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.
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.
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.