I came to Jesus broken. I knew I was broken, but I just didn’t know how much. Figuring that out is a process that He wants to ever so gently walk us through. I did come to him with quite a heavy burden that I was aware of though…
They say that you figure out who you are between the ages of 0 to 12 based on the most important person in your life. For most of us, that would be our parents and/or caregivers. I came from a divorced home and was raised by my mother with grandma’s help. Looking back—
I acknowledge that while my basic needs were always met, because of the circumstances surrounding my upbringing, some of the main emotions I remember feeling were loneliness, voicelessness, and insecurity.
Cue the teenage years, and all hell broke loose. Your brain starts to process things differently. More maturely to be exact but without the maturity to be able to process it. To say that you need a responsible adult there to help you navigate it, is to put it lightly. I had a LOT of confusion. I had begun compulsively masturbating years before and didn’t fully understand my desires. It was a secret that I eventually rationalized as something probably everyone does, thus making it okay. Those compulsions led to an addiction to pornography that I really only experienced true victory in a couple of years ago. I call it an addiction because it was something I could not stop doing and made me sexually dysfunctional and deviant. (I know, this is cringe-worthy stuff and it’s really scary to share. While I have shared many of these things with other trusted believer-friends, I felt it important to be part of my whole written testimony.)
So my sexuality is twisted. My soul is hurting and hungry. My spirit is dry and I become obsessed with this boy. Surely, he can give me all of the love I feel my father should have given me. I’m sixteen and so angry with my dad. So I give this boy all I know what to give, my body. I give it knowing that virginity is something precious even if i don’t understand the magnitude. I give myself and don’t feel a thing. It’s like my brain and body are detached and I’m just somewhere else. It was a very empty experience for me. But I understand I’ve given something valuable, so now this boy has to love me. No. Instead, he breaks up with me the next week. My heart is shattered. This is not how it was supposed to go! Cue the obsession. Now, I need to get this boy to be with me because he has something precious of mine. That begins a seven year stretch of an unhealthy off and on relationship where I gave myself to so many other boys, alcohol, and drugs until all I can really say about my high school years is that they were a blur. I have blocks of time I don’t even remember. I knew I was depressed but I could see no way out so I gave myself to it recklessly. Looking back, I believe God saved and guarded my life many times.
So this obsessive relationship finally ends when I am 23. All of a sudden, I thought myself to be in a sexual renaissance, where I could just be careless- no birth control, no love, just sex. I thought I was allowing myself pleasure but in actuality I was ushering in death. Not long thereafter, I find myself pregnant by a man who doesn’t love me and I don’t love him. He threatens to not love our child and that’s all I need to hear to head over to the abortion clinic. There’s no way I’m going to a raise a child by myself who doesn’t feel loved by her father. I didn’t want what I experienced for my child. So I made a decision that destroyed my soul. I wrote a poem afterward with the line, “good reasons only coated the pill that I swallowed.” Mind you, I’m totally pro-choice at the time but even with all of the reasons in the world, I knew at the end of the day, there was life inside of me, a soul, a PERSON and I was taking that away. I had chosen that they don’t get to live. I knew it was selfish, I knew it was murder. I wasn’t Christian at the time, but I did believe in God and so I prayed a desperate, desperate prayer in between the labor pains because the pills make you go into labor, “I want to be a mother, oh God, I want to be a mother but not like this, Lord, not like this, when I find a man who wants to be a father, please let me be a mother again.” And I offered my baby up to heaven. And I strapped on all of the guilt and shame that I assumed would be with me for the rest of my life. Every night, I asked for forgiveness and every morning I strapped that burden onto my back.
Then, I met Carlos. He was like a breath of fresh air on my very being. The first night we went out together, we danced and I felt so alive. I looked into his eyes and saw kindness and passion. I told him my secrets and he told me his. We didn’t judge, instead we loved. Now, it wasn’t perfect. We argued and hurt one another. Remember, I’m carrying around a lot of junk and so is he, but our hearts were for one another. One night we start talking about kids and how we want them. How we’d be okay with having a kid at the ripe young age of 23. We laugh about it and embrace not realizing what would happen. But that night Carlos has an experience with God. Remember, we’re not Christian just agnostic at this point. He sees a bright light and hears a voice ask him if he wants to be a father? He says yes. And that is the night we conceived. I didn’t know it yet but Carlos was so certain of it and lo and behold the Dr. confirms the conception date as the night Carlos had that experience. So cool.
Now I am beside myself, extremely humbled that God would give me a second chance! He answered my prayer to a T. How could it be? Had he really forgiven me? Is God really that good? I had to find out. I needed to know more about this God who gave me such an amazing gift when I had done nothing to deserve it. My hunger for God was ignited. Remember, I still have this pornography addiction along with my husband, but in the back of my mind I just feel God calling me, even in my sin. Now, our marriage is crumbling a bit because the pornography has led to more damaging actions, causing rifts in our relationship. Yet, I feel this yearning in my soul to just find a church. I pray and ask for a church. I end up at an Easter service at Chicago Tabernacle with my 9 month old daughter and my mom. Beautiful service, the worship, preaching, people, everything. I attend service by myself off and on for the next six months. God is working on my heart.
Then, one service changed everything. The worship leader interrupts the music to say that he sees that someone has come in with a heavy burden on their back and the Lord is there to say that He wants to take it. My spirit leapt. That was me, God was talking to me! There was an invitation to lay it at His feet. And I did. In my mind I visualized taking off this heavy backpack— the judgment, guilt, and shame of my abortion and laying it at His feet. I just left it there, never picked it back up. Never even looked back. And I was shocked because I felt the guilt leave me. I no longer felt any guilt or shame from that day forward. I KNEW that I was forgiven. It was amazing. I praised like I never had before. Then the pastor begins to preach and finishes the job the Holy Spirit had begun. He interrupts his sermon to say, “I don’t know why I’m saying this but someone here needs to accept Christ and it’s a matter of life and death.” My heart leaps again. That’s me! I raise my hand. The only one in a packed church. I stand and he leads me in the prayer of salvation and I am never the same again.
Now those words, “a matter of life and death,” have rung in my ear for some time now. While yes, accepting Christ is entering into eternal life, I can’t help but feel that it also meant a matter of physical life or physical death. Like my very Earthly existence was on the line. And not just mine but that of my children. Not too long after we were saved (my husband joined me a month afterward), we found out about our daughters being sexually abused by a close family member. And I truly believe that were it not for the grace of God, he could have killed my youngest daughter based on what he was doing to them. I believe that God began to restore what I wasn’t even aware of and that his work of restoration is still underway in Ceci as we leave seizures and delays behind us to pursue His fullness for her life. Because Jesus didn’t die for us to just limp through life, no, He promises abundance. 100% of the time, he restored wholeness to every body that approached Him. It’s amazing. Notice that they approached him though, there was that risk of rejection although He never refused anyone. If you were standing by, you didn’t receive.
I also used to have this feeling when I was a teen that I probably wouldn’t live past 30. Mind you, 30 seemed SO old. I’m 31 now. Not old. But I don’t know why I would say that, maybe I didn’t want to live for very long. Already felt tired of life at that age. But I spoke evil over my life. And last year, while my husband was at Worship school (WorshipU at Bethel), he told me of an experience he had during worship. God told him that He had healed me of a disease I never even knew I had! Wow. His restoration was working in me without my even realizing it. And now that I’ve made it to 31, I can’t help but feel that I really would not be here, like physically here, without His love, mercy, and grace totally wrecking my life as I knew it.
Friends, this is the main part of my testimony. That was my salvation experience. What led up to it and a small amount of what he’s done afterward. Of course, there’s always more to the story. I invite you to connect with me if you want to know more about my story, about God, or what He’s doing in our lives now. But right now, I want to offer the greatest miracle anyone can ever experience. The miracle of salvation. If you feel led to accept Christ, just say these words:
“Lord you have been so so good to me. I thank you that through my sin, you were there. There was never a moment that my darkness made you flee. In fact, your presence makes my darkness flee. In the light of your presence, I thank you for sending your son, Jesus Christ to heal and save the world. Thank you that He died in my place and rose again to say death does not have the final say! I make you Lord over my life today. You call me clean and I am restored. Amen.”
Now if you prayed that, you are a new creation!! Doesn’t mean you are instantly rid of all your junk. Some things fell off of me right away, like the shame of my abortion and drinking, but others took some time. Years, even. But that’s okay! I came to Him dirty and imperfect and He ever so gently began to wash my feet. God is in the business of wholeness and he wants to pull hurtful things out of us by the root and some things just have deeper roots. Be patient with yourself, find a local church, and rejoice!
Here’s a song that perfectly describes my salvation experience. Enjoy!
(Disclaimer: I don’t hate my dad anymore, I’m working on having a deeper relationship with my mom, my grandma was a great source of comfort to me throughout my childhood, and all of my experiences are subjective and in no way meant to pass judgment.)