I grew up in a Christian home. I had a mother, father, older brother then 11 years later, 2 more brothers. My parents are Christians. I grew up in a southern Baptist church. We had a close family and a few close family friends.
I can now understand why people of the world cringe when people say that they are a Christian. As a Christian we had to keep secrets hidden, and there were a lot of them. There were things that we never spoke of. We had to put on an appearance that we were good and that we never sinned, especially on Sundays because that was known as the Holy Day. As a child I learned that lying was OK, if it was for the right reasons. But as a child I was not able to determine what was right or wrong. As I got older I knew the difference but then had to keep things hidden because of the shame that I felt inside and was afraid that I would be judged by people. After all we do live in a very legalistic world weather you were in a bible believe home or not. When you hear the story of my life maybe you will understand.
I was about 6 years old when my father started to sexually abuse me (this is my first recollection of the abuse). I have a few memories of the abuse, but I know that there are some that I can’t remember. I was also abused by other men. This happened most of my childhood life but stopped before I became a teenager.
I didn’t have many of my own friends because as you can guess that once they spent the night at my house they never came back and that was because my dad would come into my room at night and abuse them. I always pretended that I was asleep and all I could think was that I was glad that it was them and not me. I felt much guilt about feeling that way. They would never say anything to me either but they never came back to my house.
I found out a few years ago from my mom, who I had just told about what happened to me as a child, that my dad’s father used to abuse his daughters. That gave me the explanation why my dad did this to me. This doesn’t excuse what he did but in my mind it helped me understand why he did it.
The effect of this abuse had major consequences for when I got older. When I was 14 years old I became sexually active. I dated a guy who was 18 when I was only 14. I had sex with him and hated it but had it anyway to feel loved (because that’s what I thought love was). I basically would have sex with any guy who wanted it just so I would feel loved. I got married when I turned 22. I met my former husband when I was 18 years old. I thought that I wanted to marry this man but the truth (which I didn’t realize at the time) is that I wanted to get out of Akron and start a new life. He seemed to be a good man but as the years went by he was abusive in another way, mentally. He would tell me that I wasn’t thin enough (back then I looked anorexic). He would also tell me that I didn’t wear my make up right or my hair wasn’t styled right. He also told me what I could or couldn’t eat. I was with him a total of 8 years when I left him. I left him for another man who was married and who at that time also seemed like my savior from my ex. He treated me like I was the only woman in the world. He made me feel loved. He also left his wife for me. That being said, that relationship didn’t work either. I remember that I was in the hospital with a collapsed lung and he was out with another woman and cheating on me. So I was now single, living alone for the first time in my life, and around 26 years old.
I met a younger man (18) I started dating him and I got pregnant. In my mind I was going to have this child and raise it by myself. I knew that he was too young and wouldn’t be able to handle this kind of responsibility. We broke off the relationship and I had a miscarriage. The next guy I met in a bar, we had sex and I never heard from him again. I got pregnant and I can’t even remember this guy’s name. But again I had another miscarriage.
I had many more sexual relationships with men. I finally met Rich (my husband). We met at Scandinavia (the meat market without booze). This relationship started off different. We started off as friends. We talked to each other everyday, we worked out together, and went to movies with friends. Finally one day we decided officially to date one another. After 1 year we decided to get married. Life seemed great, at first.
Rich used to abuse alcohol and drugs. He had quit for about 5 years before he met me. On our wedding night he bought some marijuana and we smoked it. This totally ruined our first night as husband and wife. I was so high that I fell asleep. Rich started smoking pot just here and there at first then it went to every day then 3 to 4 times a day. Our marriage sucked. Then one day this guy at our old gym kept telling Rich about God and kept handing him bible tracks and in the basement of the house that we were renting he accepted Christ as his savior. A few months after he accepted Christ we started coming to Xenos Christian Fellowship and I started really learning what the bible had to say without all of the legalistic views. Even though I gave my life to Christ many years ago I decided to rededicate my life to him and we started serving in the high school ministry in Bedford. I also got re-baptized and my father came to my baptism. I remember standing there giving my testimony about my promiscuity and seen my father standing there crying. I think he knew at that moment why I did the things that I did. But we never spoke of it. My father died before I had a chance to talk to him, which I sometimes still regret. The reason I regret it is that I never got a chance to tell him that I forgave him and that I loved him. I am trying to teach forgiveness to my 10 year old daughter. I told her that if she cannot forgive those who do her wrong then she will never be able to truly love others.
If it wasn’t for Rich getting saved we probably would not be together today with a beautiful daughter and the wonderful life that we have now. After all these years, and all the different men in my life God has showed me a lot about what real love is. It first starts with God. I was looking for love so hard I would have and did do anything to get it and I never and I mean never felt like I was really loved by any of the guys that I was with. I always hoped that each time that this is going to be the person who would make me feel loved and it never happened. I didn’t even feel this way with Rich until after he had accepted Christ into his heart. He had started to change his life in a good way. When I seen this I knew that in my heart that I needed to get to know who Christ really is. I know that I have repeated my self here but I think that it is really worth repeating.
The first place you need to look for love is from God. He is the only one who can give the fulfilling love that you need. He is the only one who will never let you down. The only way you can even understand the love that God has for you is to start reading the bible.
It took me many years to learn this and a lot of counseling (I spent about 2 years in counseling at Xenos in Columbus), it also took a wonderful group of other abused women (I went to a special class called the GRACE group which stands for Gods Redemption of Abusive Childhood Experiences), and one of the important ones is a great body of believers, and God was the one who put me here. When you are deeply involved with a great group of people who believe in Christ, you have deep relationships with these people who will speak into your life, and that doesn’t always feel good when people speak truth into your life, but I know that these people really love me. Paula (my best friend) went with me to Columbus when I did my counseling there. She knows the darkest secrets of my life and still loves me in spite of them. Like a lot of other people in this church. I am accepted for who I am not what I did in the past. Christ forgave me for all of my sins, past, present and future sins. And that is how I am treated here by these people whom I have grown to love.
In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says, Here I am! I stand at the door and knock if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him and he with me. All you have to do is say Jesus I want a relationship with you and I accept your death on the cross to cover my sins.
Open your heart to hear what God has to say, and believe me this was not an easy task for me. God worked long and hard for me and there are no words to express the love that I feel from God. I spent years ignoring Him and blaming Him for what happened to me as a child. I know more now about God’s love and I still have a lot more to learn. I thank God everyday for all that he has done for me and given me.
Does this mean that every person who struggles with sex has been sexually abused? No. God made us in his image and who is God? God is love and that is why all humans search for it. It is how he made us. But if we do not get this love from our parents, friends, boy/girl friends it is a vicious cycle. The fact is we will never find the love we need from another person. We can only find the fulfilling love that we need from God. After we find this, the rest will be given to us. Freely!
For any fathers out there that read this, I would like to encourage you to love your daughter. You will have the biggest impact on her and you will be the one that teaches her how to love. That doesn’t mean buy her what she wants and give in to what she wants. You might think that this is what will make her happy and for a brief moment it will. But what she needs is you to love her how God loves us. Yes, this also means discipline. It doesn’t feel good for either of you but God says in Proverbs 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son (daughter), but he who loves him (her) is careful to discipline him (her).
You see if she doesn’t get the love that she need from you, she will look to other men/boys to fill that need. So ask yourself now, do I love my daughter the way she needs to be loved? Spend time with her, have a regular daddy/daughter date night, no matter how old she is. Amani (my daughter) looks forward to this with Rich. Listen to what she has to say and if she says things to you that are hard to hear don’t get defensive! If you listen and I mean really listen she will know and love you for it. Don’t try and force things out of her either, this will only keep her closed off to you. Some of out best conversations started when we were playing a game of cards or just playing with toys. It’s never too late so start now, be patient and give it time.
So that is my story of my life and the reason it says “or is it” is because the life I live I no longer live for myself but I now live for Christ. The one thing that I know is that through all of this, that even though God knew what was going to happen to me before I was born, it still hurt him to see me go through this. Every time I cried, so did He! He loves me so much that he came here to be born as a man so he could die for me and have a relationship with me and he can use this terrible thing in my life for good. So if there is anyone that has any questions or just needs an ear to hear I am willing to talk to you or just listen, but realize I cannot fix you. Only God can.
From Delashmut’s teaching on Ephes. 3 he quoted Tim Keller from his book Witness.
“There are hands out there that only you can hold. There are people out there that only you can reach. There are hearts breaking that only you can heal. Your race, your ethnicity, your gender, your sorrows, your experience, your age, your everything… God made you like a fingerprint, and there are certain people out there that God wants to touch through you, and they’re not going to be touched without you. So go…”