Feelings and Faith: Jenn’s story

Hey friends, I recently had the pleasure of joining a Bible study group by Skype.

I listened as women shared their stories, and we prayed together, and talked through some of the harder issues of forgiving. Jenn Armstrong is the leader of that Bible Study, and later she shared her story.

Thank you, Jenn, for allowing me to share your story today.

 
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Jenn’s Story

My mother and father divorced before I was born. To this day (I’m 36 now), I have never met my biological father. He wasn’t interested. At the age of five, my mother remarried.

I was excited. What little girl doesn’t dream of a daddy?

Around the age of seven, he began to sexually abuse me. My mom worked long hours, so this happened a couple of times a week until the age of 11. I went to school and told five friends (girls my age). I asked them not to tell, but they did. The teacher talked to my mom.

On the way home, my mother called me a liar, and said I was jealous of him. Later, when I was asked to talk to the police because the teacher  reported it, I told them I dreamed it all.

At age 13, I was old enough to know that I could get pregnant. I started telling him no. Twice, it happened again, but on the third I finally had the courage to tell someone again, and Social Services removed me from my home and sent me to live in a foster home.

As a child I didn’t understand that this was not my fault. Having to leave home felt as if I had lost everything – my dog, my room, my toys, my clothes, my mom.

Was it because I was bad?

My grandparents filed for custody. As a young teen, I rebelled. I saw a counselor but refused to talk. I hated school. I hated myself. I hated life. For a long time I suffered with depression and cutting and drinking.

During this time, I saw my mom through supervised visits. We never talked about the abuse. I wouldn’t talk about it with anyone.

As a young adult, I joined a volunteer fire department, and rescue squad. I met my husband. I loved my job. We married, and had our first son. Things were looking up.

With the birth of my child came a rush of memories, and depression hit. I had set boundaries in my relationship with my mom so that I could give something more stable to my child, but those boundaries created hard feelings with my mom.

I started to see a counselor. I refused medication. This went on for too many years. Even four years later, with the blessing of my second child, I struggled with knowing how to move forward. I wanted to be a good mom. I wanted to feel better. Yet there were days that anger affected my relationship with my beautiful children.

I didn’t just want more for me; I wanted more for them.

One day I cried out to God. I was willing to give it all up completely, though I wasn’t sure what that even looked like.

After the birth of my third child, I was still in the process of healing. I continued to offer it up to God. I started reading books on healing, such as Wendy Blight’s book, Hidden Joy. I even started teaching others who were on the same journey as I was. God was healing me!

Later, that led me to lead a study over Suzie’s book.

When you are hurt deeply, you may not think that you’ll have a happy life, but at the age of 36, I have found that. I’m a mom, a wife, a friend, a Bible teacher, and Jesus lover. One day I hope to write and share my story of what God can do.

Unburdened Heart_Grass&Sky_smallJesus has become my passion. I encourage others to share their stories, take off the masks, and get real. Because I’m not alone. There are many others who have went through what I have.

As the women and I went through Suzie’s book, The Unburdened Heart, it helped me to work on areas still in need of healing.

Women are opening up as we go through this book.

Women who never felt they had the freedom to share. Never felt safe enough, or good enough.

If you are like me, sharing your story is hard, but when you’ve spend a lot of your life wanting to die, and finally discover what it means to live. And to live free!

You can’t help but talk about it.

To connect with Jenn Armstrong, you can check out her blog.

If you are studying The Unburdened Heart with a small group or in your church, I’d love to connect with you by Skype. There is absolutely no cost, just the privilege of having a heart-to-heart with the women in your study group. You can set up a time here.

Comments

  1. This has touched my heart because I was abused by my brother at 11yrs old and then raped twice in my twenties during the same year. I’m 52 now and have been dealing with this for about 10 yrs now. I’ve seen a counselor and it has helped. I’ve forgiven my brother and the men who raped me but there is still a part of me that feels incomplete. God has healed so much of my pain but it’s a daily struggle because things will just trigger certain feelings. My husband is a great support as well as my grown children. But there are times I feel no one understands what it has done to me then and now.

  2. Suzie, thank you so much for sharing my story. My prayer is that through my story, part of God’s story, women will find peace and hope. I pray they find comfort in knowing they are not alone in their struggles. We all face things that tear us down or break us. I never imagined I could be where I am today but by the grace of God, I am here.

    I can’t even begin to express how much your book meant to me, not only on a personal level, but also in watching the women in my study group open up, find freedom, peace and a voice. Going through this small group study with The Unburdened Heart and God’s word has had such an impact on all of ours lives. This is definitely a book I will come back to often. Thank you for obeying God’s lead in your life and for pouring your heart out to me and so many others!

    Much love,
    Jen Armstrong

  3. Wow ,this hurts my heart for her ,and I thank God that he is restoring you I pray Gods grace and mercy his strength and Love to hold and comfort you and restore what the devil has ment for evil . your are favored by the king and his love is forever yours ,we are overcomes!!!! Blessings to you always .

    • Thank you so much for you kind words! I am truly blessed and though it has been a pretty difficult road, the road has led me to a God who cares for me and loves me and surrounded me with people who remind me of that :)

  4. These are sad stories with wonderful God filled endings. Praying for healing for all women, whatever they struggle through, that the grace and love of God will fill their hearts and minds as they lean on Him, our dependable, unchanging, love Abba.

    • There is a verse in scripture that refers to being restored from what the locusts have taken. . . and when I think of that verse, I think of the powerful restoration — bit by bit, piece by piece, day by day — that has taken place in the heart of these beautiful women who God loves. My heart hurts that they were ever touched. I know that God grieves such terrible acts upon an innocent child. I am so grateful that new chapters were written in these stories, and that they have discovered who they are, and the healing power of a God who loves them like crazy.

    • Mary, that is my prayer too – that through my story, others will find hope, peace and comfort. Thank you for your prayers!

  5. Amen to all that everyone has said. Unfortunately I didn’t get help until my daughter left home. I took out a lot of anger on my husband.

    May God Bless Richly and continue to heal all of you who have been abused. Laurel

    • Father, thank you for Laurel. She is a work of healing in Your hands. The things that happened took more than they should and today I pray with her that restoration will begin. I don’t know what that looks like, so my prayer is that it will be what You desire in this beautiful child of God’s life. She matters to You. You have walked with her through the difficult and through the freeing times. May today be a day of wholeness. May tomorrow be another day closer. Wrap this daughter in Your arms of pure love, and drop deep inside her heart the knowledge that she is worthy, valuable, precious, and speak of all that You see inside her that she may not fully see yet. In Jesus’ name, amen.

    • Laurel, I don’t think it’s ever going to be easy. I still struggle with anger and handling my emotions. Abuse affects so many parts of us and when it happens at young ages, it messes up our ability to handle things the way God designed us to be able to handle them. Everything has been a learning process all over again and I’m still learning! Praying for you!

  6. Dear Jenn,
    Thank you for sharing. For years I did not understand that the sexual abuse from my childhood was at the root of my yelling at my kids. I have gone to counseling, counseled others, fallen down and gotten back up more times than I can count. Finally now, at age 49, I am making an overdue step toward the life God wants for me and leaving my abusive husband.
    It’s important for victims of sexual abuse to evaluate the decisions they made before recovery and look at each one through the eyes of God, not abuse. Doing this, I realized the reasoning I based many of my decisions on was faulty, so I’m changing. Slowly but surely.
    Thank you for sharing and inspiring.

    • “I am changing, slowly and surely”. What a powerful mantra for a strong woman of faith to hold close. Celebrate every change, no matter how small, no matter how long it has taken, for every step forward is a step closer to who you were always meant to be. Thank you for such vulnerable honesty, Shelly.

    • Shelly, thank you so much for sharing. I am sorry for the struggles you have faced as well but one thing I’ve learned through it all is the struggles I’ve faced have made me stronger. Often, I don’t feel so strong but when I look back at the things I’ve overcome, I see God’s hand in my life carrying me through. I am so thankful for where He has brought me and though I may still have quite a road to travel and much more healing to do, I know I’m on my way. It’s great to hear that you are doing the same! You will be in my prayers!

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