My testimony (written when I was still hurting and questioning God – I left Xanga stats on for God is good, this testimony has been seen by 3,860 people! God is awesome!)

Friday, March 24, 2006
 
September, 2007 – I have to tell you that this testimony is very representative of where I was a year ago. But God had done even more healing in my life. So much so that one day I will have to re-write some of my testimony to reflect the tremendous healing that God did in my life. God keeps changing me and healing hurts. He is awesome!******baptizedbyfire asked me to update my testimony entry for those who might not know how awesome God is in my life. So here it is, forgive me if you have seen this before. Below this entry is today’s post. HeatherDecided to put all of my testimony into one entry to make it easier for people to read if they want to. I will be making a few comments between sections of testimony, hope you do not mind. It is long, but still brings tears to my eyes when I see the mighty work that God has done in my life.

My testimony:

I keep thinking about the concept of Father God, Abba. It seems that Christ always called God, Abba. When it comes to God, sometimes it is easier for me to look at God as a distant authority figure, a discipliner. Even when I was fully into the occult, I had difficulty with mother goddess as well. That kind of intimacy with a father or a mother was so absent in my life that I feel very awkward in dealing with God in those terms.

I am often envious of others who seem to have had the blessing of a loving home. Even my kids sometimes send me up the wall when they complain about how hard their lives are, they have no idea what a hard life is. Their idea of a hard life is having to do homework, maybe being refused the chance to go someplace they want, and being made accountable for their actions. They do not have to face what I faced every day growing up.

Perhaps it will help others to see that it is not always disobedience or rebellion when a person has difficulty dealing with a loving God. My feeling is that God understands the hurts and pains, and makes allowances, at least I hope He does.

A bit of pre-history.

Both my parents were alcoholics. My father was a mean, angry drunk, and my mom would hide her alcohol, starting to drink from rising until sleeping. But she would be more likely to pass out than to rage.

I knew from day one that I was not wanted. My sister told me that my father pushed my mom down a flight of stairs when he found out that she was pregnant with me. She stayed out in the cold until he passed out and she could come into the house.

I think that early on I learned not to cry. My mom told me that my father, when I was six months old laid me across his lap and beat me because I cried when he yelled. I remember once holding my first son at six months and looking at him and trying hard to figure out how a person could beat someone so helpless as a baby.

From the time I could toddle I learned to be very wary in my house. My father would come home at all hours, raging. I had to learn hard how to smile at the right time, not to cough during TV shows, to say the right thing and not be noticed or make any noise whatsoever. And even being asleep at night was not safe. One night he took exception that I was sleeping and came in, dragged me out of bed by my hair, spun me around and slung me across the room. He had a handful of hair, and I was up against the opposite wall of the room.

Most of my life I was wearing long sleeved shirts to hide bruises. And when they said that if I didn’t do something they would kill me, I know they meant it, there were three attempts on my life before I was in school, one by a knife, one a bullet, and one being choked until I passed out.

At school I was the odd one out. People knew I was different, and that caused a lot of problems. Teachers noticed and made comments on report cards. I had to hide out at school, pretending to be like a kid, but the kids knew I was a fraud, so I was terribly alone, one of the two or three kids that were so different in a classroom. And kids can be brutal. Perhaps the one thing that I discipline my kids the most for is when they make derogatory comments about each other or are mean about another child. Then they get grounded big time.

My parents would also fight among themselves. I would often wake up and hear their arguments, the throwing of things, and shake in terror, wondering if I would somehow be dragged into the fight. And if so, would I know the right thing to say, whose side to take, etc. If my father threw something at me I learned not to duck. If he beat me I had to cry the right amount of tears, too few or too many would gain further beatings. I had to learn not to react or show my fear.

My sister and brother got out of the house before I was old enough to remember them. They would come to visit, but not stay long. I found out later that they too were abused but not to the extent that I was abused.

From early on my father could not keep his hands off of me, but the worst of the abuse was yet to come. He would paw my body, find bars of soap between my legs when I was in the bathtub, but I had no inkling what this was all leading up to. Anytime I was near him I was in terror, so I did not know that he was pretty much preparing me for future actions that would be awful. My mom knew what was going on and would give me advice like pretend you don’t see him calling you over to the sofa, etc. Advice I couldn’t take unless I wanted to risk my life. So not only did I have to handle awful touch, but I also had to handle guilt placed on me by her words that I couldn’t comply with.

She also would report to me in great detail the horrors she had to deal with in the marriage bed, and the whores my father slept around with. She was quite the detective, calling to see if she heard his voice in the background, finding match books, etc. And she laid even more tendrils of terror by how she had me relate to him. Pretending to be my friend, telling me to drop to the ground, crawl to my room, and pretend to be asleep if my father came home at night. So the crawling and pretending got to be terror as well.

There were no grandparents around or any other relatives. And as typical of an abusive household, very little interaction with others. But the neighborhood kids thought my father was the greatest for he gave them candy when they ran to meet him. Only I knew the terror inside the house, and I really felt as if my life would be in danger if I spoke one word of what went on. But again, this is the ok stuff. What went on from the age of 8 on was way worse. And it was at the age of 8 I gave up on God.

Now if you just look at the above, what kind of image of father God would you get? You would have an authoritarian figure, a brute who would strike out in rage. One that you had to placate with works, do the right things, or be hurt. Mother would be no better, for often her intervention only served to make the father go into a rage. This is a God you would not want to attract the attention of, you would tiptoe around, and you would frantically seek the right words and phrases around. Legalism would be very comforting because you would know where you stood if you followed a massive set of rules. There would be no love, kindness, gentleness.

People talk about surrendering to God. As a child I had to surrender to what my parents wanted, but it was not for my best interests, it was to control, manipulate, and for their own self-gratification. So I have to struggle hard to see that God is not like them, that any surrender is for my joy and peace. The lessons of childhood are not always that easily undone.

At the age of 8 I decided that praying to the wall next to my bed netted better results than praying to God. As a child my parents did not attend church at all and what little I learned about God I learned from the TV church services that my mom sometimes watched. Of course, when my father was home it was sports, sports and more sports and repeat sports. But my mom was a bit more varied in her TV viewing. But I did get the idea about praying to God, and unfortunately I also saw God as a distant figure with a notepad recording every sin I committed, and spying on me.

A few key things happened at this age. One was that my father had a heart attack. Because of his brutality, I was torn about whether I wanted him to live or die, but could not think clearly. He came home with nitroglycerine pills, and medicine for his heart. My mom was very grateful. I think she loved him in her own way, even though he was cruel to her. I know that she only had an 8th grade education, but I am certain my brother and sister would have helped us if she had ever chosen to leave that house (she never asked them and they never offered). But back in the 60’s much of what occurred in that house was shameful and not talked about in public. Not to mention that I was sure I would be killed if I opened my mouth.

The sexual attacks of my father escalated, and sometime at this age my father raped me. At first the visits were just him touching, and me being forced to touch him, but as time went by they became progressively worse. He told me that I was so stupid and ugly that no man would ever want to marry me, so he was teaching me how to please a man so that I would at least be able to do that. Then he told me if I told my mom about what he was doing, he would kill me. As you know, he would have, he had tried twice, my mom once.

The first time he came into my room was one of just groping and me having to touch him. I felt vile, and remember feeling my hand and wanting to cut it off. I could not get out of bed to wash until my father went to work, and after that I washed, came out to the kitchen where my mom had already started drinking and she said to me, “I heard him in your room last night, tell me what he did.” I grew to hate those words because every time my father came into my room from the age of 8 to 15 she greeted me with those words, and I had to stand and repeat to her what he did. She wrote the facts down in her notebook, filling up two notebooks front and back with what I told her. And when things were so bad that I repressed them, she tried to get the information out by telling me she heard bed springs creak, etc. And I was terrified that I had to tell her because she was a drunk and I was afraid in a fit of rage that she would let my father know that I told her, and then we would both die.

Well now I tried praying to God. I prayed three prayers. One was that God would make my father love me and stop the abuse. No answer. Two was that God would kill my father. No answer (kind of glad that one did not get answered for I think I would have felt very guilty), Number 3 that God would kill me. Sometimes I have mixed feelings about that one, but now I more want to live than die.

Well God did not answer and believe me, there was passion behind those prayers. So songs like Jesus loves me this I know, were met with derision by me because if Jesus loved me and this is what happened to me, what kind of love was that???? Did I want an abandoning God or a Jesus whose love hurt me so much. I decided that God had turned his back on the earth, and on me. I figured that something was wrong with me because God could not love me. I figured something was wrong with me because of what my father was doing. I looked at the kids in my class who had “normal” lives and knew that mine was way different. I grew to hate myself, blame myself.

And then there was the guilt. First thing to be guilty about was that I had squirreled away a can of Draino so I could do myself in if things got to bad with what my father was doing. Only I never took the Draino, so I felt that maybe a part of me wanted what happened because I was too afraid to kill myself.

I also wanted my father’s love, and he seemed nicer to me right before he was going to come into my room. I liked the reprieve of him being nice.

Also my mom told me I should push his hand away, tell him no, and not go over when he called me to the sofa to grope me, but I couldn’t do that, I had to obey him or risk death (of course I was too chicken to die, so what did that make me?)

At the time that this was happening my father returned to his childhood church of Christian Scientist. That is very close to the occult in their doctrine. Their concept of God could be summed up in a definition, I remember some of it, “God, the great I AM, the all-knowing, all-seeing, all acting, all-wise, all loving, principle, mind, soul, spirit, all substance, intelligence. Not really a personal God. They had services called healing services where people would stand up and give testimonies of healing, but the healings were sort of bogus, like I lost a button, retraced my steps and found it, or I sprained my ankle, and by prayer, reading the Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, and resting my ankle, it was healed in two weeks. We had to sit through these meetings and if I coughed or made a sound or moved I got in trouble later.

Also my father would lay on the sofa and have me read aloud the weekly studies, from the Bible and Science and Health. If I paused too long at a comma, too short at a semicolon, or mispronounced a word I had something thrown at me. I would break out in a sweat and had to work hard not to have a quiver in my voice or duck when something was thrown.

And I had to mark the books with blue chalk markers, precise right angles.

When sick, I had to read these texts and pray, but he went to the doctor, smoked, and did things that they would not have approved.

It served to put a larger wedge between God and me.

Here are a few more thoughts about dealing with Abba God when you come from abuse.

The concept of God is love is hard when you grow up in a home where love is perverted. Where if someone says “I love you” it means that they want something from you and it will hurt. Where I love you meant you had to do something to be loved.

Remember our first sense of God the father is our earthly parents. That is such a vast responsibility to be a parent, please use your power wisely. Fortunately I was able to break the cycle of abuse, I would never have had kids if I still were like my parents, but even now I have to work to make sure I don’t bring some of the past forward. For me that involves staying patient, something that is way more challenging now that I have three teens. But the difference between my parents and me is that if I feel my temper rising, I may snap verbally at them, but most often I leave the room and spend a few minutes praying in the bathroom until I have calmed down, then I go in and deal with the situation.

TV Religious shows are a lifeline for those who may not be able to get to church. They may not all be doctrinally sound, but they do give some important facts about God.

When you are hurt big, and God does not seem to answer it is crushing. I still struggle with the why’s of this, and I know the answers that most will give only serve to condemn or to make it worse. I know God is sovereign, I know that God had to honor what Adam did in giving the earth over to satan, I know God sent His Son to die for me and that is awesome, I know that God knows all, past/present/future. But there are still haunting questions and pain that surface.

One thing that I am trying to believe is the Bible verse of being a new creature in Christ, old things are passed away and behold all things have become new. That is true internally in our spirit, but the past still has to be dealt with, It cannot be pushed aside, for it will crop up at odd times and situations.

I asked Pastor Don if I was doing something wrong because of the memories and feelings that are emerging now, from years ago, and he told me God is letting them come up now because I am saved, am in a situation where it is safe to deal with the issues, and have people around me who will love me through them.

Please have patience if people who have been abused don’t get the idea of abba father right away.

A bit more of my history. Words cannot describe the incredible terror and feelings of shame that were my constant companions during this time. I feared for my life as my mom’s alcoholism got worse and worse. She never did tell my father that she knew, but made sure that she put me out in front of my father in ways that I wouldn’t consider ever doing to my daughter. She bought me seamed nylons because he thought they were sexy, she made me model my first bra for him. She left the room when she knew he would immediately call me over to the sofa to paw me. I did not realize just how much she enabled his abuse of me until years later, so I had to work hard at forgiving her as well.

In talking with Pastor Don, he pointed out to me options that were available to her. I had been believing that she was helpless too, but she wasn’t, she just wanted to keep things on status quo. I had to forgive her. Perhaps the most important spiritual lesson I have learned from my past is the incredible power of forgiveness. I really rebelled against that because I felt that I was the victim (I was) and they failed me, but I also sinned. I also hurt others. It was only when I made the choice to forgive them that I was able to begin to free the bonds that were tying me up inside.

Basically unforgiveness meant that I was carrying them around with me all the time, and they could have cared less that they had inflicted the pain on me, they had long since died, and yet they were ruling me because of unforgiveness. It was explained to me that forgiveness is not absolution for the repercussion of sin, my parents are just put into the hands of God for judgment, they still had to face the fruits of their sin. Forgiveness is an awesome gift for me because it frees me from carrying around dead weight.

It is not an easy process for me, and seems to be a bit ongoing as new memories emerge, but oh so necessary. Now if a memory emerges I immediately speak words of forgiveness. It also does not mean that the past is forgotten, it just loses a lot of its power over me.

Well my father’s sexual abuse continued until I was 15, and then my parents made a trip to visit relatives during the school year. My sister offered to watch me for the week they were gone, so at one point she asked me, “Has he been bothering you too?” I was surprised that she had been abused too, so I thought here was the answer to my prayer for escaping the hurt of the past. I told her what he was doing, gave her the two notebooks my mom filled out. She and my brother (she is 15 years older than me and my brother is 16 years older) read the notebooks and decided that I had to be taken out of that house. They went to the juvenile courts. I wish the courts had handled the situation differently than they did. I will explain as the story unfolds.

We hid out at my sister’s mother-in-law’s house, and they made a phone call to my parents explaining that the courts were going to be involved in the sexual abuse that my father did. I actually felt sorry for my mom because I figured that she would be severely beaten or hurt because of the two notebooks. I figured she would have to tell him about them. We were scared, did not pick up the phone and I lived in terror for the juvenile court date when I would have to face my parents. Words cannot describe the terror.

Unfounded terror though, my parents never came to try and get me back to their house. I wanted so much for them to come and beg forgiveness, to say they were sorry, to say things would be different, and that things would be so much better, kind of like happy ever after. I still hurt when I think that they did not care to fight for me. But I also realize that the evidence, in my mom’s own handwriting, was probably so convicting that they knew they did not have a chance. But I sure wanted them to try. The courts kept those notebooks until I was 18, then destroyed them. That is the one thing I am sorry about, I should have been allowed to get those notebooks back, it would have meant a lot to me as I began to face some of the memories in therapy.

The courts also gave me a choice, foster home with a stranger, or my sister offered to let me live with her. For many years I regretted my choice of living with my sister (we have since made amends) but I also know that statistics show that foster homes are not always what they are cracked up to be too. Day one in my sister’s house she called me to her bedroom and told me that it was my fault that my father did what he did, that I should have fought back. Guilt heaped upon guilt. See I didn’t want to hurt my parents, I felt it was my fault that things came to the point of being taken out of the house, I felt shamed and dirty because of what happened to me, and guilty because I didn’t fight back, so I started spiralling down into depression. Life at my sister’s was also hard for both of us. I was a constant reminder of what she escaped from. And she took it out on me.

It is funny how we think that our prayers are answered when we get the answer we want, and I thought God had finally answered one of my three prayers, to make my father stop. He did not answer it the way I wanted, with my father loving me and stopping, but I figured that being with my sister would help, for she would understand what I went through. Unfortunately she didn’t. See, she forgot that she had my brother living with her, and her trials were a bit different.

My father was put into Lexington KY for drug addiction when she was a child, the Marines treated his stomach problems with morphine, and he ended up addicted. My father beat them, drank, and a few times pawed her, but my brother slept with a knife under his pillow to kill him if he hurt them too much. He also beat my father up once, and then both my sister and brother found ways to escape the house early. My sister to nursing school and early marriage, my brother to the army, he signed up a year younger than was legal.

I was by myself in that house with no one to turn to. And it took years of therapy to realize that my sister and brother might have been able to figure out that there was something wrong sooner, but they never asked. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Both my sister and brother turned their abuse into anger, and it was the anger that hurt. They also never forgave my father, and it has had repercussions on my sister’s health.

I am so grateful that I have found God, because I have been able to shake some of the generational curses that could have followed me from the past. The therapy I received, and the godly counselling from my pastor have helped to free me from much. I also don’t think I would ever have allowed myself to have a child if I felt that I would do to them what my family did to me.

Now that the courts had me at my sister’s house, there was good and bad there. I was very messed up because of the past that I had experienced, and my sister was still dealing with the effects of her abuse as well.

I roomed with her daughter, and she had two smaller sons. Her husband was nice and was the peacemaker of the household. Often he would pull her off of me, and get her to calm down when she was beating me or choking me.. I was not the best of people either, for I was hurting badly.

We settled down and I got used to a new school, for the first time I had friends my own age to play with, and I did very well in Junior High and High School. She was Lutheran, so I finally got to attend a real church with the family, and got involved with the church’s youth group. While there were tensions at home, I had some good things happening around me. I got a chance to have a kind of normal life for a bit.

I was 15, and the hormones were raging, and I was very awkward, I did not know how to act normal, and that would bother my sister a lot, because she felt that being in her home I should automatically revert to normal. But I wasn’t normal, didn’t know the first thing about it.

I am so grateful she opened up her house to me, I know now how tough that was for her, as I was a reminder of what she had escaped from by an early marriage. I made one big mistake though, and spent some time talking with the Pastor of the church we attended. I needed to talk about the hurt and pain, and the courts did not think I needed a social worker or anyone to help with the transition to my sister’s house. So I told the Pastor about the abuse I had received, shared some of the tough situations at my sister’s house. The Pastor went and told my sister about our talk, and she almost choked me to death. The nerve that I had to air our family’s dirty laundry with this pastor. I learned from that experience never to trust pastors, never to talk about my pain to anyone who was a minister. I figured they couldn’t be trusted. My sister was mortified because now her past was more public.

I still was hurting a lot, so I tried the guidance counselors at school, and one did the best thing she could and got me a social worker. This social worker convinced my sister (I am not stating a name for she is still alive), to get me therapy, so once a week we had to drive to the state hospital for treatment. Problem with clinics is that you get a new therapist ever six months or so, so once you finally build trust (something very difficult with abuse) you are off and running with a new therapist, and have to start all over again. Over the years of clinics that I went to, I ended up being able to summarize my past in less than an hour, of course the dah dah dah sort of presentation served to sever any emotions connected to the past from the past. I just by rote spelled out my history. My sister hated going to the state hospital, for she had to take her kids and they had to be around all the weirdos. When we drove she kept punching my arm, I had a permanent bruise on my left arm.

My sister had one of several surgeries during this time, this one was for ulcers, and since that time she has had 27 major surgeries. She has not learned to forgive my parents, and I really think that this lack of forgiveness eats her up inside literally. She has been high strung and it was not until the death of one of her children from cancer that she finally started getting some therapy, and it was after that that we were able to make amends. She is a good friend now, and we talk as much as we can, although we live far apart.

It was at this time that the hurting became to too much to bear, and I started feeble suicide attempts (when I went back to my mom’s house, the attempts were more serious). I would take aspirin or any pill on the leftover pill shelf that my sister had, but never enough. One night I remember having to lay awake and tell myself to breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out for hours. I guess I still had a will to live. I spent hours composing poetry about death, reading books about death, and thinking about death. Things seemed so hopeless and I was filled with despair.

But, at the same time I also had a babysitting job, had some sort of social life, and the sexual abuse stopped. My sister was not all evil, and we had some great times together as well. But walking in that house was filled with landmines of emotional outbursts from her.

My parents sent $25 in support each week for me, barely covering expenses. And my sister would talk with my mom. She still wanted her parents to be involved with her kids. One Christmas we had to go over to the house and spend a few hours with my parents. Nothing like walking into the house, looking at my bedroom and having to interact with my father and mother. It was horrid. But I kept wondering if things would have changed, would he have stopped or not, but I know that the abuse would not have stopped.

It was also at this time that nightmares started coming up. There were times when it felt like my father was sitting on my bed, the memories would come and I would wake up in a cold sweat. Even today I still have flashbacks and nightmares about the past. Fortunately my husband is understanding and there are certain ways that I can’t stand to be touched, and he honors that.

When I was 16 my father died from coronary thrombosis, and my mom made him out to be a hero. I had to attend the funeral, and pretend to be sad at his death – I felt nothing. And my mom was crying, which did not make sense to me because he hurt her too.

When I was 17, my sister’s husband got transferred to another state and my sister did not want to bring me with her. The social worker spoke with my mom and my mom agreed to have me back to her house. She was a worse alcoholic than before, but I moved back. I knew my sister did not want me. And my mom was mad at me because she believed it was because of me that my father died, because I had caused them so much embarrassment.

Now, many of you xangians seem to be in school to become pastors, I don’t know what the protocol is for talking with guardians when a child confides in you, but please know that if you share some of the things confided in you, you can cause a lot of damage. Not only can the child be hurt, but you will then hurt the trust of the child in God and in the office of pastor. Of course, with today’s laws, you may have to speak out or risk problems. I don’t know the solution to that, but I really never wanted to speak to another pastor again. It is really due to Pastor Don that I ever spoke to one in confidence. He has not broken my confidence once, thank God.

I know that I started praying to God, and it was at the time that the Good News Bible came out, and I read a lot of Lutheran devotional books, wanting so much to have that relationship with God. It was not forthcoming. I am beginning to see that in order to have a relationship with God there has to be a willingness on my part to trust God too. I was not trusting at that time. God had let me down big, and I still did not have the answer to my big questions.

What is distressing to me is that I suspect that if I ever do hear from God about my past situation, it is going to be a Job like answer, who created the heavens, can you add one more year to a life, can you tell the sun to rise, etc. I want a simple answer that I can understand. The idea of just relying on God’s sovereignty is difficult. I am still bristling at that.

During the time I spent with my mom I reacted to my past in ways that I wish I did not do. I was not only an innocent victim, I sinned as well, hating, not forgiving, and wanting to hurt myself. I rebelled big time against God and anything connected with God. Sought much and found nothing.

Even though God still seems to be reluctant to answer my questions about where he was in my past, I have to say that God is the best thing going. In my studies I find that the Bible holds together so well, and even though I feel so challenged navigating in Christianity, I also know that it is where I belong. But in many ways I feel like a toddler trying to learn the rules. And I feel that I fail often.

I am so grateful that God could forgive me, and so surprised that He would forgive me, given my rebellion.

Now comes the part of my life that I am not particularly proud of, but yet, it is important to tell because I made many mistakes. If someone reads this and changes their behavior, then it is worth writing it. What happened is that I really lost hope, had given up on God, and was in self-destruct mode.

If anyone has volunteered at a suicide crisis line, my hat goes off to you. While at my sister’s and at my mom’s I often called them and I think it kept me close to a bit of sanity and preserved my life.

I moved back with my mom. She was a serious drinker by now, and even wanted me to share drinking with her and occasionally would force me to drink Mogen David wine with her. Hated the taste. I was in my last year of school, and was very smart, so made the National Honor Society. I lied a lot to my mom to get to do things by telling her I was going to National Honor Society meetings.

Once I settled back in, I got a job working in a dry cleaners. All my money went to my mother as well as the social security that I got from my father’s death. My mom did not work, so she was on a very tight budget.

At this time, I was very suicidal. Continuing on from the tradition of what I did at my sister’s house, any and every pill I could take I took, I drank cough medicine to get high, chewed morning glory seeds (same as on the news, learning later that they did have a poisonous coating, so I threw that up ) and up the street from us was the hippie house (this was in the 70’s) and they would sell me drugs. I just wanted to be out of it as much as possible.

My focus was death, and I didn’t care about life, there was nothing to live for, my life was ruined by my parents, no one really loved me, my sister didn’t want me, and I was hurting and reeling from the abuse that I received, I hated myself, was sure I was the one who caused what happened to me, I must be awful for why would a father rape his nice daughter, so what was wrong with me? I only fit in with the few outcasts at school, and turned much into myself.

I did get to keep seeing the therapist, and spent time taking buses to get there. That was the best thing that happened for I really thought maybe they cared.

All I wanted to do was to die, or to be so blocked from the hurt that nothing touched me. Songs like I am a Rock, or Sounds of Silence were my mantras, and I just wanted to die. Early in the school year I miscalculated what I took, went to school acting peculiarly, and was brought to the hospital for a foiled attempt at my life. I should have taken the stupid pills earlier in the evening, for then I wouldn’t have waken up. But while at the hospital my sister-in-law made me promise not to kill myself until my 18th birthday. I promised her, and for some reason held onto that promise. From that moment on, I counted the hours, minutes, and seconds until my 18th birthday. Most of my free time was spent in this calculation. I still took drugs that I acquired from the hippie house, and still did things to block the pain, but the good news was that I was given sleeping medicine and anti-depressant medicine. I took it for awhile, and when they stopped paying attention, I stopped taking it and started storing it up until my 18th birthday. I swore I would not make the same mistake of under calculating the medicine. I was afraid to cut myself, but did research the proper way to do that in order to make sure I would die, and had a whole plan worked out of taking the medicine, being in a tub of hot water and cutting myself vertically along a vein. I hated myself for making the promise to my sister-in-law, but for some reason could not bring myself to lie.

One evening I was listening to the alternative radio station (I really identified with hippies, they were my source of alleviating the pain of the hurts through drugs), and I heard a person speak who was a neo-pagan. I am not going to name names here, but it currently still is in existence, and this person may still be alive. I was so attracted to the philosophy, and found that their religion was based on a book by Robert A. Heinlein called Stranger in a Strange Land. I read that book, and looked up the person’s name in the phone book, timidly called them, and they arranged for me to get rides to come to one of their meetings (of course my mom thought I was going to a National Honor Society Meeting), I went every Friday night to those meetings. They were rather wild things, for nudity was present (not mandatory), and all sorts of free sex, drugs, drinking, a regular back to nature sort of lifestyle. Some group marriages, and incredibly interesting conversations.

During this time I basically was like a wallflower, turned so far inside myself, arms protectively across my chest, quiet and as I found out later, people actually took turns sitting next to me. They did it in shifts because I was so depressed and hurting. Honestly, it was the first place where I found unconditional love and kindness, people genuinely cared for me and it kind of cracked the hurt a tiny bit. Churches could learn from the kindness of these people and maybe some of the hurting kids that leave the church for alternative religions wouldn’t leave. It took about six months of this kind of kindness and one day I realized that instead of dying, I really wanted to live, sort of. So I timidly pointed that out to one of the members, figuring they would be disappointed because much of my existence was so focused on death. Instead they rejoiced because I made the decision to live. That does not mean that I still wasn’t practicing self-destructive behaviors, still wasn’t hurting myself by my poor choices but it is here, in this part of my past that I can finally see a few glimmers of God.

I wish I could have found sightings of God in my past from say the age of 8 – 18, but at least I do see the hand of God in my life from 18 on. God was there when he gave me this group to love me, I am certain His heart was broken at their philosophy, but they could have exploited me, harmed me, or hurt me, instead they loved me. And I firmly believe that God used the pagans to preserve my life until I could come to Him.

At one point a person came through that wanted me to drop out of school and leave and go with him and his wife. I told him I wanted to finish school first, then I would come with him. In retrospect I suspect I would have become a street-walker if I had left with him.

The various drugs that I took with abandon did not cause damage in my mind. And after a while I realized that I did not need drugs, and I did that without becoming addicted to the drugs, of course my drugs of choice were speed, acid, and grass. Fortunately, I gave up on those after a few years.

One shocking thing that happened is that one day I decided to give up my virginity (I had repressed my father’s rapes) and it was then that I found out I wasn’t a virgin, and that brought on cascades of horrid memories pouring into my mind. It was there I started regretting my decision of life. I almost lost it again. And of course, I made the stupid decision that since I was already ruined, might as well sleep with anyone who wanted me anytime they wanted me and get it out of the way. I did not become pregnant, did not get a disease, and would boast that if they took a notch out of the bedpost for everyone I slept with, there would be no bedpost left.

How I abused my body and mind at that time, it is a real miracle that I came out intact.

I actually went to my high school graduation stoned on acid, sigh, and then my mom took a trip to visit one of her sisters leaving me alone in our house.

I don’t think she had a clue what was going on with me, she was so besotted with alcohol, and we were sort of just roommates.

Well at this time my first husband offered to marry me, and I accepted. I really didn’t love the guy, he was the spitting image of my father less the gunshot wound on the forehead, he was nice, but immature, and I figured that no one else would ever want to marry me and I would get out of the house. Not very elevated reasons for marriage, but I was still messed up. We had a hippie wedding in the park in matching long green tie-dyed robes, and had a huge party afterwards.

I still did stupid for many years, I am in tears thinking of how grateful I am to God for preserving me when I was so bent on self-destruction. Of course at this time I was worshipping mother earth, father god, and a whole pantheon of characters, and walking around saying thou are god. Yet God was so faithful when I wasn’t.

Again, I apologize for this portion of my history. If I could have changed my behavior back then, I would. Hopefully this will show others that if God can redeem me, he most certainly can redeem anyone else.

So, after our wedding, some of the problems that never came out from my past started emerging. I was very messed up. I still continued therapy, and in therapy I started seeing a bit of what I was doing to myself. One of my therapists fought to keep me in for a second cycle. Because of my “hippie” lifestyle I was still seeing therapists in clinics, which meant the six months, then a new therapist. I think that this bit of stability in therapists helped somewhat.

Well the ground rules of our marriage were somewhat different from ordinary marriages, and we wrote our own ceremony. We did not commit for life, we had an open marriage (which allowed us to sleep around) and at one point we even experimented with a group marriage. The open marriage was a godsend to me at the time because the visceral memories of what my father did to me were emerging and I could not stand to be touched sexually for a period of time. It was relieving to throw my husband to the arms of someone else and take the pressure off of me.

If I were smart, I would not have married for the reasons I did. I would have waited and continued therapy. But then I would have had to stay in that house and the house was closing in on me, the memories of what happened were too difficult and my mom was disintegrating in front of me with her drinking. I don’t know what would have been the best course of action. I took one year of college, then dropped out, and it wouldn’t be until many years later that I returned to college and got a degree.

I also threw myself into the pagan religion big time. I researched many of the religions, composed my own theories of life, and eventually decided to worship mother earth. Well a mother god didn’t do much for me any more than a father god did.  Trust did not come easily for me, and I constantly held myself in reserve from people and my therapists.

I was being intellectually stimulated because the group of people I hung out with were well read, loved to talk and debate, and were very passionate. Often we would have guests come through, people like Stephen Gaskins’ Farm, or various witches, occultists, etc. who would come, lecture, share. The lifestyle was one of hedonism, and I participated, but the difference was that I did not do it with abandon, it was rather more calculated.

Because of my past, I longed to fit in, and I molded myself to fit in where ever or whatever was going on. I was still taking some drugs, but that did not last for many more years. Some of it, in retrospect was funny (but I also know that it was destructive), and I still harbored that death wish. I really had no concept of self. One of my favorite movies at the time was Billy Jack, an incredible movie that I still watch with nostalgia, but one character in the movie told a girl that she believed she was an anybody, and would do anything for anybody. He wanted her to realize that she was somebody, and he would not have sex with her because he valued her. I was still of the mindset that guys wanted sex, so give it to them and get it over with. My father had done a number on my head making me believe that no one could love me, that sex was the only way a person would like me.

After about two and a half years of marriage, a witchcraft coven from Chicago came through our group, and I was so impressed with their knowledge. I wanted to learn more, so I picked up and moved. I told my husband that our marriage was not working out. It really wasn’t. I was a wreck of a person, he was immature, and I was immature. We married too young, so we decided to separate. I moved to the new city, he later moved to the same city. And we both studied in this coven for years. Ultimately divorcing. Before I married my husband of today, my former husband had died of his lifestyle. And I never had a relationship with a man for about 12 or 13 years.

If anyone has had the kind of past that I had, or is hurting real bad, I think the temptation is to seek relief in a relationship that promises love. I was starved for love, needed to feel special, and at the time, I married for all the wrong reasons. Our relationship did not have any basis. When you are hurting, you do not always want to take advice, but my advice to anyone who is hurting is to wait before finalizing a relationship. A good relationship worth its salt will stand the test of time. And at the time I married, I was not a Christian, but if you are a Christian, please make sure your spouse is one who is Christian also. Please make sure all the important issues are dealt with too, finances, beliefs, thoughts about children. Many churches offer counseling before a couple gets married, it is not a waste of time. It is probably the most important step you can take. And know that your first few years of marriage will be rocky once the honeymoon is over. A relationship is a commitment. And it is ongoing, with ups and downs.

At one point, Pastor Don talked about the woman at the well, and how she had many lovers, and Jesus commended her honesty. I started learning the biblical truths about marriage. How two are made one, and should not be separated. That the only real reason for a divorce is adultery, and how Jesus did not like the Jewish doctrine of being able to leave a spouse for trivial matters. It was explained that it is important to stay pure until marriage, because if you open yourself up sexually, then you carry those people with you forever. That you will be bringing them to your marriage bed, because you will be comparing, contrasting, or perhaps thinking about them. I was devastated with those thoughts. By that time I had been married to Jim for 16 years, and I thought about all the sinning I had done this way in my past (before I was a Christian). Pastor Don assured me that Jesus has covered all those sins, and that those were in the past. In fact, God was so merciful that he preserved me from a lot of what could have happened when I was sowing those seeds of sin, and that I was a new creation in Christ. Obviously now there is only Jim, and has been only Jim since we met and married, but sometimes I wish that I did not have all the past there as well. If you are in a relationship, please wait, trust me in this, you will have greater joy if you hold yourself for the right person.

I threw myself into the coven that I was studying with. It was a very large coven, and at some of the major festivals and feasts there could be 150 in attendance. It was a mix of magic and witchcraft, and there were classes, assignments, books to read, and things to learn. Because it was a teaching coven, it was sort of like a seminary of the occult. I did very well, took on many tasks, and many of the gifts that God gives us, are also imitated in the occult, and there are gifts that were pretty well developed in me. I studied comparative mythology, and after a few years was actually an associate priestess of the coven, and for a time was the high priestess. The person in charge of the coven was a charismatic high priest, and he appointed people, but like any cult, he did not want his power threatened, so after awhile, he would appoint a new high priestess. I learned much of the occult, and it served me well in the occult circles I would later enter.

My husband and I officially divorced, and he took up with other people. I tended to room with other roommates. Some of whom were very enlightening. One was a professional model who helped me to realize that even those who get paid for their looks have bad hair days. At that time, I had moved to study a quasi Christian/occult group, that is now no longer in existence. They used the caballa, tarot, and Christ all at the same time. I studied Hawaiian Huna, and so many other religions. Someone came through our coven calling himself a witch doctor, and he hooked me up with some groups out in California. I moved there and studied more.

During this period of marriage, the hurts were less in my current life, but I was still tormented by the past. There were plenty of good times too, and one fun aspect was associating with the Society of Creative Anachronism, studying Medieval life. I ended up finding jobs and supporting myself, and became more independent. But my focus was as intense to learn the occult as it is today to know Christ.

What keeps surprising me is how close the occult principles are to Christian principles. satan is a liar and a cheat, he will take things that sound so good and pure, make you believe that you are acting in a Christian manner, but change a small aspect which throws you off course. It doesn’t take much, just one lie here and there until you are so off base you don’t realize it.

One friend of mine pointed out it is sort of like having a glass of milk that is pure, and you put in one drop of chocolate syrup. The syrup is not noticed in the milk which still looks like milk, tastes like milk, but if it was analyzed it is no longer pure milk because of the one drop of chocolate syrup.

It doesn’t take much straying from the truth to be in error.

I stayed in California for years, and again hung out with covens, two in particular. And ultimately this witch doctor who came into my former coven wrote to me and wanted me to come to New York to study with a teacher there.

I keep thanking God that he delivered me from all the mistakes I made in my past. When I think of how, after turning my back on Him when I was 8, and staying away for so many years, he was still faithful and pursued me, I want to cry tears of joy. I just wish I had sought Him earlier, I feel like I wasted these years in the wilderness. But Pastor Don points out to me that I am now an enemy of satan, and that God will turn these wasted years into something good. I sure hope so. My life is so different now that Christ is in my life. Words cannot describe.

I moved to New York City to study Macumba with a teacher who was highly respected. This teacher was very thorough, giving us pages and pages of notes, lots of magical sorts of things to do, exercises to learn. He also taught us the Hawaiian Huna religion, and then had us write out the whole book of John based on the Hawaiian Huna religion principles. It fit, but was not an accurate translation.

People started breaking away from the teacher, as always when there is a cult involved and personalities involved there is division. For awhile I worked with a mystical group who studied tarot cards and magical principles, then spent time studying the Santeria religion. I was fortunate in that the two times I tried to gain the complete initiation ceremonies, the Santeria priests died before I was given my full complement of what they called the warriors. I am grateful, in retrospect, for that.

I also worked with a few covens based in New York City and in Philadelphia.

During this time in New York, the pain of the past re-emerged big time, and I was so suicidal that I finally decided I had to go back to seeing a therapist. I am so sorry for the first therapist I saw, because my neediness must have run him through the wringer. He did encourage me to start writing my autobiography, which I did and shared with him. I did very well with it, receiving two personal letters from editors and one from an author who had written a similar book, but unfortunately the market for incest survival books was glutted, so I did not sell the story. It is currently sitting in Pastor Don’s office, and he has suggested that I re-write the story, for there is a lot of darkness and not much hope in the first version. So this is sort of an outline for that story that might be written.

I eventually found a therapist who I could not send through the wringer, and it was through him that I began to see more of my past, realized just how far-reaching my abuse went. I realized, through him, that my mom was not a victim like me, but that she perpetuated my abuse and did not do what she could have done to protect me. That was crushing for it brought on just how alone I was with all the pain and hurt. I also began to see how they manipulated me, and he made me realize that I was a victim, that I was not the responsible one for what happened. That they hurt me of their own volition, not because I wasn’t good enough, perfect enough, smart enough or the perfect daughter.

Somewhere in the midst of the few relationships I had during this time I got pregnant, and was afraid that I would end up not being a good mom, so to my shame, I got an abortion. I wish I had never done that, and if I could change one thing about my past, this is the one area I would change. But God even turned that to good, but I will explain that later.

It was after that I met Jim (my current husband). We started dating and I did everything possible to destroy the relationship before it began. That we are together today is really God-ordained. He listened to me, let me vent my past, encouraged me to return to college and gain a degree. We spent about 7 years dating and ultimately moved in together (again I wish we had married first, but we didn’t). I ended up pregnant, and he proposed marriage. We married and I had a miscarriage. Oh the guilt connected with that. I blamed my abortion, figured I was awful, and was afraid that Jim would leave me because now I wasn’t pregnant. Well we are together today 19 years later, so I guess our relationship is more stable. Since then we have had three wonderful children (now my daughter is 13, and my two sons are 16 and 15).

After the birth of my first son, Jim decided we needed to return to church as he wanted to raise his kids Catholic. Well, you know how I felt about God, I hated God at that time. So I sat in church fuming that I had to sit through mass week after week, year after year. For all the good it did for me, I was a bump on a log.

As the kids got older it fell upon my shoulders to teach them to pray, to read the Bible, and all the things required for their first communion and later confirmation. Well I did pretty good, and my kids feel that God is their friend, they pray freely. In fact I was thrilled when my oldest said, “Mom, do I have to pray memorized prayers? Often I pray to God when I am in the shower or outside.” I told him that God wanted to hear from him whenever he wanted to talk with God, that God was not thrilled with formal prayers said by rote, but wanted prayers from the heart. My kids know something that I am still struggling to learn. They know that they are beloved of God, that God cares for them and that they can freely go to God when they need to. I am so grateful that my feelings toward God did not show to them, and now I am grateful that they see my feelings toward God, and how much I love God.

So about five years ago the thought came to me to give God one last chance, so I read the Bible from cover to cover. I came away with the idea that God hardened hearts, and my heart was definitely one hardened by God. That there was no hope. Yet, I started reading the Bible through again from cover to cover and started seeing a bit of God’s love. I longed for that kind of relationship with God. I had pretty much put aside the occult when the kids were born, figuring it wasn’t the optimum religion to expose them to, given the religion of the dominate culture which was Christian. (Of course, now I am glad but for a different reason).

I went to a Bible study at the Catholic church I was attending but was very disappointed, whereupon someone invited me to their Friday Bible study (You guessed, it was Pastor Don’s Bible study).

I spent about a year attending that, and occasionally, if allowed, going to their services (I usually attend Mass on Sunday because my husband is still Catholic, but love spending time at the Living Word Chapel when possible). But whenever I sat in the church in the beginning I sat in the back, arms crossed over my chest and fuming. People did not come up to speak to me, I guess I did not give off welcoming vibes or something, but I would fume at God. Simple statements like “God loves you” would get my hackles up. I would fume, “Some sort of love, you abandoned me as a child, let me get hurt, let awful things happen to me, never answered my prayers, etc.” I was extremely angry at God, yelling inside my head at Him.

During this time, I went to see a missionary named Steve Solomon, who has the late-night radio show, Praise in the Night. I had been listening to this, and went to see him. Now, if you want to blend in with the crowd, not be noticed, go to an evening service. The daytime service is not as well attended, and when Steve called people forward for prayer, two of us did not go forward, the only two in the crowd. My heart sank when Steve came to the first person and prayed over them, and to my dismay, he also came to me and prophesied over me. He told me God was going to remove the tares from my mind. (Now you know why I love that parable so much, because God is doing this, and I wish I could tell you it was painless, it isn’t. But the tares are being removed one by one.) I went back the next afternoon, but left early. I was still fuming at God.

Someone at the Friday Bible study suggested that I make an appointment to see Pastor Don. See, I had not yet said the sinner’s prayer, never went forward to the altar. I had this vision in my head that God would condemn me in public for all the horrid sins I had done and expose me leaving me vulnerable, or else God would not respond at all, leaving me abandoned like he did when I was 8. I had zero trust in what people termed a loving God.

Well, I did make an appointment to see Pastor Don, and for two years we talked, almost weekly over things. All the while he kept encouraging me to pray the sinner’s prayer, but I couldn’t. I had to know for sure lots of things. So we discussed Bible dilemmas, the hardend-heart of Pharoah, why would God love me, and I went through a period of what I term the sin of the week. I would bring in a sin, and tell him God couldn’t forgive that, and we would look in the Word to where such a sin was forgiven.

It was during this time that the Friday Bible study was going over Romans chapter by chapter, verse by verse. It is not a good book to read when you are angry at God. I remember once Pastor Don stopped Bible study because I was muttering under my breath, and he prayed.

We discussed so many things, including my past history. I still struggle over where was God in the midst of my past, but we went over my history. I have never forgotten that Pastor Don told me that I spend most of my life in relationships waiting for the other shoe to drop, and that he would never drop the other shoe (He hasn’t). In fact, Pastor Don has been sort of like a model father for me, in that I can really see the love of God in how he relates to me, and how he relates to others in the church.

One day I was finally broken enough to realize that I needed a savior. I realized that I had broken every one of the 10 commandments. It dawned on me that having that abortion (remember the one I said that God turned around for the good), and that abortion was murder. Up until then I could rationalize a lot of the sins I committed, but that one broke me and we said the sinner’s prayer. And shortly thereafter I got baptized.

I struggled about many issues still. I asked God’s forgiveness for my rage, and got the clear impression that God was not upset with my rage because at that time I hadn’t talked with God for 40 years, so at least raging at God was talking with Him. I would not consider that kind of rage now, and I don’t think God would be as tolerant now, but then He was glad I was talking. I still have anger at God at times, and I still have debates with God, but there is a great love for God as well.

I asked Pastor Don what to do about Jim, who was and still is a Catholic, and Pastor Don told me to say nothing to him. To go to Mass, be obedient, put my husband as spiritual head of the family, and let my life be the sermon I preach, not my words. (I have to admit that I can at times be rather high-strung under stress, and am not a perfect role model for the Proverbs woman, but he did notice a difference.) Now Jim attends the Tuesday and Friday Bible studies, and respects Pastor Don as a great spiritual leader. I am leaving things in God’s hand, even more so now with Jim’s health issues.

I ended up giving all my occult books, tools, and writings to Pastor Don, and they were burned behind the church. Even though I am still struggling in areas, the amount of positive change that has come into my life with salvation is mind-boggling. I am not the same person I was before and could never consider going back to those old ways.

I still have a long way to go. But I have learned to love God, and to realize that He loves me (although I struggle with this). I am still seeing Pastor Don, but not as frequently, and he keeps telling me that satan lost a powerful ally when I got saved, and that one day God will use all of this to do wonderful things to help others. I keep studying and learning, I guess trying to make up for lost time. But I am praying that all I went through can be a blessing to others.

I am hoping that the saga I have shared with you is helpful. Trust me, never would I exchange my life with God now for anything. I am just hoping that any who are flirting with the new age or occult will have their eyes opened to how empty that is.

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About Heather Marsten

Welcome to Heather's Blog. I'm looking forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. I just moved about nine years of material over from another blog site, Xanga, who may close down mid-July. At first I was disappointed to make the move because I had a lifetime membership at Xanga and had to spend weeks transferring posts. But now I'm thrilled. Already I've met new bloggers and read many new websites. Blogging is a wonderful way to expand my horizons and garner new ideas. I'm a happily married mom of three young adults. My husband and I are proud to watch our children grow and venture out into the world. My daughter is still in college but my two sons have graduated. One has a job and the other just graduated and is in the process of finding a job in his field, physics. Anyone know of any jobs out there? I'm proud of our children and love watching them grow and mature. They've become fine, compassionate, and loving people. Empty nest? Nah, I'm too busy to let an empty nest bother me. Not enough hours in the day. My husband and I enjoy quiet time together and I have many interests to pursue - one of which is blogging :D I am a born-again believer and love God. As you read this blog, you will discover that Bible studies thrill me. There is so much wisdom contained between the covers of the Bible and I am fortunate to sit under the teachings of a remarkable pastor, Pastor Don Moore. Members of our church (Living Word Chapel in West Hurley, New York) are encouraged to teach and there are visiting pastors who stop by our church, I also study the Bible on my own and love sharing what I learn. One other passion is writing. My current work in process is a memoir. A scene from my memoir was published in a book called: Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware - an anthology of angelic encounters compiled by Cecil Murphy. I'm hoping my memoir will encourage other survivors of abuse. I grew up in a home filled with abuse, including incest. For most of my life I was searching for something that would fill the void of not being loved by my parents. I tried many ways to find that love -- therapy, relationships, occult studies, and keeping my life so filled I had no way to think about my past. It was only when I discovered God that I was able to put the pieces of my life back together and walk forward in a joyous life. My nickname - wondering has changed from wondering where the heck God was in my life, to wondering what incredible adventure is going to happen next. I hope you enjoy my site. Please say hi, share some thoughts, and ask questions. I look forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. Have a blessed day. Heather
This entry was posted in Heather's personal Bible study notes, Heather's Testimony, personal, testimony. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to My testimony (written when I was still hurting and questioning God – I left Xanga stats on for God is good, this testimony has been seen by 3,860 people! God is awesome!)

  1. Pingback: Personal study pages – Genesis 19 – Lot & his daughters | Heather's Blog

  2. Pingback: Personal stuff – answering questions | Heather's Blog

  3. Pingback: Personal stuff – questions and Genesis 34 notes | Heather's Blog

  4. Pingback: Personal notes -Genesis 34 | Heather's Blog

  5. Pingback: I’m OK, part 2 by Pastor Don Moore | Heather's Blog

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