I had an excellent childhood. I was the baby of six which meant I felt lots of love all the time. My parents made every holiday and birthday special. I would get chocolates on Valentines Day, special solo birthday dates, and Christmas was always celebrated with lots of family and the best presents. Every summer we would spend two weeks camping somewhere along the east coast, creating some of my greatest memories.
I was raised in the church, spending four to five days a week there. My father started pastoring a church when I was ten years old. He pastored one church for a couple of years then moved to his long-term church when I had just entered high school. I was very involved in ministry, teaching Sunday School and helping my mom in any way I could. I was also involved in youth services and outings. The church was a huge part of my life but… God was not!
The road of destruction started early, when I was just a little girl. A family member would offer piggy back rides, during which he would touch me. I didn’t understand the perversion of that experience or what it did to me emotionally until later. Around ten years old is when I was first exposed to pornography. The discussions in my sixth grade lunchroom would be about the latest things we saw, feeding the desire to continue looking. At fifteen years old I was molested and almost raped by a family member. My childhood was a beautiful disaster.
I was living a double life. On the outside looking in, my life was picture perfect. On the inside my soul was in ashes. The shame attached to many of my experiences caused me to keep things to myself. As a result I suffered alone, living a happy life on the outside, while dying within.
By the time I was sixteen the lies of the enemy was the only truth I knew. The lies made the sin of the world appealing, creating a mix of shame and unquenchable desire. Like Eve, the forbidden fruit became the only fruit I desired in a garden of many beautiful things. After choosing the fruit over God’s good gifts she experienced a shame that caused her to hide. I began a life of promiscuity, believing the only way to interact with men was with my body. I, like Eve, had access to good things but could only see the forbidden thing. I, like Eve, went into hiding from the shame attached to choosing this life. I felt like a failure, someone who could never be loved by a good God.
This lifestyle eventually led to a teenage pregnancy. Since I didn’t have a relationship with God and only knew His rules I thought by marrying my boyfriend I could save myself from the sin of having a child out of wedlock. I thought making this choice would get me closer to the God that was so far away. After about a year into the marriage, the abuse began. He was a very loving man who, like me, was choosing a life against God. As a result many years of pain was birthed from the pursuit of trying to make it to God on my own merit.
After five years I decided to get a divorce. I was now twenty-three years old, with three kids under three. Throughout the years I was still involved in ministry, still living a double life, and still not understanding the depth of God’s love and sacrifice. The church I was a part of was very unhealthy and instead of pursuing healing during my divorce I was encouraged to start a new relationship. I didn’t need much encouragement since this had continually been the temptation the enemy used to draw me out. Just as James 1:14-15 says, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” As I pursued this new relationship, I engaged in the only way I knew how. The sin that was so a part of my identity was now progressing and becoming fully grown. The result was death, I had chosen to abort my fourth child. I knew I was in dangerous territory when I didn’t feel anything, I had officially become numb. This was when I knew I hit rock bottom.
I started to come face to face with the person I had become and the choices I had made. Like Samson, I had become blind and a slave, and so, like Samson I cried out “O, Lord God, please remember me.” I started making my way back and every step toward God I took I knew He was running toward me in great joy that His child had chosen to come home. I began to read His Word for myself, getting to know Him. I learned my sin didn’t make Him love me less, He still wanted to give me all of Himself. He wanted to heal the pain of sexual and physical abuse. He wanted to cleanse my mind from the lies of the enemy and show me the beauty found in His promises. I had finally come to the place where I acknowledged there isn’t ANYTHING I could do to earn God’s love.
He loved me in midst of my childhood molestation
He loved me in my pornography addiction
He loved me in my promiscuity
He loved me while I was being abused
He loved me while I laid on the table in the abortion clinic
He loved me from my mother’s womb and there was no choice I could make in my life to make Him love me less. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10.
Today I stand redeemed because of the gift of forgiveness I was given, the freedom from the bondage of sin, and the unconditional love of God that continues to pour out all over my life.
David said it best in Psalm 40:2-5 “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.”
Vanessa is the daughter of a Pastor, baby of six and a homeschooling mom of five. Married to her wonderful husband of eight years, they serve in their local church together. She loves fresh fruit, nights by the fire pit, and time with friends and family. Vanessa has watched God do amazing things in her life. Assaulted at a young age, teen mom and the survivor of an abusive marriage left her life in pieces. Today she stands restored and uses the testimony of brokenness to help build others and encourage women to discover the fullness of a relationship with God.