The Lord has had me on a journey toward freedom for the past couple of years. I began to have a “knowing” in my heart that I had built walls around my heart to protect myself and that in my relationship with God and with those I love the most, I had not really allowed myself to be completely open. This came to a head in the Breaking Free study when Beth Moore asked us to look at our family history and see what legacy had been passed on. I discovered then that the women in my family line are all very strong, independent women who work hard but are either emotionally a mess or emotionally absent. They had all experienced tragedy and their response was work hard and stuff it.

Through work with a peer counselor at the Eve Center and continued Bible study, I created a timeline of my life and wrote down all the difficult or tragic things I experienced and how they impacted the decisions I made in my life and shaped who I had become. I began to dig in to my own history and peel back the layers of each of those events in the hope that these wounds could be healed and I could love and accept love on a new level.

Over the past 3 months, God orchestrated some opportunities for me to work full force on these issues. For the past 3 months, every Tuesday morning I’ve been attending a class called “Motherless Daughters” a ministry created to support growth and healing for women who have lost the nurturing of their mother. On Wednesday mornings I have come to this Believing God Bible study. And recently in my Lifegroup, I participated in the Free study. It shows me how much God loves me and wants me to tear down the walls that I built up. The Motherless Daughters study revealed the grief and emptiness in my heart. The Free study revealed that I have been afraid of God because I have expected him to reject or abandon me. And the Believing God study has filled in those empty places with truth about who God is and who I am as His child.

Here’s what I’ve discovered about my past. Four generations of mothers and daughters (maybe more…that’s as far back as I’ve gone so far) experienced various forms of abuse and, in response, became strong, independent, but emotionally absent, women in order to survive. This is a part of the legacy in my family.

My mother experienced an absent father, a broken mother, sexual abuse at age 3 which remained a secret until she was 50. Her brother died at 8 years old of a sudden illness, her father died a couple of years later after a long, secret illness, her mother remarried a few years later a man who remained angry and mean his entire life. Possibly to escape all of this, and probably in search of love, my mom married at 18. At age 19, she had her first child. At 20, her second (me). Four months later, she had a miscarriage. Continually judged and demeaned by her own mother, she was completely unprepared and, I think, unequipped, to be a mother. What she really needed was the unconditional love of a mother for herself.

And so I grew up in a home where everything looked great in pictures, but internally much was wrong. I knew and feared (as in “was afraid of”) God. Our whole family attended church every week and followed all the rules. But still, our family was full of secrets. I only pieced my mother’s story together this past year and without her knowing. In a family of secrets, the history one tries so very hard to bury and forget repeats itself in the next generation. At age 12, I was molested by a family member. I told my mom the same evening and she, a woman who had never dealt with her own abuse, was unable to deal with mine. And so, to protect our family from the pain of the truth, I took back my words: when my mom asked me if was possible this event was only in my imagination, I said yes. That event started 20 years of me continuing the same destructive cycle. It began as:Needing love – being chosen by a victimizer and abused – hating myself – repeat and, in my 20s and 30s became: Needing love – choosing a victimize for a relationship and being abused – hating myself – repeat All of this led to many losses: the loss of self-care, self-trust, self-respect. The loss of innocence. The loss of my ability to bear children.

But the Lord continually pursued me, until 12 years ago when I knew I needed Him, that I couldn’t make a success of my life without Him. And He has continued to pursue and push me. These past 6 months, I believe He has worked a miracle—revealing all of this to me and setting me free from the guilt, shame, grief, and anger that were hidden in it. My past has no power over me anymore. Satan can no longer use it to control me. I have a long way to go, but I can say Praise God I am free of my past and all that happened to me and all that I did to myself. I am a living example of the miracle of a do-over, a fresh beginning.

I am beginning to feel like he’s preparing me to use these experiences to help others who are stuck like I was to see what is possible with God. Right now, all I want to do is tell people this: It is possible. He can do this. He did it with me.