“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire…” – Psalm 40

My story begins with how I was trapped in the slimy pit, stuck in the mud and mire. To the outside world my family seemed like any other normal family, but we had secrets, hidden behind closed doors. These secrets created moments that were painful, while others seemed blurry and some moments are filled with blank spots that I don’t remember at all. My family consisted of a mom, sister, and step-dad, with only brief memories of my father until the age of eight. The memories I have of him were few, the love I received was scarce. My childhood consists of memories of a family that was plagued by alcoholism and drugs as well as emotional and physical abuse. My parent’s relationship was volatile at times, and as a child, I learned quickly to walk on eggshells and hide in the back of the closet.

At age twelve, as I entered puberty and went to my first gynecological appointment it was discovered I had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) which I had for some time. The doctor brushed it off, treating me as though I was promiscuous, and yet I knew it had to do with all those dark holes in my memory…for I had been with no one. I became a shy, introverted girl with low self-esteem, hurt and feeling damaged beyond repair. More than anything I wanted to be loved and accepted and to feel untarnished. But lost in my hopelessness, I disappeared into the shadows of my nightmares with my secrets eating me away inside. I had no desire to have any romantic relationships; I trusted no one. With an STD looming over me, I was informed that I would have to tell any future partners what I had. There was no hope that I would find love or ever know what love was.

During my high school years I had friends who invited me to their youth group. Something was different about them; they had peace and contentment that I longed for. I was tired of hiding, tired of putting on a fake front that everything was fine, while inside I struggled with uncertainties, abandonment, hurt and anger at what I had seen and experienced in such a dysfunctional home. Yet, even though I desperately wanted Jesus in my life and believed in who he said he was, I was not ready to fully give him my heart. I was not ready to fully trust anyone, nor could I understand what unconditional love was.

“For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more then the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.” – Psalm 40:12

At the age of eighteen I was disillusioned by a man who promised love, acceptance and more. He assured me that I wasn’t tainted or ruined as I thought; he convinced me he loved me and would rescue me from my nightmares. I thought I was leaving my dysfunctional home and embarking on a new path to seek love and acceptance… this quickly dissolved. I found myself living with a deceptive man, whom time revealed was an alcoholic, heavy drug user, as well as emotionally and physically abusive. For four years I was ensnared in the trappings of a life filled with abuse, and surrendered to the fact that I had accepted the same destructive cycle as in my childhood. I found ways to explain the bruises and black eyes while being convinced that it was my fault. I endured the pain he inflicted on me emotionally as he continually reminded me that I was tainted, and no one else would ever love or accept a piece of garbage like me. He was continuously unfaithful, while pointing out that it was my fault; after all I couldn’t please him. Then, my son was born and for the first time, I understood what unconditional love was. It was within that understanding that I finally trusted in Christ’s unconditional love for me.

“He lifted me out of the pit…he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” – Psalm 40:2-3

Within days, I snuck out of the house with my newborn and quietly slipped into the nearest church. It happened to be Easter Sunday. After a message on Christ’s death and resurrection which seemed tailored just for me the pastor asked if anyone wanted to fully give their life to Christ. With tears streaming down my face I went forward with my son in my arms. I asked Christ to be Savior and Lord of my life that day. I thanked Him for loving me. I thanked him for dying for me so that I could be made new. For the first time in my life I felt clean. Two days later, I left the man that was abusing me and began a new life, with my new identity in Christ.

“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare…I speak of your faithfulness and salvation…” – Psalm 40:5,10b

I have not stopped growing since the day I accepted Christ into my heart. My story of redemption and healing, as well as the power of my Savior’s love, continues to spur and challenge me to be all that God had intended and created me to be. I am happily married to an amazing man who adopted my son and taught me what “true love” really is. I am no longer that afraid, shy, little girl. Step by step, God is continually refining me as he continues to use me in ministry to advance his kingdom and bring hope to other women who have experienced forms of abuse. There are things that were once just dreams in my heart…they are no longer dreams…to God be all the glory…I am free.

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