For a long time now I have wanted to share my story, my testimony but because of some of the sensitive issues I have not done so. I also haven’t wanted to speak up until I had been walking in forgiveness for many years.
I am now married myself with children and love my life.
It has not always been like that.
At a very young age I suffered with depression and self-harm, on and off for about 14 years. There have been a handful of times where I have actually felt like ending it all and clung on to Jesus through those times, sometimes by literally calling on his name through the tears and through the pain. I felt so unsafe. I wish I had had someone to talk to confidentially as a child.
I grew up with two parents who had their own emotional and psychological baggage, but they would explain away their negative behaviour and comments, blaming it on their own parents. I became their listening ear and confidant instead of having secure parent figures in my life. There was a fair bit of domestic violence at times and again I would audibly call out the name of Jesus because I believed and saw with my eyes the power in his name (Acts 2:21 “and it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”). There was some emotional, physical abuse and even blurred physical boundaries going on – not all the time, I need to add (because there was a lot of good also in my childhood), but enough to some days cause me to struggle.
I have had counselling, seen the doctor and psychologists and they couldn’t help me much more than what I was already doing as an adult for myself with God’s wisdom and power and strength, with the Holy Spirit’s help. Issues of low self-esteem, anger, confusion, fear etc had a hold on parts (not all) of my life. But however, the more I heard about God’s love and started to ask him to help me trust in him, because I just couldn’t trust a soul, the more healing and love of God came into my life.
At one point the hurt and pain and bad counsel from Christian leaders and parents when I was a child led me to dabble with pornography, self harm and alcohol abuse in secret. That absolutely wrecked how free I felt around my brothers and sisters in Christ. I was struggling as a teenager with ‘secret sin’ as Christians then called it. One youth leader at the time knew nothing of my struggles and saw this quiet, Christian good girl in their Sunday school, got fed up with me and encouraged me to “oh, go and sin a little! ” This just added to, and confounded, the fact that I was already struggling with so much, and these words would come back to haunt me – it was as though everyone around had it in for me and wanted to pile their negative pain and hurt on me, and I just took it.
Looking back now, and with God’s discernment, I can see that some of those adults in my life as a child had not yet themselves encountered the awesome life giving love of Christ or even begun to forgive those that had hurt them in their own childhoods!
As a child I was looking for counsel and guidance and the adults in my life let me down. But, God was watching and God kept me safe and walked with me through my pain.
My pain came to a bit of a head years ago and in my pain I rocked up at the church and asked for prayer. I had been seeing things and feeling very sick and unsettled, and due to misinterpretation of the scriptures at the time and from other horror stories other Christian adults had told me, I ended up believing that I had a demon in me. The leadership agreed and started to pray that the demon would leave me and that I might be thrown across the room or be sick etc. I was so nervous but just wanted God’s forgiveness and cleansing so much! When they prayed for me I had a beautiful vision of my whole body being filled with the light of God and I remember experiencing the peace of God so tangibly for the first time; nothing like what people warned!
I then underwent even more pain as I felt as though my soul, the very nature of my humanity, had been questioned and damaged further. I even thought I might have been an angel at one time! I just didn’t know who I was. Then someone from the church took me to the doctors expressing how they thought that this should have been done first. It turns out that I had borderline personality disorder and later by a qualified counsellor turns out that I was dealing with childhood trauma and had gone through some psychosis. But the beautiful thing is that God walked with me through all this and met me right in my psychosis, right in my hurt, pain and confusion and led me into more peaceful pastures.
I have felt the love of God, seen the love of God and now give my life to him in a positive way; he brings people to me who are hurting without any one of them knowing my own past, and sometimes present, struggles. I’m blessed to have the time to listen to them and point them to Jesus. God feeds me his word at the right time and He really is the bread of life; the living water! Jesus has saved me!! Jesus has saved me from my ‘now’; From my pain, from my hurt, forgiven my sin that was so horrid to carry around.
I feel beautiful in him now.
I remember one time having a breakdown in front of a large group of people whilst the scripture was being read about those who build their lives on sinking sand (Matt 7:24-29) It was at that place that God did a beautiful exchange in me – he gave me Christ the solid rock! But I tell you, my world fell. Psychologically fell. Emotionally fell. But my actual world around me- relationships etc did not crash- they momentarily were estranged- but Christ walked with me and he had been growing me ever since. I feel that one day I will be strong enough to come out, in effect, as the Christian who was a religious Christian but a hurting, lost child inside- because now I am saved. Yes I still make mistakes and I’m a work in progress, but Jesus has washed me clean from top to toe and now each day he humbly washes my feet and helps me to walk in step with his Holy Spirit. His presence is with me. He hears my prayers.
I want to encourage you too today – if you are struggling with mental health problems, sexual identity problems, theological questions, pain and hurt from childhood trauma etc – even if you don’t feel as though you can even trust God at this stage, ask him to help you to trust him.
He will answer.
Ask him to show you that Jesus is his son.
He will show you!
Ask him to fill you with his Holy Spirit – he will fill you.
Our God loves broken people.
Our God cares for the sheep that are lost and he brings them back.
Healing can take time and come in stages, but Jesus will walk you through it all.
From being so confused by wrong teaching on the Bible I once thought I had to actually die in this life for Christ – but He met me there on my bathroom floor confused and scared, ready to give God my last breath and instead God gave me a vision that my soul went to be with him and then I heard these words “everything from this day forward is a blessing”. Words which years ago were said by God to me in my mental health crisis, but today I see just how true his words are.
The word of God will stand forever. He has moved me from death to life in him. He has moved me from Ashes to beauty.
I pray today that this whole beautiful world and all of God’s children (that’s every single human being) would know just a bit more today of the love of God and that minds would become clearer. There is truth. Jesus is the way.
Only a couple of weeks ago did God nudge me to read Marks gospel in the New testament and as I am learning to read the Bible properly now for what the text is actually saying and to take into account the audience to whom it is written to, it’s there that I find the Holy Spirit bringing Jesus’ teaching alive to me and challenging me, changing me and growing me more in him.
In the mental health crisis that we face currently in our nation it is amazing how much love, support and professional support is out there and it’s all really important. But let me also just encourage you to look for the first time or again at the teachings of Jesus and to take another look today at who you say Jesus is; because he was a real person, who walked this earth. He was and is the son of God. And one day every eye shall see and every knee shall bow as he reveals again his divine love, power and grace.
I have so much to be thankful for now and part of me sharing my story, is to let go of my story and to step more into God’s new story for me. He has and is restoring my relationships and giving me opportunities to share the good news about Jesus to family, friends and strangers when he brings about the opportunities. A few months ago, I had chance to speak to both of my parents about some of the childhood hurts I had been carrying around. God brought that about in his perfect and unexpected timing and I was able to walk lighter again and able to be clearer-headed and a more peaceful person. God will keep on healing and restoring anyone who comes to him. He is amazing!
I wrote this blog just before Christmas and had been holding off sending it; I now see why; as God had even more to do and for me to share….
Recently I found out that my dad tried to commit suicide around Christmas time. It is awful and really sad but at the same time it meant that he finally went to the doctor after even a week before when I urged him to get help for his own pain in his childhood by going to the doctor – he point blank refused then. However, he is now on medication and has an assessment due and CBT with a professional mental health team. My mum too who has been carrying so much hurt for so long finally spoke to a friend for support and is also having a first counselling session this week. I am gob-smacked. God can work so fast when the time is right. He is showing me again that it has to be his timing because he has to change hearts and minds and chooses to work with us humans! (he is very gracious).
All the darkness and secrets are now coming out into the light in my family and so much of my own past struggles are making sense now. I will keep praying; but I am learning to rest even more in God now as I have witnessed the fact that he hears even the faintest cry of the human heart. I trust that he has all this in his care and under control and I believe that the right healing is coming for them.
That just leaves me left to say a massive thank you to Father God for always being there for me, even when times have felt so dark.
I know life goes up and down; that won’t change; but the difference is now that I am assured that God is with me. It’s in this place I want to stay. This reminds me of Jesus’ words recorded in John 15: 7: “but if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want and it will be granted!” we must remain and pray in the spirit in all occasions – he will give us prayers to pray for those in need, for those who need more healing – let’s pray those prayers and not give up! At the right time a harvest of righteousness will come!
Nothing is too difficult for God. Nothing.
And finally, I urge you to reread Acts 2, particularly where Peter addresses the Jewish crowds in Jerusalem, the centre of religious activity and the trade central in those days. With the power of the Holy Spirit he explains very clearly who Jesus was and people’s hearts were changed. Jesus stood with the oppressed, with the broken-hearted and the unfairly treated. He is gentle and kind and his Holy Spirit it with us today because he rose again and eye witness, historical accounts tell us this. But not only historical accounts, but also the stories and testimonies being told today of God’s beautiful resting work in human hearts and lives. He has died and is risen for you too. There is new life and hope for you today – like Peter said to the people in Jerusalem 2000 odd years ago, “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord God calls to himself.” He is calling you.