An abusive childhood, crippling fear, emotional scars, depression,
the loss of our son, and a marriage that once careened headlong towards divorce to name a few,
but God has redeemed them all.
Losing my mother was one of the hardest things, I’ve had to walk through.
But MY faith has grown as a result.
It is no longer my mama’s faith, but my own.
I wrapped my identity in what was printed on my business card,
but the Lord proved His faithfulness in the midst
of the rolling waves of the loss of my career.
He has shown me He is trustworthy!
I managed to keep my “perfect” little life together for a couple of years.
Then halfway through college my boyfriend and I broke up.
All of my plans suddenly slipped through my fingers like sand.
I feared the unknown.
I understood that salvation was unmerited, that there was nothing I could do to earn my redemption.
But would I ever be good enough for Him to be proud of me?
If I worked harder, accomplished more, simply was better,
would He love me more?
I had no idea how to cope with the large-scale
neglect and fear that I dealt with on a regular basis.
So I turned to self-medicating through pornography and masturbation,
spiraling into a constant state of shame and guilt.
I was desperate for change.
I never would have said out loud that I didn't struggle with pride,
but I always struggled with the parts of Scripture that said things like,
“He who is forgiven little, loves little.”
I guess I felt like I didn’t sin much, at least not “big” sins,
so maybe I couldn’t love Jesus as much as other people who had struggled more.
Satan tricked me everyday into thinking that I
would never break the same cycle of sin.
I felt as if God was looking down at me,
scolding me, and pointing His finger.
As I got older I began to feel I did more things wrong than I did right. It was like I was spinning out of control.
There were too many wrongs, and not enough rights!
I felt so ashamed and like there was nothing that could erase my sins to regain God’s love.
God is teaching me to live simply and humbly,
possibly some of the hardest lessons to learn.
He uses traffic, an aging parent, and the ladies who I lead in Bible study
to make me realize that I’m not in control.
(I have a lot to learn in this area.)
I was sexually abused, diagnosed with
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and suffered a miscarriage.
I had marriage problems, financial problems,
and a newborn fresh out of the NICU.
I felt like my life was constant trial.
I felt very alone in a place where no-one could reach me.
Yet, God’s truth was the one thing that broke
through the confusion and provided relief.
We lived two separate lives as strangers.
We had endured affairs, hurt, heartache and pain, and then it happened,
the day I had dreaded: my husband left.
Growing up, I was immeasurably blessed with early exposure to the Gospel by my parents.
They showed me what all this Jesus stuff looked like as you lived your life.
It seemed like the most natural thing in the world when I accepted Christ as my Savior at an early age.
We were a military family struggling with custody issues,
marriage struggles, and parenting battles, but God showed up every time.
He still shows up because He has prepared us for this journey;
He is my strength and fortress.
My sister’s death made me emotionally vulnerable,
allowing me to empathize with others better.
My health issues also allowed me to grow closer to God.
I’ve suffered, but if I had not walked closely with God in those times,
I would not be the person I am now.
and a dad who walked away,
I struggled to believe that God loved me and has never left me,
even when I push Him away.
Fear says if you aren’t a certain way, you won’t be loved.
Fear says if you share the ugly with people
they will judge you and distance themselves from you.
This is how I saw God for many years.
I knew that what I was doing was not pleasing to God.
I was on a bad track as I turned my back on Him.
As much as my life may have appeared like a “fun young 20’s life,”
I felt very empty inside.
I turned into a very legalistic, Pharisaical, judgmental,
condemning young woman with standards, expectations,
and beliefs that were self-imposed and based on anything but
the actual Word of God alone.
I was “illegitimate.”
I had been abandoned and rejected.
Left by the very man who had given me life.
I always felt I was a burden to my mother. Shame overshadowed every part of my life.
My parents' divorce sent me on a downward spiral.
Where was God? Did He care?
How could He let this happen to me and my family?
I decided to look for love in ALL the wrong places.
I was mad at God.
My inner pain was so deep.
“I’m in terrible trouble!” I sobbed to the counselor.
As she explained Christ to me, everything became clear,
suddenly it was like I had returned from the dead.
Though I struggle daily with the affects of sexual abuse,
I don’t consider myself a victim,
but rather an overcomer because Christ is my victory.
I was a failure. I should be punished.
I struggled through middle school and high school with cutting,
depression, and deep self-hatred.
I had gone to church and felt a surface-sort of love from God.
I wanted to do all the good things, but it never was enough.
“Why, God? Why me? Why am I so alone? Why am I so lost? Why am I hurting so incredibly much?”
I started my car thinking,
“Surely God can’t use me alive, so maybe someone will come to know Him through my funeral.”
After months of no sleep, I made a phone call no wife should ever have to make.
I called the woman who my husband was in an affair with.
I was stuck in self-destruction, darkness, deep pain, and hopelessness.
My problem was this: doing one right thing doesn’t take back all the wrongs,
erase all the hurts or heal all the broken pieces inside of you.
Only Jesus can do that.
Slowly, God just became routine.
The beautiful mystery of Christ faded.
My judgment became blurred, and I became infatuated with a boy.
Instead of pursuing Christ, I looked to the boy and his opinions of me.
My early life was typical on the outside, but behind the scenes was a tumultuous mess.
My parents were divorced and I grew up in two homes that were complete opposites.
One was stable, but rigid and distant; the other was untamed fun, but not the kind of environment you’d want a kid to see.
And in between, without the knowledge of either, there was sexual abuse that marked my life for years.
And at the height of it all, my father went to prison.
I asked God in faith for so much, but I got silence from the Lord.
I was so angry at Him, feeling like He’d left me alone, hanging out in the breeze.
I had served people so faithfully, why was no one serving me?! God owed me!
As amazing as our children were, our marriage hardships had only intensified.
If you had asked my husband, his plan was to stay married until the kids turned 18….then he was out.
We were both miserable and fought constantly.
Knowing Him personally through His Son demanded more
than participation in the religious rituals.
I had to understand that the full weight of my sin was placed on Jesus.
Family fallouts, my husband’s deployment (a month after we got married),
and moving far outside my comfort zone to the literal desert as a newlywed.
Life hasn’t gone quite how my husband and I had planned,
but God has never abandoned me!
Matthew’s needs were intense. Exhausted and isolated as a result of the
living with a special needs child forced my reliance upon prayer.
I discovered that when Jesus was all I had,
I found that He was all I needed.
When you learn to trust God through every circumstance
He takes you on an unimaginable adventure!
In the moment, trusting Him is so hard, but when you look back,
I promise it’s worth it and you won’t regret it.
the Lord my God has healed and redeemed me.
He created me to LOVE others!
My parents divorced when I was just 10 years old,
leaving me with a deep ache to be loved and accepted.
I was tied up with my need to control everything.
While I was home for Christmas break,
I was heartbroken and confused!
The aching in my heart to be enough and feel loved
is always poking at my side.
I’ve turned to guys, worldly accomplishments, beauty, and tangible materials,
but no way would I turn to God.
My husband walked out of our marriage, my first granddaughter
died tragically, and stage III cancer ravaged my body
amidst a myriad of other pitfalls.
Yet, I have seen God use my brokenness for His glory.
Mary Kathryn Tiller
I have lived a life filled with love, joy and peace.
Certainly there have been disappointments and loss.
I have struggled and cried.
Mine is not a story of dramatic turning points.
But it's a story of God who patiently walks, slowly reveals, and relentlessly pursues!
When I was four years old, my parents divorced.
I didn't know how to vocalize my pain, so I just withered inside.
I dealt with problems by stuffing my feelings,
internalizing everything, and withdrawing.
I felt like everything I knew to be true was really a lie.
Deep down, nothing made sense.
I was hurt and broken.
I was insecure, weak, and entangled in sexually immorality.
Having sex before marriage will do that to you.
I had tied myself to this guy in ways I wasn’t supposed to.
Meanwhile, the entire time, I lived a double life.
I attended church every week from birth through age 18.
I was involved in choir, Sunday school, and even became the president of our youth group.
I did everything, BUT believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
At fifteen, my mom gave birth to me and my grandmother raised me.
Most of my younger years were spent without my dad and limited contact with my mom.
For the rest of my childhood, my parents were in and out of my life at different times.
I was left alone with a mortgage and two babies.
With all the men I had trusted in my life gone; I began to look up.
It was then I truly found God.
He gave me the strength to move on.
On the outside – at church and school – I played the good girl part so well.
Seriously, I was the ideal Christian girl.
Except I WASN’T.
The Sarah no one knew was insecure, battling body image issues galore.
My whole life I have always wondered
“Am I good enough? Am I worth it?”.
I’ve always felt like I never quite measured up,
even though I grew up in a Christian home.
I wanted to serve God.
However, I was confusing my amount of service
with an actual relationship with God.
Though I felt His presence in my everyday life,
I truly did not know Him.
Four years ago, I was praying to really have His presence and direction in my life.
He called me and my family out of the darkness,
and my life has never been the same.
In the midst of life’s difficulties, God has surprised me with His care.
It’s like a daisy.
I know from the depths of my heart, on the days that I stumble,
when I pick the petals off that daisy, it’s always,
“He loves me, He loves me, He loves me, He loves me . . . .”
I desire to one day find my soul mate.
It is a true desire of my heart,
but I am trusting God to bring that around in His time.
I am learning that to hear God’s voice,
we must know His Word.
When I started college, I was excited to start pursuing the plans that God had for my life.
I started doing ministry, but at the same time,
I connected with some nonbelievers who quickly became friends.
I slowly began drifting away from God and flirting with ungodly things.
For many years, my primary ministry was
raising my three beautiful children,
but now that my children have grown,
I have stepped into vocational ministry.
It is hard, but I love it!
Through my daughter’s life and death, I learned endurance.
I learned passion to carry on.
I learned that in the midst of our struggles,
I could still experience the embracing and uplifting glory of God.
After being in a place where I couldn't perform,
but only exist,
I began to understand that He loves me because He created me
and I am His.
I am His daughter and He loves me for the reason alone.
Instantly, the burden I had been carrying was gone and I felt His peace!
I had no reason to be the Eeyore I once was,
and I eagerly began serving in
my church in any way that I could.
I phoned my step-dad, whom I had always called by his first name,
to let him hear, “Dad,” for the first time from my lips.
It was a tangible step in embracing
God’s sovereign choices for my life.
When God gave us a special needs child,
He was not being mean or unfair.
He did not desert us.
He gave us front row tickets to witness His power spring from brokenness.
At the time, I didn't recognize God’s provision, but I do now.
God knew what I needed: a friend.
I don't remember counseling per se,
but he listened as I shared with him all my family drama.
He was a safe place. Someday I would like to be that for someone too.
I wanted to be perfect in relationships, because Jesus was perfect.
I never wanted to displease Him.
But, I found myself running on my own steam and failing miserably
in my endeavors to “do right” and “please everyone”
The most significant lesson I learned is that I had believed that the church defined who I was.
As a result, it took the church hurting me for me to realize that
I am not defined by going to church or even my dad being a pastor.
God alone defines me.
I loved God but couldn’t seem to get away from the suffering as a result of the bad decision I had made.
After a marriage of twelve years, numerous mistakes and continued heartache,
I found myself going through a divorce.
That season of pain became my turning point.
I finally surrendered . . . REALLY SURRENDERED to God.
I now understand that it is a blessing to share with others
that I have always had Jesus as my Friend,
and that there is no trouble He cannot see me through.
The story of His grace and gift of salvation is the greatest story there is to tell!
This place was my place of intimacy
and healing for my own wounded heart.
Day after day, I sat with God. I asked Him questions.
I gave Him my bitterness, my pain, my anger, and my fear.
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