Can you imagine hating life so bad that you cut and burn your body to try to feel better? I have over 250 cut marks on my body that I’m not proud of … but they are past reminders of what my miserable life was like before God rescued me from my self-destruction. If you can identify and are looking for some hope … please keep reading.
I was born in 1968 in Pennsylvania. I was raped by a male acquaintance of my mother’s at age five. I was physically and sexually abused by my older brother from ages 7 to 17, and raped twice by an uncle at age 19.
Like most – as a result of the sexual abuse and violence that occurred, it led me into a path of destructive behavior, and a life of utter confusion and feelings of great inadequacy.
There’s no doubt in my mind that due to the abuse and sexual violence I was visited with through those first 20 years of living, the many problems and psychiatric issues that visited me stemmed from all that abuse.
From an early age … I struggled with feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, anger and hatred toward men. (Being sexually abused at a young age typically does that to a person). As a child I was in therapy, a bed-wetter, was attracted to girls, had strong desires to be a boy, and often dressed as a boy. As I entered my teens, I endured a sexual identity crisis, dealt with self-destructive behavior, developed anorexia and bulimia, was an alcoholic, dabbled in drugs, was in and out of therapy and entered the Marines.
By early adulthood I was causing self-inflicted injuries on my body as a way of coping, in and out of Eating Disorder Units and psychiatric hospitals, dealt with suicidal tendencies, battled with numerous suicide attempts, was diagnosed with a chemical imbalance, clinical depression and Borderline Personality Disorder (BDP).
By age 25 I had self-injured my body by cutting and burning (one 5″ scar and one 4″ scar from 3rd degree burns and over 250 scars from cutting). I had been involved in various relationships, led a homosexual lifestyle, was in a gang, had an abortion, filed bankruptcy due to high medical bills, was on psychotherapeutic medication (17 pills daily), had battled with mental illness and was in and out of psychiatric hospitals.
As I approached 27, I was dependent on psychotherapeutic medications, totally exasperated and felt as though I was just existing and taking up space. I was at a point in my life that although I doubted anything could be better, I was drastically looking for my life to somehow change.
Although I thought I had tried everything possible to get better, somehow I was still open for help. It seemed that whatever I tried, it was only good for a few hours … maybe a day. Sometimes – if I got “lucky” – it lasted a couple days.
I was not brought up around church or anything godly. One Sunday in March of 1995 I was invited to church and reluctantly went. It was my first time going to a church in over 15 years, and this was no church like I had ever been to. From the moment I stepped through the doors, I sensed something different.
When I walked into that church in Florham Park, NJ, I remember sensing such love and peace. (I honestly thought it would be over once I left because that’s the way everything else went). I wasn’t quite sure what my spiritual beliefs were, mainly agnostic, as I spent most of my life blaming God, or questioning Him, why all this had happened to me. Can you identify? I was at a point in my life where I was not ready to be let down again. I was so tired of being let down again and again.
All I knew was that when I walked into that church, I felt great and didn’t remember feeling so much peace like that ever before. And I knew it was real. No medication made me feel this alert and alive. I knew it was real.
I wanted so much to be normal but had no clue how to do it, as everything else I had tried proved a failure. After going to that church, I asked God to make Himself real to me.
Within days I noticed that I was more peaceful, able to think clearly and the negative desires I had were not so strong. Even though to an outsider that would seem so small of a change … for me, it was a big thing just to see any change. It was then that I knew God was real. Nothing had ever lasted this long!
A few weeks later, I bought a Bible and it opened right up to the book of Mark. I began reading in Mark, Chapter 5, verses 1 through 19. As I read, I saw that a guy who had cut himself day and night and appeared to have mental illness; he was healed by Jesus. I then became very agitated with God and threw the Bible to the floor. I just didn’t understand why I wasn’t well; if He had healed this guy so long ago, why did I have to be in so much pain?!
I began to yell and swear at God: “If You are real, then why the $%#@ can’t you help me? Why can’t you do for me what you did years ago for that guy? I’m so tired of this !@#*, and tired of living this way. Don’t You understand that I’m tired of crying all night long … cutting and drinking because I cannot cope? Life isn’t supposed to be this way. I don’t want mental illness. Please help me.”
I do realize now that swearing to God may not have been the best thing, but at that time I wasn’t accustomed to talking with Him and tried my best to be nice. After saying this, I pleaded with God; I truly petitioned Him for His help.
I figured my last resort was this God who I wasn’t even so sure about. I put all my doubts aside and immediately I began to pray to God. Actually – I challenged Him that I wanted answers and that I would give Him three weeks to “prove Himself” to me. Even though I wasn’t sure if I believed in God, I thought it would be a good idea if I at least put my efforts into it. I wanted my life to change and was looking for a difference.
I figured that I had done everything else possible, so why not at least give God a chance? It seemed as if nothing else had worked, but I had never thought of including God . . . because I mainly blamed God. Part of me thought that what happened to me was His fault. Additionally, part of me wasn’t convinced that He even existed. I wasn’t sure what I believed in — I wasn’t even certain about God.
God honored those three weeks, I’m so thankful to say.
Ever since I “challenged” God, my life turned around completely and has never been the same! I “officially” accepted Jesus into my heart and life in April, 1995, during a revival meeting with Janny Grein. What happened over the next 1 1/2 years was absolutely breathtaking!
With the love and mercy of God, I learned to cope with the past and look forward to the future; there is hope and there is a better way of life. I learned that I don’t have to live my future based on my past. I am not sure why God allowed all that happened to me, but I do know that what was meant for bad is now being turned around for good. God has now given me opportunities to help others who have been abused and because of my past abuse, I can identify with them, and I can have compassion for them that I probably may never have had otherwise.
I have forgiven all the people that have hurt and abused me. It took me a long time to discover that forgiving those who abuse you is the only thing that will set a person completely free from the pain and devastation the abuse causes. It takes the help of God to forgive, I realize, but He is right there waiting to help a person forgive, when they are ready — ready to be set completely free and be made whole.
Let me say something before going further. Forgiving those who has made your life a living hell makes no sense whatsoever, I realize. Humanly speaking, they don’t deserve forgiveness, right?! They deserve to rot and burn in in hell, right?! Yet think of this — if that person who abused you was burning in hell right now, would that heal you of all the things going on in your life? Would it somehow suddenly deliver you from the emotional hell you have known so long? What is your real heart’s desire? To be free from your hell, and be made whole, or vengeance against the one who has abused you? Why not do yourself a huge favor and do what God will help you do if you want to be healed and made whole the way God would like you to be? Please don’t waste another day suffering because of what someone else has done to you that has so messed up your life. Take some action that will shut off the poisonous tie your soul has with that person. Do you want to know what God’s remedy is that will cut that poisonous soul tie off from the one who abused you, so you can put yourself on the road to total freedom from your emotional hell, and be a whole person? It’s the “medicine” God prescribes called: forgiveness.
Oh — c’mon now, Vicki. Now you’re playing those stupid religious games! I’m not going to forgive that person for doing what that person did to me! They don’t deserve my forgiveness! Besides … I couldn’t forgive them even if I wanted to!
Fair enough. Please consider this, though, before rejecting my offer completely. Let’s say the role was reversed. Let’s say you were the one who did the violent raping. Let’s say you are the one who has hurt other people and made their life a living hell. And … let’s say you didn’t want to risk going to hell on the Judgment Day. Let’s say you would like God’s forgiveness for all the terrible things you did against other people, so you could be positive you would go to heaven and stay there for eternity, and not go to hell. Wouldn’t you like a heavenly Judge who actually would and will forgive you?
Take it a step further. Let’s say you’re a serial killer. Let’s say you’ve raped a few dozen or more little girls and boys and then murdered them. Let’s say you are about to die by lethal injection for it, and you now would like to be certain that somehow you could get God’s forgiveness for all the wrong you have done? You know full well you don’t deserve to be forgiven — certainly not by the living relatives of those you killed, nor can you possibly forgive yourself, so why in the world would God want to forgive you, right? You don’t deserve forgiveness, and you know it … though you surely would like to be forgiven.
Suddenly … God shows up in front of you and says … “I’m the Creator, and do you know that I died on the cross and paid the penalty for all the wrong and evil you caused against those little innocent girls and boys? Do you know that I shed my innocent blood – I gave my life … when I didn’t have to … so that you can be forgiven, and be made a new spiritual creation? Do you know that there is no evil — no wrong — no amount of wrongs … that I won’t forgive, if you’ll just accept My love. My sacrifice on the cross is the evidence of My love for wrongdoers – for sinners.
It isn’t because you deserve it, I want you to realize. You deserve punishment in hell for eternity. But … my loving sacrifice frees you from hell and everlasting torment … if you will just grab hold of it and accept it as the free gift to you that it is. It’s a free gift to anyone who wants it, no matter how much wrong they have done to others.”
You see … that is what the heart of Christianity is: Love and Forgiveness. God loves us so much that He forgives us of everything wrong we’ve ever done, because of the sacrifice Jesus Christ gave on the cross.
You’ve probably heard that, though maybe you sort of flipped it off as a bunch of religious garbage, or lies. It’s not, precious one. It’s the secret I found to be set free from the hell I was living in. I came to the conclusion … that if God is willing to forgive me of every one of my wrongdoings … He will give me the power and strength and courage to forgive those who have wronged me.
When I forgive them, God releases healing power in me. The one who has abused me isn’t free from answering to God about their wrongdoing … but I get set free from my hatred and bitterness (emotional cancer if you will) and the torturous memories from the abuse of the one I forgive. This can only happen though with God’s help. We don’t have the ability to do that by ourselves. But I can assure you God will be right there with you to give you the courage and strength to do it.
Let me say this as well. Forgiving someone who abused you doesn’t mean God is expecting you to like that person either! Liking a person and forgiving a person is entirely two different things! When I hold bitterness and anger toward someone who has hurt me … it is like drinking a glass of emotional and spiritual poison every day of my life. I am committing slow suicide without even knowing it! Bitterness and anger is poison to our soul, and the only sure remedy that God says works is telling God you forgive that person for what they did to you. Remember … God is not going to forgive that person for what they did to you, if they don’t ask His forgiveness, and they will answer on the Judgment Day to God for what they did to you. However … that is between them and God. When you forgive … God makes certain you get rewarded for it, and for starters, your reward is healing!
Well, with God’s help from the Holy Spirit, I forgave my tormentors, and I am a living testimony that forgiveness works! I am completely healed, recovered and overcome in every area! I am now married to a wonderful Christian man. We married in April, 1999. My life has taken a 360 degree turn and I am amazed at what God can do! He can do the same for you, and even more … if you’re ready to be set completely free. All you have to do is mean business with Jesus Christ.
It is my hope that every person reading this will come to the realization that they can overcome anything in their life, as nothing is hopeless! Hey folks … we’re talking about being connected with the Creator of the universe here … the Creator of all things. Nothing is impossible for Him!
Whatever you have gone through, or may be facing right now, you can get through it just like I did — get completely healed and set free from it — and lead a normal healthy life as God intended for you to live. You do not have to let the past hold you in its painful grip. You do not have to be a victim of circumstances of the past. You can be victorious over life … instead of being a victim of life. God wants you to be victorious! I’m not lying to you one bit.
Why did God allow all your hurt to happen to you in the first place, you still want to know? You may not believe there is a devil right now, but let me tell you, there’s a devil alright, and he is using evil people to abuse children and older people every hour of every day somewhere on this planet.
There is a battle between good and evil going on in this planet … and if you want to spend the rest of your life hating God for what has happened to you, God gives you that right, but it grieves Him when you do. Please … don’t waste any more time hating the very One who can help you, and set you free from the pain you are in. He truly wants to, but you have to do things His way, not yours. He’s God. He knows what He is doing.
I had such a lopsided view and understanding of God. Everyone does to one degree or another, until they become saved — become spiritually born again — and get properly connected to God and be around spiritually mature people who can help you and pray with you and encourage you. Once that happens, the Holy Spirit helps you to begin to understand the way things really are. The scales come off our eyes, and we begin to see and understand God in a totally different light. It is incredibly amazing!
God will touch you. He will change you. He is just a prayer away. Are you ready to surrender to His love and forgiveness and help that knows no limitations? He longs to set you free from your hell. His heart grieves over your pain. Truly it does.
I know God will heal anyone … anytime … of anything. They just have to either be desperate enough, or courageous enough – or both.
Thank you for letting me share my heart with you. If you would like to talk, feel free to email me. You can also click on my website if you would like.
Blessings to you … Vicki