I have come through a time of refinement and growing in the Lord and in my relationship with my husband. This journey of learning to love each other unconditionally is not always a 'cake walk'. This year I have realized a lot about me. I was reminded that I am responsible for myself, my feelings, my reactions. I was reminded that I should be loving my spouse the way that the Lord loves me and loves him. When I think of how the Lord loves me and how he loves my spouse and that I am supposed to have that same love for my spouse. It did something inside of me. I felt a whole new level of compassion for my husband. A different type of grace. Not to say that he is perfect. He is not. We both needed to do some growing and changing, but the blog is about me. So, it is about my growth.
I hope that I continue to stay on this new path I am on and realize that I will need to make daily choices to stay in this place, emotionally and mentally. I do give myself grace when I make a choice that is not with grace and compassion. I pray that I catch these moments and go to the Lord with them.
This is where my head has been the past 6 months!
But this is not what I really wanted to write about today!
Peace, Restoration, and Direction
During the years of my abuse I believed that I could only be going through the abuse to somehow help others. I clung to this belief! This was my lifeline.
Since then I have been an open book about that time in my life. Even when some of my family would rather I not be quite so open about it. I have been and will continue to be open about it for many reasons, here are a couple.
1) I believe it has to be talked about for it to ever change.
2) I believe that for some people talking about it-openly to complete strangers would terrify them, for some reason, it doesn’t terrify me…so if it doesn’t scare me, then I think, I am supposed to be strong and talk about it for those that can’t find their voice.
So I have talked about the abuse to anyone that asks about it, or if the topic of conversation is about abuse, I add my experience to the conversation.
But I have felt for years, that this was not enough. That I was supposed to be talking to a larger audience. I have struggled with this. I know that the larger audience is only going to come from the Lord aligning it, and from connection, and roots. When you have a church home, when you have a women’s group, when you have small groups-then there is potential opportunity to share in a larger setting. Most know that we have moved around so much! LOL!! It can be difficult to have ‘roots’ and community when you move.
The second piece of this idea of sharing in larger audiences is what to share! Most of you reading this know me and know that I like to give the long version of stories. :-)
I have prayed about this and thought on this for the last 3-5 years. God has slowly been developing that the testimony is to be. I don’t think it is complete yet. A few years ago God talked to me about part of this. I did some writing about this in Aug 2013. I believe that my life shows God’s love as ABBA Father. I think too many people don't think of God as loving, as their ABBA Father. I felt God showed me ways that my life exhibits His love for me.
I have also pondered…what is the point, what would be the climax of my testimony? How would I end the testimony? My life is not over yet and I don’t think God is done revealing Himself to me….so if I was to create a 30 min or 60 min testimony…what would I say, what would be the point?
In church this month I had a realization. The point is that although there has been tremendous hurt between my father and myself, I have peace in our relationship now. That it has been restored. I struggled for YEARS!! I love my father, but he was not the ‘father’ I longed for as a child and as a teenager he was very neglectful. Ray-the man that abused me played on this. He would remind me daily that my father didn’t really love me or he would be present in my life. I was so insecure and already hurting, this just added to the pain. Which led to Ray adopting me.
For the following 18-20 years I struggled to have a relationship with my father. We have had periods of time, where I didn’t talk to him. I would write him and try to explain my hurt. But I don’t think he could understand it. I realize that in his own way, he was hurting as well. I struggled because my mother could divorce Ray, but I couldn’t undo the adoption. His name would forever be a part of my life…which means his name is forever a part of my son’s life.
Over the years I would go through seasons of struggling with this and then ignoring it. When pregnant with our son, I had a legal name change to put my name back to the way it was on my original birth certificate. So that on my son’s birth certificate-his mother’s name would be; Shannon Marie-the name I was given at birth. Not the name given to me during the adoption as a teenager.
But I still wasn’t satisfied. I reached out to lawyers, to legal aid, etc. I didn’t really have the money, so I was trying to find out how to go about this myself. No luck. After years, I finally found a lawyer, with the help of my mom. This lawyer said, yes you can fix this, by being re-adopted by my mom and her husband AND my dad and his wife. All four parties would have to be present and sign. It was going to cost a couple thousand dollars.
This is what I had been waiting for. Right?
Let me back up. In order for me to be adopted as a teenager, my father had to agree to sign away his rights as a father. I had a lot of pressure from Ray to do this. I thought the abuse would stop if I gave in and did this. But I prayed my father would say no! I was counting on it! My mom was counting on it.
My dad said, “She has to ask me”. So with trembling and sickness in my stomach I called my dad and asked him. His response, “You will be 18 in a couple of years and would do what you damn well want to do, so if this is what you want, I will sign. But remember, blood is blood, I don’t care what any piece of paper says”.
I was crushed. (Now as an adult, I get it, he was so hurt that I would ask). I just wanted him to say no! I only had 2 more years to deal with Ray, I would be out and get away.
Present. I felt that since my dad signed away his rights he should help pay to fix this. I called him explaining the situation and asked if he would be able to help pay for it with David and I. He said, “No, he didn't have the money".
I was crushed again!
This was about five years ago. I knew that this was a sign. That I couldn’t force this. If it wasn’t important enough to my dad to help pay for it, then somehow I had to accept this.
Over time I realized that this had become a symbol to me. Like if I could get re-adopted that it would make everything better. Of course, this is a lie. If we had done it I still would not have found peace.
I have somehow made peace with the fact that my life-all of it is part of me. I can’t undo any of it. Good or bad, I can’t shield my son from it.
So in church this past month, I realized if and when God asks me to share my testimony in a larger setting, that this is the climax. This is the point. That God has made me whole. I am at peace with the adoption, with my dad and with my mom. This doesn’t mean that we have perfect relationships. We don’t. But we have a relationship that I am at peace with.
This morning I was reading Romans 5, this passage really struck a chord with me:
Vs3-5. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who he has given us.
I know that I am who I am today because of the abuse I went through as a child. Do I wish it on anyone? No. But I am stronger as a person, in my faith and closer to God because of it. I believe that if it would not have happened, I don’t think I would be with my husband today.
I don’t know if I ‘rejoiced’ in my sufferings…lol, I probably still do too much bellyaching and complaining instead of rejoicing in ‘suffering’ moments. I pray for my heart to be able to show joy in all circumstances. But I can look back and see this scripture in my life.
Slowly God is giving the direction for when the timing is right to share in larger settings.
Hope that my words inspire and give you hope!
Many Blessings to you!