Updated: Aug 9, 2020
Exactly one year ago [now 5 years and some months ago], I was delivered from a burden that strangled and stifled my soul for 14 years.
I believe God has placed this on my heart to share with you guys, to demonstrate the power in bringing everything to light, the power in transparency, and the power in exposing the devil and his tactics. The enemy wants to keep us isolated, to tear down the power of the corporate man. The enemy realized that when 2 or 3 are gathered together the presence of the Lord is among them (Matthew 18:20). But in seclusion the enemy is able to whisper lies into our minds and keep us in the darkness; and without a brother or sister to fellowship with and open up to, the lies become a reality.
So for over a decade the enemy had power over my life by keeping me isolated. For over a decade I was filled with shame, guilt, mistrust, and self-condemnation, because over a decade ago I was sexually abused. At the tender age of 8, my purity was snatched from me by a male who was linked to my family through marriage to a relative.
I do not remember many details of the events that took place during the abuse because I took those thoughts and threw them as far back into my brain as I possibly could, into the deepest, darkest, most unreachable corner. For a while it worked, I was able to forget, and ran around and played with my friends like any other rambunctious little kid. My parents didn’t know, my siblings didn’t know, no one knew. These secrets were for me, myself, and I, only. I thought I succeeded in forgetting that such things ever happened to me. But the thoughts would sprout back every here and there, at 13…then 16…then another year…and another.
And with each recall of my abuse, came feelings of self-hatred. For instance, I had such low self-esteem in my junior high years. I remember when I would go to the bathroom to put on some chap-stick or straighten out my hair, I would always be so scared other girls would be in the mirror and say to me, “why are you in the mirror, you know you are too ugly to look in the mirror.” So I would quickly go into a stall and put on my chap stick there.
Other ways the abused warped my mind was in regards to sexual intimacy. My views of sexuality were distorted. As a youngster, I believed that sexual intimacy was used to defile and abuse people, as it was done to me. I thought it was the worst thing ever to be created on this earth. Yet because I was wrongly introduced to sexual intimacy at such a young age, curiosity took over and masturbation followed. Then came college, and my view of sexuality, still distorted, changed from “sexual intimacy is stupid and should never be used” to “who cares about remaining pure, purity is snatched from you any, so use intimacy when you want it.” Although I wasn’t involved in many relationships, I still broke God’s heart with my intentions and actions.
I always wondered why me?! Why did God allow this to happen to me. Why did God want for my body to be defiled and stripped in such a way? But answers never came. Yet somehow God brought me to know Him and have an intimate relationship with Him.
Throughout the years, my relationship with God would be up and down. After my sophomore year of high school I went to a Christian boarding school in Ghana, Ghana Christian International High School for 6 weeks, and declared the Lord as my savior. Yet clarity and freedom from the bondage and chains of abuse didn’t come. Then in college, during my sophomore year, I began to seek the Lord again and attend church. Yet the yoke from my burden and the trail of repercussions it left on my self-esteem and views didn’t dissipate.
It wasn’t until my senior year of college during a Bible study session with my small group did my fight truly begun. We were doing an exercise on how people have influenced our lives. We were to write the names of 3 people and write 3 statements on how those people impacted our views and identity, either negative or positive impacts. And for some weird reason, I decided to write on how the abuser made me feel. We each were given the opportunity to volunteer and share how the individuals we listed made us feel. And again I was some how bold enough to share. I remember by the end of my talking, my paper was a big wet ball of mess. I cried so much. And I believe this is where my healing began. The hold the devil had on me to never speak out, to never get comfort from a friend, worked for a while, but it was coming to an end, and coming to an end quickly!
The next war I waged on the enemy was last year, during my first year of medical school. And by the Grace of God, I was going deeper into my Word, fellowshiping with other Believers, and getting to know Christ better. So my heart was ripe enough, to receive what was about to take place in March 2013. So a guy and I use to share devotionals with one another. And one of the devotionals was on the story of the unforgiving debtor (Matthew 18:21-35). Here’s a short synopsis of that parable. So this guy owes a king a fat sum of money and is about to be thrown in jail until he pays it off, but the debtor pleas for the king to give him a chance to work and pay it off. The king is filled with compassion and decided to just forget about the whole debt, and he lets the guy go scot-free. So the debtor skips along and sees homeboy who owes him like 2 dollars. And the debtor throws the man in prison. The king comes to find out and is so disappointed because he forgave his debtor for so much. And the king states, “I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?”
After reading that, something in my heart told me to forgive my debtor, the abuser. God forgave me for the maltreatment I had done to people and myself. Why can I not do the same for others? And I know it is a twisted situation, but I was able to contact the abuser and I told him, “I forgive you from the bottom of my heart. I am setting myself free and I am setting you free. Just be changed and go live your life changed.” Something told me to tell him to read Romans 8, which is such a yummy chapter on the demonstration on God’s love for us. And I was later told that the Book of Romans never made sense to him, but all of a sudden he understood.
When I received this news I just burst into tears. And I knew that the abuse experience if nothing else, allowed me to witness to someone and bring him or her to build a relationship with God. And a domino effect could then take place. That person could get someone else to know Christ, who could get someone else to know Christ, and it just won’t stop! The “why me?!” questions I asked God were finally answered. Definitely not the type of answer I was expecting, but they were answered nonetheless. Check out these verses:
[Jesus] saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him -John 9:1-3
I didn’t do anything wrong for the abuse to happen to 8 year old Jennifer. But the work of God was able to be displayed in my ugly situation. The abuser was locked up in condemnation and guilt from his actions and through my forgiveness (that God allowed to happen) he was able to realize that he could move on in his life, just as I did. He realized that he could be forgiven not only by the one abused but ultimately by God. The power of God was also demonstrated in my life by restoring my identity. I know without a shadow of doubt the worth I have in Jesus Christ. I am an heir to God (Romans 8:17), I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:3), I am beautifully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), I am restored and made white as snow (Jeremiah 30:17, Isaiah 1:18). And my views on the world around me and sexual intimacy have radically changed as well, thanks be to God.
And I can say today that I am free. I am FREE! No chains have a hold on me! I can scream at the top of my lungs, Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55). God took away my shame, guilt, mistrust, and self-condemnation. He gave me Beauty for Ashes.
And these are my words for the devil: You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done… (Genesis 50:20)
I wrote this post April 2014. It took everything in me to not fear the thoughts of others and fear releasing such a radical message on the world wide web. I didn't know what the outcome of posting this would be but everything inside of me knew God wanted me to post this. After writing this post I received an overwhelming influx of messages from males and females alike about their stories and their desire to also overcome the ramifications of abuse. And as I mentioned Satan loves to oppress man. He loves to keep people hidden and consumed by their fears, mistakes, and errors. He is a destroyer; his only goal is to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). After releasing this post, Satan came full throttle with his shenanigans, smh. My parents separated and the events of this abuse was the feather that broke the already broken house of card (I do believe restoration is their portion). My mother knew about this abuse when I was 16 years old; my dad knew about the abuse when I shared the post with him in 2014 at age 24. Out of her own struggles and a illogical protective mechanism she didn't tell my dad. I was verbally harassed (in a sexual manner) by three male in my community in two different states in 2014 and then again in 2017; and between 2015-2016 I got into a very toxic relationship that left me broken, in tons of debt, and with a divorce. As I re-read this message I realize that God was not finished perfecting his work in me-- that will actually not be completed on this side of heaven; it'll happen when I meet my savior face to face in heaven. I now see back in 2014, although God was showing me more of who I truly was, I still struggled with masterbation, I still didn't fully love myself, I still feared that men would hurt me after being harassed by male neighbors, being lied to again and cheat on my people I dated, I still feared I would have a dysfunctional future like I had in my home as a child. I thought after writing this post back in 2014 I was going to be challenge free, but God tells us in this life we will have trouble and hardships. But he also promises us that we should take heart, because he has overcome the whole world (John 16:33)! Through the challenges I faced from 2014-2018 I know God is such an indescribable way. I am now realizing that humans are flawed beings, we will make mistakes, we will have pain, we will have brokenness, but in that state of imperfection, there is room for a perfect God to step in. I love that in my weakness, I know a God who is strong in me (1 Corinthians 12:10), a God will never leave me nor forsake (Joshua 1:5). If life were all perfect, I may not know and love the Lord to the extend that I do now. I am able to love him so deeply because he saved me from my wretched ways. If there were no wretched ways to be saved from I couldn't know the saving grace and mercy of God. So in all things I give him thanks.
I hope this message gives you hope and encouragement.
Much love <3.
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