I grew up in a family where the presence of verbal and physical abuse, violence, abandonment, and alcoholism took a terrible toll. My mom did the best she thought she could do. But what was lacking was any real closeness in the home. Hugs and kisses and “I love you” were something that was not part of my childhood. And that is something that would affect me for a lot of years and still sneaks into areas of my heart. My reaction to these influences was to become withdrawn, secretive, untrusting, and solitary. I still battle the urge to withdraw and become a hermit when trials get tough.
We never spoke of God in our home, but here and there I remember hearing of Him, being able to attend Sunday school once in a while, but didn’t know anything about Him.
In the world’s eyes I was a pretty good girl, I didn’t go to parties, I didn’t date, I didn’t get caught up in drugs and alcohol. I studied hard, read a lot, stayed in my room and craved attention. When I hit middle school and high school, even though I was never popular, some boys started to notice me. They were giving me the attention I desperately craved, and didn’t feel I received at home. They were so nice to me when they were trying to get something from me. They would tell me that they loved me. I had almost never heard anyone say those words to me. I would give them what they wanted, and I would get the “love” I was aching for, for a moment. I never felt good enough – there was an aching inside of me that wouldn’t go away. I hated myself and my low self esteem. I became what is known as a “cutter”. I felt that I had no control and no choices in my life so I mutilated myself to prove that I could control at least one thing in my life.
When I was 20 years old I went to visit my biological father that I had only met once before when I was 18. I took my two young daughters with me and moved in with him and his family in Maine– thousands of miles from my family in California. My mother had disowned me, my step father had tried to rape me, my husband and I were separated and I thought maybe I would find the love that I yearned for with my dad. But he didn’t know me and wasn’t ready to try to build a relationship with me. After just a few months I moved out of my Dad’s house and the owner of the bar where I worked said that he and his wife would watch my daughters while I tried to get on my feet. I moved in with another waitress and applied for some grants. One day when I went to visit my little girls, the youngest one called out “Mommy” and ran right past me into the arms of the lady that was caring for her. That was the rock bottom, I felt like there was absolutely no one left in the world that loved me, even my own babies rejected me.
The rejection was devastating. There was no-one that loved me, no family, no friends, no one. I ran out of that house and to my room-mates apartment and slit my wrists, I had no reason to live, no hope and no love. My room-mate came home and called the ambulance and they took me to the hospital. I was screaming, hitting, fighting to die. The emergency room personnel, a doctor and a nurse, tried everything to reason with me, to get me to live. They spoke of my children, my family, my future – none of that mattered without love. I punched and cussed and yelled for them to just let me die. I never had felt so alone, rejected and abandoned as that day.
And then a young nurse appeared from out of no where, she leaned over me as I lay strapped to the hospital bed, looked into my eyes and said; “Reva, don’t die, we love you”. All of a sudden all the fight left me, her eyes reflected a love that I had never seen before. There was no doubt in my mind that what she said was the absolute truth – someone loved me. It seemed as if she disappeared and God himself was in that room telling me that I was loved. I had never felt a love like that in my entire life.
After being stitched up I was sent to the psychiatric ward for a week. I did nothing but cry, not a sorrow cry, more like a cleansing cry – 24 hours a day – non stop tears. While I was on that ward I asked the ward nurse to find out who that emergency room nurse was so I could thank her. I was so persistent that she went to get the information for me. When she came back she was confused, she said that there were only the one doctor and the one nurse on call that night and they said there was never another person in the room with us. I knew for sure then that I had been visited by God’s messenger. He had sent an angel to tell me that He loved me.
After this experience, I did not doubt the existence of God. I definitely believed He was real, I believed I was worth something to Him; I believed I was loved and I believed I had been forgiven. I had a peace with regard to my future. Somehow I knew that everything was going to be fine – God Almighty Himself loved me. I understood without a doubt that I was not alone and I never would be again.
I got my daughters back, moved back to California with my husband, and immediately began searching the scriptures to find out all I could about this God who loved me. In time I realized that all He wanted from me was for me to love Him in return. I realized that I had to be His, not only in word, but in deed, in heart, in soul, and in mind. Love couldn’t be half-way. I came home still spiritually immature, but so much in love with my new found Lord.
That was the beginning of my long learning period, through which I learned to be dependent on God alone. I would still become hurt by people and relied on people for security through the years but through many hard lessons and the healing power of God Himself I came to realize that God was the only stable thing in my life. Throughout the years, I’ve come to realize that He alone can fill me, complete me, and change me into all I could ever want to be. Since then, it’s been a walking out my faith, learning new things, as I go, and working out problems with my loving Father. No matter what has come my way – I don’t doubt His Love for me. Even when I don’t understand some of the devastating events – I have complete trust in Him – I know He loves me and He would never hurt me or allow anything to happen to me that He isn’t fully aware of, fully in control of, and is totally for the best. I trust God – He loves me.
The only thing God desires of me is my ultimate love of Him and the working out of my love through obedience. Looking back I can see His hand guiding, comforting, teaching me – looking forward, I see His promise to never leave me and never forsake me. I hang on to God’s promise that in the end, I’ll see a wonderful life and home with Him and my loved ones for Eternity. He said so. I believe Him because He loves me and He has never lied to me.
I could tell you of all the sins I committed, all the pain I’ve endured, all the wickedness I’ve witnessed and been a part of – or I could tell you about the One that I love.
We all come from somewhere, from upbringings and circumstances that shape the decisions we make and the people we become. We make choices about how to live our lives and how to treat people based on what life has given us and what people have done for us or to us. We are all different, and our reactions to the circumstances of our lives vary from person to person. Therefore, to blame our own choices of how we live our life on situations or people in the past is simply a denial of the truth. I am responsible for my own choices. I could tell you about what this one or that one, or my parents, etc… did to me, and the world would say, “That’s why she did what she did. Who can blame her?” But the truth is that God holds each one of us accountable for our own choices. Until I owned up to the fact that the decisions I made and still make are my responsibility and not someone else’s, God’s grace couldn’t reach those areas. I thought I had no control, a victim forever but… His love gave me the power to be in control. So many of us go through terrible abuse and rejections in these end times, not being in that category is a rarity. But none of that really matters, what does matter is that we can choose to forgive; we can choose to be kind, we can choose to show mercy, we can choose to love in spite of our pain. Allowing God into your life enables you to choose life and love and much more. And I chose to tell you my testimony, simple – powerful; Jesus Loves Me.