Stories of Hope
I considered myself an outgoing and happy person, but behind that smile I hid a multitude of anxieties, worries, and depression. Life has never been easy. From the time I was born two months premature, I had to fight to survive. By the age of six, I had been molested by a neighbor. At seven, my parents divorced. When my mother remarried, my stepfather began to molest me. The sexual abuse lasted for years as feeling of disgrace, fear, and shame filled my soul. By the time I was ten, the abuse increased and intensified, yet no one came to help—not even my mother who didn’t believe me when I told her what he was doing.
At school, I told a friend who informed our teacher. Immediately Protective Services were called in and our family went through counseling, and the allegation went to trial. During the trial my mother testified that I was lying and dreamt up the whole thing as a plot to break up their marriage. I was devastated. But her testimony was enough for the judge to rule in my stepfather’s favor. I was sent home with my abuser and continued to endure the sexual abuse for another three years. I felt worthless and alone.
At sixteen, I was living on my own—I got a job and found an apartment—but the pain of my past still haunted me. Determined to bury the past, I became reckless and looked for ways to numb the pain. My self-respect was gone. I immersed myself in parties, alcohol, drugs and sex. I became selfish and self-centered. I didn’t care about anyone or anything.
A year later, I met my first husband who had manic depression and was extremely abusive. When he refused to get help I should have left, but because I was terrified of him I couldn’t muster up the courage. When I got pregnant with our first child, he demanded that I get an abortion. It was then I made up my mind to leave—for good. Determined to keep my baby, I moved in with an old friend from high school. Two weeks later, he broke into my apartment with a loaded gun, threating to kill himself if I didn’t come back to him. I knew what he was doing. I understood his manipulation, but I couldn’t bear the guilt of someone taking his life because of me, so I gave in and a year later we were married and expecting our second child.
He was a violent man—abusive to our children, our dog, and to me. He never hit me, but in an effort to control me he would hit our children and constantly tell me I would be nothing without him. I tried to be a good wife, mother and homemaker, but my efforts weren’t enough. It wasn’t until the day he went completely overboard and slapped our oldest daughter across the room, that I had reached the end of my rope. The pain of staying outweighed the fear of being alone, so I packed up my daughters and went to a women’s shelter.
I returned to my childhood church seeking forgiveness and restoration. My church family provided storage for our belongings and enough gas money for us to make it to Texas. Convinced my husband would track us down I turned to the local sheriff for help. Comforted by his assurances, that if my husband did cross the city limits he would be apprehended, the girls and I settled into our new lives.
My second marriage wasn’t any better; only this time I married a clinically depressed alcoholic. I was clueless. I saw so much of his broken past as a reflection of my own that I just wanted to try and fix him. We struggled to stay together, his drinking turned into a daily occurrence, even after our daughter Emily was born. The tipping point came when he lost his job and could no longer work. I was working seven days a week—desperately trying to hold onto my family—but everything was falling apart. The guilt and shame of it all is still overwhelming. Two years after our divorce, he committed suicide.
With a trail of destruction behind me, depression ruled my life. I knew I had to find a way to turn my life around, but I also knew I couldn’t do it alone. I went to God and begged Him to forgive me and show me the way. I promised to give Him my whole life, to seek Him and praise Him for the rest of my life. Through His amazing grace, God has restored my life. He redeemed my past and delivered me from depression and addiction. By His grace I found the strength to forgive those who hurt me. I still struggle with trust and insecurity, but through God’s redeeming love I am finding redemption, comfort, and peace.
Those who share their story are people just like you, who, at one time, felt lost and alone. Yet, their lives turned around by the hope and deliverance they found in Jesus Christ.
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