In 2001 I met my husband, Derek. We were married two years later. On the outside looking in, I had what some would consider to be “the perfect life,” and I was working hard to maintain that image. We even started to attend a new church with our family. I tried not to let on that everything I was pursuing was only bringing temporary relief. On the inside, I was lacking REAL JOY and peace.
I can remember at my lowest points quoting Romans 9 and telling my husband things like, “The bible says that God is the potter and we are the clay. He creates vessels of Glory and vessels of wrath. I must be a vessel of wrath” and “I am no more than a Judas to God,” or “I guess God didn’t pick me.”
In October 2013, I totaled my car and was diagnosed with a brain disorder. I battled with insomnia, paranoia, dissociation and distorted thinking. My cognitive skills and memory was affected which ultimately led to loss of my job. Medical bills started pouring in and we struggled to make ends meet.
My heart was heavy and consumed with anger.
One evening in particular stands out to me. It was only a couple weeks after I totaled my car. I was so low I wanted to end my life. I waited until my husband and kids were sound asleep. I was just about to leave my bedroom to carry out my plans when my cell phone buzzed and lit up the room. It was my best friend from childhood messaging me via Facebook, out of the blue, simply to let me know that God had put it on her heart to reach out and pray for me. We hadn’t spoke often since we were kids, so she couldn’t possibly know how much God was using her in that moment to extend His grace and love to me.
In February 2014 I went and did a really crazy thing. I drove out and met face to face with one of the men that sexually abused me as a young child. I approached him and his wife and the long and the short of it is, I was tempted to kill him. I almost tried… As I was about to drive away, I thought about running him over with my truck. Thankfully God put another vehicle in my path and gave me a moment of clarity to realize He was giving me a way of escape, a backdoor out.
But the spiritual battle didn’t end there. In March 2014, Rob Morris with LOVE146 visited my church. He did a service on compassion and told stories of young children he worked with who were sexually abused and sold into slavery. His message completely broke me.
Shortly after, I was voluntarily partially hospitalized for two weeks. The Doctors were quick to push medication. I had tried the medication thing before and it didn’t really work for me. It actually seemed to make things worse (watch this TED TALK by Elizabeth Kenny, a woman who had a similar medical experience).
To make matters worse, just before Summer some individuals from the Media contacted me to dig into some of the repeat sexual abuse claims that were reported with my childhood church. While I chose not to speak with the reporters, their relentless efforts really opened up some old wounds. This ultimately led me into a downward spiral.
Fast forward six months to November. The pastor of my current church did a service on Acts 8. It was about a man named Simon the Magician. Simon had this false belief that he was going to be able to take the things of God and add them to his already great life. He believed the things of God, but he did not submit to them as his authority.
While listening to the sermon being preached, I realized that I had this hollow idea that God was going to give something to me because of all the horrible things I had gone through in life. I realized that I was just like Simon the Magician.
It wasn’t like there were magic things that happened at this point or a magic prayer that I said. I simply repented and believed. A lightbulb went on, and my heart was opened to The Explicit Gospel for the very first time in my life.
God opened my eyes. He opened my heart. He rescued me in that moment. Hebrews 6:19 finally made sense to me!
“For we have this HOPE that ANCHORS the SOUL, firm and secure.”
The next morning I woke up feeling joy and peace. I thanked God for giving me breath. I thanked God for the trials he brought me through and prayed for the wives of the men that abused me. I begged God to do whatever He needed to do in order to bring those men to repentance, so they could be released from the burdens of sin and spiritual death.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” ~John 3:16-17
All the awful things I experienced has taught me that everything in life can teach you a lesson. You just have to be willing to learn. And, when you stop thinking life is all about yourself, THAT is when God can start to use you. THAT is when you begin to experience REAL JOY.
I know my journey is far from over, but I can be confident of this…
“He who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 1:6
“Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things, I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and Sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 3:7-14
**RELATED POST: Surviving Childhood Sexual Abuse