People constantly ask me the same question, “You are so kind, sweet, energetic and joyful, how are you just naturally like that?” The simple answer – Jesus. The more complex answer – no one will ever know the legacy of abuse, the violence the enemy put me through, and the grace the Lord has shown me to become this gentle.
I knew from a young age that I was always set apart from the rest of my family but I never knew how to identify it. I felt like I was the only one in my family who could see the brokenness within the house and the defilement of everything happening around me. I didn’t know who Jesus was. I didn’t even hear his name for the first time until I was 15 years old. However, I knew that there was something or someone out there giving me discernment in the whole situation without even realizing that it was God.
I love the part of growth with Jesus that allows you to look back on a previous period of your life and acknowledge the parts of it that were unhealthy. Something that felt so normal wasn’t in hindsight. For instance, in my own life I thought that having a padlock on the refrigerator door and having your mom dictate when and how much you can eat was normal. I thought that only eating at school and rarely at home was ordinary. I believed that when your parents grounded you, it meant that all of your furniture and things had to come out of your room, leaving it empty, and you had to sleep on the tile floor for a week. I thought that having constant black eyes and bruises on my ribs was a common form of discipline when someone did something minuscule. I thought that toilet paper was a luxury because that is what my mom had always told me, and we rarely had it in our house. I thought that doing drugs and having sex with random guys all the time was normal. I thought that having absent parents and being raised by tormenting and abusive older siblings was typical.
I realized very quickly how atypical my life really was. If you told the little girl living the life mentioned above that she would be living the life I am now, I wouldn’t have believed you. I wanted so badly to have normal parents and a stable surrounding, but it felt like I couldn’t ever “get out.” On top of that I was living in my own sin (lying, stealing, sex outside of marriage, drugs, hurting others out of my own pain, and many other things) and struggling with that as well. The legacy that I was headed towards included death and destruction. Then Jesus, being the deliverer and redeemer that He is, completely changed that. The legacy that I come from is a legacy tied to never having basic necessities for living, a legacy of too many children and not enough food, a legacy of violence and trauma and hurt, a legacy of abuse for generations, a legacy of the enemy using people in my family and them being completely blinded by it, a legacy of bondage in sin, a legacy of death.
Then, one night I laid outside alone, staring at the stars, and the Lord completely and unexpectedly captured my heart. I had heard the story of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins for the first time. How He still chose to love me despite all that I have done and that was something that I could never earn, but was a free gift. I remember giving my life to Him after that and then Him audibly speaking to me and saying, “You are going to be the moon in a dark world.” From that moment on I have seen the generational curse shatter and have seen nothing short of redemption and grace in my life. Chains were broken as I got baptized at The Trinity Church. The Lord used me to completely change the trajectory of death that my family was headed towards. I am constantly loving others, serving Jesus and shining His light through me to others everywhere I go. Now, it is a legacy towards life, a legacy of the Lord keeping His promises, a legacy of the Lord leading decisions and giving discernment and wisdom, a legacy of none of us being perfect but the Lord using us to further His kingdom anyway.
One thing that has DRASTICALLY changed my life is prayer. My parents were not people that I could confide in, but God was. My parents never gave me what I needed when I asked, but the Lord did. I could cry out to my parents about something I was feeling and they didn’t care, but God did. My parents neglected me, but God didn’t. The lord CARES for us, He HEARS us when we call out to Him, He is our father that wants us to run to Him when we need something! Knowing how powerful prayer is, and also how the Lord can speak so clearly through the Bible was truly astonishing to me. I was obsessed with it from day one. I believe that is because when you have no one else that gets you and then you meet the one that made you AND fully understands you and all that you are, you can’t help but talk to Him about everything.
I’m not saying that life has been perfect since then. I am still constantly growing, learning, and healing from the things that I have done and the things that have happened to me in the past, as the Lord reveals them to me. Yet, the Lord is so kind and gracious in even that. Trusting the Lord and His plan has come really naturally to me for some reason, I think it is because those of us born into loss and darkness only know how to trust the light. It is easier to run towards light when you’re already living in so much darkness. I have truly seen the grace of God throughout my life and how He can take the worst of the worst situations and turn them into the most amazing testimonies. He orchestrates things so wonderfully and uses everything that we go through, even the hard things that make absolutely no sense, to reach people that He wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise. All of the glory and honor and power is His. Forever. Amen