My story is one that includes domestic violence, which included physical, emotional, and verbal abuse. It was by my dad towards my mom, sister and me. If his day was not going the way he expected, someone was going to pay. He was also easily angered, going into a rage while placing all blame on anybody or anything outside of himself.  It was also someone else’s fault.

When I was 7 years old, my parents went on vacation with my mom’s sister and her husband. My sister and I stayed with one of my mom’s other sisters and her family. My aunt had been telling me about Jesus prior to taking us to church that Sunday morning. I told the pastor, at the end of the service, I loved Jesus, wanted Him in my heart, and wanted my mama and daddy to take me to church. When they picked us up that afternoon, I ran out to the car telling them I had Jesus in my heart and wanted them to take me to church.  They began going back to church, however, it was one family at church and another one behind closed doors. The abuse continued at home. 

As I got older, I began to question my actually being a Christian. At 13, during a revival, I told the same pastor I wanted to make sure I was a Christian. He talked with me and helped me with the assurance.

As a result of the abuse, I was a quiet child. But, in my adolescent years I began to come out of the shell I’d placed around me. I met some people who were older than me. They were partying and drinking alcohol. I found that if I drank I was not that shy person. I began drinking with them while being a model student in school. I continued trying to be perfect at home and keeping the home perfect. 

I began dating at a young age. 

The person I was dating was four years older than me. At 15 years old, I became pregnant and we got married. The drinking stopped during the pregnancy but I picked it back up after my first daughter was born. When I got pregnant with my second daughter, at age 19, it stopped until I turned 35. 

During this time of sobriety, my life centered around my children and the church. As my girls became older I went back to school and gradually got away from the church. It was as if I was running from The Lord and using busyness with school and family as an excuse. 

After I graduated, I went to work. By this time my girls were young adults. I divorced their dad. It had been as if we were not married. Commitment had not been there.

When I decided to go back to school, as I previously mentioned, I’d been told by my children’s dad that I’d never be able to make it without him. I had started working at the YMCA Day School. The children were mostly foster children who came from homes of domestic violence, addictions, and or incarcerated parents. Child Protective Services encouraged me to get an education that would open doors for further employment in these areas.

My education was focused on domestic violence which included spousal, child and elderly abuse as well as sexual assault. Doors were opened for jobs in these areas. It became a ministry. 

After the divorce, I began drinking again. I remarried but it was into a family filled with chaos and legalism. I had a difficult time with the chaotic environment, along with forms of intimidation, outburst of anger and times of full blown rage. It was a way of life, they referred to themselves as Christians while condemning others outside of their group, especially if there was any form of a different mindset. The more these tactics were used the more I would drink. My addiction became a coping mechanism, helping with denial of the environment of my personal life. As in my childhood, there was my outside of the home mask and a different one at home.

My husband and I both came into our marriage with baggage and issues from our past. The Lord is healing our hearts from childhood abuse as we surrender these areas to Him. He is working in our marriage; the closer we grow to The Lord, the closer we grow as one. It is His grace alone that is helping us overcome the anger and heal the wounds.

In this season of my life, my dad and I are working towards reconciliation. I am holding him accountable while extending forgiveness. I must give him the grace & mercy God has given me, without wavering from Truth. Boundaries are being set.

There was a turning point in my life, even with the heartache. I realized I’d been living a self-reliant life. I did not trust anyone, not even God. To me, love was conditional. It was based on my being perfect in every area, living a life to please others in order to be accepted by them. I felt unlovable, especially by God, because I could not be perfect.

While looking back over my life, from childhood to the present, I can see how God’s finger has been there, weaving each area into His plan. He has taken a cracked vessel & began a work of His light shining through each fracture. He is the author and perfector of my faith. It is only because of His amazing Grace that I have been sober for 13 years. He has given me life, life in Him as He lives in me. 

Ministries are born out of brokenness. The Lord brings beauty out of ashes. The areas we have been healed are where God’s grace flows from within us to others who are hurting. Each person has their own story. Even with this, when The Lord comforts us in our pain, we are able to have more of an understanding of their experience and comfort them as The Lord has us.