Before I Knew Me, I'd experienced so many trials I'd never thought I was capable of bouncing back. Let me share something with you. Up until a few years ago I allowed the silence of my testimony, for fear of judgment, to hinder my progress and walking in my purpose. My ultimate passion and purpose in life is to serve individuals who have been physically and sexually abused. Having experienced both and surviving the aftermath, I can now testify about the goodness of my God and how He brought me through. I was sexually molested at 14 years old by a 44-year old pastor who had been our family pastor for over 20 years. In the aftermath of the sexual abuse, I was physically abused by a couple of guys I dated, which I accepted as a result of my brokenness. Sadly I was in denial about the physical abuse, which I deemed normal, at least at that time. My desire now is for God to use me for His glory through my story so I shed my guilt, my shame, and I bare only me, only my heart.
I’ve had the opportunity to share my story with many people over the years, mostly strangers in different venues, who expect to hear a tragedy and then triumph. But for those who’ve “known” me several years, I found it a bit difficult exposing such a private piece of my life. Outwardly, I seemed to have it all together, MBA, nice car, home, job, daughter in private school and well behaved, but inwardly, I was torn apart. I don’t do this for likes or comments but with hopes that it’ll bring someone closer to freedom from their past and closer to Jesus Christ. We never know how God expects to use us. Sometimes our obedience to God is directly connected to the healing, deliverance, and freedom of someone He places in our path. We must not be silent about our redemption. The word says "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so..." Psalm 107:2; so say it!
I know pain all too well. The abuse earlier in my life left me feeling worthless, ugly, dirty, invaluable and every negative thing you can imagine. My faith, I believed I had my whole young life, had been destroyed because I believed that it was God who let this pastor violate my young body. I felt useless and I convinced myself that I didn't need God anymore. I thought I'd take full control of what happens to me. Tragically, the illusion of being in control mirrored that of being out of control. I cared very little about how I lived. I was very quiet and sneaky but the consequences of my actions were messy and loud. I did what I wanted to do and there was nothing freeing about living a life I controlled. I was a hot mess. When I tell you I've been through it all from the valley of the pit to the mountaintop, I mean I've been through it ALL: promiscuity, excessive partying, unwanted pregnancies, questioning my sexuality, smoking weed, drinking, gambling, alcohol abuse, physical, mental, emotional, and verbal abuse, thoughts of harming myself, far too many dysfunctional relationships, everything under the sun. I did not understand that God was with me or that it was possible for Him to be with me in my mountain and in my valley experiences. I felt abandoned, without regard.
When I was 28 years old I realized I'd hit the bottom of rock bottom as I sat in my car on my lunch break venting to the receiver of my call on the other end of the suicide hotline. In hindsight, I don't really believe I wanted to kill myself, I just wanted my pain to be over. I was in deep emotional pain that had taken its physical toll on me. In that moment as I poured out my heart to the lady on the phone I felt the presence of God. It was like a light switch, God revealed to me the source of all my pain, and in the same moment He revealed to me the source of my strength. He is! I'd never thought that I'd find my healing through my pain. I didn't realize that something that happened to me 14 years earlier would still have an effect on me 14 years later. When I look back, I see how that trauma motivated a lot of my poor choices. I had no idea how broken I was and how my poor decisions kept me broken. Sometimes the pain is meant to usher us closer to God. Sometimes it's the only way He can get our attention.
The moment I chose Christ to lead me out of my pain was the moment I became FREE. By no means is this process easy but it is necessary. Confronting the hurt and moving forward was the goal that had to begin with forgiveness. I had to forgive the pastor, my family, the older members of the church who I felt were partially responsible, and most importantly, myself. As Christians it's necessary that we forgive, but it's not necessary for us to restore. Forgiving someone, even if they do not ask for your forgiveness, means they no longer owe you anything; you're erasing that debt, not holding anything over their head. It's not required that you restore what was broken because forgiveness is not a second chance. If you choose to forgive them (clean slate) do that, but don't keep bringing up the offense. I questioned and even blamed God for a long time because I didn't understand or know who He was. I still don't have it all figured out but I do understand that no matter what situation we choose to enter or what situation God allows – He knows beforehand that we’d make it through – even when it looks like we’re headed for destruction. I also understand that even the bad will work for our good (Romans 8:28), if we love God and the good we're working towards is to be like Jesus.
I began the journey to understand who I am in God by studying His word daily. To be honest, it is the only way I find peace. I've come to learn that Before I Knew Me, God already purposed a plan for my life. Before I understood that God saw me complete, each bad experience gave me more reason not to trust Him. I was doing the reverse of what the word consistently instructs us to do when faced with trials, trust God through it. My grumbling, complaining, and stubbornness hindered some of the lessons I needed to learn to not only go through but grow through it. I began to take accountability; most of what I've experienced I permitted it to happen. Take it from me, it's not wise to continue down a path that leaves us at the bottom, in a pit of guilt and shame, depressed and brokenhearted. We break our own hearts when we permit dysfunction and abuse to continue in our lives. Everything we experience is not the fault of someone else, yet a result of our brokenness that can be redeemed. Our focus should be on dealing with the root of our brokenness, otherwise we'll continue on a downward path. If nothing changes, nothing changes.