Growing up, I had questions about God and would ask my mom. Her response was always, "We believe in God. We're Christians. Don't worry about it." Even as a little girl, I knew there had to be more, but I could tell by the tone in my mom's voice that I wasn't going to get any detailed or accurate answers. The home I grew up in was all about talking the talk, never actually walking the walk, (they had a pretty hard time talking the talk . . . ). My parents were both alcoholics, and my dad was apparently very abusive. I was too little. I only remember some things. My mom left him and continued marrying abusive alcoholics. She had two other husbands after my dad and three other kids after me--all of us within five years.
My clearest memory from growing up was waking up in the middle of the night and hearing my mom and her husband fighting. When the arguments turned into fights, I would run out into the hallway downstairs, and if my little brothers and sister weren't already there, they were on their way. We would all sit there so scared and crying--hearing the screaming and yelling. I remember feeling so helpless. When I was 15, I was tired of my life. I hated it. I ran away from home, started drinking and doing drugs, and having sex with my boyfriend. I didn't feel loved at my house. So I started looking elsewhere. I hated drinking, and I hated doing drugs, but I longed so much to be accepted. The morals in my family regarding sex were non-existent. My mom talked about sex as if it was a game. I had sex with my boyfriend out of desperation. I didn't want him to leave me. Well, that didn't work. We broke up just before I turned 16. My step-dad's daughter's boyfriend, who was 38, molested me when I was 15. I told my parents, and they didn't do anything.
I felt so gross and ended up talking to a counselor at school. The police were involved, and my step-dad told me that he thought I was blowing things way out of proportion because I wasn't raped. I felt as if I was nothing. I moved down to California to live with my grandparents and managed to get myself involved with a group of people who made my friends from Washington look like good school kids. Shortly after my 17th birthday, I was raped. I totally could have avoided the situation by not drinking, not getting high, not partying with these people. The risk of being raped or shot seemed worth it when I thought of the "acceptance" I felt from my peers--though it was all fake. After the rape, I was convinced that I wasn't good for anything.
I never had a male figure reach out and love me, so I thought I was impossible to love and totally worthless. I had been rejected, hated, abused in so many ways, lied to, I was hurting. I wanted someone to put their arms around me and hold me. I became very promiscuous. I'd have sex with a guy, and he'd maybe hold me for 5 minutes afterwards. In those 5 minutes, I tried to imagine that he was holding me because there was something about me that he found lovable. Then he'd leave me there. In my senior year of high school, I started thinking about God. I didn't know anything about how to have a relationship with Him and didn't know much about Jesus or prayer. All I knew was that He was bigger, and He could fix things. After graduation, the weight of my depression was so much that I couldn't handle it anymore. I remember telling God that He owed me a spot in Heaven because He let me grow up the way I did. I blamed Him for who I was (not so much for what I did to myself but for what others did to me and because I was "unlovable"). I tried to kill myself that day. I sat with a razor and cutting up my wrist.
I was always doing stupid things to inflict physical pain upon myself. It helped briefly take my mind off the emotional pain. But I couldn't do it this time. I could not cut deep enough. I was crying so much. I just wanted to die. So, I cried out to God again and told Him to take me or heal me because the pain hurt too much. At work the next day, I was on my break, and there was this guy wearing a Jesus Freak bracelet. I asked him to explain his religion to me and how he knew it was the right one. He told me that religion was man's attempt to reach God and that Jesus is God's way to reach man. He gave me the second best gift I've ever received--a Bible. Shortly after, I received the best gift I've ever received--the Holy Spirit. I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, and I knew that I was loved. Not only that, but I realized that God by choice found me to be worthy enough to die for. I didn't feel empty anymore.
It took a while for me to break some of my addictions. The hardest were drinking and sex. January 1, 2002, I will be celebrating 2 years of sobriety. I haven't had sex in over a year and a half, and it's awesome. God has totally been there for me. He's been so faithful and so patient. For a while I had a hard time understanding that I was a NEW creation in Christ. I still felt "used and abused." But I remembered, and still remind myself, that God wants me, He loves me, and He will never leave nor forsake me. I've had the pleasure of sharing my testimony with many people in the 2 1/2 years that I've been a Christian. I've grown so much, and there's still so much more to go . . . What's so awesome is when someone else opens up to me after hearing my testimony and shares with me their stories of rape, abuse, alcoholism, etc. I get to be used by God at that moment to provide comfort for someone else.
I first came to truly appreciate that when a friend of mine heard my story and then opened up to me about her rape. She'd never told anyone. But she found comfort in knowing that I could relate to her, so she shared with me, which opened the door for me to share of the wonderful healing power of our Lord. I've learned that my life is not a waste of time. God has used my past life and mistakes to glorify Him in my new life He's given me. I'm forever grateful. Thanks for letting me share . . . (sorry so long).