I stand here today as a testimony of the Lord’s grace, compassion, trust, forgiveness, and love. I pray that He uses His testimony, He has so graciously entrusted me with, to open the eyes and ears of the broken hearted in need of His love. This is my Father’s story…
I was born premature and addicted to the drugs my mom ingested during her pregnancy with me. Both of my parents are heavily addicted to drugs and alcohol. They divorced when I was five. Custody was given to my father because my mother was seen as an unfit mother in the eyes of the court. At that time she was deep in her anorexia and bulimia, which increased the effects of her drug use. A problem so noticeable the court overlooked my father’s drug use and awarded custody to my father. After the divorce, my father began to fall deeper into his addiction while my sister and I watched. Our consequences for his actions came mostly in poor hygiene, lack of food and bad living conditions. I don’t remember much about living with my father, it’s the years I spent living with my mother, after my father lost custody, that hold most of my bone chilling memories.
Two innocent children had been thrown into a lifestyle of drugs and sex, a darkened place were the Lord was nowhere to be found. My mother had not been apart of my life for about a year and I was excited to finally get a chance to spend time with my mom and receive the love, safety, and acceptance I so desperately longed for. But the only safety I would be able to find in my new home was in the comfort of my closet, away from the physical and verbal abuse I received from my mother and the physical, verbal and sexual abuse I would receive from the many men she would bring home.
I feared my mother with all my heart. The drugs had taken away my mommy and I was hurt. I watched my mom, who I loved so much, slowly kill herself by shooting up. Paying the bills and paying for her habit became all to much for her to handle, so my mother soon became a prostitute and allowed my sister and I to witness everything that came with that kind of territory. At the age of six I was being taken to strip clubs, bars, drug deals, crack houses, allowed to sleep in the same room and/or bed as my mom and her clients, left alone in the middle of the night, and left for days at a time alone with my sister. I never knew what to expect, what would walk through the front door next. I became a mother to my sister; feeding her food which I had to steel from the grocery store across the street and making sure she was dressed and showered for daycare the following day.
Psalms 68:5, “He is a Father to the fatherless”. The men that my mother attracted were far from the loving and caring father I wanted and needed in my life. I was sexually and physically abused by the men my mother had around. It happened from the age of six, until I was in the third grade. I knew what these men were doing to me was wrong, so I started counting. My childhood diary became a slue of tally marks covering many pages for each time I was sexually abused. I began counting at the age of seven, when my mom found a steady boyfriend, who didn't mind her profession. His name was ----- and I would become his sex slave for the next two years. While other kids where outside playing with friends I was inside performing sexual acts for ----- and his friends whenever and wherever they wanted. ----- taught me that it was my fault and if I hadn’t been such a bad girl, they wouldn’t have to do this to me and if I had taken better care of my mom and my sister, he and his friends wouldn’t have to be this way. These men fed me the lies of the enemy that I deserved the sexual abuse that was happening to me in my own home.
Isaiah 35:4, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution, He will come to save you”.
After three long years living with my mother finally CPS (Child Protective Services) was contacted by one of my elementary teachers. I was soon taken out of the custody of my mother and sent to foster homes. While in foster care I experienced more sexual abuse by men but it would be the first time I was sexually abuse by a women. I was bounced around between five different homes, only to be placed with an uncle, aunt, and two cousins in Georgia. I thought I had finally found a place were I could trust the people around me and not live in fear. The enemy proved me wrong, I was then molested by my cousin, he was fifteen at the time.
John 17:12, “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by the name you gave me”. All my life I had felt anything, but safe and protected by God. I felt as though He had forgotten me, He didn’t hear my cries for help, and He didn’t care. I was nothing to my mother, my father, or these men and I was nothing to the Lord. After four months of staying with my family in Georgia my sister and I went to live with my grandmother, finally some safety and security in my life. I started the fourth grade and for the first time I didn’t have to worry about where breakfast was going to come from, how I was going to get my sister and I to school and if I was going to have to steal school supplies to get through the year. No, I didn’t have to worry about any of the things I use to worry about, I had a new problem.
In the fourth grade I acquired a new problem, a problem with my eating habits. I wasn’t sure what was going on with me or my body, but all I knew was that I just didn’t feel like eating. By the time I got into high school I found myself in the darkened haze of anorexia and bulimia with no way out. By the time I finally sought help from one of the counselors at the school I was 5’6” and weighed ninety five pounds, I was taking 267 diet pills a day, limiting myself to one thousand calories a week and purging up to 36 times a day. In addition to not eating I was also cutting on a regular basis. Soon after seeking help from the school counselor I was admitted to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital where I fought my eating disorder in the hospital off and on for the next year. After that year in and out of the hospital it was obvious that I needed more than just a feeding tube in my nose and going to counseling once a week, I needed to go to a residential treatment facility.
My stay at the treatment center in ------ was all but short lived. I went only to commit for six weeks and ended up staying two weeks less than a year. I accomplished much more there in one year than I ever did trying to help myself all those years in my eating disorder. I was safely able to deal with the nightmares of my past and the hold the enemy had on my life. I worked mostly on my sexual abuse and resentment I held against the men and women that abused me.
Now my life is pretty simple. I decided to stay in -------, I work as a receptionist for a private counseling practice and I’m going to school full time to become a nurse. And as hard as it may seem I am so thankful to God for giving me the life that I have. I am no longer resentful towards the people and my family in my life that hurt me. I use to ask God why he would allow all these bad things to happen to me…I now know that He didn’t allow any of this to happen to me. He was with me the whole time crying along beside of me because His little girl was being hurt.
I am a stronger person because of everything I have been through in my life and for that I am truly grateful.
So, I would love to hear your thoughts as you read this story. My mind is blank and my eyes are wide. It's almost hard for me to picture such a life because mine was so opposite. And there are parts I can relate too. When I met Pocahontas she was just a body. No personality, no life in her eyes, and a walking skeleton. I decided this year to start sharing Pocahontas's story to my small groups at the high school that I work at. I'm always very protective of my students and their stories and MY story as well. But God is teaching me that this is hindering me. And Pocahontas taught me that it is not our story anyways, it is God's story. We need to share our stories to glorify Christ. Pocahontas has more courage than I ever will have. She shares her story at the drop of a hat. She has come back to RHS and shared her story in front of 100's of girls.
As I was sharing her story to my groups right before Christmas break I was blown away by God's grace. That first of all, God would choose me to befriend this beautiful girl. It was my first year working out of college. I had NO idea what I was doing, though I tried to act like I knew, which in return just made things worst. Ha! I invited a speaker to come speak at RHS about eating disorders. This speaker's testimony gave Pocahontas the courage to go speak to a counselor for help. She walked into a counselor's office, shared part of her story and the counselor said, "I have no idea how to help you." Ha! That is not funny but it is. Can you imagine getting the courage to speak and getting that response. This is not a slam to that counselor...it is a praise! She was honest and walked her across the hall to my office! She was so wise in seeking out help for this girl. Unfortunately, I didn't know much more than this counselor other than the fact that I was going to love her and ask God to give me wisdom to help her. So over the next few months I got to know this precious girl. She never talked, it was like pulling teeth to get a sound out of her. And when she did speak I had to lean over to hear her voice. Immediately I called Vanderbilt hospital to get her an appointment and was disheartened when I learned her appointment would not be until several months. Knowing what I know now I would have done my best to get her help sooner, but like I said, I had no idea what I was doing so I was committing to keep an eye on her until her appointment.
We had a schedule set up. I met her once to twice a week checking on her multiple times as well. I was walking her to her classes because she would purge in between. She came into my office one day trembling. I remember telling her to give me her diet pills (which I didn't know she was on diet pills it just occurred to me when she was trembling), my moth dropped as she pulled out bottle after bottle after bottle to total up to 9 bottles! Each of them saying, "Take only under a physician's care and to be used for extreme obesity only". Ugh! Dear Lord, how is this girl alive. I asked her to make a time line for me of her life. As I unfolded the many papers that were taped together I remember saying, "Lord, why?!" I was angry and I am still angry because Pocahontas is NOT the only one with a story. I remember the day of her Vanderbilt appointment I was not at school for some reason. I was sick because I was so fearful that she would not attend her appointment. But I was amazed when I found out the next day she had been hospitalized. Pocahontas drove to the hospital on her own and sat there by herself as the doctor examined her and said, "I don't know how you are alive." Can you imagine? My heart breaks. I visited Pocahontas continually through out the next few weeks. Her recovery continues and as you read we entered her into a treatment facility.
I still have a relationship with Pocahontas. We chat frequently through e-mail and texting. I got to see her this past summer and she was absolutely beautiful! She is brilliant, has come to life, full of energy, and never stops talking OR laughing! It's hard to remember the lifeless thing that was brought into my office so long ago. She is living life with a passion for Christ that I pray I can have just an ounce of. She is a daily reminder that we always need to be willing to be a part of Christ's plan. And it makes me thankful and sad. I'm so glad that I was willing that day I met her. Because what would have happened if I wasn't? God would have still taken care of her. I'm just so thankful because of the impact she has had on me. It makes me sad because how many students have walked into my office and I haven't been willing to take the extra step with them. Because I was tired, or worried about me, or thinking, "I'll check on them later, someone else will help them." It makes me sick to my stomache. It's a good reminder that since I'm starting work back on Monday and dreading it that it's not about ME! It's about God, it's about His Kingdom. Gosh, I can get so selfish at times it drives me crazy. Now here's the real thing that gets me thinking for those of you who are actually still reading. I mentioned to Pocahontas that I was sharing her story to others and this was her response...
It makes me so happy to hear that your sharing my story!!!!!! Even now some days I wake up and I can't even believe I'm alive. Its only by the grace of God that I am alive and I know without a doubt that I shouldn't be. If my story only changes one life it was well worth going through everything I have been through!!!!! God is so amazing!!
I cannot believe this! I want to say, "Really?" You would go through the fear, shame, neglect, abuse, self-harm, and everthing else? All for one person? And as I said that too myself I was brought to my knees. Hello?! Our God went through much much much more and yes, really, He did die on the cross for ONE person. Me and you. Humbling isn't it? And hard to believe...but I want to thank Pocahontas for being that one person that reminds me that God lives, forgives, loves, and remains in control.