So I thought I would share my own personal story with everyone. Sometimes reading or hearing someone else’s personal story, we can relate, be moved, be touched, or be encouraged. Please know that God is still working on me. I am still a work in progress, and I am very thankful for that. I finally have reached a peace about who I was and who I am today. God has brought me through and to some amazing walks in life. I love my life, and what the Lord has done in my life. Not sure why I have finally arrived at this decision, other than the Holy Spirit. So with that being said here goes…….
I was not raised in church. However, my mother did talk about her faith and her love for Christ yet going to church or being involved in service or God’s ministry was never a priority. Sundays were usually reserved for garage sale hunting or relaxing with the family. I was raised by both parents and have 6 older brothers. Many of my brothers were much older than I and were grown and moved away while I was being raised. However, on several weekends out of the year and on holidays our house was filled with older brothers home visiting with their families. My parents, no actually just my mother, was very strict. I had my share of spankings growing up. All well deserved though. My dad was easy going ( at least with me ). I was a daddy’s girl and my dad and I were very close. I was also a tomboy and could hang out or talk with my dad about anything. I had several chores daily while growing up, some very ornery brothers, raised in a middle-class home, many friends in the neighborhood, good health and lot’s of great childhood experiences. We were your average American family.
When I turned 11, hormones set in heavy. ( Yes I was an early bird ) I went from being a tomboy and beating up boys, to wanting to date them. But I was just thought of as the little sister with scabs on her knees that fought with all the boys in the neighborhood. I was determined to change that view and get the boys to notice me as something other than the little sister. I began wearing crop tops ( 80s fashion ), tight jeans, jewelry, make-up etc. and the boys began to notice me differently. I was getting a lot of attention from them. All the new attention was very exciting to me. At a very young age I started messing around with some of the older boys in the neighborhood and even experimenting in some drinking and drug use. ( Marijuana ) “I never went too far”, or so I told myself, but I was being inappropriate and doing things I knew, all too well, were wrong. So there I was a young pre-teen and instead of learning about make-up and fashion, I was living fast and running hard. I began sneaking out at night, partying and messing around with older boys. I was “growing up” way too fast!! I have had people ask me why I started messing around at such a young age and I answer like this. No, I was never abused as a child, I was never mistreated, and I was not cohersed. Yes, I understood the consequences. To put it bluntly, I was excited, curious and had a bunch of new hormones running through me that I impulsively acted out on. Adult emotions raging in an impulsive child’s body. It was during this time in my life that my Mother began going to church and brought me, soon followed by my brother and father. We began going on a regular basis and at the age of 14, during an invitation, as the song Just As I Am played, I went forward for salvation. The gospel ( the good news of Christ and what He has done for us ) was shared with me. I was so moved by Christ’s love for me, as undeserving as I was, that I prayed and asked for forgiveness. I was so overcome with emotions. I felt such relief, humility, love, and gratitude that I wanted to change my life and live for Jesus. However, whenever I was with the girls in church, I felt so out of place. I thought of my past and how awful I had behaved. I didn’t feel I could “measure” up to them. Instead of looking at Christ and trusting in Him, I compared myself to others and allowed jealousy and doubt to steal my joy and my new found faith. I had one of the misconceptions that “Christians are perfect”, and I was far from that. I didn’t feel that I fit in the “church crowd.” Before long old habits popped up and soon thereafter I was pregnant. I was only 15 years old when I found out I was pregnant and I was scared. I will never forget how my parents learned about my pregnancy. I was sitting on my bed reading the bible one night and I was crying. I was trying to make sense of everything in my life and what I had turned it into. My new faith ( or lack thereof ), my pregnancy, my weak commitment in my Christian walk, my continued bad habits etc. and before I knew it I was on my knees crying out to God. This was a “hit the bottom of the barrel”, cry out to the Lord. As I cried out and prayed, I felt as though He said, “You are already my child. I love you, JUST AS YOU ARE. I am just waiting for you to realize this.” It was a very humbling moment I will never forget. Even though I had turned away from my God, I felt His reassurance and commitment to me. My father opened my door at this time, popped his head in to say goodnight and with a look of shock he said, ” Are you reading the bible?” I replied,” Yes.” He smiled and shut the door. I quickly jumped out of bed and with tears streaming down my face, I ran to open my door. My father was standing there at my door, As though he was waiting!!! I blurted out, “I’m pregnant!” and to my shock, he replied with,” I know.” I asked him how he knew and he said he could just tell something was wrong. He said he was just waiting for me to tell him. He offered to tell my mother for me which was a big relief. My poor mother broke out in hives for three days and could not talk to me. Her heart was broken and you could see it both emotionally and physically. During this time my life changed dramatically……..
I quit drinking, smoking, and partying immediately. Craig ( then baby daddy, now husband ) and I began going to church regularly and began making positive changes in our lives as we grew in our faith and in preparation for the baby. Eventually, Craig and I began to love each other. We began using our date night money to buy items for the baby. Dinner and movie nights became Lamaze and parenting classes. We began a stockpile of diapers, bottles, baby clothes and before long we had a little family. Being a parent was/is such a blessing! I love/ed every minute of it! So we decided to move out and raise a little family. We went to church on Sundays and filled a pew with our growing family, but we never really yielded our life to Christ. That picture is similar to my high school years. I was at school filling a desk but never really paying attention. Instead, I was always daydreaming about my own agenda. I felt very convicted about my commitment and walk with God. I wanted to change but sometimes I would find myself doing the same things over and over. Almost like a broken record. Almost as though I would go half way and then start back at the beginning. Craig and I began to struggle in our relationship. Although parenting was such a great experience, marriage was not the same “high”. So often we resorted to old habits and familiar “comforts”. We knew however that we were living against God’s will by living together unwed, so eventually, we decided that we needed to marry and quit living in sin. Soon after our marriage, at the age of 22, while sitting in my living room, I was overcome with conviction. I felt the Holy Spirits “nudge”, if you will, and hit my knees in prayer. Ever since that very day I have had a growing walk and prayer life with Jesus!! 😀 No I am not perfect, and I have made many mistakes along the way. But I am finally a work in progress! I learned that if I draw near to God, He will draw near to me James 4:8. He did just that. He began revealing Himself to me. Not only did I gain assurance of eternal life and God’s love for me, but my life had more purpose. My marriage began improving, and with answered prayer, my children accepted Christ as their Saviour, and soon thereafter my husband did! 🙂 My life was amazing. I was blessed with healthy children, a Godly husband, and a growing love and relationship with the Lord. Life was filled with small groups, prayer, family time, church, friends, church events, bible study etc. I began replacing old habits with new healthier Christian activities and began serving at my church and in other local outreach ministries.
We were even blessed with more children and although not perfect, life was good! I was super excited about where our lives were heading. I watched my children’s love for Jesus grow and it warmed my heart like nothing else. However, in believing in a perfect and Holy God, I believe there is a scheming evil devil, Satan and he reared his ugly head. Self-doubt and apathy attacked and my husband began struggling in his Christian walk. ( Exactly the same thing I had done early in my Christian walk. ) Relationships were becoming strained. Although our relationship was not an unhealthy relationship like in our early years, we no longer had a fulfilling Godly marriage. Time began to pass and resentment set in my heart and I began to struggle myself. Then on Feb.14, 2006 the unthinkable happened. While visiting my doctor for a post-op appointment, I was drugged and raped.
The emotional impact that had on my/our lives and marriage was almost unbearable and I felt like giving up! I literally remember thinking, ” Okay Satan, you win. I don’t care anymore.” I began drinking heavily and I pulled away emotionally. I knew all along that what I was doing was not a good choice. But I felt sorry for myself and I didn’t care. Well, at least I didn’t want to care. Friends and family saw me deteriorate. I became a shell of who I once was. Fortunately there comes a time in everyone’s life where truth is accessible. We can accept it or reject it. and truth be told, LIFE IS NOT FAIR. But God invites us into His presence and transforms us by the renewing of our mind Romans 12:2. God IS truth and I needed renewing! I completely believe that God placed the right people around me during this very vulnerable time in my life. Every time I was determined to get off course someone put my eyes back on Him. As delicate as the subject rape is and the horrible aftermath it causes, I/we were so blessed to have people around us willing to fight the battle beside us. The bible says, Carry each other’s burdens and in this way, you fulfill the laws of Christ Galatians 6:2. Sometimes reaching out and touching lives is a sacrifice on our part and I am so very grateful to everyone who helped me and my family during that difficult time. I learned through that experience just how important it is to wear the armor of God and to be ready for difficult times to come into our lives. I realize now that pre-assault I had become “comfortable” in my growth and walk with Christ. I also realize that I was too busy “worrying” about my husband to see my own weaknesses. When push came to shove and I experienced the unthinkable, horrific assault, I buckled. I became very mad at the world. At one point my anger was a lifesaver that helped me to speak out and press charges against my perpetrator but it eventually lead to spats of unhealthy rage and self-pity. It was no longer a righteous anger. It had become a sin. Bitterness was consuming me and that became a big eye opener for me! I did not like what I was becoming and I did not want to leave that legacy behind for my children. It was time for me to pick myself up, brush myself off and enjoy my life and my beautiful family that I am so fortunate to have. With the help of God I was able to completely let go of my anger. I was able to forgive and to move forward. I was able to laugh again, and love again….. and even trust again. 🙂 I feel like I have grown a lot over the past couple of years and as weird as this sounds, I am very grateful for every experience that has brought me to this point in my life. I feel so blessed. Through the storms in my life, Although sometimes I have stumbled hard, I see how God has grown me. I am so moved by how He never gives up on me and continues working in and through me. God has opened new doors in my life recently. Some I have been hesitant about…… Again feeling unworthy. But a verse keeps coming to mind. 2 Corinthians 12:9 My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. ( My favorite bible verse!! ) Now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me. WOW! God is saying He uses the weak to accomplish His will so that they cannot boast or receive credit. But that through them His glory will show. Because of my past, because of my assault, because of my marriage issues……I often feel useless. But God says, I’m perfect for the job. 🙂 Unfortunately many churches ( no fingers pointed. I am speaking generally here ) seem to be more interested in the next great method of church growth. They are always working to create the next perfect event instead of growing their people to go out and be the church. In difficult times, they often hide their weaknesses, put on a smile, shake hands, and proclaim God’s blessings. God is asking for believers to share real/genuine relationships, not a superficial religion. He wants us to be Spirit lead. He wants us to be His disciples, and then make others into disciples as well. He wants us to love, just as He did. He is not asking for “perfect, strong” Christians to do this, for His power is made perfect in our weakness. He simply wants obedience and willingness. Lord here am I ……..
I am excited about what the Lord has laid on my heart. I am excited that despite the odds ( teen pregnancy ) My marriage has lasted 20+ years and is still going. I am excited that I have five healthy kids who love Jesus. I am excited that a once tragedy in my life is now an outreach and an avenue for advocacy. I am excited that God chose me as His. I am a very blessed girl. I am no longer ashamed to share my testimony and I am officially ready and willing to follow/serve Christ without the insecurities of my weaknesses. Something I have come to realize as well is that it is not where I am in my walk and growth that is beautiful. But rather, where He has brought me. I am no longer ashamed of my past or present for that matter. I love that the Lord has delivered me from permiscuality, drugs and alcohol, unwed teen pregnancy, sexual abuse, domestic abuse and more.
Statistics say that most teen pregnancies, domestic issues, and rape cause divorce. Well, we have passed those statistics and we are still together and loving life. It hasn’t always been easy, but worth the fight. Now, we face a new battle. I have recently been diagnosed as having Lyme disease and am being tested for Multiple Sclerosis. Recently we also discovered that our youngest child has congenital heart disease. Although I have had my weak moments, I am trying to stay focused on the rainbow and not the storm. God is bigger than all my fears and He will walk me safely through his storm. So as a family we will Walk through this together and as believers, we will call on God for comfort, strength, and wisdom.
I hope my testimony helps someone, encourages someone, or touches someone.
~I choose to live my faith outloud~