Authentic Meposted on June 15th, 2012 / by Karen Pyles / 14 Comments
My life has proved that sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you can afford. But, I promise that if you walk by the Spirit you will not fall by the flesh.
As a small child, I yearned for relationships with the people around me. I wanted to feel loved and treasured, and to be seen as lovely. But you see, the way I viewed myself was misshaped early in my life, in the years when I was a little girl.
I was the product of an extremely broken home: my mother married thirteen times, which meant I never felt safe or secure. I experienced all kinds of abuse—mental, verbal, physical, and on several occasions, sexual abuse, too. This was my normal. It was a normal thing to watch my mother and stepmother fighting and literally trying to kill each other. In fact, I have a vivid memory of my mother pointing a shotgun at my stepmother out in public when I was still a preschooler.
My father and my stepmother frequently tried to convince me that my mother was “no-good” and did not care about me, while in the same breath telling me that I “looked just like her.” What I heard was that I was not loved, loveable or lovely. My little heart drew its own conclusions from the things left unspoken. But, all this just drove me to work harder so my real father would love me. I thought that if I could be “good” and prove myself to be better than my mother, then someday my father would love me.
In spite of my being “good,” unfortunately, all I received was abuse. When I was about six years old I got hit with a 2×2 board because I could not remember that 4 came before 5. I felt so stupid! I can still hear my father asking me that very question, “Are you that *!#$$% stupid?”
My childhood continued with a string of stepfathers, more beatings, and more emotional and mental abuse. One stepfather dispensed with all the formalities and beat my twin sister and me with his fists, almost killing my sister. We were left bloody and completely traumatized, yet I remember my mother telling my concerned grandmother that we were fine and just taking a nap. Safety was nowhere in sight for us.
Fast forward to age seventeen: I am in high school and excelling. I still believe that if I make myself good enough I will receive the love I have always yearned for. I was everything a parent could want from a daughter! Although I could be mischievous at times, I became a cheerleader, track star, homecoming duchess, student council member, and was even voted Most Beautiful. For all my efforts, my mother’s response was only jealousy, and my father never showed an ounce of interest.
Toward the end of high school, I had finally reached my breaking point and decided I had to escape. During class one day, my best friend and I decided the perfect solution was for me to get married and start my own family. So, that is just what I did. When I graduated and received my diploma I was already six months pregnant. For a moment, I thought, “Oh, how wonderful everything will be now! I know what not to do, right?” Wrong! Soon after the birth of my child, my husband had an affair. We divorced, and in that same year I had to have a total hysterectomy. I felt I was falling off the deep end, and I was only nineteen.
I gathered all my courage and moved away from my unsupportive, fragmented family, hoping to start over again. But I found that I still could not escape the pain. I continued to experience trauma after trauma and abuse after abuse in every relationship that came my way. After a few more failed marriages and countless more scars to my heart, I was truly alone. No husband, no daughter (she moved in with her father) and then the crushing news that my own father had died. I felt the weight of finality and realized I would never know his love and affection.
After my father’s death, I was so desperate for help. Something led me to the church for comfort…but the church did not comfort me. I ended up becoming the object of the pastor’s lust. I felt so much shame. I believed I was so bad that I could even make a pastor sin. When I left that church, I felt hopeless. I was angry. Hurt. Bitter. I attempted to speak with Christian counselors, but I apparently overwhelmed them since the only thing they offered me was a suicide hotline number. I was so embarrassed. The pain was becoming increasingly unbearable, and I felt so alone and afraid that I thought I would be better off dead! I never did have the guts to kill myself, but I came up with the closest possible alternative: I would “sin” myself to death. I hoped God would lose patience with me and just allow me to die.
Then “I” took control. I deliberately became promiscuous. I thought I would give men back what they deserved. I used my sexuality to get what I wanted and it worked. I would also use my words as a tool to shred them to pieces if they did not act as I saw fit. This entire time, I still longed to be loved and accepted; however, I couldn’t overcome my deeply rooted fear of being rejected, abandoned and hurt. I was trying to cover up all my pain and shame by being tough and in control.
One day I began to think about my life. I recalled saying “the sinner’s prayer” when I was ten, and then I began to remember a specific man at that church. He was my Sunday school teacher and he was very different than any man I had ever known. I remember wondering what it was about him that I so deeply desired for myself. Was it his character? Was it his connection to God? I began to think about the condition of my heart and wonder if God was trying to tell me something. The seed planted so long ago was beginning to sprout. God was there, and He had something powerful for me.
Of course, the devil knew it too. If he could convince me to hate all men and keep me focused on my problems, I would never come to the fullness of what God had for me. He even plagued me with the fact that Jesus was a man—and tried to convince me that I could never trust Him. Again, I remembered my Sunday school teacher and finally really understood that, yes, I truly wanted an intimate relationship with Jesus. I asked Jesus to come into my heart again and I cried out to God, “If you are there, will you help me?”
I began attending church again. The devil knew I was on to something and he was going to make sure he would remind me over and over again about my past. I still went because I was longing for relief from this hurt, pain and confusion. I sat in the back pews because I did not want to be noticed. I couldn’t get past the shame of thinking I had caused my pastor to sin, not to mention the shame from everything else I had been doing. Shame had made its home deep within my heart.
Going back to church was the beginning of my “Mrs. Samaria” time at the well. I knew Jesus, but had never experienced Him in a way that I really understood as a “clean heart moment.” I was at church because I wanted intimacy. Not false intimacy like I had experienced in the past, surrendering myself over to one man after another to heal my wounds. I knew in my heart there was more about Jesus I wanted and needed to understand. What does real love feel like? What is it? That is what I asked God. And, week by week, I began to understand that God had a purpose for me and that He was restoring and transforming me one piece at a time. I knew I was starting to get it from my head into my heart. I think “Mrs. Samaria” (the woman at the well) was the same way. She knew Jesus, but her understanding was in her head, not her heart. I believe she was much like me, desperate to receive what Jesus had for her.
Shortly after my return to church, I met a man who was a believer. I felt that I was strong enough at that point to date, so we began a relationship. I saw so many qualities of Jesus in this man. He was kind, compassionate, tender-hearted and he had calmness about him. Sort of like my Sunday school teacher. Even though I saw those qualities, I pushed him away. I still did not trust men and feared the thought of letting someone in. BUT, this man was relentless in showing me that he was different from the others. So, I prayed…and ten months later we were married. I felt that I had finally found “the one.”
For four years we went to church, served and even taught in the children’s ministry. I started a Christian business that was doing very well. And I was finally seeing what real love looked like. God was renewing me mentally, spiritually and emotionally according to his Word. Things couldn’t have been better! But after four years of being married, my husband sat me down one evening and confessed that he was having an affair.
I was devastated. Had I missed something here? Lord, what have I done? “Oh,” the enemy thought. “I’ve got her now. This will send her back to square one.” As my mind spiraled with this information, I remember thinking that my worst day with God was better than my best day with the enemy, and for the first time, I realized what was taking place. Recognizing immediately it was the enemy who was speaking, I knew I would have to seek God, and quickly. I excused myself and went to the bathroom. I fell on my knees and began to pray and ask God to speak through me because I had no idea what to say to my husband at this point. I rebuked any evil that was trying to take root at that table and thanked the Father for helping me. As I returned to the table, I felt the overwhelming love of God come over me. I explained to my husband that God still loved him. And even though he made it clear he was leaving, God wanted him to come back. I asked him, “How can I pray for you?” Then I asked how I could pray for her.
I remember the look on his face. It went from seemingly in control to completely stunned and speechless. The enemy had me thinking, “What are you saying? Come on, you have the right to get mad and slap the living daylights out of him. Kick him out of the house! Take control. You know how.” That is what my husband thought I would do as well, but God had another plan. He took control, just as I had asked.
That night, we talked for seven hours. I felt the tenderness of God on me and it came out as I spoke to my husband. The resolution came that night when he said, “How could I ever leave a woman who has treated me with such love and compassion at a time such as this?” There was simply no way he could do it. He saw God’s true forgiveness that night. Of course I knew the road ahead was going to be rough, but look at what my Father had just done! I knew that all things were possible if we just would choose to surrender to Him. At that moment, I realized for the first time in my life, I didn’t run or hide. I stood on my Father’s Word. In II Chronicles 20:15 it says: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this, for the battle is not yours but God’s. You will not have to fight this battle; take up your position, stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.” That is what I did.
Today, our marriage is standing firmly on the Rock. I know my Father loves and adores me and my husband loves and adores me as well. When we let God be the center of our marriage and admitted our brokenness, God led us into heavenly places. Now there is no room for shame, unworthiness or pain because He fills us with His glory.
My battle was never with flesh and blood (my mom, dad or any of my husbands), but it was with Satan. I know the evil one will always hate me. He tried everything in his power to take me out and he did not care how brutal he was in doing so.
But, thank God, I realized that I was handmade. I am God’s workmanship, and He makes no mistakes. God put all His love, thought and time into His creation, and that includes me. I know in my heart that I am a woman of purpose, I am a woman of influence and I am lovely. I am the apple of my Father’s eye. I am no longer defeated! I am victorious and no one can take that away from me. No one can. Not now, not ever.
For most of my life, I had tried to find love by being good enough. But Jesus showed me that He loved me first, then washed me clean and made me good enough. His love is perfect. And He loves you deeply.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been raped or had a dysfunctional family, if you’ve been purposely self-destructive or felt unloved, you are loved because God is no respecter of persons, you were created by Him and for Him. He has a plan and purpose for you. It’s not by chance it’s by choice our futures are determined … we are created for greatness! No matter what has happened to you, you are no longer a victim but a victor for His Kingdom and His Glory.