By Patty, a Grace House Resident
I was in the middle of sixth grade when my family moved from a South Dallas suburb, away from everything I’d ever known, to an extremely affluent town northwest of Dallas. All the kids in my new class at a new school already had their group of friends, all of which seemed closed to new people. I did not fit in with these rich, snobby kids. I felt an intense sense of being less-than. With both my parents being at work a lot, it was an extremely difficult period where I experienced a multitude of rejection wounds.
Because of this rejection, I began to seek love, attention and acceptance in all the wrong places. I started hanging out with the older kids and drinking. I finally felt like I fit in through all the attention I was receiving from older guys. That is until I started receiving unwanted attention.
At 16 years old, I was raped by my best friend’s ex-boyfriend in his attempt to hurt her. He succeeded in his endeavor: she was hurt and she took her pain out on me by spreading vicious gossip throughout the school. I was an innocent victim caught in the crossfire of their hate. I had been betrayed and raped by someone I trusted as well as abandoned, further hurt and shamed by a friend I loved.
Because of this traumatic event, I experienced shame and condemnation like never before. How could I let this happen? How could I be so stupid? What is wrong with me? This condemnation only intensified at school with wild gossip spreading and severe shaming incited by my peers who were both naïve and ruthless in this process. I was so ashamed of what happened. Since my close friend who started all this gossip wouldn’t believe me when I tried to explain the truth of what happened, I was convinced no one else would believe me either.
So I lost my voice. I didn’t fight the horrible things people said about me because I so desperately just wanted to move on and pretend it never happened. I withdrew from friends and family, started drinking daily and acting out. I hated myself and everyone else.
At 17, I met a guy who I thought was the “love of my life,” an exceedingly charismatic, intelligent and fun guy; and above all else, he loved me. I got pregnant right away. But it wasn’t long before I realized that this guy was even worse off in the self-esteem department than I was. Our joint insecurities led to an extremely toxic relationship. But when you have such poor self-worth, you feel as if you do not deserve any better.
I survived 3 ½ years of severe, relentless physical and emotional abuse. I was convinced I could change him and unwilling to give up the idea of a perfect family for my son. About a year after the birth of our son, we started doing hard drugs to cope with the deep pain we faced.
I was eventually able to escape the abusive relationship, but just encountered new problems on my own. I was using drugs to numb the pain of the lies I’d been fed for so long and to deal with the abuse I’d suffered. I had finally found an effective method to cope with the pain and low self-worth. Drugs were my escape for the next ten years of my life.
I can see now that the real reason for my low self-worth was that I was alienated from God. I had been living for so long as if I were floating alone in a remote sea without meaning, not caring about anything, especially myself. So the first step in my search for significance was turning to God, grabbing His outstretched hand and coming out of the darkness to find hope and to realize that my life is significant. I knew this in my head, but how could I really experience that truth in my heart?
I knew my next step was putting into practice Romans 12:1-2, which says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
I had to break my strongholds and set new ways of thinking about myself. This breakthrough finally came when I asked God into my heart and became reconciled to Him. There was a tangible shift in my perspective. My perception was finally in line with God’s. My thinking had changed, which led to a shift in my behavior.
Through this surrender to God’s Truth my mind has become progressively renewed. And as my mind is renewed, so is my lifestyle; strongholds are broken; I am transformed. My self-worth is no longer contingent on others’ opinions of me or my performance. I am no longer in bondage. I will not be afraid. I have a VOICE! I can’t change my past, but I will not give it power over me. The abuse I suffered as a 16-year-old was not my fault. I will not continue to let this pain hold me down, suffocate me or keep me from the freedom I deserve and that God so desperately wants me to experience.
God loves me so much that He sent Jesus to die for me. Jesus took on all my sins so I could be reconciled to God. I am completely forgiven for any wrongs I have committed and I can forgive others for the wrongs done to me. I am fully pleasing to and totally accepted by God. I am complete in Christ. This is God’s Truth, this is my truth and this is the basis for my self-worth. I now have a new self-awareness and strive to resemble Jesus in all that I do. I will never again be conformed to any negative worldly thinking when God has released so much provision. I can see myself through His eyes and experience ongoing transformation.