On of the more fascinating people I’ve had the honor of getting to know over the past few years has been Polly Hamp, and I dearly want to get to know her better. In her book, Cherished: Shattered Innocence, Restored Hope, Polly shares the story of how she survived and recovered from addiction, sexual abuse, and a childhood abortion, by the grace of Jesus Christ.
The following may be difficult for some to read, but Polly’s story is one of hope, grace, and redemption, so please keep going.
When she was just 7 years old, Polly was raped. She never told anyone because she loved the man like an uncle. Shortly thereafter, her father left her mother for another woman. Later, when she was only 14, Polly was raped again. This time she got pregnant, and her parents took her to get an abortion.
“Empty, confused, and in pain, I had no idea what was wrong with me or why I acted the way I did. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t do well in school and get good grades. I was always told that I was smart but just needed ‘to apply myself more.’”Polly Hamp, Cherished
While she didn’t understand it at the time, the shame and trauma of these events was causing Polly to spiral toward a lifestyle of drug abuse and sexual degradation. She resorted to alcoholism to numb her pain, and stripping in clubs because she felt sex was all she was good for.
“I had already lost so much of my ability to discern scary situations that I just pushed the feeling aside. So many people had told me that my thoughts and feelings didn’t matter that I had simply chosen to go numb.”Polly Hamp, Cherished
Struggling and suffering with alcoholism, eating disorders, and suicidal depression, Polly hit rock bottom. One day she found herself in a hospital under suicide watch, and later in a counselor’s office recounting her traumatic past. She experienced flashbacks and renewed heartbreak as her agony rose to the top of her consciousness.
Slowly and surely, like the uncrumpling of a butterfly’s wings as it works its way out of a cocoon, Polly’s life takes a gradual upward turn. She leaves her job as a stripper and begins working with horses at a youth camp. She recognizes her sin and unhealthy behavioral patterns, tracing their roots to her trauma. As with many stories of hardship and abuse, healing and recovering is a complex process which Polly recounts with refreshing authenticity.
While the first half of the book focuses on the raw human struggles that devastated her, it is peppered with Polly’s deep spiritual insight, worldly wisdom, and earned discernment which she now uses to analyze her past life and ways of thinking. The second half of the book recounts meeting her husband, getting married, and the terrifying shock of having her own daughters to love, guide, and protect. Most importantly, it tells the story of how Polly came to know Jesus Christ, and how forgiveness and grace were a healing balm to her broken heart.
Polly’s incredible courage in writing Cherished greatly encouraged and strengthened me while writing Not Forsaken. Her humility, honesty, transparency, and profound love for abuse victims, is nothing short of inspirational and really a miracle. If, like me, you find yourself in need of repeated assurance of God’s faithfulness, dedication, and forgiveness toward his children, I highly recommend reading Cherished. It is more than a book. It is a testimony. Thank you, Polly Hamp.