“Why would you share something so personal with complete strangers?” This is what the voice inside my head was saying as I contemplated writing my book. I was 41 years old and not who people thought I was. I had a secret and was about to go public; and even though I had a sick feeling every time I thought about it, I knew that God wanted me to do this. I had been called.
It all started about a year and a half earlier… I was struggling with the guilt, shame, and doubt that accompanied a life of abuse. I was an only child and had survived a life with an alcoholic mother and sexually abusive father. After being estranged from my parents for many years, I began to worry. I would be unable to sleep at night thinking about what I would do if something happened to my dad. My mom was a stroke victim and he took care of her. As much as I tried to ignore my conscience, the thoughts wouldn’t go away. My sons wanted to know why they couldn’t go visit their other grandparents. As I wrestled with this, God knew it was time for me to face my past and spoke to me very clearly one morning.
It started out as any other Sunday as my family headed to church. Our four sons went to their respective classes, and my husband and I sat next to each other enjoying the worship music. When our pastor began to speak, I froze. He started talking about forgiveness. I knew he was talking to me. The message hit my core, and I was confused and angry as I thought that forgiving my parents would release them from their actions. I talked to my husband and he suggested that I talk to our pastor. Scared to open up about my past, I was hesitant to talk to my pastor but I knew that I needed to. After telling him about my past, he told me the truth about forgiveness. By forgiving my parents, I was not excusing them from their behavior. Rather, I was releasing myself from the pain of the past.
Six months later, my father died and I was left to care for my mother. During this trial, I sought the advice of a Christian counselor. As I unpacked my complicated, messy past and current situation, she smiled and said, “You are a perfect example of God’s grace.” I thought about it and realized that I was. During our next session together, she said it again and then asked me a question that changed my life, “Would you ever consider sharing your story to help others?”
I left her office feeling scared, excited, and nauseous. I immediately made a list of all the reasons that I wasn’t qualified. I tried to forget about it but I’ve learned that when God wants to get your attention, He will keep trying until you respond. I had spent most of my life trying to avoid and deny my past for fear of being judged by others and was fearful of how the people in my life would respond when they learned the truth. I prayed and asked for wisdom and as scary as it was, I knew that I needed to trust God.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5–6 (NLT)
As I timidly told my closest friends about my past and that I was going to write about it to help others who may be hurting, I received overwhelming support.
As I reflect on my journey to writing this book and speaking to groups, I am amazed by what God has done with my life. By sharing our stories, we allow God’s good works to shine and give Him the glory that He deserves.
Is it scary? ABSOLUTELY! But God calls us out of our comfort zone so that we can show others what true faith looks like. Are you willing to take the risk to show God that you fully trust Him?