You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. John 15
I grew up in a suburb of Denver Colorado. I lived with my dad, Jim, my mom, Billie, and my sister, Kathleen. Life was good. We were not rich in money but definitely rich in the love we had for one another. My parents were married 28 years before my mom died. My sister and I have always had a good relationship.
As a child I remember my mom being depressed. She seemed to be sad a lot of the time. I believe that she was hoping for her family to fill the emotional needs she had, but of course we always fell short especially as we got older. Now I know what she was looking for as I experienced the same feeling and like her was very depressed most of my life. Also as a child, I remember starting school and never feeling like I fit in. I remember being made fun of because of various reasons. I was bullied a lot until I got into 8th grade when I had enough and started defending myself.
When I was 13 I started hanging out with people I shouldn’t have. They were very rebellious and had some very bad habits but that is not what made me follow their example. In this year, I was raped by a guy that I was seeing at the time. I’m not going to go into details because it unnecessary. I’ve thought about them enough for a life time.
At the time this happened I really wasn’t sure what had been done to me. I only knew it was not good and honestly it felt as if my mind went into shock for a long time. I didn’t tell anyone about it for 12 years when I was 25. But as a result of this evil act my life became very dark. That year I started drinking. The next year I started smoking and the year after that I figured out what it was that happened to me and I started doing drugs. I didn’t do anything hardcore like meth or crack but marijuana, alcohol (more heavily), ecstasy, mushrooms, and opium (once). I also became very depressed, angry and promiscuous.
I started doing as my mom did. I started looking for that special man that would fulfill my emotional needs. As a result, I slept with many men over the years. I was also worshiping false gods. There was a time in my life that I was practicing Wicca. After that I was technically part of a gang called the Juggalos. Sounds stupid but believe me they were not people you wanted to be involved with.
As I got older, I separated myself from those people but was still sleeping around with this guy and that guy always looking for happiness. Still doing drugs and drinking more heavily over the years. There was at one point I became involved with this man who was quite a bit older than me. He wasn’t a good person for me to be with but I believe God did put him into my life for a reason.
One day he got me to tell him what had happened to me when I was 13. I hadn’t thought about that in such a long time and by admitting what had happened I of course began to feel the pain of that evil act and I started drinking even more heavily. Eventually, he convinced me to tell my mom and sister. It was hard and I felt ashamed. My mom did as well. I know she beat herself up because she didn’t realize something had happened to me. So here I am. My secret is out. I can’t take it back and I am a mess because of it. There was no feeling better after that.
I continued to drink heavily and was still smoking weed (a lot) and was still seeing this older man. Well eventually I became pregnant. I had always wanted a child but this guy did not. I knew even then that this guy and I were never going be married or even live together. He begged me to get abortion. I was so wrapped up in my pain and my addictions at this time so I gave in and had the abortion. I was 27 at this time.
Later that year, I lost my mom in a very traumatic way. Her cousin had killed himself and he lived Nebraska. So my mom and sister were on their way to the funeral when my mother had a heart attack behind the wheel on the highway. My mom died of blunt force trauma and my sister broke pretty much the whole right side of her body. She survived by the grace of God.
This is when I knew in my bones that change was coming.
About 2 months after this I was robbed at gun point at my workplace. A saw this person coming in and he pointed the gun at me and told me to open the cash register and give him the money all the while saying repeatedly “I’m will kill you”. But the part I remember most vividly was when he came in and pointed the gun I remember looking up towards the ceiling and I felt something come through it and wrap itself around me and that presence also guided my actions to open the register and immediately after I stepped back it wrapped around me again. This experience really shook me up and I knew I had to change.
So after about 6 six months I quit that job and started working various other jobs until I decided to go to college to get my degree in Medical Billing and Coding. I quit doing drugs (still drinking) at this time and graduated with honors and the day after I graduated I got a job in my career field the next day. I thought ‘I did it! My life is going to get better now.’ It didn’t.
It didn’t seem to matter what I did. I always felt lost and alone. I was still very depressed, drinking heavily and angry.
One night I was at my sister’s apartment hanging out with her and her husband. I was drinking very heavily that night to point where I blacked out. I don’t honestly remember much about that night but I do know that I did start an argument with my brother-in-law. So bad to the point that he would not talk to me for almost 2 months afterwards. But what really got to me was when I woke up the next morning.
I woke up in my own bed, in my apartment with no memory of what happened. I drove home completely blacked out. I was terrified when I realized what I had done. I began crying very hard and just knew at that point that the drinking had to stop. So I did quit drinking for a while. I’ve had slips since where I have drank too much but not to the point of blacking out.
So here I am not drinking thinking my life is going to get better now. That didn’t happen. I just became more and more depressed to the point where I honestly didn’t even get angry as much as I used to.
So here I am. For the first time in my life I am sober but I became more and more depressed. At this point in my story I began to have dreams of water. It was always huge bodies of water and I could go underneath and still breath and in these dreams I felt totally content and at peace in the water.
John 7:38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
This was Jesus calling but I did not realize it at this time. I had these dreams so often that I decided to look up what they meant. I found out they mean that you are in emotional and/or spiritual distress. This made perfect sense because I was.
I was living alone which I had never done before. I’m sober. I’m depressed. I’m so lonely and I just felt so lost. All the work I had done to better myself didn’t mean anything to me. In my mind, there was no light. I was completely engulfed in darkness.
At this point in my life I was 31 years old. I was living by myself. I was so depressed to the point of despair. I was drinking at this time but nothing compared to before. It was just on weekends when I was alone. I started isolating myself from my family and the few friends I had in my life so I was completely alone. I was so lost on what to do to be happy. There was no light. I had started imagining killing myself, so much so that I started planning it. I knew how I was going to do it. I knew that I was going text my sister and tell her to come get my dog and to find a good home for my cat.
The night before I knew I was going to do this I prayed. I prayed in the rawest emotion than I ever had before. I told God that I just couldn’t take it anymore. I’m done trying. The pain that I experience every day is just too much for a person to bear. I fell asleep in prayer that night.
When I woke the next morning, there was light. A light that I had never seen before. I felt joy and peace for the first time in my life. It was as if God was standing there in front of me. It was beautiful.
God told me to read. “Just read the bible.” He said. So I got up and downloaded one on my phone but I didn’t know where to start. The version I bought came with a topical verse look up. So I looked up the first thing that came to mind which was lonely. It took me to Genesis. In the beginning. So I read about Adam and Eve and it said that man should not be alone. As I was reading this I realized I didn’t feel alone anymore. Then I looked up the topic lost. It took me to The Parable of the Lost Sheep. My eyes filled up with tears of joy and I didn’t feel lost anymore. And I decided that I needed to learn more about Jesus.
So I continued reading over the next week and half. Learning more about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. On January 23, 2018 I got down on my knees. I prayed to Jesus. I confessed all of my sins with tears running down my face. I repented of all the wrongs that I had committed. Jesus said, “You are forgiven”. This is the most beautiful moment of my life. I could never experience a more profound, peaceful and joyous moment.
I am free!
The relationship between my Heavenly Father and I is very new. My sweet Lord and Savior saved me from the grave in January this year. Since then He has revealed things to me. He has revealed these things to me on His good timing, not mine or others. He started guiding me to verses and books in the bible so that I could gain knowledge about Him. How He lived, how He treated people, and His absolutely wonderful and beautiful characteristics. In doing this He really showed me how to rely on Him in all things that I do and how He wants me to live my life.
Do I still struggle with this? Absolutely! I am human and I do get caught up in situations and life just like everyone else but He is always there and when I slow down or when He slows me down, I turn to Him and trust that He will take care of whatever is going on. All I need to do is let go.
The first sin He helped me to realize was that I was committing idolatry. I’ll explain this a little further. It’s not that I was bowing down to idols of gold, money, fake gods or anything like that. How I was sinning was much more common.
I always wanted to be married. I wanted a great husband and family. You might be thinking, what is wrong with that? Isn’t that what every woman wants? How is that sinning? Of course that is what most women want. It’s in our bones to be caregivers. It is a completely natural instinct and we grow up watching the princess marry the prince right? The problem is when we let that desire come BEFORE our relationship with God. When that desire is your priority and you continually think that having a husband and family is the only thing that will make you happy that is when you are committing idolatry.
God quickly taught me that this way of thinking is wrong and ABOVE ALL THINGS GOD COMES FIRST. This was a hard lesson to learn but it was and is a TRUTH I needed to be aware of. Nothing comes BEFORE your relationship with God. That relationship is going to bring you more joy than anything you could ever desire.
Do I still desire those things? Yes, but now I pray for a husband whose love for God is stronger than the love he’ll have for me. I pray for a husband that together we can bring glory to God. I do not let those desires become a priority. My priority is my relationship with God. I TRUST that He has it all planned out. If God desires for me to have a husband and family He will provide it in His good timing. That’s FAITH and HOPE, which we should all have in our Lord and Savior. Jesus will never leave you disappointed. Remember that.
A few months later God directed me to another sin I was committing against Him. That sin was anger. It’s not that I didn’t know I had an anger problem but I did not realize at the time that I was sinning or why I was so angry. Through a series of circumstances He led me to someone who opened my eyes to this sin. I started seeing a counselor who is a very old friend of my mother but she didn’t know much about my life as I kept a lot of things secret for a very long time from everybody.
Our first meeting together I spilled out my secrets. The highlight of this was when I was raped at 13 years old. There was one question she asked me that rocked my world. That question was ‘Is this sin that this person committed against you unforgivable?’ My first thought was ‘Duh, it’s unforgivable! I’ve been a mess 2 thirds of my life because of this’. Then I started thinking about it and started crying even harder than I already was. My answer was ‘I just don’t know’.
My counselor told me that I had every right to be mad at this person. He did something horrific and it has affected my life in ways that he will never know. Then she asked me ‘What good was it doing me to hold on to this anger?’ My immediate response was ‘nothing’. It’s been 18 years since this horrific act was committed. I have no idea if this guy is even alive, where he is or if Jesus has already forgiven him for his sins. This truth was by far the hardest lesson I’ve learned. It was so painful emotionally and even physically to talk about but it was a lesson I needed to learn.
That night I went home, made some dinner, went in my room and closed the door and started talking to God for a long time. I told Him everything that had been discussed in that session and the truth I learned and that this was a very hard thing to let go. Through my tears and pain that I was experiencing, God told me to “just say the words.”
So through my tears I stuttered out the words, “I forgive him. I forgive him for the awful act he committed against me. I will no longer hold on to this anger, rage and hatred I have towards this person. I release all of these feelings to you my Lord. Please take them and throw them into the pit of hell”. After saying this I felt numb. Then I wrote a letter to this guy and here it is…
This is Jennifer. I don’t know if you remember me. I certainly remember you. You have haunted my memories for the past 18 years. I’m the girl you raped. I hope for your sake and others that I was the only one. I’m not going to go into details about that day because I have thought about them enough over the years. I am going to tell you what that evil act did to me though.
After that terrible day I became very depressed. I started drinking that year, the next year I started smoking and the year after that I started doing drugs. My life became very dark and I became very angry and depressed. I tried to find happiness and peace in the company of many men over the years. It didn’t work because many of those times I would cry after.
That’s how my life has been for the past 18 years. Can you even begin to imagine that? Do you realize what you did to me? Have you ever once stopped to think about the great sin you committed against me? Or the effects it had on my life? Do you even care?
I will probably never have the answers to those questions and that is totally okay because I honestly never want to see you again. After I finish this letter I honestly never want to think about you again. Although, I know that won’t happen either, but that is okay too because maybe I can use what you did to me to help others someday.
On January 23, 2018, I was saved by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I was in the grave. I was planning my suicide. Every last detail was being planned. But Jesus showed me mercy and came down and rescued me from that grave.
John 14:16 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever.”
God poured the Holy Spirit into me that day. Since then I have been developing and growing in my relationship with God. I experienced joy and peace for the first time in my life. It’s only been 7 months but I have grown and learned so much since then and God has taught me many valuable lessons. Recently, God led me to a passage in the Bible.
Colossians 3:8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
I was actually using this verse to encourage others a few days ago. Little did I know that God pointed me there to encourage me.
God wants me get rid of all that hatred and anger I have towards you. You are the root of those feelings. Do you know what it’s like to hate someone that much? Do you know what it’s like to hold on to anger and hate for that long? Not wanting to let it go because you wouldn’t know what to do without it? I truly hope you don’t know. It is a terrible burden to bear.
What you did to me was pure evil. You took my innocence. You took the light from my life. You hurt me so bad Damian.
Isaiah 48:22 “There is no peace”, says the Lord, “for the wicked”.
But God also led me to these verses as well.
2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret…
Matthew 5:22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.
John 6:14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”.
Do you understand what God is telling me to do? Maybe you don’t because this message was for me. My Heavenly Father is telling me I need to forgive you. Not only for my benefit but I hope for yours as well.
I pray that you have repented of your sins. I pray that you have confessed what you did to me 18 years ago. I pray that God had or has mercy on you.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
So, dear Damian, I forgive you. I will no longer hold anymore anger or hatred towards you. I will only pray for your salvation and that you have changed your ways.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
Pretty powerful stuff, huh? That is God at work. After I wrote this letter I was lying in bed afraid. I was afraid because anytime that I talked about or thought about this event I had a breakdown. Days, weeks and sometimes even months would go by that I was depressed and would drink away my emotions. The next day I woke up and there was silence. My head, emotions and soul was quiet. I confess I walked through that day just waiting for the breakdown to begin. It never happened. What did happen was my soul was finally able to rest. I experienced a great rest that can only come from God himself. I obeyed His command to forgive and because I did what He asked He rewarded me by allowing my soul to rest. He tore out those roots of anger, hatred and rage that was planted so long ago in my heart and replaced them with love, kindness and forgiveness.
My point in sharing this with you is that we don’t always realize that we are sinning or more specifically what that sin is. God revealed these sins to me in His good timing. It didn’t happen overnight. He didn’t show me my sin of idolatry for 3 months and it was another 3 months before He revealed my sin of anger. So don’t allow the opinions of others influence you. Don’t think you have to be perfect and sinless to be saved. Faith in our Savior Jesus Christ has saved you. You are on God’s timing not the people of this world. That is how it works.
We are all sinners. It is rooted in our hearts but God does not want us to beat ourselves up for it every day and every moment of our lives. This is a message I feel is not preached enough.
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Earnestly seek Him and He will earnestly guide you on this path He has laid before you. Rely on Jesus and He will show you what sins you are committing and how to stop them. He is forever faithful.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
I have tried and tried and tried to fix myself. Guess what? I failed every single time because I am not capable. God is capable. God has made a plan for my recovery.
I am going to follow His lead. Not mine. I will obey His commands and be joyous doing it whether it hurts or not because I know He only wants the best for my life. God loves us more than we could ever love ourselves and He can and will accomplish our recovery for us, through us and bring about a beautiful outcome.
This is the truth that my sweet Lord and Savior has led me to.