My story is not an easy one. I grew up in an emotionally abusive home, always feeling like I wasn’t good enough or smart enough. I was convinced that I deserved any abuse I received. I’m also dyslexic, so even though I was smart I struggled in school and I experienced abuse and bullying from classmates which, once again, I believed I deserved. Throughout these early years, I was unconsciously forming a pattern of relationships that ultimately led me to pick a mate who was emotionally abusive.
In the 1970s, through family friends, I found my way to Christ. Although I began to know the special and nurturing love of Jesus, my poor view of myself didn’t change just because I became Christian. I needed God’s help and guidance, and it was a slow process. Because of my difficult childhood, I believed that I had to earn God’s love. No matter how often I heard or told myself that God loves me no matter what, the truth never quite made it into my heart. So I was the first one in church, the first to volunteer, the first to work like mad, but nothing made a difference. Then I got sick and I couldn’t work the way I thought I needed to. You have no idea the guilt I felt.
This past year was beyond difficult. I had built up walls that prevented me from having friends; subconsciously I would think, “they would hurt you if they knew the real you.” Thankfully, my daughter started to question me about this, which led me to prayer.
One night I could not sleep. As I lay there, I could see something inside me that looked like a giant cyst. As I watched, it got bigger and bigger, uglier and uglier. Suddenly, it broke, and the abuse poured out and I began to see it all again. Faces from my past accusing me of everything. All of it poured out.
Then a voice came, a voice that was familiar – I had heard it before. It said to me, “you deserved none of this. The people who did this to you were wrong.”
The crazy thing is, as soon as I heard the voice, I was able to not only forgive them, but to forgive myself for believing them. It has truly set me free. Now, on the few occasions that the thoughts come back, I rebuke them and continue on this better path.
I am not saying that everything is wonderful, but it is getting better every day as I learn to trust in God’s love.