So here I was–despite the spiritual hunger in my soul–wondering if I would ever go back to church. Months began to slip away into years. Meanwhile, the anger and hurt that had been brewing in my heart began to overwhelm me.
I had been praying for years for God to help me forgive people who had hurt me in the past. The list of people was long and the pain very deep. At 8 years old, I was molested. At 11, a visiting missionary in his 50s came onto me. In elementary and middle school, some of my friends used me. In high school, people teased or ignored me. And of course, the pastor I had loved and supported through several of my young adult years betrayed me. Though God was helping me, I couldn’t escape the memories, and anger gnawed at me constantly.
I went to counseling. I started taking psychiatric medication. I kept journals. At the exact moments when I thought I had finally worked through all of my issues, the anger would come roaring back.
Lust was still a problem in my life, too–not surprising, considering how early those feelings were awakened in my life. The molestation caused me to develop a same-sex attraction that manifested itself in my college years. Though I never acted upon the attraction, I often had dreams and fantasies of being with other women–even well into my marriage. Battered by the constant anger, depression and temptation, I often wished to meet with a fatal accident. At least death could bring me some measure of peace, I thought. At the worst times, I fought the urge to secretly mutilate myself.
Finally, I reached a point where I felt I had forgiven all to the best of my ability. It wasn’t 100%, but it was the best I could do. I became drawn to a church that I had visited earlier, where I had remembered sensing the presence of God. I started attending about once a month and began studying the scriptures with a renewed passion.
A few months later, I went back to Tennessee to visit my parents. While I was there, I decided to attend services at my home church. I was disappointed to learn, however, that a visiting evangelist would be preaching some of the services. Oh, great, I thought. Another one of those fire-and-brimstone fundamentalists.
I almost stayed home.
But I had the evangelist all wrong. He was a fiery preacher, but he didn’t come to demand money or lament the godlessness portrayed in rock music or baggy pants. Instead, he preached the truth of the gospel–that Jesus had come to seek and save the lost, and to bestow the precious gift of his Holy Spirit on all who would become his disciples.
During his message on the Holy Spirit, the hunger in my soul became palpable. I could hardly stay in my seat. “Yes!” I thought. “This is what my life is missing. This is what I need!” (After all, I had already tried everything else). I had been filled with the Spirit once before, had spoken in tongues, but probably not in 10 years. When the evangelist gave the altar call for those wishing to receive the Holy Spirit, I went forward, despite some of the curious stares I got.
Again, I didn’t shout. I didn’t dance around. I didn’t shake or lose control of my body. I didn’t fall out in the floor. In fact, the evangelist had all of the respondents sit down on the first row. He didn’t yell, spit, blow on anyone or try to push them down. He just prayed very simply for people to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Before he even reached where I was sitting, I began (quietly) praying in tongues.
That night, a great sense of peace flooded my heart. I found myself singing in tongues while driving down the road a couple of days later. The relief I felt was so sweet.
It was about two weeks later, after I had returned home to my husband, that I realized something incredible: there was no pain or anger in my heart anymore! All the dark memories I had of abuse and ridicule no longer hurt me. I had forgiven all of my abusers 100%, including the man who had molested me! The same-sex attraction I had been struggling with was gone, too. I no longer had any desire to look at porn or entertain fantasies about anyone other than my husband. I decided to start attending church more regularly–every week if I could.
Now here’s the shocker: that was only 5 months ago.
I was skeptical at first about my emotional healing. I expected the anger, like always, to come rushing back. But it hasn’t, even when tough situations have arisen. Although I have had a couple of recent battles with lust, the same-sex attraction also appears to be gone for good.
Don’t get me wrong: life still isn’t all joy and roses. I imagine lust will always be a thorn in my side. Every Christian struggles with something. But I’m healed. I’m whole. I’m not angry anymore. And every time I utter those words is a miracle. Because anger once defined my whole existence.
I’m not angry anymore. I’m not angry anymore. I’m not angry anymore! I am free! I have encountered the revolutionary power of Christ. Now I’m here to share that revolution with you.
Thank you for being brave and honest, for rising above the shame of the past and telling the truth. You have a powerful story to tell. Thank God for His faithfulness to you! I was reminded of Psalm 34:17-19 as I read through the last part of your post:
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
Love you, friend.
You have a powerful story, too, my friend. Where there is redemption, there is no shame. I believe the Apostle Paul once said something to that effect. 🙂
Amen Sweet Sister! Thank you for sharing you honest and heartfelt testimony with us! I am looking forward to sharing more with you, as our history, while not exactly the same, has many many similarities. I truly enjoy your writing, it flows beautifully and keeps me reading until the very end. 🙂