“My home life was like living in a mausoleum”

“My home life was like living in a mausoleum”

These testimonies are from real women with real life experiences who are sharing their stories to hopefully help encourage you and help you relate to their experiences.

I was born and raised in Chicago with 3 brothers by parents who were, for the most part, emotionally uninvolved in our upbringing. I cannot recall much direction, counsel, or involvement from my parents. My father was rarely home, but when he was, he expressed the only love and affection I knew. My mother was an unhappy woman who did not have the capacity to love or nurture me and seemed to be incredibly sad, distant, and overwhelmed. It was a very quiet, lifeless home with no laughter or family activity. Monday mornings, my dad’s 1/2 day off, were the only days I remember my parents talking regularly, and with hushed voices. The two family businesses also inflicted my parents’ relationship with tension. When I was 12, my mother gave birth to a baby boy, and shortly afterwards, she began having mental breakdowns, which brought lots of fear and responsibilities to me. She was hospitalized, and I had to grow up fast, having little to no social life or activities besides school. My high school years were also traumatizing. My two older brothers acted out their own pain with homosexuality, cross-dressing, drugs, and partying, which left me with memories of pure darkness. I started to date a little, but it turned out they were actually my brothers’ gay boyfriends using me to cover their real interests. It was a confusing, crazy time that the enemy used to cement my insecurity and low view of myself.

My father died and I was married at 19

I met my boyfriend (who later became my husband) my senior year of high school. Only six months later, my dad died suddenly of a heart attack, and I was devastated by the loss of his affection and approval. My mother fell deeper into depression and more hospitalizations occurred. I turned to my boyfriend, who was the only genuine and solid person in my life. We found stability in each other as both of our worlds were filled with turmoil. My husband was first raised by two raging alcoholics who divorced early in his life, and then by a step father who was cruel and abusive. It was a common occurrence for his mother and stepfather to physically battle, which sometimes ended with his drunken mother falling down a flight of stairs. While my home life was like living in a mausoleum, his was like living on a battlefield. We were both lost souls who desperately needed a Savior, but didn’t know Jesus yet.  Against my mother’s strong disapproval, I got engaged at 18 and married at 19. It felt like us against the world. I was very timid and always felt less than everyone, so I had difficulty developing relationships with other women and lived with insecurity and fear.

We dealt with miscarriage and drug addiction

We were married for 4 years before we began our family, delayed due to a miscarriage. My husband’s sister came to live with us because she could no longer cope with the misery of her home life and was struggling with drug addiction. We tried to help her, but she ran off. Shortly after, my mother died, and my teenage brother lived part time with us and my older brother, who was addicted to cocaine. My younger brother then got into drugs and ended up living on the streets, but later came back to get help through a detox program. We spent the next years learning how to be husband and wife and parent 3 children. We worked hard at the new business we had started, which was really taking off, and were hoping that buying fancy cars and a big house would make us feel more worthy and accepted. On the contrary, I found that having a luxurious life did nothing for my deep insecurities and low self worth. The more financial success our business afforded, the more empty I felt (John 4: 13-14).

I thought I had to earn my salvation to be right with God

I used to call this time my “rock top.” The emptiness and inability to feel comfortable with myself was when God began nudging me to look to Him. I decided to turn to the Catholic church. We also attended a marriage retreat that was all about bringing God into marriage, and it further increased my desire to know God. I joined my first bible study in my neighborhood, and the women took turns answering the question, “Do you know where you are going when you die?” After they all said they knew they were going to heaven, I quietly said I had no idea where I was going because it depended on what I did with the rest of my life and how good I tried to be. There was a hush in the room, then they politely smiled and invited me to come back. One of the ladies invited me to her church’s Wednesday night bible study, and with a new eagerness I went. I was blown away by these people wholeheartedly worshipping God, and seeing that everyone had a bible. It was full to the brim with vibrant people of all ages. I was so impressed with the youth I saw, and longed for my own kids to have whatever these kids had. Why were they like that? What did they know that I didn’t? I was hooked immediately, and hoped that maybe I found something for our family.

Everything changed when I started to study my Bible

I began buying bible studies and listening to Christian radio teachers all day, and eventually joined another bible study. I couldn’t get enough! I also started switching between one church on Sundays alone and Catholic mass on Saturday with my family. While my husband didn’t stop me from going, he was very concerned about me going to a Protestant church. I was learning so much about Jesus, especially that He died on a cross for my sins. Then, one night after church, while I sat alone in my dark bedroom, I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins. After a few months, my husband decided to come to church on Sundays because he said he saw changes in me that attracted him. Six months later, on Easter Sunday, he raised his hand when the pastor invited people to say the sinners’ prayer! Looking back now, the timing of my meeting Jesus amazes me. That fearful, insecure person I was before He came into my life could have never made it through what was ahead. It wasn’t overnight, but Jesus was loving and gradually healing me.

Our business partner deeply betrayed us and my husband collapsed

Then, one day, my husband discovered his business partner was having an affair with their bookkeeper and stealing lots of money from us. The dissolving of the business was akin to a brutal divorce, including threats to my husband’s life. Through a series of completely God-ordained events, we picked up our lives and moved to Arizona, where we only knew one person and had no idea what we were going to do. We rented a house, found a church, got the kids into schools, and I became my husband’s new business partner in the same business we left behind. It was slow-going due to the recession. Then, my husband collapsed in the backyard with a cerebral aneurysm, and life as I knew it came to a complete stop. We had no extended family to come to help, our new business dwindled down to nothing, and our money was gone. I was stretched beyond my capacity as I was trying to care for my husband, my children, and the business.

My security is found in God alone and He is my Healer

I know now without a shadow of doubt that the Lord carried all of us through the next several difficult years. The Lord was incredibly merciful to us in keeping him alive, but I have to confess there were times when I thought God had abandoned me. I remember fighting bitterness and envy towards people whose lives were flourishing. The Lord became my strength and refuge, all during this time of living in survival mode (Psalm 46). As my understanding of Him grew, I gradually became more secure, less fearful, and experienced firsthand His love, His power, and His mercy during the following years. He also carried me through watching the destruction of one of my son’s and his children’s lives, and the redemption that’s been taking place over the course of 20 years of prayer. I’ve also had the privilege of watching the Lord restore my daughter’s health after years of debilitating issues, again after much prayer.

All my security is now found in Him alone, and I’m convinced that nothing can separate me from His love, which is what has been healing me from the pain, fear and insecurity (Rom. 8:38-39). He is worthy of all blessings, honor, glory, and praise! I continue to be astounded by His relentless love and faithfulness, as I see all the good he worked in my trials (Gen. 50:20). A sign in my house with a quote from Charles H. Spurgeon sums up my story: I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.

Grace & Ashley
get@markdriscoll.org