finding a group of girlfriends who I would hear talk about stuff that had happened to them when they were growing up. It made me pause a minute to think, ‘ How can they be so honest?’ But their honesty about their journeys, gave me the courage and set a stage in our friendships that I knew it would be safe to share my journey. I didn’t have that early on in my career; just girlfriends that I could be honest and real with, so that definitely was and continues to be an important part of my life in finding my voice. I also began really seriously studying the Bible. I started Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) when I was in my early 30s. There was something really powerful that happens when you really begin to take in God’s Word, because that truth begins to crowd out some of the others things you might have let seep in. The lies had to find someplace else to go. I began to have more confidence to speak the truth out loud which led me to a really great Christian counseling season in my life. I still go to a counselor because it is great to have a safe space. But Christian counseling, my girlfriends and studying God’s Word helped the situation. I also had to own the mistakes of my own life and understanding how someone else’s brokenness broke mine. I also asked God, ‘Can you take these broken pieces and try to mend them together?’ And somewhere along the way He said, ‘You know what baby girl? That’s what I do best.’ It is always a journey because sexual abuse rips the sacred innocence out of a child. It’s a journey to recover that innocence and take those upside-down messages you get from the abuser and put those messages through the lift of God’s Word and how much He loves us and begin to sort of let those truths define who I say I am. The reason I am open to share it is because it may help someone else find their voice sooner than I did; because there is such joy in walking in freedom of the truth. Even though it can be very hard to bear, there is such freedom. I wish that freedom for others.”
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2
Patty encourages others who may have had a similar experience on how they can regain their voice.
“You have to begin by owning the truth of your story. It is so hard to find the words for that. One of the first places I went to was to journal. I just wrote it down. I couldn’t even say it, but I would write it. To write it, there’s something about getting the truth out of us that we don’t have to hold it in or push it down with food or numb it with any type of addiction. There’s something really powerful about getting it outside of us. Even if we don’t have words yet, journaling can be a great place to do that. Then I would say really listen to the people around you. I don’t think it’s something that you want to share with the first person you meet. Sharing with the wrong person can result in trauma as well. Begin to listen to the people around you and not the people who are saying they’ve got it ‘all together.’ You want to listen to the people who are willing to say that they have struggled with in their own life and how God has walked them through it step-by-step. These are the people you want to say, ‘He can I grab coffee with you sometime?’…When you listen carefully to those around you and speak it out, you begin to realize you are not alone. There is such power to that…It is really important to have that personal connection with someone who is going to walk alongside you.”
Regain your voice. Each of us has had traumatic and hurtful things that have happened to us. Whether it is abuse, divorce, or a financial crisis, the enemy tries to shames us and silence us. Know that God’s heart breaks when we go through these things. Reach out to Him in your hardship. Pray and ask Him to help heal your wounds and the situation. As God heals you, ask Him how He wants to use what happened for His glory. He might want you to encourage a friend or small group member who is going through something similar. It could be sharing your testimony with your small group or at an event.
Walk alongside someone. Each of us has a friend of family member in our life who is going through a difficult season. It could be a battle with cancer, divorce or processing a hardship that has happened to them in the past. God created us to be a body of Christ. He wants us to support one another. Pray and ask Him to show you someone in your life that might need some help. It could be making a meal for them, babysitting for their children while they go to counseling, or meeting for coffee to hear how they are doing.
Get help. The enemy wants to keep us isolated and make us believe that we are the only person that has ever experienced this or that we might somehow deserve what happened to us. Instead, God wants to bring healing to you and to the situation. This can only be done by reaching out and getting help. Start by finding a Christian counselor that you trust and that can help you process what happened. The counselor might even encourage you to bring a friend or family member with you so that they can be a part of the process.
To read our entire interview with Sandi Patty, click here.
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