I was abused as a child. I know now it was not my fault, but I carried the guilt and shame into my twenties. It made trusting and having relationships difficult. After what happened, I set walls up and didn’t let anyone in. No matter how hard I tried to wash away the shame, it was still there.
The fingerprints of sin were on me. I felt like damaged goods, violated, shamed, scarred, and alone. I was an outcast carrying a secret I could never tell anyone—a secret so dark and heavy that no one would believe me if I told them what happened. At age sixteen, I felt the only way to stop my pain and shame was to end my life.
I was tired of the nightmares, fear, and flashbacks haunting me. I had it all planned. I wrote my last goodbyes and chose the outfit I would wear.
I thought about how my mother would be sad, and my sisters and brothers would miss me, but I couldn’t take the pain and shame any longer. The weight was too heavy for me to carry alone. I needed to escape, and suicide was the way, or so I thought.
No one knew my plan except God. I only hoped He would forgive me for what I was about to do. I didn’t want to live with shame, fear, and sin anymore. I wanted to be free.
The pills were all in my mouth when God interrupted me with these words, “Child, don’t do it.”
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, KJV).
I heard the words loud and clear. I knew it was God talking to me. I spat out all the pills and cried out to God, but the enemy was determined to take me with him. I tried again to take my life. This time God said, “Don’t do it, my child. I love you. It won’t always be this way.”
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11, KJV).
That night, my heart changed. I knew God truly cared about me because He saved me. I wanted to know God and was determined to search for Him. My problems didn’t change overnight, but I knew God loved and cared enough to save me twice. He helped me see the abuse was not my fault; I was innocent. God threw out the charges the enemy held against me. God was fighting for me. He said, “Child, don’t be ashamed. You are innocent. Now be free!”
“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit” (Psalm 51:12, KJV).
I gave my life to the Lord. I met Jesus Christ, the man that changed my life. He showed me love without judgment and without shame. All He wanted was for me to love Him in return.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV).
A song by Natalie Grant resonates with me:
There’s nothing too dirty
That You can’t make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean
God showed mercy and fought for me as no one else had. He made all things new. He restored me and gave me hope. He also blessed me with a patient, understanding husband who helped me move forward.
“For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after” (Jeremiah 30:17, KJV).
Flashbacks from the abuse often made me suicidal. I suffered from an eating disorder and anxiety. The self-hatred I felt weighed heavy on my soul. The enemy repeatedly tried to take me back to the darkness. Despite all my flaws, God loved me enough to rescue me time after time.
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 54:17, KJV).
It was not easy surviving the darkness. God removed things from me and put things in me that I resisted. The most difficult thing I ever did was forgive the man who hurt me. One night as I was walking around my house praying, the Holy Ghost said, “You have not forgiven the person for what they did to you.” I sat at the top of the staircase and replied, “God, do you know what he did to me?” And God responded in a clear voice, “If you do not forgive him, I will not forgive you.”
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15, KJV).
I cried out in sadness and disbelief, but I knew I needed and wanted the forgiveness of God more than anything. So, in my brokenness, with tears in my eyes and truth in my heart, I said, “Lord, I forgive him for what he did to me.” I immediately felt the peace of God fill my home. At that moment, I knew I pleased God. To find restoration, peace, and a relationship with God, I had to forgive the one that hurt me, even if that person never apologized for what he did.
It was not a simple process, but when I think back on it almost twenty years later, it doesn’t hurt anymore. The scars are still there, but they’re not as noticeable as they once were. The Lord washed me clean from my shame and guilt. He healed me from all my pain.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Psalm 23:1-6, KJV
If you are the victim of abuse, it’s okay to feel sad, hurt, and angry, but don’t blame yourself. You may feel broken, but God takes the broken and creates a vessel of beauty. Trust God. He can and will restore your brokenness. Forgive the one who hurt you and find peace in God’s love.
“And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8, KJV)