Sunday, August 23, 2009

I'm ready

I've been saying for quite a while that I would give my testimony, I would share where God has brought me - well today is that day.

Romans 8:28 And we know that ALL things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to HIS purpose.

I always start with this scripture. It's helped shape me and gave me a hope when there was no hope. This scripture answers all the questions I ask about the why's and hows of everything that is essentially me. God gave me this scripture when I was a teenager, right when I was at a very dark place in my life. Let’s face it, being a teenager can be a really confusing time at the best of times, trying to find out who you are, where you fit in, what you believe, what you think. Teens can find life hard to deal with – and they can be as normal as they come. I wasn't what you would classify "normal" - my circumstances - ME was very unusual. So God saw me where I was at, and gave me something to hang onto. And I hung onto I did. With white knuckled grip I hung on, because if I didn't, I would fall into the black, swirling hole that was at my feet. This is the first scripture that flew right past the past the rubbish and it was planted directly into my soul. No other scripture made such an impact during those times. God knew what I needed and he made sure it hit the spot.

So... on with my testimony.

But my story doesn't begin with me. It actually begins with someone else.

A young girl. A relatively happy, sweet girl. She was a Christian and involved in a church, she had a loving family, pets, a job, friends. But in March 1978 that girl, not long after her 18th birthday, her life was changed forever by a devastating event. She was brutally raped by a “friend” of the family. He left her violated, shamed and emotionally shattered. She was in her own backyard when it happened. She screamed for help while it happened – but no help came.

She reported it – but the law weren’t much help. They gave her a mock trial, and asked her some questions that would be asked. She couldn't go through all that, and have other's blame her for it happening to her. So she dropped it and carried on.

She didn’t want to tell her family. Why? Why wouldn’t you tell your family something terribly had happened to you? Why couldn’t she count on their support? When she was a child, she had been molested by a family member. She told her mother – but her mother didn’t believe her – or didn’t want to do anything about it. This happens a lot even today. I know of many women who have been molested and raped as children, and when they told the people who were supposed to protect them, they did nothing about it. Women today hear their kids have been interfered with, and they ask “What do I do?” If the girl’s mother didn’t believe her then, would she be believed when she said she had been raped? She didn’t think so, so she remained silent.

The poor girl became sick. She had lost weight, she was fainting a lot and she was throwing up everything she ate. She thought she was dying of leukaemia. She went to her doctor. “You are pregnant” was the diagnosis.

She finally told her parents that she was pregnant. Her mother was disappointed in her but she handled it ok, but her father was absolutely crushed. He didn’t speak to her for 6 weeks. His disappointment in her was so great and that devastated the girl so much. She didn’t say a word about the rape. And her parents never knew the truth for a further 6 years.

When she started showing the people in her church judged her. They assumed she had fooled around. It’s a very easy judgement to make in churches, a young woman with a pregnant belly and without a wedding ring comes in, the automatic assumption is that they have been messing around. Maybe not so much today, but back in those times the judgement was severe. Severe AND very wrong. She was isolated because of the gossip and the assumptions made by her church family.
She had no one for support, except her sister, who had become pretty suspicious. She KNEW her sister, and knew she wasn’t the type to fool about.

The girl didn’t want this baby. She didn’t feel like she could do it alone. She didn’t think she really had a choice. So she took steps to have an abortion. She saw her doctor who was a Christian man. He strongly recommended that she didn’t abort the baby. He didn’t think she was psychologically strong enough to handle the guilt of the rape as well as the guilt of an abortion.

She seriously thought about putting the baby up for adoption – even her parents had offered to adopt the baby. But for some reason didn’t follow through with it.

In December 1978 – she had a baby girl by caesarean section.
When the baby was six weeks old, the “friend” and “Father” held the tiny bundle in his arms, looked down at her and said “She isn’t mine” and gave her back to the girl. That girl felt a surge of determination. “Right then! She ISN’T yours, she’s MINE!”

When most Mummies are filled with love and wonder at their new babies, the poor girl felt nothing. She was empty. She really wished she could love her baby. One night she watched her daughter sleeping in her cot, crying because she couldn’t love her baby. She did something that would change the baby girl’s and her own history forever. She did something that would change everything. She cried out to God: “God help me love this baby the very best way I can" God answered the cry of that young mother.

I am that baby. I’m all grown up, and I am loved by my mother as if I was conceived in love. No woman could love a child more than I am loved. She loves me with a love that God planted in her heart. It’s more than the love of a mother – it’s the love of The Father as well.

Romans 8:28 ALL things work together for GOOD to those who love God to those who are called according to his purpose.

HOW is this good???
Romans 8:28 gives me the answer to my questions.
Why?? All things.
Why am I here? Why did sperm meet egg THAT time? Working together for good.
How can you stand by and watch something like that happen? My purpose.
I remember a few years ago going over this verse while reading The Purpose Driven Church. I cried tears of rage and disgust when I read “God planned your birth” What kind of sick God did this? But God is just so powerful and mighty. He took my wounded heart in his hands, and showed me that he could turn a tragedy into a triumph. For rape to become a positive thing takes a miracle.

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For the women who have experienced sexual abuse in any shape or form, there are going to be very few of them that view it as a positive thing. Sexual abuse destroys lives – but thankfully I serve a God that is into mosaic masterpieces – and is an expert at piecing lives back together.
And I am thankful for God’s ability to heal and restore broken lives, because my life got very complicated and very messy.

My life as a child was very good - I was very blessed to grow up in a Christian home. I have attended church all of my life. I was happy, loved and secure. When I was almost 2 years old, a young man fell in love with me. His parents thought I was the best thing since sliced bread. This man who fell in love with me then turned his attentions on my Mum. They fell in love and were married when I was 3 years old. 2 brothers came along within 2 years and I had myself a family.
Now to clarify, this man my Mum married is my Dad. I will always refer to him as Dad – I will never ever call my biological father “Dad” just to eliminate any confusion. Dad may not have contributed to my creation, but he certainly contributed to my life like a Dad should.

When I was young and right up to my late teens, my perception of God was a bit warped. In my generation End times videos were popular, scaring the gajeebers out of every kid in the place. I was scared of God. And Satan.. I was in a pentecostal church! I had heard about him too! One Sunday School teacher we had was having a bad life and she used to scream and yell at us, and make us learn the Lord’s Prayer. I was quite scared of her – and if she was teaching the love of God – maybe I was better off without it. I was scared enough to read my bible, scared enough to pray just in case a bolt of lightening hit me. Every day I would give my heart to Jesus, just in case. But my warped views of God was not reality. I had never heard of a God who loved me, or wanted me just as I was. I never knew that God was someone who could protect me, and be my friend. I guess people just assumed that I would know this.

Life went on all hunky dory. I had a very innocent upbringing. I didn’t question why I was at my parents wedding, it never occurred to me to ask. I never asked why I looked nothing like Dad. Though plenty of other people did. It just never clicked. I just thought I was the spitting image of my Mum, and there was no room for Dad’s genes. Afterall my brothers didn’t look anything like Mum. SOMEONE had to look like her!!

One day when I was 11 my Biological father rang some old friends of our family and asked our whereabouts. He lied saying he had lost our number. That’s how he tracked us down. He called my mum and started asking questions about me and wanted photos of me. My Mum as you can tell absolutely freaked!! Her greatest fears were being realized. She was always so scared that he would come and kidnap me, or just appear and want custody of me or something like that. She HAD to tell me where I came from, how I came to be. Just in case I was approached by him. So I was sat down and given the birds and the bees talk.

I don’t know how Mum did it, it was such a nice casual chat about how the human body worked and how to get pregnant. Then she very calmly told me the very worst news I had ever heard in my life. My world as I knew it crumbled into a million pieces. My dad wasn’t my dad afterall. Instead the man who had helped make me was a monster and worst of all, HE DIDN”T WANT ME! For 6 months or so I was just confused. A little kid can’t absorb this kind of information easily. I was in a daze about who I was. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was no longer the daughter of Mum and Dad. I was no longer the sister of my brothers – I was only half a sister, and a step daughter.

Once a friend from school asked me why I was in my parents wedding. I didn’t know what to say. She said “Your mum must have had sex before she was married.” I hotly denied it! “She did not!” “Well what then?” How could I explain it?? I couldn’t. I just had to shut my mouth and let her bad mouth my Mum. I hated them thinking that my Mum messed around before she was married. I was so ashamed of how I had come to be. I felt guilty, though I can’t explain why. Here started the long term effects in a victim of sexual abuse – I may not have been the dirrect victim, but I certainly had the effects of sexual abuse in me. I experienced guilt and shame.

Life began to change for me. The way I saw things, the way I reacted to things, and the way I felt things. Imagine a pot with potting mix in it. This symbolizes my life. A seed of rejection was planted in my pot and it began to grow. On the branches sprouted anger, rebellion and resentment. And a lot of this was directed at my Dad. We clashed all the time. I yelled at him, screamed at him, he was at the brunt of my anger.

By the time I was 13 I was a volcano, ready to erupt at any moment. My anger was hot and uncontrollable. The anger branch that had grown was bearing fruit. From that plant a branch of hatred had also grown. I hated everyone. No exception.
But I really really hated my Dad… and I had no problem in telling him so. Thinking about it now, I had issues with a Father figure, a man who didn’t want me, who didn’t love me, and couldn’t care less if I was alive or dead. The only Dad I had unfortunately copped my emotional pain.

I used to threaten my parents when things didn’t go my way that I would go and find my real father and go live with him. This was totally irrational, I didn’t WANT to meet him. I didn’t WANT to live with him. I didn’t want anything to do with him. The only time I wanted to see him was just before I inflicted some act of violence on him. I only said it hurt my parents when I said those things. As you can imagine it nearly killed my Mum every time I said that. In retaliation she would say “He didn’t want you”… feeding my plant!

One day after a particularly bad fight, my Mum spat out in anger “I never asked for you to be born.” I was so incredibly hurt by that. I remember that day so well. It felt like I had been physically punched in the chest. I took that as “I didn’t want you either.” My rejection roots were getting fertilized. I was still going to church at this time. Being a good girl on the outside. But on the inside I was vile. I smiled, participated in the service, but when I got home, I was another story.

People used to say “God is going to use you” YEAH RIGHT!! They didn’t know what was in my heart. Now at this time would have been a great time to hear that I could rely on God and he could help me and carry me through… but that sermon was never preached at my church. Because I grew up in a church, people assumed I would know that God was the answer. NEVER ASSUME.
When I was 14 I went to Youth Alive once and decided to give Christianity a go. I was baptized because that was what I was supposed to do. But from there, people assumed I knew what to do, how to be in relationship with Christ etc. But I had no idea. So my Christian walk died not long after getting started.

I just kept getting worse and worse. My broken life was getting poisonous. My rejection plant was growing too big for me to control. By the time I was 15 my plant was bearing fruit left right and center. Verbal abuse, hot anger, intense hatred, losing my temper, foul moods, attitude problems. I was abusive on a daily basis. Emotionally and mentally. I was extremely manipulative, extremely angry, I was withdrawn outside my own home. I didn’t become close to anyone and I didn’t trust anyone.

My soul had become poisonous. It seemed that I screamed out anger and hatred every time I opened my mouth. I refused to cry, I saw it as a sign of weakness, so I bottled it in for years and years. It made my soul sick.

Then on one happy day – Feel my sarcasm. Dad got promoted and we had to move to an outback town in Australia… I saw it as the butt end of the world. I said “God if you love me, you won’t send me there.” I was in a good school, I was “happy”. I didn’t want to start again. On my 16th birthday we moved to the outback.

Romans 8:28 And we know that ALL things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to HIS purpose.

ALL THINGS work together for good. How can any good come from being shipped off to the butt end of the world? It was stinking hot, there was one main street, I could walk from one end of the street to the other in a few minutes. It was small, quiet and the place seemed to breed flies. It was dry most of the year, and the times it did rain it flooded!

From my 16th birthday, I turned my back on God. He obviously didn’t love me either, he had turned his back on me. He didn’t answer my prayer. He sent me to a place that may as well be the middle of Africa!! I figured since he had a hand in shipping me off to the worst place on earth, he must not really care about me much. Which was another dose of manure on my thriving plant.

For 8 months I became a monster. I fought against church and religion. I was forced to go… even though I didn’t want to. So… I made sure I made my parents life miserable before church so they would have a hard time getting into the mood for worship. I deliberately read comics and Virgina Andrew novels during the sermon, I was rude to anyone who spoke to me. I made them regret ever making themselves known to our family. Pretty soon people got the drift. The pastors didn’t say much to me. In fact they steered clear of me. I was trouble, too much trouble for them to deal with.

A few months after we moved there, new pastors took over the church. And they loved me!! I may have been trouble but they were gracious and kind. They were so nice to me, no matter how nasty I was. This was new to me!! What on earth was wrong with them?? Why didn’t they react to my foul mouth like everyone else did? They invited me to stay with them on their property with their family, they encouraged me and remained neutral at all times. They never once judged me, or told me that I needed to change. They never told me to treat my parents with respect, that I was no good, that I was a nasty piece of work. They just loved me – showing by their actions the love that God had to offer me.

The pastors invited a youth group from the city over to minister to our youth. I was complaining about how I had it tough. That I was in a boring town, my parents were over bearing and strict that it was all hopeless and my life totally sucked. Everyone listened sympathetically… except a girl named Rosie. This feisty little lady was not into giving ungodly counsel. She had the answer! She had hope! And she wasn’t going to keep it a secret! She said one line – and this line hit me – hard. “Get over it and get God.” So simple… but it hit me like a fist in the stomach. It was uncomfortable, it was confronting, it was thought provoking.

It began to stir up thoughts I had never had before. Can God really help me? My view of God was somewhat distant. Someone who didn’t love and didn’t care, who just sat up there and watched what was going on, like a soap opera on TV. Sort of how I saw my biological father. Someone who just doesn’t’ care about anyone. Creates us then walks away. That week, I was ministered to and taught that God was someone who was approachable, and real. Not some pie in the sky. God loved me, right at that moment! He didn’t care if I was a mess. He didn’t care that I had a foul temper and an angry heart. He didn’t care what my emotional state was. He wanted me to come to him. He wanted me to be friends with him.

I gave my life over to Christ, handing over a broken decayed vessel. God took that vessel and began his mosaic masterpiece.

You would think life would get better after that. God had control of my life, I was in relationship with him… it didn’t get better. In fact it worsened dramatically. Satan must have loved my life being so messed up. He was fighting tooth and nail to get my soul back. He obviously saw great potential in me, the same potential God saw. And there was NO WAY he was going to let me go without a fight.Also that great big ugly plant that was deeply rooted into my life had not been dealt with. So I was struggling to live the life that Christ would want me to live, when I had hatred, bitterness and anger still in my heart.

Not long after I gave my life to Christ, I was filled with the Holy Spirit. And from then on life was hunky dory…. My plant magically disappeared, I became a woman of love and grace and peace. And that’s the end of the story…… NOT!

Here began the most turbulent time of my life I had a tug of war going on between my new life and old. The plant was still alive in my heart and was deeply rooted in my life. The Holy Spirit was also in my heart and had a strong hold of my life. The two of them did NOT get along at all. They fought all the time.

The fights I had with my family grew ten times worse if that is possible. I would get up at 4am and study God’s word. I would pray, I would just sit in God’s presence…. And then a few hours later scream and abuse the people around me. How can my heart have two such powerful forces in it? In short, it couldn’t – one had to go. It was either that tree or God.

Life for me just got worse and worse. I was fighting all the time. My parents used to condemn me saying that if God was truly in my life and that I had the influence of the Holy Spirit in me, I would not be acting like this, which infuriated me more. I was struggling to be Christ-like but I was doing it on my own… which is a bad move. I was failing… and I hate to fail.

At the end of my 17th year, after another bitter argument, I’d had enough! I was standing at the kitchen sink, doing the dishes. I was so sick of it all. I was so sick of living like this. I was so sick of fighting. I was so sick of feeling so wretched. I was sick of hurting. I was sick of my life. I didn’t want to live anymore. It wasn’t worth it. I picked up a knife used to cut meat, and began to think about how I could end it. No one else was home. I could slash my wrists and be done with it. No more pain. No more causing pain. No more agony. I dropped the knife back into the sink, scared witless of my thoughts. WHAT was I DOING???? I went to my room, got to my knees and prayed “God get me out of this.” Again God heard the cry of a broken girl – like he heard my Mum 17 years before. God heard me and answered me. Three days later after the hugest fight, I was out of that environment and placed in another. I stayed with my Pastors for a little while.

Now what? God answered my prayer. He got me out of the situation. I no longer was surrounded in arguments, fighting and all the other things that were distracting me from what the real problem was. God showed me this plant that I had in my life. I realized I needed a tree surgeon – God – to rip out that destructive plant in my life. How can I bear good fruits if I am growing evil?

Over the next month or so, I spent a lot of my time praying and allowing God to rip out that tree – leaving one big gaping ugly hole. It hurt… A LOT. There were lots of tears, lots of regret, and times of forgiveness. The first step to healing was forgiveness. I had to forgive the man who had started it all off, I had to forgive him for raping my Mum, I had to forgive him for leaving me, not wanting me, not taking responsibility for his actions. I had to forgive him. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my whole life.

Over time He dealt with the mess left behind, healed the big gaping wounds, he loved the unlovelable and sweetened my bitterness. Bit by bit, day by day, week by week, I became more at peace. I felt peaceful. I was a lot happier, I was secure, I didn’t fight with anyone anymore, I was relaxed, and God was teaching me so much, gently pointing out areas in my life that I needed to work on.

My life began coming together. I was developing close relationships with people. I was almost normal! God directed me in places I never thought I would go! – I don’t believe it, but I got involved in ministry. ME.. who used to be a mess, was able to be used by God. That amazed me! It still does!! God is so capable – if we allow him to be.

I don’t know about you, but I see a pattern here. God had his hand on my life. I was precious to Him, and he knew that later on down the track, he could use me. He knew that from the moment I was conceived. Here was a woman who could speak into the lives of those who have been devastated by tragedy. Here I am – a willing vessel – but I was a broken vessel. Why does God want to use me? I am called according to HIS PURPOSE.

When I could have been aborted, he intervened and stopped it happening, he had his hand on me. The day I found out that I was a nobody, a rape child, not wanted, not in the plan - he was there with me, sharing my pain, aching for me, waiting for me to come to him. The times I was fighting, the times I was hating, the times I was being bitter and nasty, he had his hand on me. The day I wondered thought my life was not worth living and it would be better over with, he had his hand on me. The day I came to him, broken and needy, he had his hand on me – still!

My God has the power to piece together a broken life. He can turn a tragedy into something triumphant! We just need to hand over our broken life and leave it in his capable hands.

Today I have a good relationship with my Dad – I have a brilliant relationship with my Mum. A year ago my Mum said something to me that I will treasure always and I thank God for bringing us to this place.

“Skipper, I am glad in a way that it happened. Because if it didn’t. I wouldn’t have you. You make all the rubbish and the pain all worthwhile! If it didn’t happen, your kids wouldn’t be here... and I would have missed out on so much!!”

I am no longer an illegitimate rape child. I am a child of God. Loved, adored, never rejected, special, and blessed.

I hope this testimony about the power of God has blessed you and even helped give you a hope about your own personal pain. I hope these words speak into your life and make a difference there somewhere, somehow.

Please feel free to share it with whoever you think could benefit from this.

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