by Christina Morales
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
1 John 4:4
I have no idea where to begin.
There are so many easy things to talk about; but it’s the tough things that keep rolling through my mind.
I am not a writer - that will become very evident as you continue to read.
I want to tell the story of a little, brown-headed girl. Born the oldest of four children, she became very independent at an early age. Her parents showed her how to work hard and how to go to church. Growing up, there was no question on whether or not they would be going to church. If the door was open, they were there. Four times per week was the normal schedule. She went to church youth camps, conventions, and attended inner-city crusades.
Church was life.
Her first memory of feeling the Lord was at 9 years old, when she received the baptism of the Holy Ghost at a youth camp. She can remember just praying and talking to God and then people from her church standing around her saying, “That’s it! You got it.” THE HOLY GHOST. 9 years old. Wow! From that moment on, her relationship with the Lord became personal. It was no longer knowing things about God, but it was now about knowing Him. Something was planted in her that day that has never let her go.
Side note: When young kids are praying at the altar; let them. Encourage them. Shout with them. Pray with them. You never know what is being planted and for what purpose.
She did not grow up rich, but can remember trips to a park to feed the ducks. Summers were spent at the beach and taking walks to the local park. I think the metal slides are what made her so tough and the merry-go-rounds taught her how to keep a strong grip.
Between the ages of 9 and 12, some big things took place. Things that were out of her control; and the devil saw his opportunity to slither his way in. So much could be said about those years. The devil doesn’t just want you...he wants you and your family.
By her 13th birthday, her innocence had been stolen. She was now tasked with learning how to deal with all the inner emotions.
This story can be complex and hard to explain, but I will try my best to put it into words.
She had never heard a sermon on how this was abuse. Growing up, all the sermons were based on how women cause men to fall. So instead of finding refuge and help from the church, at 12 years old, all she found at church was condemnation and blame. Somehow the devil was able to use the shame she felt, to draw her closer and deeper into the abusive relationship. She was at that age where the wires in her brain were being mapped. All the normal feelings a girl this age should have, were twisted up in the flood of emotions and feelings that come with losing innocence at such a young age.
This abuse went on for years. She continued to attend church, youth camps, and church conventions. She would cry and pray, but as soon as she arrived back in town, things would be the same. The words “a slave to satan” have never rung truer. Lying and sneaking around became a normal part of her life. The devil and his snares had trapped her on every side. She turned to all kinds of things, but never found peace in anything. There was always a tugging on her heart, but the trap felt unbreakable.
She knew that suicide would send her straight to hell, which she believed she deserved; but there was something deep down, that would not let her.
After 9th grade, she no longer attended school. She began working as much as she could. It was the one thing she was good at. It was a place where she could escape reality and have some kind of peace. Even to this day, she can’t understand people being stressed out at work. Work has always been her place of refuge.
There was always a cry from her heart, that thing that was planted when she was 9 years old. God does not force us to make the right choices, but you will never convince her that He leaves you, even when you’re making the wrong ones. Don’t mistake her, sin will not enter Heaven; but God doesn’t just walk away, because you did.
Side note: Turning 16, after being in an unlawful relationship for 4 years, does NOT turn the tables, smooth over, or lessen the abusive behavior of the abuser.
5 years of abuse. She turned 17.
It was like God Himself said, “Enough is enough.” The door opened for her to move hundreds of miles away; NEVER to permanently live there again.
Tears flowed as she drove her car away from that place. She could barely see the road for crying. She didn’t fully understand why she was crying, but she knew something was breaking. Something was being forced to let go. Even at this point, she did not understand what had taken place the last 5 years. She knew it was sin. She knew sin brought shame and regret. So what now? For years she’d been considered a teenager full of ugly sins. How do you recover from that?
Most girls her age were living the basic teenage life. Real boyfriends, high school graduations, college choices; but not her. She never doubted that God was real, but would she ever be clean enough to be in His presence? Ever been able to feel Him again? How could He possibly even take the time to listen to her?
The first big step she took towards God was going out and buying a Bible. She had Bibles, but she knew she needed a new one. One that she bought - with the goal in mind - to find God again. To this day, that Bible sits on the night stand beside her bed. It’s very worn and tattered. When she’s shopping, she’ll look at new Bibles. She’s even considered sending the one she has off to be rebound and covered, but there is just something about that Bible. She won’t let it get very far from her.
A few weeks after she left, the questions in her mind about God were answered. It was a simple prayer, prayed at a revival. She was sitting as far back as she was allowed, placed her head on the back of the pew in front of her, and was finally brave enough to talk to God. Her prayer went something like this: “God, if you’re listening, when the person comes to pray with me, don’t have them say anything out loud.” That wasn’t just a fleece laid before the Lord. She was at Bible school and people…well, we know how Pentecostal altar services can be. She loves being Pentecostal, but at that moment, she needed alone time with God. Before she finished her prayer, a dear sister in the Lord slipped into her pew, placed her arm around her, and never said a word. To this day, that’s one of the biggest moments in her life.
GOD WAS LISTENING!
The next three years were filled with a lot of laughs and a lot of growth. In those years she was doing a lot of traveling, meeting new people, and reconnecting with some she already knew.
They were filled with an overwhelming sense of PEACE. Peace she never knew before. Peace that could only come from God. This peace was interrupted for a few months, but God took care of that. The devil will follow you, but she’s learned…God has her back. She is forever thankful for those who let her grow; she is sure she drove a lot of people to the prayer room. There is a quote or song lyric that says, “It’s not that they have a bad spirit, it’s just that they have a hole in theirs.” And that really describes her. God knew who to place in her life during those years.
At this time, she still did not comprehend that the relationship she was engaged in for all those years was abuse. She still considered it a mutual, sinful relationship and was truly thankful God was able and willing to forgive her.
Those three years of college flew by. Now what? She never felt a sense of panic or worry. She had watched God take care of her the past three years and knew He would continue to do so.
The summer after graduation was filled with travel and a feeling of unsettledness. She was a person who usually jumped right into a full-time job and a side hustle or two, but this summer was different. Things were moving her into another direction and she was young enough to flow with it. By mid-summer, the door to her new life swung wide open.
Looking back during the years of abuse, she can see how God’s hand was working. She met people during that time that would be part of her future. She learned to work hard and be independent.
Maybe you’re wondering, “How can she say God’s hand was there? Abuse took place! Where was God’s hedge of protection? God promised He’d never leave us nor forsake us...WHERE WAS HE?“
When she thought that she was just involved in a sinful relationship - and not abuse - longing to be close to God was easy. But as time passed, and the brain washing from years of manipulation and lies, began to fade; the realization of what really took place during those years became very evident.
It was not normal. It was not her fault. It was sin. It was abuse!
And so, processing through her trauma began.
Where was God’s hedge of protection? God promised He’d never leave us nor forsake us….WHERE WAS HE? She was a CHILD. She had no control of the circumstances that surrounded her. Where was God?
When she thought that she was just involved in a sinful relationship, she still was able to see God by her side.
But now…this was child abuse.
In the worst kind of way.
Where was GOD?!
He was there the entire time! The lessons learned during this phase of healing ran deep.
His promise of never leaving or forsaking her, stood true. He was always by her side. He never left. He was always pushing her through. He never forsook her; never let her stay in the depths of despair. God will not control a person like a robot. He never promised that He would. Freewill is given to us at birth. It’s not something we earn; it’s something that everyone is born with.
Did God create her, to be an abuse victim? NO!
Did God create her abuser, to be an abuser? NO!
Did her abuser use his freewill and make the choice to abuse? Yes!
How was she supposed to live with the consequences of someone else’s actions? She didn’t know. But what she did know was that she needed to continue going to church and going to work. She could not stop moving forward. Whatever needed to be worked out or worked through would come. So she kept doing what she knew to do.
Work. Church. Sleep. Repeat.
Don’t walk away from God because of your unknown.
Keep moving forward with what you know is right and the answers will come.
Eventually, she got her peace back. It didn’t come easy. This time, she had to fight for it and fight to keep it.
Statistics say that she should be a lot of things. An alcoholic, strung out on drugs, a thief, suffering from mental health issues, a mother with children from multiple fathers. She should have never received her GED. She should not be able to hold down a job, nor own a home. Above all, she should hate God and church.
But because of God’s Goodness, I AM NONE OF THOSE THINGS.
The song lyrics below describe my heart. God’s Goodness ran after me.
I love You, Lord For Your mercy never fails me All my days, I've been held in Your hands From the moment that I wake up Until I lay my head Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God
And all my life You have been faithful And all my life You have been so, so good With every breath that I am able Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God
I love Your voice You have led me through the fire In the darkest night You are close like no other I've known You as a Father I've known You as a Friend And I have lived in the goodness of God (yeah)
'Cause Your goodness is running after It's running after me Your goodness is running after It's running after me With my life laid down I'm surrendered now I give You everything 'Cause Your goodness is running after It's running after me
I honestly don’t know how people live without Him. I wish I could make you feel God like I do. My story could be so different.
Circumstances were out of my control, but God had a plan. He was working the entire time, lining up the right people and the right places.
He kept me when I did not want to be kept. When I chose to ignore Him, He kept pursuing me.
All my life He’s been faithful. I know Him as a friend. God’s goodness ran after me! I know Him.
Someone asked me what made me so different from those that chose to abuse. We both claimed to know and pray to the same God, so what makes me different? My answer to them came easy, because it was something I’d already talked to God about.
I know Him and they only know of Him.
Knowing Him makes the difference.
Growing up in church, we can get lost in the knowing of God, instead of knowing Him.
Knowing Him makes me love Him more everyday.
It’s pretty neat that I was asked to write this article. For the past few weeks, I have been thinking about all the things God had brought me through and what a miracle it is for me to even be here.
Abuse is a subject we need to start talking about. God wants to bring healing to everyone. And He wants to bring complete healing.
I’ve been asked if that was possible, and my tear-filled answer was “No.” Almost immediately, I was convicted in my heart for that answer.
When God does something, He does it all the way.
Not half, not a quarter, but perfectly good. He will bring complete healing, one day at a time.
Do what you know to do. He is working!
Speak up; speak out!