Posted by David Cay on November 30, 2016 at 11:12 pm
I grew up in a Christian household, my parents were raised as devout Roman Catholics and even after becoming Christians, many of those same traditions were still a part of them. As a result I lived in that fine line of tradition/religion and the understanding of what grace really is. But even with all that, I can honestly say that I didn’t love God.
My life is a series of unfortunate events with some short bursts of glorious redeeming occurrences. When I was a child, I was sexually abused by a family member for 2 years and as a
kid I had no idea what was going on. I thought it was a sign of family love. It was only until seeing a scene in a movie did I realize it was not something family members do. I was 7 when I first told someone about it but it was hard for me to tell anyone else. I grew up keeping that secret. I also struggled with insecurity; I had thoughts questioning whether my parents loved me as much as my other siblings or family members. I carved the words “Unwanted Daughter” in a family picture, hoping no one would notice. But I was wrong and suffered the consequences of my actions.
Before long, I had to move with my sister elsewhere for school and that meant we would live somewhere without my parents. To be honest, I was enjoying the peace and quiet that my new situation provided. However, that was short lived- that same family member (who abused me) and his wife and daughter moved in with my sister and me. This created a very awkward and tough situation for me. It was tough living with his family. His wife was pregnant at that time and they didn’t have money. They didn’t have a job either and fights were a regular occurrence in
Later on they got reprimanded by my parents for reportedly stealing money. The wife took her anger out on me and she hurt me physically pretty bad. I was 17 at this time and no one helped me. They just watched everything unfold. My sister, who wasn’t at home at the time, called my parents to tell them what had happened. Scared and frightened for my life, I slept with a knife under my pillow.
I knew I had to protect myself. I was on edge and I grew bitter. While I wasn’t consciously doubting God or blaming Him for what happened to me, my heart was far away from Him. I kept going to church and kept up with my ministries. But I was a different person outside the church’s four walls. I hung out with “metal heads” and “scene kids” and although I told them I was Christian, I only was practising the legalities of Christianity. I was a self-proclaimed straight-edge (someone who is into punk music and such who refrains from using alcohol, tobacco, and other recreational/non-prescribed drugs). Now I have nothing against people who enjoy punk or metal because I still to this day enjoy the music, but there was legalism in my heart. It’s true that I wanted to stay away from drugs and such and be different from them – but I did it because I was supposed to, not because I loved God.
I was on the road to self-destruction. I did a lot of things that I regret. I was angry: angry at myself for not being strong enough, angry at myself for thinking of not retaliating at every strike that came my way. I was furious. I was bitter. I hated my parents. I hated everyone. My heart was cold and dark, and it went on for 3 years.
I moved again and this time with my whole family. We had to plant a church along with other families who I’ve known since I was a child. I had to step up and lead the youth and lead worship. I was furious. Why me?!
Nevertheless, things began to change. I can’t really say that I had this crazy and magical encounter with God. It was, however, a miraculous conscious decision to live for Him. It was the Holy Spirit that really enabled me to take up my cross daily, treasuring Jesus and seeing what He did on the cross- lead me to where I am presently. The role of the church played a significant part of God’s transformation too. Without all of the people’s corrections, teachings, encouragements, support and love, I wouldn’t be here at all.
As for the past, I would say I have forgiven the family members who abused me. I pray for them and hope that they too would know Jesus and live their lives for Him. I can’t say I have the best relationship with my parents, but I consciously make an effort to always remember that I, too, am forgiven by God even when I am undeserving. It’s been difficult and it is hard for me to say, but I’ve really come to terms with the fact that God allows things to happen to us and makes use of it. He’s the God of order and just as when we think things are chaotic and we are tempted to give up, we find Him working and He puts things in place even in the midst of pain.
I hope that everyone who reads this would see how powerful God is and how much He loves us. I write this in hopes of encouraging everyone to keep at it. And also as a reminder of how precious the church is, to not give up on it. We shouldn’t wait for something tragic to happen in our lives to go back to Jesus and to put Him back as our top priority. We can really start to follow Him where we are now in our lives.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” – Philippians 2: 12-13