I first met Bethany at a VBS program back in 2013 at Lawson and I's church here in Alabama. What striked me most about Bethany was her joy. After reading her story, I'm amazed at the undiluted, true love of The Father and how He redeems His daughters through the finished work of Jesus Christ... These photos were taken from a session we did in April. Please meet Bethany Hanna.
My name is Bethany Hanna. I am 21 years old and am from the state of Kansas.
Growing up, for me, it seemed as though I had a care-free youthful life. My parents always took my sisters and I to church as they themselves got more involved with what the church had to offer. To have lived a life without Jesus being mentioned at least once or twice a day was almost unheard of. Our family was like any other American church-going family, but little did this church-going family know what would happen as the years went by.
I was only five or six years old when this awful event turned my life completely around. I was introduced to the pornographic industry by a family member and was later sexually abused by that same person. As the years went by, my heart ached with every thought that came to mind telling me that this was the only way to find love and value. Constantly, I chased relationship after relationship trying to find such affection as was portrayed, but as I went through my elementary, middle, and even my high school years, this mentality only proved itself to be vain.
Because of this pursuit, a lot of my friends viewed me as someone rather promiscuous and unworthy of their time. I found myself coming home to my parents with this broken life wanting to tell them everything that was going wrong, but fear of how they would treat me kept my words from flowing freely. With no voice, with no true friendship, I’d sit in my room with tears streaming down my cheeks feeling alone and afraid -overwhelmed with the lies of worthlessness. It got to the point where I wanted to give up my life completely. I grabbed a pair of scissors and started trying every effort to give it all away, but there had been two great factors that stood in the way. As I had used the sharpness of the scissors on my skin, it had not only hurt too much for me to actually do such a thing, but in that moment, the Lord encountered me in such a beautiful way.
I was only thirteen years old and ready to say goodbye... but suddenly, I felt God touch my heart and begin His mending work. God met me there... in the middle of my bedroom, on the carpet floor, and spoke to me the worth of my life.
It was like God’s words poured within every crevice of my heart, lifting up the lies I so unknowingly lived by and truth began to flow in, satisfying the most inner parts of my being. In that moment, I could only cry, not saying a single word as His loving voice spoke to me of my value. Ever since God encountered me that night, I have never been the same. Not to say that I have not failed even after, but every year since, rather than chasing after the lusts of this world, I have found such a satisfaction in just coming after Him.
By it, God taught me of His faithfulness, even when I was not faithful. God taught me of His love, although there were times when I wanted nothing to do with Him. He has taught me how to be content in following Him and in the letting go of the false promises society speaks. I love that I can go to God, trusting His loyalty and His heart as a Father.
Life is such a wonderful journey with bumps and bends that sometimes I am not prepared for, but I have found such a stability and a strong foundation in Him. He is my Father, my best friend, my joy, my light, my purpose, my breath;