Growing up in the mountains of East Tennessee I was never given the opportunity to go to church by my parents. My father refused to go because he had been offended when my oldest sister was a baby and wouldn’t go back. Occasionally I would attend church with a friend and her parents if I happened to spend a Saturday night at their house.
I met a boy in school when I was 14 and married him when I was 17 (barely). I went to church with him and his parents. It was a very fundamental Baptist church that hardly ever allowed women to speak in church and there was no WAY that they would be allowed to teach. Totally a male dominated scene.
The pastor (and I use the term lightly) would scream and shake the Bible in my face and tell me, ‘You’re going to hell, girl.’ Never did tell me how NOT to go. Along with being spiritually abused by this pastor I began to experience physical and emotional abuse by my husband. He would cheat on me; even bring his ‘girlfriends’ to our house.
Everything in our house had to be spotless…not just clean, absolutely spotless. All the cans of vegetables in the cupboards had to be arranged alphabetically. No exceptions. One of the worst beatings I had was because he found dried ketchup on the rim of the ketchup bottle. It’s an event that I’ve tried very hard to erase from my memory and yet, while still there; God has used it to allow me to minister to women who are going through the same thing.
Of course when I told my friends what was happening they advised me to go to the pastor to see if he could do anything about the abuse. Big mistake. The pastor told me that my husband was within his rights and that I had absolutely no say in the matter. He said that my husband was the head of the house and as such the head and ruler over me.
I finally got the courage to leave and even my mother wouldn’t support my decision. She thought if I didn’t say anything and just keep my mouth quiet it would work out…after all, she said…’He makes a lot of money.’ She didn’t care that I was getting beaten regularly…and she knew it.
I felt totally abandoned and alone. And I certainly didn’t want anything to do with a God who would allow me to be in such an abusive situation. Did he not love me at all?? I was wondering if anyone did.
I tried my best to run as far away from God as I could. If I was indeed going to hell like that pastor told me then I was going to enjoy my journey. Never did I want another male figure in my life, and to me God was a male who allowed me to be hurt. But He’s a sneaky one that God…
When He has His eye on you He becomes so irresistible… He had allowed me to work with a Christian who I thought was completely mad. I had never seen a REAL Christian in my whole life. This woman, Barbara, had a genuine relationship with the Lord and I saw Him do amazing things in her life. It still took me three more years to come to belief in the Lord.
On 1 September, 1982 at 13:15 in the afternoon I gave my heart to Jesus. I have loved Him ever since that day. Have I always done everything right and not sin?? Of course not. We are all on a journey together and I still have a long way to go almost 30 years later. But I strive to be better every day.
Right after I came to the Lord I married again. He said he was a Christian and we went to church together but I soon found out that, again, I was to be silent. We had a totally different belief system. He never, never understood why I was fervent for the Lord. He was happy just going to church on Sunday and not thinking about the Lord the rest of the week.
I wanted to be involved in what God was doing and my husband accused me of being a Super Do-gooder Christian. And if I ever made a mistake…boy did I get my faith thrown in my face. He would accuse me of being a two-faced Christian because I wasn’t supposed to mess up. He constantly argued and harassed me about my faith.
Then, one day after being married for 27 years he told me that he hated me. He had told me for the last ten years of our marriage that he wanted out but I didn’t want to go through another divorce. I had invested half a life time almost to this marriage. But, if he hated me I needed to go.
I told the Lord to ‘NEVER put another man in front of me again!’ I told the Lord, ‘Me and You, Jesus, we’ll be just fine.’ But, God had another plan for my life.
Enter, Chris…the husband that I have waited on my whole life. Chris is the husband who God Himself chose for me even though I lived in Texas and he lived in England. We are so equally yoked and have such a wonderful relationship. He even supports my ministry to women who’ve come from abusive backgrounds. I even minister to women who’ve had abortions and can’t forgive themselves.
The one constant that I have learned in my 30 years of walking with the Lord is that he is Faithful…absolutely and completely Faithful. He has taken my ashes and turned them into something beautiful…just like He promises.