Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving

Heather is hosting "Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving"--



"This week, many bloggers have devoted a special post in which they are sharing their personal testimonies of the Lord's work in their lives and/or that of their families. Our collective prayer is that this sharing of their testimonies will not only encourage each other and give Glory to our Lord, but also show the love of Christ to those who happen upon our blogs. To enjoy many more testimonies please visit them ...
or maybe you'd like to join them!!!

Please stop by and visit Heather and read all the wonderful testimonies of how Our Lord is working in each and everyone of our lives.

Before I begin, let me say that I was not going to do this. However, I was encouraged to share my story, and I hope that when you read it you will see how God has transformed me, lifted me from the miry clay, and know I now that I am a daughter of the King! My hope is that my story will give hope to others--those who feel downtrodden, worn out and weary--that God is just waiting for you to come to Him--and He will enable you to feel peace, joy, hope and freedom.


FORGIVENESS

21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"

22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.".......Matthew 18:21-22

I'm kind of curious--Have any of you ever said to someone else: "I'll never forgive you for that!!" or "I don't know how I'll ever forgive that person for what they've done to me." or "How could you have done that--I'll never forgive you!" or anything similar? Have you thought that to yourself? I know that I have.

In order for me to even address the subject of forgiveness, I'm going to tell you a little bit more about myself. Perhaps some of you who know me or have read previous posts at warmharte already know this. But, bear with me, please.

This is going to be personal, somewhat heart rending for me.

First--a little background:

My own father passed away when I was 8 years old. My brother was 13 years old at this time. My mother returned to work full time, and my grandmother lived with us--preparing meals and doing the majority of the household chores. I spent the majority of my time alone.

My father had been ill with a chronic kidney disease ever since I could remember. I don't have too many memories of him because he was in and out of the hospital most of the time during these years. This illness is hereditary, and my brother has the same disease--polycystic kidney disease. He had over 1/2 of his left kidney removed when he was 2 years old and has since had a kidney transplant.

I never understood, at that age, why my father had been taken from me. I didn't understand the severity of his illness. I wasn't allowed to visit him in the hospital due to age restrictions at that time. I just know that I came home from school one day, and my mother told me--"Your father has gone to Heaven to live with Jesus."

I don't know if I truly understood at that time--I don't really remember.

My mother remarried when I was 12 years old--a wonderful man that was good to me--a man that I was proud to call "Dad". Along with my new Dad, I acquired a new sister and a new brother. And we became a new family.

However, there were still a lot of questions left unanswered in my mind. I had been sexually molested by a stranger in a parking lot when I was 9. Nothing was done about this after I told my mother. In my family, the rule was: "If you don't talk about it, it never happened."

As I became a little older, my cousin began sexually molesting me. I didn't tell anyone because in my mind, if nothing had been done before, nothing would be done this time.

Finally, time for high school!! And this was a time for partying, a time for fun, a time for drinking. I look back now and wonder how I ever managed to graduate from high school, much less be accepted into a college.

Off to college--more partying, more drinking. I had also met someone--a man almost 5 years older than me. We married when I was barely 20 years old with the total blessings of my parents. I think they thought an older person may have a settling effect on me. And, it did--for a while We were married for 4 years when he decided that he no longer loved me, no longer wanted me in his life.

I left, moved into an apartment and the REAL partying began. I met my second husband in a bar. I met him, took him home with me, and he never left. We married when we found that I was pregnant. We were both happy about this, and my son was born! I stopped partying while I was pregnant, but after my son was born, I slowly starting drifting back into this phase--not as much as before--but still doing more than my fair share.

Less than 2 years later, my first daughter was born. Again, I stopped partying during the pregnancy and then slowly began again. Then, another two years--my second daughter was born.

During this pregnancy, my husband had a snowmobile accident. He fractured 5 ribs on one side and was in a lot of pain. The doctor he was seeing prescribed pain medication which he liked just a little too much. His use of this increased to the point that he was taking 16-18 pills of narcotics every day--just to get through the day.

I, in the meantime, had looked one evening at my children sleeping, and the question came to me that if something happened, right at that moment, if something happened to one of them, would I be able to handle it? Would I be able to drive this child of mine to the hospital if need be? And my answer was an emphatic "NO". I stopped partying then and there and have never gone back to this lifestyle.

On my husband's part, however, his addiction into pain medication deepened. Then, very suddenly, the doctor who was prescribing him medication retired from medical practice. Left without a supplier of his drugs, he turned to heroin.

My children grew and my anger and resentment grew. I became a very bitter and angry person. Finally, he decided to seek help in a rehab. Then, out of the rehab, clean for 5-6 months, and then back to drug use again. This occurred 5-6 times until finally I could stand no more. During this time, I also suffered from a very deep depression which required two hospitalizations.

And an important factor here, is that I told no one, absolutely no one. I was ashamed of what my life had become.

I called my brother early one morning and spilled out the whole mess, crying, sobbing to him. Both my brothers and my sister and their spouses moved me and my two daughters not long after that. My son decided to stay with his father. He was almost 17 by this time, and I think that he thought he could "fix" him. About 6 months later, my son came to me and asked if he could live with me. He could take no more.

I was still bitter and angry, full of resentment.. Then my husband came to me, telling me that he was clean. And I made a very big mistake--I took him back. No, he wasn't clean from drugs. Yes, he was clean from heroin, but he was addicted to crack.

Crack--the drug that is even worse than heroin. Crack brings out the paranoia and violence in a person. That person will do anything just to get the next fix. And violence prevailed in my household. My youngest daughter's saving account was emptied, there was no money to pay our bills, and we were in danger of being evicted.

I was again in a deep depression--not thinking rationally, and I decided that the only way out of this mess was to take my own life. I was tired, worn, anxiety-filled and basically unable to function. I took every sedative that had been prescribed for me plus all the blood pressure medication I had on hand.

My son found me and took me to the hospital. I remember the ride in the elevator, to the Toxicology Unit--the head of this unit riding with me--electrodes attached to my chest with a portable defibrillator next to me on my stretcher. The doctor said to me, "You are an intensive care case waiting to happen."

I was placed in a room with a glass wall facing the hallway. I was to be on a 24 hour suicide watch. There were orders written for each and every thing that could occur due to the amount of drugs I had taken. During this night, I lay awake--just laying there with an empty mind. And sometime during that night, I heard a voice say to me, "What are you doing?" Just a gentle whisper. I looked through my glass wall at the nurse assigned to me. She had said nothing.

And then again, the whisper, "What are you doing?"

I didn't know, I just didn't know what I was doing. I was thinking that I couldn't stand the violence, the lies, the addictions, the constant fear in which I was living. I loved my children so much. Why was I planning on leaving them alone with this mess?

The amazing thing is that nothing happened--my blood pressure didn't drop dangerously low, my pulse rate didn't drop and I didn't fall asleep from all the sedatives. I was awake all night long.

I know now that God intervened in this attempt of mine to take my own life. He, clearly, had bigger and better purposes for my life.

The doctors were amazed and could not understand when the next morning I was perfectly fine and discharged to home. I didn't want to go home--the place where all the violence and fear was, but I had no where else to go.

And then, another rehab--but during this rehab, I made arrangements and left again. Still so angry, so full of hatred towards this man for what he had done to our family.

During this time, I met someone--someone new to my work. She always seemed so peaceful and calm, even in the midst of turmoil--still remained peaceful. I watched her, listened to her--wondering what she had in her life that made her this way.

One day she invited me to her church. I told her I couldn't come because I had no church clothes. She said that was okay, this was a very casual church--you didn't need "church clothes". I stood her up that first Sunday--just didn't show.

She didn't chastise me for this--just said we'll try again next week.

The next week, I went to church with her, and I knew that I had come home. Jesus touched me that day and started a long and painful healing process for me. The message that day was on God's love for each and every one of us--regardless of who we are, what we have done in our past. He is there with us always--waiting for us with open arms, waiting for me to come to Him so that He could give me the gifts He had waiting for me--His unconditional love--love like I had never known before; forgiveness of my past, a future full of hope, joy and peace, the gift of an eternity spent with Jesus. All I had to do was accept and receive these gifts from Him. Nothing else--just believe, accept and receive in faith. And I did.

I was still wondering how in the world I was supposed to forgive my now ex-husband and forgive myself for my past, for all the mean and hateful things I had said to him in anger, for all the mean and hateful things I had said to my mother and my father.

But, God took me by the hand and led me. God is very patient with me, and I am so grateful for this. Sometimes, I took three steps forward and two steps backward, falling. And, God would pick me up, and we would start again.

Slowly, so slowly, I began to forgive. I realized that all the anger, all the bitterness, all the resentment were not hurting my ex-husband at all. The only person they were hurting was me. I was the one being eaten alive by these powerful emotions.

As I grew in God's love, I began to leave these emotions behind me, and I forgave my ex-husband and also myself. I know that Jesus lived, suffered and died for me so that I could have this forgiveness, not just for myself but to extend this to others also--as many times as needed.

In this place of forgiveness, I have turned from a bitter, angry resentful person into a person who is peaceful and calm. Do I have days where I am upset by something, feel discouraged, feel angry? Of course, I do. But, I now know that I can turn to my Lord with these problems and emotions, and He is there for me--to listen to me, to take my problems and worries from me. He is in control of my life because I have given my life to Him.

Today I am thankful--thankful for God's unconditional love for each and every one of us, thankful that He watches over me every moment of my life, and I am thankful that He has given me His Son, Jesus, to follow as an example in my own life. Through Jesus, I have learned the grace needed to give others. So much grace and forgiveness has been granted to me through Jesus. When I think and compare what Jesus did for me, for all of us--I am only being asked to extend a very small portion of grace and forgiveness to others.

Beth




17 comments:

Denise said...

God bless you my precious friend. Thank you for posting this heart touching post. I love you.

Giving Thanks said...

Beth,

I'm sitting right here @ my computer in total amazement. What a testimony you have precious girl! God has really done a marvelous work in you. I am just in awe of His love.

Your story starts off much like mine. Sexual hurt in our childhood sets many of us onto the path of deep anger. My 'incident' was silenced as well and that silence was deafening to me. I began to think I was to blame and that led me no where good! Satan had my mind bound up in that anger for so long. I wanted to die many times but I was too chicken to do it so I tried to find other methods that would possibly lead me there.

My father too was hurt sexually by a man @ age 6 or 7. He has lived his whole life angry and bitter. He drives people away because of his ugliness, including me. I see where he is even today and I just praise the Lord that He's opened my eyes and helped me to forgive, overcome, and be healed from that vice.

It's a long life spent in anger! I just praise God for his restoration of my mind and healing in my heart. Without Him alone I could never have gotten over my hurt. I think many of us feel that same way.

Thank you for sharing your story even though you weren't. I know that the Lord can/ will change the lives of others through your sharing of honesty and what the Lord brought you from to where He's placed you now. Praise Him!!

With A Grateful Heart,
Heather Twitchell
Your host of Giving Thanks @ Thanksgiving

Peggy said...

Amen to ALL Heather shared!

Blessings my sweet friend Beth, I'm so glad that you listened to your heart and me prodding you to share your testimony even when you are so fatigued right now...I'm glad you took the time to share your story or HIS story in your life...because Jesus has touched you & loved you & now others may also come to know Him through your honest sharing of what it's like to leave the depths of hopelessness & be given a crown of glory! His grace is sufficient &
during this thankful season we can "turn our eyes upon Jesus" knowing HE saves us with good reason & now all the rest in your family.

As you answered your 25th question in warmHarte "What do you want for Christmas this year?" Resolution of differences within my family. May it be done according to His will for you & yours!

Your spirit has been given wings as we just discovered your Native American meaning for your name as "Radiant Butterfly Spreading Her Wings to Fly Freely" it could not be more right & glorious to bestow this name in love. Jesus took you from death into life as a new radiant butterfly...now spread this to all others what you have found in "flying freely" through the Power of HIS Love for you and anyone who may read & be blessed & even consider changing.

Though you had this in your initial posts & touched it up to share(with few alterations) because it is so REAL & honest, it needs to be brought into the light every so often for readers to come across. They may miss it today or this week, keep re-posting...and someday
God will bring LIFE into someone else by your testimony...and their name just like YOURS will be added to the Book of Life...Eternal Life with Our Lord Jesus! Thanks Beth for listening to me and more importantly to the Spirit within you that draws you into His Loving arms and now waits for each person in your family to come to HIM! May this be the GIFT they & you receive this CHRISTMAS as you give THANKS tomorrow...share how thankful you are for what HE has done for you & how HE changed you & gave you wings!

Connie said...

Amen...keep telling your story because you will bring others to Christ. I am so happy you found Jesus. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Happy Thanksgiving. Connie

Daveda said...

I can relate to much of what you have been through. Sexual abuse, drinking, drugs, trying to find your place. Praise the Lord for His wonderful grace named Jesus! He picks us up, dusts us off and never stops the good work that He started in us. Thank you for sharing your testimony that gives so much glory to God!

Melanie said...

Oh, Beth... what a beautiful testimony of God's forgiveness! Thank you for being so open and honest in your sharing. May the Lord bless you and all your family on this Thanksgiving.

Chatty Kelly said...

I loved your testimony. I love Christians with a "past" because I have a past too. God loves us so much that we can leave our pasts behind. I am so glad you answered God's call. And praise God for a friend to invite you to church and keep inviting!

Truth4thejourney said...

Beth,
Thank you for sharing your testimony with us. Your words of God's love and redemption are so powerful! I am so glad that God brought you into his arms and has kept you there. What encouragement for all of the lost ones still out there alone and angry. We need to all invite someone to church this sunday, imagine the impact it would have.

You are a precious sister in the Lord.

Love,
Sonya

Joyfulsister said...

Praise be to God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord. What a powerful testimony my dear sister. God uses our brokeness to bring wholeness not just to us but to those who hear the words of our testimony. Thank you for the courage to share with us today, do you realize how many sisters will read this and relate to it as well. They might not make a comment. they might just come and read it and leave after, but the seed of healing, and the comfort of knowing that they are not alone in what has happened to them will start a healing towards seeking the face and the heart of Lord.

Luv ya Lorie
Have

jcdisciple said...

I am thankful that I was drawn to your picture on your comment and read your testimony. You are truly a blessing to be so open and let the Lord use your testimony to hopefully reach others. It's so amazing that He seeks us when we aren't seeking Him.

God bless you.

Hi! I'm Grace said...

It is so good to be here in your post, I enjoyed reading it. I had a great "first-ever" Thanksgiving Day. :)

Kay Martin said...

Brave and courageous in Christ with a merciful compassionate heart...you are amazing. Thank you for opening up and revealing the blazing glory or our mighty God.

God tells us He uses the foolish things to confound the wise. I have much pain and "foolishness" in my story also. I have forgiven so many who were adults who might have made a difference when my world came crashing down around me as a toddler...that was the hardest forgiveness.

As I read of your escaping with the partying and fighting for a better life I see the potential for a mighty warrior in God's Kingdom. I thing our regret in our repentance askews our understanding how God uses all in our lives to fulfill our destiny in His eternal Kingdom.

Those things He has worked through us and we have worked through by His empowerment are the only places we can show others that they can make it out of their bondage.

You are an awesome warrior in God's Army. It is my pleasure to know you through this blog and mine. Thank you for having this great grace and courage.

You showed me such Strong Gentleness in this testimony I'm awed.

Ron said...

Beth,

Your story is powerful and moving because of your love and obedience to a God who loves you unconditionally. Thank you for sharing it and allowing it to inspire so many. I have been privileged and blessed to watch God do an amazing work in you! I can't wait to see what God has in store for you next. My prayers and support are always with you my dear friend.

Ron

Joyfulsister said...

Beth.. you are an ornament of Courage. Courage to change, and to allow that same blessing of change to be possible to others because of your courage to tell of the goodness of the Lord in your life.

Hugz Lorie

Debbie said...

Beth, what a powerful testimony you have. I'm so glad I took the time to read it through. We can "meet" people, even online, and read their posts and yet not know what they've been through in their lives.

I'm so glad to read that there was a person who exemplified the fruit of the Spirit and you responded. You saw something different in her. And now, you are also experiencing the fruit of the Spirit to others. What a blessing!

I appreciate your honesty in sharing your testimony. I know it will help someone just knowing they aren't alone. Thank you.

Omah's Helping Hands said...

Beth, what an amazing testimony. Do keep telling it, as you will bring many to Christ through you. I hope that many who do not believe will read your story and realize just how true God really is. God Bless you for sharing. I love how He works in our lives. I truly believe we go through great suffering at times just to help us grow and be stronger in Him, and to help others realize that this just doesn't happen on our own. I'm so glad He is using you to touch others. You are doing a beautiful thing here.
Much love and blessings to you dear sister in Christ.

Angela said...

Oh my precious sister. I thank God for His leading you to tell me to read your testimony. I have found a 'kindred spirit' in you. Our 'past' lives are SO similar. I thought I was reading my own story..SIGH...Isn't our God SOOOOOO AMAZING. I'm SO thankful to have been lead here by God to you. I have added you so I can follow with you on our journey to the Promised Land. ((hugs))