By Michelle Welch
Sometimes as we move through our everyday lives, God leads us to a place where we are touched deeply by the people we come in contact with. Such a meeting occurred recently when I was in a small town like so many other small towns in America. As I am prone to doing when I travel, I found a local church to attend on Sunday. I care not for denomination or size. I let God lead me to the place He wants me to be.
While sadly I have been ignored in most every church I have visited, sometimes I meet someone who changes me in a profound way. Such was the case in a little brick chapel on the edge of a rutted road not far from a busy highway.
The pastor invited a young woman up to the pulpit. She clutched a few sheets of paper, nervously reaching up to adjust the microphone. Then, in a rush of strength and Heavenly guidance, she sent her testimony out on the wings of angels to rest in the midst of the tightly packed congregation. I am blessed to be able to share her words with you.
“I struggled when asked to share my testimony. I did not want it to be used for entertainment. And it gave me anxiety to think about my deepest hurts and darkest sins on display for everyone to know. After my Sunday School teacher encouraged us to share ours in class, I was able to view it from a different perspective. I was able to see how it could bring God glory and bless Him. It wasn’t about my shame, which can’t compare to the shame Jesus suffered on the cross to pay for these sins I’m trying to hide. God deserves for people to know exactly what He saved me from. The pain my pride feels standing here, is nothing compared to that of the pain He suffered on the cross. The bruised ego I’m about to rock isn’t even a real bruise, yet the holes in His hands from the nails courtesy of my sins are permanent.
2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.”
Not only is fear not FROM Him, it’s also not OF Him. So I want no part of it. This is me giving the devil back his fear and shame because I won’t accept it: I would now like to share how God has changed my life.
Before Christ, I was:
- …a runner. From home, and school. I would just up and leave without warning or reason, trying to escape the chaos in my life & my head.
- I was rebellious. I did whatever I wanted, because I knew it didn’t matter because I didn’t matter.
- I was a victim. I was drugged & gang raped in high school. The devil makes sure to replay their voices over and over in my head; them discussing what to do with me since they were done with me. How to get rid of me.
- I was a self mutilator. I would cut myself to release the pain, and sometimes just so that physical pain would drown out my internal pain.
- I was anorexic. I would not eat for days, and would drink Ipecac and endure uncontrollable vomiting if I was forced to eat.
- I was naive and gullible-I believed the devils lies that I was the exception to John 3:16.
- I was unstable. I found myself in the mental hospital several times. There was never a correct diagnosis, no doctor could agree or pinpoint it; I know now it was case of God-less syndrome.
- I had zero boundaries. I would party with friend’s dads, & male teachers who befriended me.
- I was a kleptomaniac. I stole all the time. Anything and everything. I justified that it didn’t hurt anything because it was never from people, only big stores.
- I was a pothead, and a druggie. I went to class high more times than not.
- I was unworthy. I was used and abused by men in my life; I didn’t think I deserved better, and at times I even believed I deserved it.
- I was hopeless. I was the definition of despair. My near death experience was brought on intentionally by myself.
- I was lonely. I didn’t have many close friends, obviously their parents limited contact with me.
- I was promiscuous. I had little, if any standards.
- I was empty. Always searching. Never satisfied. I could not fill the void. No matter how hard I tried with men, partying, drugs, and alcohol. And I tried hard.
- I was a bad mom. I cheated my girls of a healthy home life. We set terrible examples.
In His time, God delivered me from that lifestyle. He tugged relentlessly at my heart; and showed me the truth. His truth. That I’m NOT deserving of His grace but because of His mercy, He gives it to me anyway. That not only does John 3:16 apply to me, but it’s especially for me, to save me from eternal hell and the literal hell that I was in. He’s restored my marriage, made it better than I ever even hoped for it to be. He’s given me compassion so that I can help women with similar pasts. I can relate to most of their struggles. I’m able to share His love and His word through scriptures and my attitude. He’s allowed me to be relatable and approachable. He’s turned my tests into a testimony. My trials into triumphs. My mess into His message. He’s given me peace, and filled me with joy.
I am the definition of 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
For the longest time, I thought God didn’t care enough about me to take care of me. I see now how he did protect me. He kept my drug use from turning into addiction. By not discovering I was pregnant until my 2nd trimester, I was too far to even consider abortion, or be persuaded into one. Oh the joy I would have been robbed of! Had I been murdered by my rapists, or actually succeeded in my suicide attempt, I would have gone to Hell. I’m forever grateful to God for his protection, though it was not the kind I wanted, it was the kind I needed.
I can now say that I am:
Complete and fulfilled. I’m a good mom and I am grateful for the dad my kids now have. I am loved, I am a survivor. I am blessed by my husband every day. I am Christian, a Child of God, and I am forgiven.”
I am always in awe of the works of God. He knew that her story needed to be told and how else but to have a writer sitting in the pew, in a church far from home. Her story is unique yet hauntingly the same as so many who have gone before her. I praise God that she is willing to share her painful past and triumphant new life with you, our precious readers and friends. We know that God intends to use her story for good and we thank Him that we could be a part of His grand plan. God never gives up on us.
Copyright © 2013, Michelle Welch, all rights reserved, Breath of Life Women’s Ministries. Photography from Pinterest, all rights reserved. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.