Photo by Nicole Tarpoff
I didn't think I had a "testimony." I grew up in a Christian home, always believed in God's power and love, and never had anything I saw as life-changing happen to me. I thought my story would be boring, nothing anyone would want to hear, until I heard MY story being told by someone else at my church. She had a story that was so similar to mine that I no longer felt alone and "typical," and that my life was not as similar to others’ as I thought. I know the things I've gone through have shaped me, but I never imagined they could help others from feeling alone like she helped me. God's word tells us in Revelation 12 to conquer with the word of testimony, so here's mine.
My story began in Amarillo, Texas where I grew up. My mom married a man when I was 4 years old after a messy divorce with my biological father, and my stepdad quickly became the father figure that I knew. Eventually, his drinking became alcoholism, and his emotional and verbal abuse became physical. I’ll never forget the night when my mom called to tell me not to come home because she didn’t know what he would do to me. He found himself in jail for assaulting my mother and grandmother, and divorce quickly followed.
When I left for college, I took with me a longing to be loved. My father figure had not shown me a father’s love, and he had not shown my sister and I how a woman should be treated by her husband; he had betrayed my trust and love. During my first semester in college, I began drinking, partying and looking for love in the wrong places. Friends and men treated me poorly and I became involved in a relationship my freshman year that looked functional from the outside, lasted 3 years, but was unhealthy and abusive – first emotionally, then physically. After living together for two years, one day I realized I shouldn’t have to wear long sleeves to cover the bruises on my arms. I packed up, bit the pride bullet and moved back in with my parents.
In the midst of this, in my sophomore or junior year, I started going back to church because I knew something was missing from my life. The first time I went back to my church I attended in high school, I felt a rush of emotions and began to cry because I knew I was home. It took some time, but I started getting involved, serving in guest services and other volunteer opportunities. At this point in my life, I felt like I was living two separate lives. My church life was filled with joy and supportive friends, and my day-to-day life was darkened by sin, fear, and pain. After moving back in with my parents, I never fully felt the joy God intends for us through contentment. I jumped from fling to fling looking for the love I needed, not realizing I already had it.
Before my last semester of college, I moved to Kentucky to live with my sister and help around the farm while she was pregnant. Her husband was a truck driver, so he wasn’t home much, and it gave me some time with my best friend. I started going to a church in Lexington. At the end of the summer, I returned home to Texas to finish my degree, and I realized the path God had intended for me. After graduation, I moved back to Kentucky to live near my sister and niece, and to get a fresh start.
I decided my fresh start would be centered around Christ, the only rock I had in life, the only true example of agape I had known. I needed to make friends and thought church would be the best place to do that. After a short email to the church I had attended over the summer, I got involved in a dinner group that met every other Thursday for fellowship and food. The first time I went, I had to force myself to go and talk to people, but the people I met were so welcoming and made me feel right at home. I found true friendships, encouragement and accountability in this community of young people who loved Jesus. This helped me realize that not all people take advantage of you – there are good people who truly care and can be trusted.
Now I lead a Bible Study for 8-10 women from the dinner group every week in my home. We talk about where we struggle and how God can help. I am so thankful that God provided a new community for me; there is always someone to talk to and to hold me accountable. Before, I never felt I could talk to my friends about God. Now I have a group of friends that shares my love for God.
When I talk about God to others, I always call Him my Rock. He was there for me when times were ugly and painful, and never threatened to run out or hurt me. He is the same God for me now that He was in Texas during those times I never thought would end. He provides unconditional love to those who feel unlovable, forgiveness to those who have burned bridges here on Earth, and is a father to those whose fathers have betrayed them. Growing up, when approaching my step-dad, I always wondered, “Is he having a good day?” before I even considered asking a favor or starting a conversation. This is never the case with God our Father. We can approach Him anytime and always trust Him to listen. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, constant, unchanging, loving, and always with us; “Immanuel.”
A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.