This week one of our long-time friends will be sharing her story of redemption. When she found herself in a place of despair, the Lord was there to pick up the pieces and redeem what she thought had been lost.
I grew up going to church, raised by parents who taught us to know the Word and lead us toward a relationship with Jesus. I would say that I ‘knew’ about the grace of God, and even believed that Jesus died for me, but my understanding of that tremendous sacrifice didn’t sink in until I was older. I had accepted Christ at a young age, but as I grew older, I didn’t really trust Him to take over my life and lead me. When I was in high school, I began to rebel against my parents and started dating a guy who was all wrong for me. My parents told me not to, knowing he was trouble and that drew me to him all the more. I hated that they were trying to tell me how to live my life. The fact that they said no to my boyfriend, and the thought I had that I could ‘fix’ his problems and help him change, kept me in that terrible relationship. As I turned my back on God and my parents, I entered into the darkest time of my life. This man took me away from family and friends, tightening his grip over my life. He was controlling, oppressive, and stripped away everything that was important to me. It was clear that God was not going to be the priority and my relationship with Him grew dim.
We married, and over the next two years of that marriage, I endured physical and emotional abuse that left me wondering if God was there or cared at all. As a young divorcee, my mind was broken and hopelessness overcame me as my ex-husband’s abuse, adultery, and addictions created a toxic environment leaving me feeling worthless and insecure. Fears about the safety of my daughter and whether or not I would even live through the next day flooded over me and kept me in a pit of despair. Feelings of humiliation and embarrassment were so common that I began to believe they were a normal part of life. I realized then that my parents were right all along.
When I had him arrested for the last time, I was 20 years old, with a 15-month old daughter, and 4 months away from having another baby. As I thought about where I was at such a young age, I wondered if there was any hope for my precious babies and me. I knew then that I needed to turn back to the God I used to know and my prayer was that God would give me a second chance. I knew I didn’t deserve it, but I begged for the strength to trust Him again. The foundation I was brought up on, the reality of God and Jesus, began to be my only strength.
With the help of my mother and father, who I turned my back on just a few years earlier, I began the difficult task of raising two girls and going to school full time. During that time, God began to reveal Himself to me, giving me hope that He wasn’t done with me yet. Almost every night my oldest daughter used to pray for a ‘special daddy’ and I, too, wondered if I would ever meet someone who could love me with all my brokenness and pain. To be honest, I’m not sure I really believed God was listening, but I have come to know that God’s grace—His ability to give me what I don’t deserve—really did exist and was available to me still.
I never expected that the second chance God would offer would be so full and satisfying. Just when I was getting comfortable being a single mom and coming to terms with the idea that this was my new life, I was introduced to the man who would become my husband. I know God has a sense of humor because it was my dad who helped set it up! I guess I still needed his help finding the right guy. In a few short months, and through some tremendous circumstances, I married this wonderful Christian man who loved me and accepted me just the way I was. God not only blessed me and showed His grace to me, but He answered a little girl’s prayers for a special daddy to love her, too.
We now have three beautiful daughters and together our family is thriving. In a rather miraculous way, God has given me a second chance at love and care and protection. It hasn’t always been easy to deal with the past hurts, but His grace has been evident to us along the way and God has brought light back into our hearts. He has given our girls a place to grow spiritually and physically without the threat of an oppressive environment. We are safe, healing, and learning that there is no distance, no evil, no darkness, no hurt or abuse that is too far for God to reach. Genesis 50:20 says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Like most, I have a lot to be thankful for—protection, mercy, guidance, love—but I am most thankful for God’s grace and for the truth that He gives second chances to those who don’t deserve them, revealing His great power over the evil and pain caused by our sinfulness.