A Glimpse of Joy

i-choose-joy-21.jpg

This is a repost from a previous blog that was posted on our old website over 2 years ago. This post originally had reached more than 5,000 people and so many have been affected by this young woman's story that we had to post it again on our new site. Please share with your friends and family and spread this courageous woman's story of hope and joy. 

1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are a victim of child sexual abuse;

A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds (www.ncdsv.org) 

I am part of the “1 in 5” stat. For 10 years, from the age of 6 to 16, I endured sexual abuse at the hand of my older cousin on a weekly base.

He told me I could never tell. He told me he loved me, and that’s why he did it.  I remember telling myself “If this is what love means and feels like, then I don’t want it; If this was family, then family was scary; If he was a deacon and active church servant, then God must be mean and unjust.”

Growing up, I’ve always felt ashamed, unworthy, and like an outcast. I felt like I was dirty, alone, guilty, and ugly. I believed I was doomed for hell. I believed that I had lost any hope of being a good girl, or marrying a good guy, or being normal. I walked around with a huge secret weighing heavily on my shoulders. I remember thinking to myself “If my parents find out, they will kill me, disown me, and be so ashamed of me.”  I believed I was all alone in this world.

In order to survive the abuse and the psychological warfare going on inside me, I learned to make myself numb to it. I disassociated myself from feeling anything or being present in life at all. I developed mechanisms to cope and survive. I overcompensated by being a perfectionist and high achiever. I sought after bad guys because I believed that was all I deserved.  I never allowed myself to enter into a real friendship because I believed that anyone who got to know the real me would reject me.

I locked up all of these memories deep down inside of me so that they would never be part of my life again.  I continued on with life as though nothing had ever happened. As time continued to pass, I met an amazing, Godly man. He scared me. I told myself that there was no way this great man would go for a girl like me. I tried time and time again to scare him off by revealing to him mistakes I made.  Despite my efforts, he still loved me and asked me to marry him. I loved him and truly thought he could take away all of my problems and our life would be great.

I could not have been more wrong.  The first year and a half of marriage was a huge struggle. I sunk deeper into depression and my self-esteem plummeted. I began to consider the worth of my life and contemplated if I deserved to be alive. I was so angry with God. I slammed into rock bottom, decided to never talk to God again, and considered taking my life.

Just as I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did. All of my memories of abuse came flooding back so quickly and I could not stuff them back down. I could not numb the pain; I could not fight the memories away. All my coping mechanisms and survival strategies were useless.  I was on my rock bottom, on the ground, crying out to God asking “why?!”

I remember when I decided I had to tell my father of confession. As I nervously sat in his office, I uttered out loud with a trembling voice what I had never before said for 20 years “At the age of 6, I was sexually abused by my cousin and it didn’t stop for 10 years.” In that very instant, I felt the huge burden I had been carrying my whole life being lifted off my shoulders.  He advised to start counseling.

It has been almost a year now going through this journey of healing, counseling, and reading. I always thought that healing was so far down the line or even impossible for me. I told myself that I would give this a shot, but I didn’t totally believe I would receive healing. I remember hearing the priest at church say that “we are Christ's children and when He adopted us all, His inheritance passed down to us and we received His grace.” I remember always thinking how lucky everyone else was to have such an amazing gift. But I didn’t believe I was one of those people. The concept of me being forgiven was incomprehensible to me.

I believed that healing was something I could control. I kept trying to do all these external things to bring quick healing and fix me.  My plan crashed down on me and brought me back to square one.   I had to quit my job and finally for the first time in my life, I had to face myself.  I battled myself for so long.  It proved too difficult and wore me out.  I remember the moment when I finally gave in and said to myself, “What do I have to lose to believe that forgiveness, healing, and love are for me too!” I realized I have to make a choice, so I gave in, let go, and let God.  Such a simple yet difficult choice.  That choice changed the course of my life, and to describe its power would be impossible with words.

The huge brick wall I built up inside my heart is finally being broken down, brick by brick.  Layer upon layer is being pulled away, and I can finally see my glimpse of Hope.  I have seen my glimpse of true Joy and Freedom that I never believed possible for me.  The old me and my past are slowly fading away, and I see a new person emerging from the all the rubble.

I know that I still have a journey ahead of me. I still face struggles and the effects of my past; but now I know that God is on my side and will guide me through it hand in hand. Just catching this glimpse of His grace and this new me is so amazing and encouraging, I would never want to go backwards! I am finally learning to love myself! I am finally learning that I am just as special to God as all his other children. I am finally learning that I am allowed His grace just like anyone else. Although I don't know what the next step in my life will be, or where I am heading, I know with certainty that I am exactly where God wants me to be right now!

My journey has showed me that I cannot and should not have to make it on my own, and that God works through the people he put in my life like my husband, father of confession, and counselor.

This is where my real story begins…

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20