The truth has set me free

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2 Corinthians 12:9 says, Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a girlfriend of mine. We were praising God for the work he has done in both of our lives. We met at a rock concert in Charlotte almost 11 years ago. I won tickets off of a radio station and she had gotten tickets from a friend. Just so happens her seat was right next to me and in conversation we discovered we were both from the same city. We were both just as lost as could be and now we are head over heels in love with Jesus. It’s amazing the people God places in your life during a time you don’t even realize he’s moving. I’ve been told a million times, “It’s all in God’s timing.” It took a million times hearing it to realize exactly what those words truly meant.

As we were talking on the phone, I shared with her how my writing came to a dead stop. God was dropping things on my heart but I wouldn’t do anything with it. Because he wanted me to be bold, tell the truth and don’t hold back. The problem was, the word he was giving me to share was hard to share. He wants me to give you the raw truth and that is something I didn’t think I was ready to do… until now.

I have a note pad app on my phone and every time God gives me something to write about, I open my app, I write it down and then walk away from it. As I was scrolling through the million notes I’ve made, I saw one for 2 Corinthians 12:9 and I immediately opened up my bible to read the scripture. Boom! There it was.. It was confirmation. I’m holding back in fear of hurting myself & other people, but by writing and telling the truth means I will have freedom. I can boast about my weaknesses because it isn’t my weakness anymore! I’ve been delivered from it.

Men were my addiction. Not because of sex, but because I wanted to feel safe and loved. I know telling you that isn’t anything new but the way I’m going to share it with you today is the real version. From the time I turned seventeen until May of 2019, I’ve been in a relationship. Two of those relationships have been marriages. Both crashed & burned but only one of them brought me to God. On my career of being a professional man hunter, I got pregnant four times. Only two of them I birthed and the other two were abortions. Having two kids by two different men, being alone, no job, no self dignity made the choice not to give birth again easy. The fact that I was not emotionally connecting to anything or anyone also made it an easy choice. The guilt ate me alive and so I did what I do best. I pushed it way down deep and made myself get over it. The problem is I never got over it and yet I just kept going.

My first abortion was sometime in 2002, I have no idea what month it was but all I can remember about that day is that it was snowing outside, I walked inside of a building pregnant and came out not pregnant. The truth is, I was sleeping with two different men at that time. Neither one of them wanted any kind of real relationship but I hoped that if I just did what they wanted then one of them would be “the man of my dreams.” My life revolved around trying to feel something and the end result was always me getting hurt. The second time I had an abortion was 2006. Again, I don’t remember what month it was but it was during the summer months. Once again, I found myself pregnant by a man that I was in a relationship with but he didn’t want anymore kids. And once again… the fact that I had no emotional connection to anything made the choice to have another abortion easy for me. The memory of it was pushed way down deep with all the other horrible memories.

I was selfish and I willingly gave God two human lives. There is absolutely no excuse for my actions and there isn’t one word I can say to justify the horrible thing I did not once but twice. Though I pushed it way down deep inside, I carried it around with me everyday of my life. Picturing if those babies would be boys or girls, what their names would be, what they would be like and what they would look like. God’s grace has covered me and has confirmed that if I choose him, then I will be able to meet them one day. It’s God’s love & grace that helped me with forgiving myself for the horrible thing I’ve done.

When I was twenty-nine, I met a man that later became my second husband. That was the beginning of my journey of finding out who God really is. That relationship was so dark & sadistic that it made me hit my bottom and I had no choice but to either kill myself or cry out to Jesus. The thoughts of just going to sleep and never waking up consumed me because living in hell was a lot better than living the reality I found myself in. I remember the first time I ever laid eyes on him, the look on his face made my heart cry out. He was so lost, so hurt, so used up in his own hell that he probably didn’t know what direction was up or down. The need to fix him over powered me and he took full advantage of that. My heart poured out onto him in so many ways, I was determined and I do mean determined to make it work no matter what. I gave him my heart and soul on a silver platter right off the bat. All my walls came tumbling down and all my defenses went packing. I left myself wide open and vulnerable… on purpose. If I walked into that relationship carrying every hurt & scar from my life, there was no way it would ever work.

The very beginning, he sucked me in with his need to please me. He was cute, charming and full of crap. The amount of times I caught him cheating on me should place me in the Guinness Book of World records. I already know what you’re thinking… Why stay? Why keep putting up with it? Because my life up until that point was filled with this mess. And it was obviously what I deserved.. It was obvious that my life was one big poop storm so this was what I got for living the way I have for so long. There was no other option but to make it work. There wasn’t one ounce of self worth inside of me and all I’ve ever known was hurt & rejection. Don’t forget, I was unable to emotionally connect to anyone, so I just kept taking it and pushing it way down deep.

The honeymoon phase of our relationship lasted about a year. After that year, we were basically living together and then things made a turn for the worse. He had an addiction to women, beer & drugs, the effects of all of that came right back onto me. When nobody was looking, I turned into his emotional punching bag. The “I’m sorry buts” were followed with excuses of why it was all my fault. If you didn’t do that or if you did more of this started to root inside of my mind. The more I heard it the, more I started to believe it. The more I started to believe, the more it became my truth. Something as simple as not doing laundry quickly turned into why he was talking to some chick he randomly met at a gas station.

We never went more than two or three days before another fight would happen. The fights went from verbal to both of us beating the mess out of each other. I allowed his words to bring me to very dark places, to the point that my eyes would black out and I had no control over what happened next. At that point I was no better than him because I wasn’t reacting to him in a healthy way. Pure evil would take over my body. All I did was make excuses for him and would cover up what was really going on because in my head it was all my fault. Even though I hated him… I loved him even more.

This went on for years and eventually I checked completely out of life all together. I lost touch with reality and because of that my kids were forced to fend for themselves. They had fallen victim to my bad choices and they had to witness all of it. It got so bad that I had no energy to be their mother anymore.. every morning I woke up, a list of the do’s and don’ts ran through my head all day long, it was my check list of keeping him calm & happy. Remember to pick up after yourself, remember to rinse the dishes off before you put them in the dishwasher, remember not to mention anyone you may come across that was a man, remember not to give too much detail on what happened to you in your past, remember to make sure you look decent when he comes home, remember not play on my phone too much when he’s around.. the list was endless. By the end of the day I had nothing left to give my kids let alone myself. I was literally just a body that existed in this world because my soul was floating off in limbo somewhere.

God intervened around February of 2016. He put a woman in my life that later led me straight to Jesus’ arms. There was a motorcycle club I was apart of and her husband met some of the fellow bikers in our group. One night, he brought his wife with him to our clubhouse and the connection between the two of us sparked immediately. The funny thing is, I don’t usually connect with women but she had this light about her that I was drawn to. You could instantly see the kindness and love that was within her. One night, I reached out to her about visiting the church she attended and I told her she would have to go inside with me because I couldn’t walk through those doors alone. That Sunday, I walked into The Building Worship Center for the first time.

The following Sunday, he (my soon to be husband) came with me. Right off the bat, he got his ah-ha moment and felt God’s presence. But me.. I hadn’t yet. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I got my ah-ha moment. The women’s group at church spent a weekend at this awesome retreat and I was able to go. That weekend, not only did I start gaining some clarity but I got baptized in a pond wearing jeans & a t-shirt. The previous Sunday was when I was supposed to be baptized but for some reason I didn’t feel as if it was my time yet. Two women that hold a very special place in my heart stood right in that pond with me and as I came up from the water everything looked & felt different. Life was going in a different direction for me but at the same time was getting worse in other ways.

Because we were living together and had been for years, the word marriage was coming up a lot by people at the church. My understanding of right and wrong was starting to form in my brain and I thought maybe if we get married, then it will save the both of us. God will honor us not living in sin anymore and our lives will be filled with blissful happiness. The fights that broke out between us got less and less, we seemed to be “happy” together, but something always lingered in the shadows. The darkness at this point was just laying dormant and waiting patiently for the opportunity to emerge again. Before we married, we were counseled by the Pastor and his wife and as they were explaining to us what a Godly marriage should be like, all I could think is “I don’t think he’s capable of being that kind of man.” I know… I had no faith in him. I didn’t believe that we both truly gave ourselves to God as a couple and there was no way we would survive this marriage unless God was in the middle of it. He had Jesus, I had Jesus but we didn’t have Jesus together, if that makes sense. We weren’t praying together, we weren’t worshiping together and conversations about God were very rare.

I was too afraid to speak up about what life was really like with this man, I didn’t think they would believe me. He was a great person, always willing to help out where needed and he was the perfect Godly man in the eyes of our church. The problem was, I couldn’t get that version of him to come home with me. Once we went over the threshold of our house, I got whatever was left over at the end of the day. Later, I found out he was airing my dirty laundry to anyone who would listen to him and because I wasn’t speaking up it was more believable. He knew me… He knew if I thought people didn’t like me or thought bad of me that I would disconnect and just stop participating. That’s exactly what he wanted… I was this carefree, fun spirited and faithful servant. I’m walking around with a big ole smile on my face because that’s what I do, and I was completely clueless to what was going on behind the scenes. God protected me from that. People kept their mouths shut when I was around them and because they weren’t speaking up, I was getting deeper and deeper into God’s presence. The plan the enemy had to get me out of the way was back firing in his face.

We got married in May of 2017, our wedding was beautiful and the day was absolutely perfect. We started to do bible study together in the mornings and I felt as if we were getting closer together. God was making a presence in our lives and it was really starting to show. Well that darkness that was laying dormant inside of him woke up. And then they woke up the spirits that were laying dormant inside of me. The fights were worse than they had ever been before and I quickly started to isolate myself. I hid from my church family and I kept my mouth shut. I was embarrassed to admit that our marriage was not working out. Finally one day, he slipped up and did something pretty stupid in front of some people we went to church with. Someone was finally a witness to what was really going on and I can’t begin to tell you the relief I felt when that happened. At this point, I was starting to open up about things that were going on and I’m not saying they didn’t believe me but it was just hard for them to believe it. He portrayed himself as this perfect vision of a Godly man and I was right there behind him backing it all up. I did that because now I was his wife and that’s what I was supposed to do.

By no means am I saying he didn’t try to be that Godly man that I deserved. He was pressing into the word and he was becoming more active in church. He later became a truck driver and the enemy had isolated him once again. I was so beaten down emotionally that I wasn’t strong enough to endure another season of it. The longer he stayed on the road, the more control he was gaining over me and the darkness was consuming me yet again. May 26, 2019 I finally gained the courage to leave him. It was a Sunday morning and I had no idea that day was going to be the day it was going to happen. I was already making plans of moving out but I was still debating in my head if that’s what I truly wanted. I loved him so much and the last thing I wanted to do was hurt him like that. We got into a really bad fight when he came home that Friday and he left on Saturday morning and didn’t come back. So that Sunday when I woke up, I cried out to God and begged him to help me. “Please Lord, get me out of here.. I can’t do this anymore.”

With tears in my eyes I called my mother that morning. She had an empty apartment she was holding for me that I planned on moving into at a later date. I asked her if I could move into it that day and she said yes. I went to church that morning and informed my friends what my plans were. After church, I came home with four vehicles, three girlfriends, two teenage boys and a partridge in a pear tree! I was completely moved out in four hours. The events that unfolded that day is nothing but a blur in my head. God told me that morning, if you are ready for this then we are going to make it happen and man did it ever happen. Not one time did I fear he would come home in the middle of all of that. The Lord had already confirmed with me that he was taken care of. Around 8 pm that evening I fell out, I was so drained in every way possible. My eyes closed that evening and when I awoke the next morning the reality of what just happened had set it. I cried so hard that morning that I gave myself two black eyes. My face was so swollen that I was unrecognizable.

This was the first time in my entire life that I ever lived on my own. I was now solely responsible for myself and I cried out to God once again and said, “Lord, what the hell do I do now?!” He said, “Nothing, you just be still I got this.” So now at this point, I had to learn how to live without him. As bad as it was, it was all I knew for ten years. I’d like to say that when I left him that I left him completely but I didn’t. My mind was telling me that now that I’m gone, he’s going to change and he will finally be the man I need. That November I filed for divorce and it was finalized in January. Even after we were divorced, I was still having a hard letting go because he still had this hold over me. His hurtful words were playing over and over in my head. You’re fake, no one knows you the way I do, you’re not a real Christian, you are only doing this for attention… it was non-stop. One Sunday morning during altar call, I walked up to my best friend and said please pray for me, I need his voice out of my head. It just so happens that he was at church that morning as well. When she prayed for me, I felt the Lord take it off of me and when I turned around he was gone. He was no longer a presence in my life from that moment on.

I know… this is a lot. Trust me sharing all of this with you has been very difficult for me and I feel like I’ve given too much detail but the fact of the matter is that I’m tired of hiding behind half truths. I can never really boast about my weaknesses until I let them all go and that’s exactly what just happened writing this blog. My ex husband was my weakness because the love I had for him in my heart was real. The last thing I wanted to do was walk away from him but I had to. He was getting in between my relationship with the Lord and I needed God a lot more than I needed him. I wasn’t capable of standing up to his darkness anymore. I am not and was not a victim of him. I only fell victim to the enemy because he placed a stronghold on me at a very young age that carried on throughout my life. I was my own worst enemy, because if I learned in the beginning how to stand up to him in a healthier way maybe this story would have a different result. I couldn’t walk this walk alone, I needed my husband to be strong too and he wasn’t. The strongholds on him overcame him.

Over the past year, I’ve asked the Lord to reveal myself to me. God has put so many mirrors up in front of my face and there were some hard truths I had to overcome, because I played a role in why my marriage didn’t work as well. I had no idea who I was and I’ve learned a lot about myself. When I became a single woman, it was hard. In the past, once I became single I was looking for my back up plan immediately. Being alone wasn’t an option. Taking care of myself wasn’t an option either. God took care of me in ways I can’t begin to explain. He showed me what love is, I feel his love everyday and I feel it on days when I don’t think I deserve it.

That is what God does, he pours his grace all over us because he loves us. He knows our hearts, he knows what we can do if we trust him to guide us. If I didn’t know who Jesus was when all of this started to unfold, I wouldn’t be here to give you my testimony right now. He pulled strength from within that I didn’t know I had. There were mornings he himself ripped the covers off of me, told me to go take a shower and get my behind out of the house. He slapped the cookie dough out of my hands, he turned off the bad thoughts in my mind and covered it up with worship music. He held me tight when I felt lonely and most of all, he kept lifting me up. He showed me what a beautiful woman I am, he showed me how talented I am. He showed me what a faithful servant I am. Through his love, I have become a better version of myself. Don’t get me wrong, I still stumble and I still mess up because I’m human. My flesh overcomes me sometimes and I make the wrong choices, but instead of turning away I turn towards God and he guides me through the storms.

Everyday the Lord teaches me something new and my story isn’t finished yet… it’s just beginning.

#justJesus