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Troubled Past ... Triumphant Future

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Troubled Past ... Triumphant Future
Testimony Rules And Guidelines

I would like to share my testimony with my spiritual family, and since my voice is limited, God has provided this outlet.

My childhood scars dominated my life until the sweet grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ softened my painful past and filled me with love.

I am one of five children, the middle girl, and second eldest. I grew up in the middle of despair and loneliness. My mother, a manic depressant with schizophrenic behavior was denied parental love and care she needed. She was consumed with hatred and fits of rage over life's injustices, which increased when her second marriage, to my father ended. I was in the fifth grade when she became totally overbearing and controlling. The disease totally dominated her life. My father, who also suffers from depression, was denied parental love and care and at the age of five, he was orphaned. Both were filled with self-pity, anger, sadness, bitterness, and were untrained to raise five children in a healthy environment. They looked to each other to meet these needs, but they couldn't give what they didn't have. They raised us in a catholic environment; my mother having converted from her childhood influence of Judaism, but after the divorce, my mother ended all involvement with the church. When my father wanted to remarry a few years later, and the requested annulment was denied, he left the church, too. Thus, my early impression of God was redefined by how He did or did not do what they wanted Him to do. I was left with an understanding of sin, shame, and guilt, but was shown you could walk away if you were strong enough.

So dad left when I was ten - he later said it was to find love and get away from mom - their bitterness had turned to hate and the violence had become unbearable. But dad was the buffer - and when he left, she unleashed her ill tendencies on the five of us. We were five in six years, four from my dad, and one from my mothers' first marriage.

The scars from her mental, emotional, and physical abuse were the family secret. Far from family, we were isolated from neighbors by her untrusting, attacking attitude. However, appearances mattered greatly to mom - we had dance lessons, summer camp, new dresses for the holidays (all matching, of course) and a trip to Europe. But when one of her boyfriends took liberties with all three girls, she married the next available guy, and we left town. The marriage ended in six months. The steady stream of boyfriends returned, and led to several more marriages. My father's need for space took him farther away, and he had several marriages as well. I believed only in what I saw, and trusted no one.

By the end of high school, I found earning money and its' freedom gave me some identity. In an effort to get away from the home life, I took a job in Europe, but it didn't work out. I was sent home, depressed, and sure all I had heard of my worthlessness was true. My past of low self-esteem and mother's glee in my failure at independence heightened my state of hopelessness. At age nineteen, I attempted suicide. All other escapes had been tried - drinking, drugs, one night stands - this was a peaceful escape to m my pain filled mind. Medically, I should have died, but it would take fifteen years until I understood the plan. But it broke the silence, and through a therapist, I was shown a will to live - shaky but there. The attention of the crises would help my brothers and sisters but the family unit was shattered. My mother was so threatened by my growth and could not let go of the control, so I left the family unit for survival.

I learned to accept love, and married Bob. But I transferred all my needs to him to fulfill - my trust and safety were dependent on my seeing him. Weeks before the wedding, I was pregnant, but we chose to end the life - leaning on lies and fears. Depression hung over my life through the next fifteen years of therapy, two children, jobs and worldly success - yet I was only a step or two away from the edge.

The search for help led me to a twelve-step support group for abusive eating patterns. There I learned of a higher power concept. A spiritual vein was truck. Hope and happiness not dependent on my control was taught. Friends spoke after group of amazing love and strength they received from God. This was all new and appealing. Yet I feared a repeat of past religious experiences. Through prayers and love, I vowed I would try one last time. At the intersection of 55/522 one afternoon, I prayed to God for guidance to learn the truth. Within weeks, I was at New Hope Bible Church!!

Lies were replaced with the truth; love, where only hurt and despair once were. Matthew 10:30 shook me - "The very hairs on your head are numbered." - I mattered, God loves me - I was lovable. While I knew I had a lot of cleaning up to do before I could be called into His family, I learned on March 13, 1994 the meaning of 2 Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." When the spirit filled me, the healing I sought was there. The black cloud of death, shame, and guilt were gone - The Lord took the burden of my sins. My rebirth was complete when I was baptized. My senses were alive, and living was worthwhile - life had a purpose, serving God according to His will.

Within days I left therapy, and was told I would return when the spiritual high fades - That was two and a half years ago. As the awareness of God's healing was felt, I knew the safety of God's protection. I surrendered to God my dependence on Bob, my heavy guilt, my fears, doubts, hate and sins of the flesh. The daughters that we are blessed with are His too and the control I clung to was replaced with the assurance of His safety and freedom through His love. The new language of God was poured on me. Child of God replaced illegitimate; Lost Lamb replaced Black Sheep; Forgiven replaced Guilty; Sister in the Body of Christ replaced disowned; Claimed replaced Abandoned; all this and Heaven too!

Growing up without knowing God's unconditional love was horrible. When I became a mother I was certain my children would carry the scars from my neglect. I believed the lies that I could not give what I did not know. But the Lord knows my needs before I do, and supplies the love for me, and the daughters He's blessed us with. Now that I know love, I can see what was always in front of me. A loving husband, who knows he's loved, who prayed for me and stood by with love and encouragement through it all. I thank the Lord daily for the blessings of my family.

Through His grace and mercy the sharpness of those painful years is gone. Now my past serves to help others who are lost by sharing the words of truth, life and love with compassion, hope and prayer in the never-ending grace and merciful love of our savior, Jesus Christ.

Lisa

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