My Testimony, My Story
Growing up I knew of a God. I knew that he did not like you to tell lies and he would punish you if you told them. I grew up spending time with our Nana who was very strong in her faith and had what I now know as an active relationship with Jesus. I grew up watching her pray and purposely taking time to sit quietly and read her bible. I grew up ashamed because I lied. I lied a lot! Growing up it didn’t matter if I told the truth or if I told a lie it seemed that there was always an assumption that I was being dishonest. I found lying was easier than admitting that I was a failure. I lied because I didn’t know how to admit that I couldn’t do what I was being instructed to do! Have you ever heard “Can’t died in the poor house”? “There is no such thing as can’t”? How many times have you heard “can’t is just an excuse”? My reality was that I simply couldn’t! I could not comprehend what was on paper! I could not study hard and long enough! I could not no matter how badly I wanted to I could not pass a test! As a child, I hated report card day! I have vivid memories of being handed my report card and holding my breath as I looked down at it only to see HUGE F’s. I have vivid memories of getting on the bus knowing I had my report card in hand, knowing I had mostly F’s, knowing there would be punishment when I got home for my grades. Rides home on report card day were not happy ones. I was never that child that shared my report card on the bus with all the other happy students. I was the one quietly screaming on the inside for the bus to drive past my house and keep going so I wouldn’t get in trouble. I was the one sitting in her seat marked with the scarlet letter of failure.
There were many occasions when I had to call our Nana and share with her my grades as an act of punishment for my failure. I remember picking up the phone and through my quivering voice, I would try to speak as she said hello. She would always kindly say “Well hello baby, calm down..shhhh…. it’s okay! Tell me what’s going on!” I would finally get out that I had gotten failing grades on my report card and she always had a way of making me feel better. Our Nana was our connection to God, she extended grace always when we felt unworthy of much. She would often remind us that “God doesn’t make mistakes.” She would tell me that “God doesn’t make garbage”. She would have me stand in the mirror and tell myself that I am worthy and I am loved. I remember this but never felt any of it in my heart. I felt right the opposite. I felt stupid, unworthy, confused, and abused. I felt like a mistake, I couldn’t ever get anything right. I failed at everything I touched.
I dropped out of school at 16 and went to work fulltime. At 17 I decided to try to get my GED went to an alternative school where I met a different crowd and started experimenting with drugs and alcohol. I made a foolish decision to attend a hotel party one night, walked into the room to see that my friend and I were the only girls, we decided we would stay but not drink. We were handed a soda and within a few minutes we were both confused and couldn’t drive. I’m unsure of all the events of that night but know they were ones I never had any more interest in exploring. This was the second time I had placed myself in a situation I couldn’t get out of. This was the second time I couldn’t get myself out of a situation where I was taken advantage of. I carried that shame and kept it a secret from everyone.
At 19 I met my first husband within a matter of weeks I moved in with his friend, quit my job at a salon, and got a job as a waitress at a strip club. I was consumed with drugs, guilt, and shame, when I found out I was pregnant only 3 months after meeting my ex-husband. He was in complete denial I was pregnant until I finally got a baby bump at 6 months. He became an angry evil man once the reality of my pregnancy was exposed by my belly. It all came to surface one night when I had gotten home from work and decided that I wanted to take a bath to relax before bed. I was around 8 months pregnant and found it extremely difficult to do much of anything! I started the hot water, turned on my soft music, and snuggled in the water to decompress. My ex-was on the phone with one of his friend I could hear him chatting as he paced our tiny apartment. He entered the bathroom we locked eyes and he walked over to the toilet to use it he looked back at me, then the toilet, looked at me again, and then decided to use the bathroom all over me while I lay there. I jumped up as quickly as I could and the fight was on. Every time I hit him he hit me. This carried on to our bedroom where we continued to exchange slaps and punches to each other’s face until I realized he was not going to give up. He then wrestled me to the bed where he proceeded to place a pillow over my face and hold it down tightly until I was about to pass out and couldn’t scream anymore. He got off me and picked up the phone and carried on with the conversation he was having with his friend as if nothing had happened. I remember thinking wow his friend listened to the whole thing! He wasn’t the only one who listened to the abuse I was experiencing daily. I know the neighbor’s heard my screams. No one ever saved me. He use to drive me to various secluded spots and point out the places he was going to bury me when he killed me so my family would never find me. The abuse got worse as the years passed. The only peace I had during those times was on Sunday when I would spend the day at Nana and Papa’s or when he was working but as soon as he would get home from his night shift the battles would begin. I battled him in secret for 8 years. I had three babies with him and lost 2, alone, ashamed of the life I was living and the decisions I was making.
Spring of 2004 I found out that my ex-was having multiple affairs and had been throughout our whole relationship. Spring of 2004 was when I finally stood up to him and asked him to leave. At first, I was surprised how peaceful he went, he moved out in the middle of the night took most of the furniture and got his own place. This wasn’t the end of his abuse and manipulation. He continued to harass me. Driving by the house and sending frightening text. He tried running me off the road multiple times with the kids in the car and without the kids in the car. There was an incident when he came into the house in the middle of the night and took advantage of me, threatened me, and left like nothing ever happened. It was after that incident that I went to the police department and tried to file a protective order but they wouldn’t help they said it was hearsay. It took my brother moving in with me to finally get him to just leave us alone. I was a broken woman once I divorced. I didn’t realize how damaged I was until I really didn’t know my identity anymore. I turned to alcohol to drown the pain of my failed marriage, my failed life. Alcohol numbed the pain of all my past hurts, alcohol gave me a sense of freedom I hadn’t felt in years. For many years I made some really poor decisions seeking acceptance and love from the wrong men and a bottle.
June 2007 I went on a date with a man I met online and it was the best decision I had ever made. We were inseparable for weeks until a friend of mine was murdered. I tried to shut all good things out because I didn’t know how to process the pain. I started drinking more and felt it was unfair to invite Rocky into my world of hurt. It was best that he just move on to something better. I silenced him and just quit talking to him with no explanation. For months he didn’t give up. For months he texts me every day asking how I was. I didn’t answer! The last text he sent me was “I am not sure what I have done! I wish you would just talk to me! I love you.” It was this message that made me realize I was being unfair to him. It wasn’t his fault I was a broken mess so why was I punishing him? We moved in together and starting sharing life. We purchased a house, cars, vacationed with our (6) blended children and I was experiencing joy for the first time in years. Rocky challenged and inspired me! He encouraged me to take chances and made me want to be a better mother and women. He helped me realize that my drinking was an issue when it came to how we were raising the children and what I was exposing them too. He encouraged me to throw down the bottle and face reality sober. April 2012 my dad invited us to church for the 100th time. Rock and I had decided that we didn’t need church because it was full of hypocrite Christians just there to take your money and judge. If our life wasn’t broke why should we try to fix anything? It was going great just the way it was without attending a church. So, we decided to go just so my dad would quit asking. This visit changed our lives. The Holy Spirit was so evidentially in that church and the pastor was so obviously talking to Rocky and me! For the first time ever I was learning about God and about the love of Jesus. I was curious and wanted to learn more! I remember joining a life group and visiting for one of the first times! Everyone was sitting in a circle talking about how God speaks to them. I remember thinking! Wow, he doesn’t ever say anything to me! I spoke up and shared that God never speaks to me and you should have seen the heads roll! I’m pretty sure of few of them had whiplash the next day!! At that time I had never read the bible. I had tried a few times but I didn’t understand what I was reading! It was confusing words on a bunch of pages talking about family lineages. Rock and I continued to grow in our faith. The Lord blessed me with an amazing job making great money in corporate America! I was living a busy life, working 40+ hours a week, going to church every Sunday, and doing my best to raise our children.
September 2016 I received a call from my stepdad that I needed to get to the hospital soon because I mother wasn’t going to make it this time. She had been in and out of the hospital due to overdosing many times. She had cheated death more than a cat with 9 lives. She had lived through breaking her neck on a horse, falling off the back of a motorcycle going 80 miles per hour, and through a severe stroke 2 years earlier. I prayed the whole way to the hospital that night! I prayed for the Lord to please, please revive and save her. I got there only to learn there was no hope! She had gone septic and all of her organs were damaged and they were all slowly shutting down. I remember frantically searching for her hand so I could hold it! I remember thinking it’s still warm. I remember looking at the frail shell of the women my mother once was. It had been over a year since I had seen or talked to her. We had an argument and I decided her hurtful words were toxic at that time in my life. As I held her hand I prayed with her, I cried, and I simply ran out of words to say! What do you say to someone when it is possibly the last conversation you are going to have with them? What do you say when you aren’t even sure if they can hear you? I was the one who called her sisters and brother to give them the grim news. I had to call my sisters and brother to advise them they had a few short hours to get to the hospital because mom wasn’t going to make it this time she was going to celebrate her birthday in Heaven with her mom and Jesus. That day seemed as though it was never going to end. It was around 5pm when the nurse came in and said it was time! They were going to turn off all the machines. Everyone that loved her so much was in the room, we gathered hands, and her sister prayed her into heaven. This was the first time I truly felt the presence of Jesus. As we were praying all the machines started beeping and going crazy and then they abruptly stopped. My sister cried out what is going on, why are they doing that? I said it’s Jesus letting us know he has mom, she is okay!
Time doesn’t stop for grief. Life goes on! My job needed me, my children needed me, and my husband needed me! I fell back into my busy successful life. I cried alone in my car and every day on the inside for 8 months after the loss of my mother. I cried out to God to help me! I cried out to God to heal my shattered heart! I cried out for a moment to pause my life so I could just heal. May 2017 God heard my cries and he answered them. I walked into work and I was given a severance because they no longer needed my position. God, paused my busy life and for the first time I laid down all of my past, my hurt, my shame, my heartbreak, shattered dreams, broken relationships, and regret. I hit my knees and gave everything to him. I realized I can’t and I do not want to do life without him! I opened the bible and for the first time I could read the words and understand them. I understood what it meant when I would hear people talk about the Word being alive. The words jumped off the page at me! God led me to Romans 8:28 he wanted to make sure I knew that all my past hurts, and pain have a purpose. I have a purpose! He chose me! I am not garbage! I am fearfully and wonderfully made, highly sought after and desired! In this past year, he has challenged me to step out on faith. To trust all his promises and stay obediently faithful! Writing this is my biggest challenge! The Lord has called me to share my story, my journey, and how he saved me in all my brokenness! In hopes that I reach the borken and give you the gift of Love and Freedom throufh a relationship with Jesus.