Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1
*Written in 2013*
I share my faith often. Not in a shove-it-down-your throat kind of way, but rather in a this-is-part-of-my-life way (or at least I try). I still have critics, doubters and haters. People who test me. People who question my faith by asking, “How do you know God is real?” When they ask this, it’s like they think they’ll catch me frantically searching for some bologna answer to give. But I don’t have a bologna answer.
By the way, did you know that bologna is generally made from low quality scraps of meat cuts mixed with lard? These “low quality” scraps are chopped so finely to prevent you from being able to identify what they used to be, because if you knew, you probably wouldn’t want to eat it.
My response to my certainty that God exists is quite the opposite of bologna. My faith is transparent. It is genuine. It is real. And I know so. I know because of who I used to be, and who I am now.
With every test that life presents, a testimony unfolds—a narrative of faith, resilience, and the unwavering belief that challenges are but stepping stones on the journey of our spiritual growth. Here’s one piece of my story, one leap of faith (or perhaps, desperation) that led me straight to a very real God.
Several years ago, I was just a little girl who prayed each night that the man who claimed to love her would stop hurting her. That little girl cried out to God while kneeling on the side of her bed, “Why me? Why are you letting this happen to me? Please make him stop.” But each night, he came back into her room. And each time, she lost more and more faith in God. In fact, she began to hate him and curse him. She thought, “There isn’t a God. And if there is a God who lets little girls be sexually abused, then I want nothing to do with him!”
So my abuse continued, and I hated God more each night. It continued until I was 18 years old, and it only ended because of another tragedy. But it ended. It was finally over.
Or so I thought.
Who was I kidding? It wasn’t over. I was still hurting, still broken, still lost. I began to hate myself as much as I hated God. At 18, officially an adult, I still thought of myself as a weak, helpless little girl. I was hopeless. I couldn’t talk to anyone who would understand. I couldn’t forget what had happened. I thought that I could just forget and move on if I drank enough tequila and took enough Percocet. I may have had to go to the hospital for an IV the following day each time, but at least the alcohol and medicine got me thru the nights. I spent many nights, and many days this way.
But I wasn’t content with this. I thought that since I wasn’t strong enough to stop him any of those nights, I could at least be strong enough to heal myself now that he was gone. But I couldn’t. No matter what I tried, I still hurt. I was still lost, still hopeless. He still had control over me.
I came to despise that control. That is probably what bothered me the most; the fact that he still controlled me. All those years, he controlled what he did to me. He controlled who I could and couldn’t talk to, where I could and couldn’t go, what I could and couldn’t do. And now, he was far away, yet still in control. I HATED THIS just as much as I hated him.
I don’t remember the exact day, but I remember that I was desperate to get control back. I had hit rock bottom and I knew it. I had tried everything I could think of. The tequila and Percocet weren’t working! Nothing else was working. My life was a mess. I was a mess! I had nowhere else to go, but to my knees. So I fell to the ground, and I prayed, “God, if you are real, then prove it!”
I started thinking back to the days when my Grammie used to pick me up for church each Sunday morning. I enjoyed going to church as a kid… the music, the lessons, the other kids, the drives and talks with my Grammie and all the shopping we did for cute church clothes. She didn’t know it back then, but she was a rock for me, and God used her to set up a foundation for me to fall back on when His timing was right. And I did fall back on that foundation. I wanted God to prove to me that He exists, and that He could heal me like people in the Bible were healed. So I went to the one place I thought He may be. I went back to church.
I could write forever about church and how much of a blessing it turned out to be, but for the sake of not making you strain your eyes too much longer to get through this post, I’m going to sum it up (or try to). I started going to church each week. At first, I sang along to the songs on the projector screen, I listened to the pastor teach about Jesus and his birth, death, resurrection and promise of eternal life with God. I sat thru many sermons all while thinking to myself, “Okay God, seriously, I am here each week but where are you?” I was going through the motions, but I wasn’t feeling any different.
Then one week, there was a sermon about forgiveness. A man at church got up and spoke about a friend of his who had been a Prisoner of War, and shared all of the horrendous things the man suffered through as a prisoner. As the story continued, I learned about how this man ultimately forgave those who held him prisoner and eventually went back to that country to serve and minister to those people simply because God healed him and gave him the strength and courage to do so, for His Kingdom.
I remember crying like a baby in church that day. As I drove home, I was angry. I yelled at God, “This is what you want me to do?! Are you telling me that I have to forgive the person who hurt me so badly for so many years? How can I forgive him? He doesn’t deserve it!”
But all that I could think of as I argued with God in my car that day was Matthew 6:14; For if you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you (attitude: forgive because you love the Lord).
I wanted to pull my hair out. I clearly felt that day that God was shouting back at me, “FORGIVE!!” But I didn’t know how to. So I fell back onto my knees and I prayed. I prayed that He would show me how to forgive. I wanted to forgive, because I knew that not forgiving meant I would never break free of the chains wrapped around me. I wanted out of that bondage, and I longed for a future in Heaven (where there is no pain)!
After this, I started to realize that I was missing something extremely crucial. I was missing Jesus. I knew about him, but I didn’t know him. So I started another long journey of getting to know him. That journey included me accepting him as my Lord and Savior, and treating him as my best friend. I started talking to him constantly. I became educated in who he was, who he is! I was baptized and I invited him into my heart. I asked him to take CONTROL.
There it was again. That word that makes me quiver. Control. But wait… I wanted to be in control of my own life. I had grown very stubborn in my need to control my own life and everything in it. So here I was at a crossroad. I could keep holding onto my own reins and stay in control, or I could hand the reins over to him, and be submissive. I debated this for some time before finally deciding, “What the heck, the reins are slipping from my fingers anyways, so here, YOU take them Jesus.” And with a deep breath, I handed the reins over.
I cried, “Here are the reins. Here is my pain, my hurt, my confusion, my heartache, my headache, my brokenness, my lost ways, my everything. I don’t want them anymore. YOU take them!”
And he did.
It was a ginormous weight lifted from my shoulders, my head, and my heart. It was a leap of faith, a HUGE leap. I wasn’t sure I could make it to the other side, but he carried me. And what he did next was miraculous. He showed me how to forgive. I’m not just talking about saying that I forgive, but then holding a grudge deep inside that still festers. He showed me true forgiveness through the blood he shed on the cross! So I took all of the hate I was feeling and I dropped it at the feet of Jesus. “YOU take it. I don’t want it anymore. I forgive him. Please forgive me.” (P.S. Forgiveness isn’t FOR the person you are forgiving… it’s for you! It releases YOU from the pain and suffering).
I started healing. Each day, I felt stronger and stronger. I began accepting the things that had happened to me. And here’s even more proof that Jesus lives in me; I started to rejoice and be glad for the things I went through, because I saw that I had been healed. I had been made new. And the new me was compassionate. The new me got this crazy idea that I could help others. The new me said, “I’m not a victim anymore, and you shouldn’t be either.” The new me started talking about my experiences and telling others that they too can heal from sexual abuse simply by trusting the Lord. The new me saw that God had not only worked IN me, but He was also working THROUGH me. The new me saw His purpose for my life.
I had a purpose. I HAVE a purpose.
And so He continues to work in me and through me, and I could not be happier. Every time He uses me to help another girl feel hope and see the light at the end of a dark tunnel (When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12), I thank God for what I went through. Each time I share my testimony and someone is saved, I thank God for what I went through.
And I repent for the years I spent hating Him. He never abandoned me. He did not forsake me. He was right there, crying with me. He was waiting for me to reach my brokenness, and to submit to him, so he could fill me up again for the glory of His Kingdom because He is my father, and I am HIS daughter.
Sin (Free Will) is an evil thing. Sin makes men sexually abuse little girls. Sin makes people hate and despise. But a relationship with Jesus and the understanding that YOU have a purpose if you open your heart and just have faith… that’s a beautiful thing. I wanted complete healing, and I received it, but only through a relationship with Jesus! And this changed me! I am alive because of Jesus. I now live a wonderful life with a husband and 4 children on a little homestead because of Jesus.
God is real, y’all. He is just. He is good. He is beautiful. He is His own timing.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1
This was just one season of my life. As for the rest, I continue to trust His timing.
So whatever you may be going through in this season of your life, just remember to keep your faith through it all by submitting to and trusting in the Lord. Sometimes our toughest times turn into the greatest testimonies! Share yours in the comments below so we can support each other and give glory to God!
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