Choose an emoji to show your reaction. ~ To comment, please scroll to the bottom.😊
Photo by Birgith Roosipuu on Unsplash

My Story–in a CocoNut Shell

**Trigger Warning**

This blog post addresses healing from sexual abuse. This may be a sensitive subject for some readers. There is personal testimony shared with the intention of bringing healing and light to this topic. If needed, please read when you are in a private setting. God bless you!

For the audio version, click below:

One of my deepest desires is to help others who have also suffered to break free from despair.  I’m thankful to have discovered much freedom along my journey with the Lord.  This is part of our story…

The first time I distinctly remember evil entering into my life, I was age four, molested by a family member.  At that age, though, I already struggled so much with the shame and fears of being a bother to others that I never brought myself to confide in anyone until more than five years later when it happened again. 

When it became evident that my mother was choosing to protect the other family member instead of me, my heart became immediately vulnerable to the lie that I was not valuable or important.  It opened my heart up to all kinds of lies that crippled my spirit and oppressed my mind. 

I believed that my feelings didn’t matter; I wasn’t worth protecting.  My mother’s lack of response to my cry for help spoke volumes to me about my worth in other people’s eyes.  From that point forward, my self-perception was that of being less-than and rejected. 

All bad things were my own fault.  My voice didn’t matter.  Other hurtful words and violence from my family simply dug the knife wounds deeper.  I wasn’t the only victim.  The devil had it out for my whole family from the beginning. Both sides of my family had legacies of abuse: physical, emotional, mental, even spiritual—you name it, we’d been through it at some point.

By the time I was 24, I was so broken and disillusioned that all I wanted to do was get away from all the pain and escape from the violence and trauma that continued beyond my parents’ divorce at age 14. I came to Hawaii to start over and to protect myself from people. I’d been here for a summer internship before and, while I was here, I felt God’s genuine love for me for the first time. That summer, I realized that God was for me and not against me, as it seemed many people were. Those three months in Hawaii were God’s way of leading me to still waters and refreshing my soul—though, ironically, the ocean here is anything but still! God rescued me from the turmoil of my home environment and gave me rest. For the first time, I realized that God actually loved me—personally.

In fact, He not only gave me respite from the pain of home, at the same time, He fulfilled a big dream of mine. I was blessed with an internship where I got to train dolphins—playing with them, having them do jumps, and hugging them.  It was my childhood dream come true!!

My entire experience that summer was exhilarating—from the dolphins to the freedom from strife to the beauty of the islands and the amazing church I found. The beauty of God’s creation is so apparent here. I felt so deeply loved that summer. It made an impact on me. The God whom I often thought just watched me suffer from afar was actually watching over me; I’d never felt His real love for me in this way before. It was like God rescued me out of the pit at home and told me: “Here, enjoy a respite. Soak in my beauty.”

After the internship, however, I returned to the same toxic conditions, and circumstances worsened in the following two years. Post-graduation from college, I entered seminary with the dream of becoming a pastoral counselor. Just as I longed to be healed, I longed to see others healed from their inner hurts. However, after a summer crash course in Greek and a fall semester, I gave in to the lies that I couldn’t help anyone when I was so broken myself. Disillusioned with the school and my dreams of pastoral counseling, I thought it was probably a waste of time and energy to spend three years intellectualizing my faith trying to get dual degrees that didn’t quite seem to fit my aspirations, so I took a sabbatical from seminary and never returned. In 2004, after quitting seminary and feeling lost in life, I was back in Georgia with family. Unbeknownst to me, I was on my way to a shock and the biggest life-change I’d experienced thus far. Soon after getting back home, I was called for jury duty for a case on child molestation, and the pain of one of my deepest traumas returned.

Sitting on the stand there being interviewed by the defending attorney to evaluate whether I would be an appropriate candidate for the jury, I was barely able to choke out any words amidst the tears, and I realized I needed help and healing whether I wanted to face it or not.

Living with those who were at the core of the trauma, I felt trapped as all the pain resurfaced, and I struggled with the simultaneous anger and fear from a desire to confront them. I battled depression and was plagued by anxiety attacks. I was lost and devoid of hope of any future. Hiding in my room, one day, I discovered a small book of Scriptures, God’s promises. There, I found the verse that sustained me for years to come: “For I know the plans I have for you, to prosper you and not to harm you; to give you hope and a future.” I needed to know that God was FOR me and NOT against me–as it felt up ’til then–and that He still had good plans for me.

The wake-up call finally came in the form of a shocking, violent outburst toward me as a scapegoat, and I realized I had to get out of there. I couldn’t stay in that environment any longer if I wanted to feel safe or sane. I finally realized that I could not change my family. I had always longed deeply for a happy, healthy family, but I couldn’t fix us. God was the only one that could change us, and God was the only one I had left.

Naturally, as I sought refuge and a new life, I was drawn back to Hawaii where I’d first felt truly loved by God four years prior. Although God is present everywhere—even in the concrete jungles–to me, His presence just seemed so much more apparent here in the islands. His beauty in the islands is undeniable, but even His Holy Spirit is very evident here. In what other state do public schools, movie theaters, and Dave and Busters’ rent out their spaces to churches every week??? 

I have loved rainbows since age two when I was given a rainbow-colored, stuffed rabbit, so they’ve always held a special significance for me—even before I became a believer and learned its Christian symbolism. Whenever I see many items in multiple colors, I want to arrange them in rainbow sequence. LOL!

Photo by Lucas George Wendt on Unsplash

Even before moving to Hawaii, rainbows were the symbol that carried me through and assured me that my life was never meant to be constant depression and bitterness. So I was amazed to learn that Hawaii’s nickname is the Rainbow State.  His hope is everywhere! What other place in the world has natural rainbows in such abundance? What more of a symbol of God’s promise could there be? (And who knew that the Hawaiian islands just so happened to be the most isolated islands on earth–positioned away from it all–farthest from the nearest land mass?! As faaaar from Georgia as you can be and remain in the United States. LOL)

More importantly, though, I knew there was a church in Hawaii that I wanted to be a part of—a place where I observed people of all ethnicities and backgrounds worshipping the Lord with an openness of joy and genuine emotion that I’d never seen before. I longed to have more of that closeness with the Lord! While I did find this closeness here, it can be found wherever you go—no matter what state or country you live in! The Lord and His goodness are certainly not limited by location!

With no place to live and no job, I planned on starting my life over and just living out my existence with just me and God—no one else. I would wander the island alone with Him. I felt wretched: sick with hatred, bitterness, anger, and pain—betrayed by everyone I knew—family, friends, Christians and non-Christians alike. Everything had fallen apart, and I was angry with the world and angry with God. I felt too broken to ever be put back together.

I have struggled a lot with why God allows awful things to happen. I’ve wrestled with this many, many times in various circumstances and finally come to this conclusion: He does not willfully or maliciously inflict pain upon us. Bad things happen because sin exists. Sin and evil are the cause of death and sickness and pain, not God. He is just as pained and sad at our experience of suffering as we are—if not more!

The world is broken, and broken people exercise the free will that God has given us—sometimes in deeply hurtful ways, and we experience the consequences. In the wisdom of knowing that there is little worth in treating us like puppets–because a love that is forced upon us is not love at all–God has given us all the freedom to choose to love Him and do good or not. Sometimes, He allows terrible things to happen, and sometimes, He prevents it. As much as we’ve been through, maybe He has protected us from so much more without our even knowing it!

Although God is able to prevent every bad thing from happening, he does not because He is neither a control-freak nor a tyrant nor a puppeteer. As much as it brings Him pain to see us suffer and see His children hurt one another or suffer pain from illness, He allows it—but only while fully planning on helping us overcome the pain and healing our hearts to as great a measure as possible on this side of Heaven.  God fully plans on making us completely whole once we are with Him in eternity–but this can happen only if we let Him in. He will not barge in because He is respectful; He will intervene if we LET Him in to heal the wounds.  In His wisdom and knowledge of human nature, God knows that forcing His way in will only incite rebellion later.

What’s more, God is able to turn evil around for good! That’s even more powerful than simply preventing the evil from the beginning. The part we get to play is in partnering with Him by letting Him into our hearts and seeking His heart through His Word! Through that, we can find fullness of life and realize that He was for us—not against us—all along!

Jesus went through unspeakable torture and humiliation and experienced all the pain—physical and emotional—that we have been through: fear, rejection, anxiety, betrayal—and not a single bit of it was a result of any sin of His own! What I’ve been through is nothing compared to what He willingly endured just to know how we feel and to save us from the pain of an eternity without Him.  He went through horrific torture all because He loves us so much!!

Thinking I could get away from all the pain, I drove across the country with a companion—from Atlanta to LA—and then hopped on a plane to Hawaii. When I first arrived, I had nothing but some money and two pieces of luggage. I had no car, barely the inkling of a plan, and no permanent place to live. The landlord I’d lived with during the summer internship had promised me a place to stay for two weeks while I found a permanent rental—but one week in—he told me I needed to leave because his new tenant was arriving early. Wondering if I would go homeless, I wandered the streets of downtown Honolulu, trying to catch some wi-fi on my laptop in search for rentals.

Tired one day, I thought I’d cool off and give myself a little break by enjoying browsing through some crafts at Flora-Dec. I’d passed its big sign: “Wholesale Crafts” many times and wondered what treasures lie there since I love crafting. Upon entering, I noticed a “hiring” sign and inquired about it.

Lo and behold, the interviewing supervisor was a Taiwanese lady who hired me on the spot just because of our common language and background—in spite of the fact that I had NO accounting experience whatsoever! What are the odds?! This was the first of many experiences of God’s wonderful provision! It was from working at Flora-Dec that I was able to earn money and build up residency in Hawaii in order to apply as an in-state graduate student at the University of Hawaii.

God cares about our monetary needs, and He also cares deeply about the needs of our hearts.

When I arrived on Oahu to start my life over, I was broken, embittered, struggling with depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Every night, my dreams were filled with violence and blood, and I thought of taking my own life.

I moved here to get away from it all, but I had carried the wounds along with me. I was sick of people, and I told myself that I didn’t need anyone: no more people meant no more pain, no more tears, no more betrayal, no more violence. I had cut everyone who hurt me out of my life and vowed I’d never let them back in again—at least not until someone’s deathbed. I would be happy wandering around the island by myself, with God for my only chosen company. That would be enough. He was the only one I trusted. Before, I had blamed God for all the awful things that happened to me; now, I recognized that it was the brokenness of humans and their sin—not God—who hurt me.  I was at church five days out of the week—Sunday service, Midweek, support groups, Bible study—but I let no one fully in.

Quickly, however, God showed me that I was created to be a social being, and He made us to be in relationship with each other. I needed people, and people needed me, but my heart had closed up so much and developed such a fear that just trusting others and developing closer friendships again was challenging and scary.

I spent my first three years in Hawaii deeply involved in healing, growing, being nurtured by God, finding Him, finding myself, and breaking out of the chains that had gripped me for so long. Prayer, Scripture, alone time with God, worship, and Christian counseling were my life. The road was long, but God walked with me, and with Him, I found a deep joy that I had never known before. The various degrees of depression that had haunted me all my life began to lift as my spirit became firmly founded in God’s love.

It’s no cliché that God is the maker of all miracles; with Him, all things really are possible. To me, the greatest evidence of God’s power is His ability to heal the pains of the past and free us from the fears that bind us so tightly.

It is nothing less than God’s grace and love that I even considered making the monumentally terrifying commitment of getting married and having a family of my own. Getting married meant facing many of my greatest, darkest, secret fears. Yet, it held the potential of fulfilling my deepest and sweetest dreams as well.

I’d always wanted a happy family, and here was the chance; yet, I couldn’t help entertaining the possibilities of it ending in divorce, too.  God taught me to trust by giving me a God-loving husband. Through his deep, personal relationship with the Lord, my husband was able to stay with me through the toxins and depression that reared their ugly heads in me.

Though still human, because of his close relationship with the Lord, my husband has been the deepest representative of God’s unconditional love for me. I am amazed daily at his understanding and display of God’s love through patience, kindness, and long-suffering. He has borne the brunt of the toxins that have come out as I heal and has loved me through it all. My hubby is able to do this because of God’s character, grace, and love in him and a special gift for speaking God’s heart and truths. Every day, he helps to speak God’s life and love over me. I am very humbled and blessed to have him!

At one point in my bitterness, I felt like everyone in the world had forsaken me, but I realized that God actually loved me through many people along the way. If it weren’t for them in my life, I would not know God’s great love for me! These included friends, bosses, professors, pastors, brothers, and sisters in Christ.

God rescued my soul out of the pit and filled my heart with His promises–and rainbows!

After returning to the church in Hawaii that I attended during the dolphin internship, I discovered that their theme Scripture was none other than Jeremiah 29:11…

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

  plans to give you hope and a future.”

These exact words were what I needed to know at that time when my life had hit rock bottom. I posted them on my wall when I was in the depths of depression in Georgia. Little did I know that it was the theme verse of a church I would become part of four long years later when I started my life over. This was no coincidence: it was a God-incidence–Him speaking to me directly through His Scriptures! Through this and many other experiences with the Lord throughout my journey, I have discovered that our God is alive, loving, and personal, and He wants close relationship with us. No matter what we go through, our loving father is there with us, most evidently when we seek Him.

Not only has God helped me to seek and grant forgiveness and re-establish broken relationships from my past—the very ones I swore I’d never bother with again until someone was dying (I or them: who knows?!)–He has also freed me from many fears and pain. God is the only one who is able to redeem such pain and brokenness. Things that I thought I could never bring myself to do have become possible through God’s powerful healing.

God healed my heart, forgave me, walked with me, rescued me, removed bitterness, anger, rejection and hatred, guided me, captured my heart, loved me, nurtured me, and brought me back to life. He continues to do so every day, and He’s given me the courage to step into the life of abundance and goodness that He meant for each of us from the beginning. How can I keep from praising such a wonderful God and wanting to share the joy and freedom that I find in Him, especially with those I love?

Through this journey, I am in awe of and deeply grateful to God for rescuing me from the depths of hopelessness and for redeeming my broken past. The relationships that were so terribly broken before are now even better, healthier, and more healed than I ever imagined they could be. My family is much closer than ever; we’re learning to forgive and to love and accept one another. We laugh together, pray for one another, and encourage each other in the Lord!

Most wonderfully, every single member of my family that Satan seemingly successfully shattered in the beginning now knows the Lord and is saved for eternity. Though the process was painful, it was worth it because each of us now walks with God and will be in heaven together with Him as well–where we will finally be completely free from every sorrow and struggle!

Yet, in spite of all the world’s ugliness, God’s joy comes even in this life! Dreams that I had given up have been revived. God has called me back to my passion for helping others receive inner healing from the Lord and given me great healing–even powerful enough to redeem family generations–and a way to fulfill that passion again through the wonderful Healing Hearts ministry.

Best of all, God has given me the family that I always longed for. He grafted me into loving, spiritual communities that have passions for inner healing, relationships, bonding, emotional honesty and health, and for family. God has given me spiritual mothers and fathers as well as brothers and sisters who live for the same God that saved us all!

Masterfully, God orchestrated everything together for good. The greatness of our God isn’t simply that He is able to protect us from all evil; He can do that. It’s easy for Him, but what’s even more amazing is that He is powerful enough to take even what was meant for evil and turn it around for deeper good than we can ever imagine!

My life has been a journey from the chains of depression, bitterness, and hopelessness to rejoicing in the freedom that God brings me!

More and more, as I draw closer to God, I live with hope and freedom as I look to Him for my identity as His beloved daughter and learn to accept and love the person that I am just as He does.

In doing so, I’m gaining the freedom to continue growing into the person He originally designed for me to be. God is my firm foundation now as He continues to transform my heart and my life!

As you can see, I’m still a work in progress. My family’s not perfect, and neither am I, but God helps every one of us. I was (and still am in many ways) a broken person who had to surrender to God because I had nothing else—but we don’t have to wait until rock bottom! As long as we seek Him and are open to His transformation, He can put us back together and do amazing things with our lives! Healing is a lifelong process, but the more healed we get, the more we can live and love our best for God and have the lives of abundance and purpose that He always wanted for us!

The devil only comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus came that we may have life and have it abundantly! (John 10:10) I praise God for His awesome power to break us free from painful chains and release us into His joy!

If you’ve ever wondered whether God can heal your pains and struggles, He can, and He wants to! Please ask Him to help you. God can heal even the most broken of hearts because He loves us so! Sometimes, it may not feel like it, but God loves us even more deeply than we can ever imagine!

May this story leave you with hope for your families and inspire you to seek the Lord even more and—in doing so—to find healing and let your lives be transformed by His great love for you! My deepest hope in sharing this story is that you may be touched by God’s great love and see God’s deep and personal love for you, too. When we really look, we will see His love with us every step of our way. May we all experience the height, depth, width, and breadth of God’s tender yet powerful love for each of us!

Choose an emoji to show your reaction. ~ To comment, please scroll to the bottom.😊

4 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Your testimony is proof of THE one and only way to everlasting life once we individually accept God as our Father, Jesus as our advocate and the Holy Spirit as our power! Thank you for choosing to be God’s Super Hero and being a conduit for the Power of the Holy Spirit.

    • hopeandfreedom says:

      😊 Thank you! I feel humbled and blessed by your encouragement. Sharing this story comes from the deep gratefulness and awe I have for our Greatest Superhero of All!

  2. Lisasings1 says:

    Thank you SO much for sharing your powerful testimony of God working through pain to heal and transform your life into who He wants you to be. I was so blessed to read your story. May God continue to shine through you and bless you in every area of your life. God bless you!

    • Daughter says:

      Aww, your encouragement has blessed my socks off! Thank you for sharing with me how you were moved. You have brought me much joy because it’s my heart’s wish that this blog would touch others with God’s love. May you continue to discover the true depth and breadth of His great love for you!

*Share your reflections! Post a comment without filling out any other info 😉 or subscribe here to get emails when new posts are published.