“It’s all my fault” I protested. “Other five-year-olds wouldn’t even know what was happening to them, but my dad warned me about this. He made me promise to say no, and to tell. But I didn’t listen. Don’t tell me it’s not my fault. I knew better, but I did it anyways. And I kept going back. Don’t you understand,” I sobbed. “I went back.”
My body racked with sobs of anguish. For decades these hideous secrets had been locked away from a world too unsafe to trust…
The months that followed that meeting (see Lies I Believe) were some of the darkest of my life. Throughout the day, memories of my past consumed my thoughts. Despite the best efforts of the Pastor and my husband, I continued believing the lies that I was repulsive, stupid, and broken beyond repair. I was convinced that I was unworthy of being loved, and that I was to blame for all the ‘bad things’ that had happened to me. I listened as the evil one condemned me. Accusing me of all manner of evil. I entertained his lies, and made agreements in my heart that they were true. In his book, Walking with God, John Eldredge explains how our systems of belief are shaped…
By ‘agreements’, I mean those subtle convictions we come to, assent to, give way to, or are raised to assume are true. It happens down deep in our soul where our real beliefs about life are formed. Something or someone whispers to us, ‘Life is never going to work out the way you’d hoped, or Nobody’s going to come through, or God has forsaken you’. And something in us responds ‘That’s true’. We make an agreement with it and a conviction is formed. It seems so reasonable…Subtle agreements. (Eldgedge, p. 39).
This was certainly true for me. My beliefs seemed so logical and reasonable in my eyes. I could not understand why my husband and the Pastor did not see things my way. ‘They are only trying to be kind,’ I thought.
The more despondent I became, the more readily I entertained the lies. I was utterly convinced of their truth. John 10:10 says that the evil one has come “to steal and kill and destroy” (NLT). He was not satisfied with the spoils of my self-worth and joy, but continued his ruthless attempt to crush me completely.
I was deceived into believing that my family would be better off without me. I felt that I had nothing worthwhile to offer them. I honestly believed that I was ruining their lives.
Tortured by these thoughts and unable to sleep, I left my home in the early hours one morning. I drove aimlessly for what seemed like hours, tears blurring my vision.
I found myself stopping by the cold, dark waters of the river near my home. I listened as the evil one taunted me to end everything there. I got out of my car and stepped toward the water’s edge. I sat down on a cold, damp rock and touched the frigid water with the tips of my fingers. I remember feeling nothing. As if I had died already.
I have no concept of how long I sat there. I was lost in thought in another place, another time.
Suddenly, the glare of headlights broke through the darkness, startling me back into awareness. The patrol car did not stop, but drove very slowly past, studying me closely. Looking back, I have no idea why the officer did not ask me what I was doing. But his presence was enough.
I imagined the police showing up at my house and sharing the devastating news of my demise with my loving husband and precious children. I couldn’t believe where I was, or what I had been considering. I rushed to my car and burst freshly into tears.
I felt disoriented. Unsure of how I had come to that place. The whole situation seemed surreal. It was bewildering to think that I had been so consumed by despair that I had actually left my house in the middle of the night and ended up at the water’s edge.
As I was driving home, the evil one mocked my cowardice. You are so repulsive. Not even God could love you. Your family would be so much better off without you. Why don’t you do them a favor and just drive right off this road into a tree. These words were so clear that they seemed audible. “No. I won’t do it. Just leave me alone,” I screamed aloud through my sobs.
The taunting continued incessantly.
I did not know enough at the time to pray spiritual warfare prayers, covering myself with the shed blood of Christ, declaring my position in Jesus, and demanding that those spirits leave and go to the place that the Father would send them.
The enemy mocked my attempts to reach out to my husband and the Pastor for help. Who do you think you are? Do you honestly think God cares about you at all?
If he couldn’t get me to make the ultimate sacrifice, to take my own life, he would obliterate my light by caging me in perpetual despair and crippling pain.
The hurt was so deep, so raw, so consuming. I honestly could not cope with the pain. The evil one told me I deserved to suffer, then tempted me to relieve the emotional turmoil by inflicting physical harm on myself. As I succumbed to these temptations, I was flooded with momentary relief – only to be mocked for giving into something I knew to be wrong. The shame of my choices was torturous. My misery and despair intensified, leaving me desperate for a reprieve. It was a vicious cycle of pain, desperation and regret.
My Pastor continued to meet regularly with my husband and I throughout this time. He was so patient in the face of my obstinacy. I honestly was not trying to be difficult. I did realize I had a problem. I wanted help. I longed to experience the freedom I saw promised in God’s word. It seemed I just couldn’t ‘hear’ what the Pastor had to say, or understand the truth of God’s love for me. With each passing day, I felt increasingly hopeless – that nothing would ever change, and no one would ever be able to help me.
I don’t know why this season of my life had to be so dark, so full of despair, so seemingly without hope. Perhaps it was necessary, so that others who have suffered would be reassured that they are not alone. It may be that someone reading my story will begin to recognize that with Jesus, despair need never have the final say. That there is hope for a brighter tomorrow.
I won’t pretend to understand why my journey has been so difficult, but I will continue to share “the reason for the hope that [I] have” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV). I pray that I am doing so with “gentleness and respect” as Peter instructs. I understand that each person’s journey is unique. But the common thread? Our heavenly Father loves us beyond anything words can describe. The fact that I was not ready, able or willing to experience His love for me during that season of my life does not diminish the fullness of His affection. He loves you too, dear one. Whether you feel loved or not, you are! Perfectly. Wholly. Lavishly.
“…Weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5 (NKJV)
My season of weeping was lengthy; it seemed like a night without end. To be honest, I still struggle at times. But dawn is breaking and morning is near! I am catching glimpses of the wonderful joy that has been promised!
May you never give up hope, dear one. Your loving, heavenly Father is with you. He loves you completely just as you are. The exquisite joy that has been promised will come! A new day is dawning! Praise His glorious name!
In His love,
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