I was sexually abused by my father from the age of 6 to 8.
During the first instance of abuse, my father did something that caused that little 6-year-old me to believe that I was dirtier than dirt. As a result, I spent most of my life believing that about myself and trying to hide it from the world. That belief caused serious problems not only in my marriage, but in my other relationships as well. As I did not know how to deal with the abuse, I chose to block it from my memory and pretend that those two years never existed.
After 7 years, my marriage started to crumble. I began to suffer depression. I would snap out it at times for a little while, only to drift back into the depression again. The depression became so severe that I began to formulate an escape plan. I wanted to run away from my circumstances. I thought that if I could get far away enough from my problems, everything would be all right. I always thought the problem was on the outside, but I did not realize that the problem was on the inside.
One day, I found myself sitting at the bottom of the stairs in my house, truly believing I had nothing to live for. Fortunately, I reached out for help by calling a prayer line and was encouraged to attend a church—something I wasn’t doing after I stopped attending a legalistic church when I got married. So I decided to give it a try and I ended up attending that church regularly for the next 10 years. I enjoyed my time there and I began to see the Bible differently. I remember them describing the New Testament as “love, in a nutshell.” I was once again hearing about a loving Jesus but I did not realize that I was still trapped in legalism.
Soon, my problems got too much for me to bear and I left the church. I fell into another bout of depression that was more severe than the one before. For about 2 to 3 years, I would do what was absolutely necessary during the weekdays, and then go to bed very early every Friday evening. I would not get up until Monday morning to take my child to school and go to work. I could not deal with anything else.
I was not living. I was barely surviving. I was given medication for the depression, which did help somewhat to clear my thoughts. But when I finally snapped out of the depression, my marriage had completely broken down and I was dying inside. So, out of desperation and in an attempt at self-preservation, I left my marriage.
Over the next 5 years, my child had several near fatal battles with drug addiction, my parents were aging and ailing, and there were financial struggles. In the end, both of my parents died within 6 months of one another, my child got married about 6 months after that, and I suddenly found myself totally alone. No one needed me anymore and once again, I slipped into yet another cycle of depression.
By this time, I had almost given up on finding the truth. I did not trust churches or man to show me the way. I could not make sense of all the knowledge I had acquired, as there were just too many contradictions to sort out. I still believed in God, but I was lost.
When I finally snapped out of my depression, I met a man I had actually known since college. Through our conversations, he led me toward Jesus and I began to want the Jesus he spoke of. After about 3 months, he gave me a gift—Joseph Prince’s book, Destined to Reign. The more I read the book, the more it made sense to my years of religious confusion.
When I got to Chapter 16, The Secret of David, the scales finally fell off my eyes! I had an epiphany! Literally, as I sat there with the book in my hands, I experienced God’s enormous, unconditional love for me. I had always known that God loved the world, but I never had a personal revelation of His love just for me. When Jesus was revealed to me, my life was instantly, miraculously, and permanently changed. I truly became a new creation. I realized that I was actually free of sin and condemnation, unconditionally loved, favored, and blessed!
But wait! The good news does not stop there. At the time of my epiphany, I weighed over 350 pounds (a situation that resulted from 55 years of guilt, shame, and self-punishment). I woke up one morning shortly after this epiphany and found that food no longer had a grip on me. Over the next 10 months, God took 90 pounds off from me! He also healed many emotional scars that I had carried for many years, even guilt that lingered as a result of the abuse from my earthly father. Jesus just keeps “tweaking” me.
Not only that, in the late summer of 2012, I had heard about some meetings that had taken place in Dallas, hosted by Joseph Prince Ministries. I began to pray that if God was going to do something in Dallas, I wanted to be a part of it. Then, in late November of 2012, the “tugging” in my heart to move to Dallas got stronger but I still did not have a way to move to Dallas. Nonetheless, I began to plan the move, leaving the timing to God and depending on Him to make several things fall into place so I could move. God indeed provided a way and in July of 2013, I became a resident of Plano, Texas! Needless to say, I believe that was an answer to my prayers. I knew I was supposed to be in Texas for something but I had no idea what. Well, now I know what that something is—to be a part of Grace Revolution Church, which I have been attending ever since it was set up.
Having been set free by Jesus, I am able to look back and see how desperate I was to hide the shame and guilt I had carried from the time I was assaulted by my father. I felt partially responsible for what had happened to me. That shame and guilt were internalized and became my core identity, one that needed to be hidden from the world, but which manifested itself as an eating disorder. I literally stuffed every emotion, good or bad, down my throat until I was twice my normal size and I no longer resembled myself.
I had also been living most of my life in a prison of legalism—I wanted to please God by my own efforts, but I could never do enough. I had studied the Bible but had no idea who Jesus really was and I did not know about His grace. I was so unhappy because I was powerless to change my life. I needed a real Savior!
As I read Destined to Reign, God gave me the revelation of grace in the person of Jesus—who He is, all that He has done for me, and how He has delivered me from the shame, guilt, pain, confusion, and the prison of legalism! I know now I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. By God’s grace, I have become free, a new creation from the inside out. I AM SO VERY, VERY GRATEFUL!
Bless you, Pastor Prince, and thank you for the work you are doing on His behalf! May you continue to be a vessel that He can powerfully use. All worship, praise, and glory to my Lord Jesus!
Jackie | Texas, United States