I’ve never really been a stranger to pain. We know each other very well.
A lot of people mistake painful and trying times for the absence of God’s presence, but I could never do that. You see, His presence was all I had.
And in the midst of hell on earth, that was where I felt His presence the most.
I lost my Mother when I was 5 years old. Life continued to an even darker place from there.
My stepmother and her son began abusing me when I was 9 years old. It started out with small things like singling me out from my other siblings and saying no to everything I ever asked, even if it was something as simple as asking for a cupcake at one of my siblings birthday parties. I was excluded from almost everything.
Things would start to go missing and I would get blamed for it and punished. It began with a picture of my stepmothers mom that she couldn’t find and then later claimed to have found in my purse. That later turned into knives being taken from the kitchen and hidden around the house. In third grade I walked into my classroom at school to find teachers going through my bag and to my surprise- finding a knife. My stepmother made up a story that I had told her I wanted to kill a classmate of mine. I was then taken to a police station and fingerprinted, suspended from public Elementary school and nearly placed in juvie as a 10-year old.
Since I was ‘dangerous’, the authorities and professionals recommended I be kept separate from my siblings, and so I was locked in a room and handcuffed to a chair hand and foot. Even then, I couldn’t stop from writing songs in my head and singing loudly about Jesus and how good He was. Even handcuffed to a chair I felt His presence- it was too heavy not to. I can still hear my step mother yelling at me to stop singing and that “no-one wanted to hear that.” I wasn’t allowed to have a Bible but I would always sneak one into my room, reading it like it was the air I needed to breathe. In a way I guess it was- it was what got me through.
Things progressed quickly, to the point of almost daily beatings, being molested by my step brother (with the permission and ‘say so’ of my stepmother, as a control tactic) and being starved excessively- to malnourishment. It got so bad that the doctor said I wasn’t going to live if I didn’t start gaining weight. As things worsened, I did what I always did and resorted to prayer. All day, every day. It was in these moments that Jesus became my everything. I had nothing else to cling to, no-one else to run to.
Through the thick of it He’s always been by my side. Through it all, the presence of Jesus never left.
He was always there whispering words of hope in the dark places, reminding me of who He was despite my circumstances.
He has blessed me more than I can begin to explain and used everything the enemy meant to hurt me for my good.
I can say with confidence He has restored and redeemed every area of my life.
I was told I was ugly, unlovable and would be alone forever, but now I’m married to my best friend.
I grew up without my mother, and with a terrible example of one, which left the little girl in me broken, however, through becoming a Mother I have found healing like I’ve never known.
I no longer live every day in fear, afraid of what’s next. My life is now full of freedom and healing.
So while I’m no stranger to pain, I’m also no stranger to the overwhelming love, healing and redemption of Jesus.
His love has always been louder than my pain, I’m just now learning to hear it.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.