Jan's Journey of Restoration

Posted by Journey of Faith on

I was brought up in a Conservative Baptist home. My father was an elder in the church and my family was viewed as pillars of the community. By all exterior appearances we were the model family, but there were cracks in our family foundation that no one could see.

My father was a very charismatic man in public, but in private demanded complete submission to his every desire. My father was physically violent and it wasn’t uncommon for me to go to school with bruises all over my legs or to watch him batter my mother. My father’s sexual needs were insatiable and at a very young age I was used to fulfill his every desire.

As I became a young adult, I went to Bible College and met my first husband. We married and had 3 beautiful children, 2 sons and a daughter. When my daughter was eight years old I visited my parents. My mother and I were talking upstairs while my daughter was watching television with my father downstairs. My mother and I came in the room to get my daughter and found my father molesting her. The family secret was coming out—this time in the next generation. I kept the secret for two and a half years until the pain of my childhood and now my own child’s pain consumed me. I became anorexic and bedridden; my body was dying and so was my spirit.

I was hospitalized for a month. The physical pain, depression, betrayal and heartache left me in total darkness. One day I cried out, ‘Does anyone love me?’ I physically heard the Holy Spirit say, ‘I am the Lover of your soul!’ I was filled with hope and I knew there was something deep inside me that man could not touch or take from me.

While in the hospital, I was free to talk about the family secrets for the first time in my life. All I could feel was terror, tears overtook me and sometimes I felt I was going crazy. Anger was never a safe or acceptable emotion. It took many months for me to feel safe enough to release the deep feelings of anger. It terrified me. This was a consuming rage. I had no idea I was capable of such hate. I wasn’t angry at just my father, but also at God for not protecting me and my daughter. I was angry at the church we grew up in because they gave my father a place to hide. My father was reported and it started a two-year process in the court system ending in a prison sentence and he was deemed an untreatable predatory pedophile. After reading the sexual evaluation of my father, I realized he had been abused as a child and was repeating a vicious pattern that would go from generation to generation.

My father was in denial as was my entire family. This was ‘family business’ and I had done the unforgiveable by cooperating with the state in my father’s prosecution. I lost the joy of belonging to a family. I had become ‘the problem.’

My doctor was concerned that I would need continued hospitalization to cope with the devastation of my past, but God put a seed of hope in me. I responded with, ‘No, I’m giving God permission to help me. I won’t be going back to the hospital.’ I set out on a journey of healing and discovered it’s okay to hurt and be angry and feel.

During my healing process, I still hit some obstacles. My sexually-addicted husband had a mistress and I eventually lost my 25-year marriage. The church I was attending at that time went through a split. My trusted Christian therapist had to leave the counseling profession and seek therapy himself, due to his own sexual addictions.

I knew that I trusted no one and felt I had no family, husband or church, but I knew that I had the Holy Spirit and I knew one of His jobs was to counsel me. For the next year, I listened endlessly to the Bible on tape and discovered the Bible is full of hurting, broken, messed up people just like me. Each story showed me I had choices to make, and that God’s heart is for good and He loves me. In time, I was able to release my father into God’s hands and forgive him.

I still don’t have a relationship with my father. But now it’s between him and God and I’m free of carrying the burden of his actions. I have also had to forgive myself for not protecting my daughter and I’m so grateful she has forgiven me and we share a loving close relationship.

I was in counseling for many years which brought much understanding, but I needed a family to call my own; a safe place. I heard a testimony about a group called Celebrate Recovery. I started attending on Friday nights and found a place that was safe, where I wasn’t judged or told what to do. We listen to each other and learn how to get on the other side as we go through healing steps together. I also joined a women’s Step Study group. Each week we tackle difficult soul-searching questions. As I listen and relate I find encouragement, hope, trust and love. I also found the courage to ask one of the women to sponsor and mentor me. She keeps me in line when I make excuses and slip into denial and unhealthy choices.

My life has been a picture of God’s grace and restoration. He hasn’t spared me life’s heartaches. Even my second marriage fell apart, but I am blessed with friends, a boss and an aunt that loves me like her own daughter, a renewed sweet relationship with my twin sister, loving pastors, prayer ministers who have carried me through deep waters and the joy of worshiping with all of you—my family!

Two verses that have meant so much to me:

‘He will not break the bruised, reed, nor quench the dimly burning flame. He will encourage the faint hearted, those tempted to despair. He will see full justice given to all who have been wronged.’ —Isaiah 42:3

‘For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’
—Jeremiah 29:11

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