Knowing Your Worth, Despite Your Past

“Sometimes seeing your past, is what another person needs to see their future. Sometimes you’re hurt, helps another person heal.” –JJ Vasquez  

Even when it’s a little scary to write out the words of my story, I know God turns all things around and uses it for his good. God brings forth our brokenness, our pain, and our struggle, to give hope for someone who’s going through it or has gone through it. I know this is true for my own story and I hope you know it rings truth for your story as well!

Born and raised in sunny Orlando, Florida, I grew up living with my mom.  My mom had met someone new around the time I was 8 and that’s when my parents filed for divorce. I don’t think I was as upset about them getting divorced as I was about my mom bringing someone new into the picture. Like, who was this new guy in our home? Am I supposed to call him step-dad, mom’s boyfriend? It was weird to even try to figure it out.

Fast forward to some time later, I realized this man living with us was a little off; there was  something about him that I couldn’t explain. I saw how he was manipulative and demanding towards my mother. Around the age of 10, the sexual abuse began.

I wasn’t sure what to think or feel, I just knew I was disgusted with myself. I felt like there was no way out. I didn’t think anyone would believe me and I tried to cope with trying to forget about it. It continued for years and I saw how it affected me as I got older.

When I got my first boyfriend, even if I didn’t realize it, I desired to find my worth in him. I wanted to give him everything to show I “loved” him. The way I saw to show him was by becoming intimate with him. In turn, he cheated on me over and over again. I stayed in this relationship, not seeing my worth. I desired to be “loved” so badly by the opposite sex, to feel desired, and needed by someone. During this time, the abuse was still taking place at home. I became so hopeless, felt defeated, and I would do anything to break from this reality. I began cutting myself and later on, took over the counter medicine, in hopes to end my life. If there’s anyone that wanted out, I did and desired to do anything to get there.

After hitting rock bottom, I didn’t allow the abuse to continue. I fought and plead and surprisingly, the sexual abuse had stopped, but it turned physical after. I remember fighting this man who I was to call my step dad, getting hit because I couldn’t keep quiet. I was so hurt by everything that was happening around me, from my family shattered, to my relationship with my boyfriend, to realizing I hated myself at the time. I wouldn’t dare speak to anyone about what happened, I bottled it all in.

Fast forward, that relationship ended and I continued to turn to the opposite sex, relationship after relationship. During my senior year of high school, I saw how guys couldn’t fill my void any longer. I turned to partying and drinking to fill that void in. After feeling my life was out of control, I spoke to my manager at the time, who would always invite me to church (which I would always reply with a no). I told her about how I felt my life had no meaning and I think I should give the whole church thing a shot. I began going to church, months later gave my life to Christ, and wish I could say well the rest was history!

Not too long after giving my life to Christ, I shared with my family what took place. Thinking no one would believe me, they believed me and forced my step dad to move out. Shortly after, I fell back into becoming intimate in relationships, once again. I couldn’t let go of that area of my life. I always came back to that, to try to fill in the void that I knew Jesus so longed to fill.

The truth is, I believe it’s tougher to live for Christ, compared to living without Him. He brings things up that you need to work on, wanting to shape and mold you into the person you were designed to be. Even though it’s harder, it’s definitely worth it! After taking time to really seek Him, He showed me that I find my worth in Him. He helped me push through these feelings of shame and guilt. My relationship with my mother was restored and I can now say that I have a wonderful relationship with her.

I wish I can say things got better all of a sudden, but it’s been 5 years since I spoke to my family about what happened and now I’m able to publicly talk about it. I went through counseling at my school last year about the abuse. I knew it was something I couldn’t keep pushing under the rug. Through lots of fasting and prayer, transparency with a few people around me - but more than anything - being open and honest with God helped me deal with my past. I’m still a work in progress. I waited so long to deal with my past, it caused me to hurt many people along the way, including myself. There’s many things I wished I could have done differently, but God is graciously loving. God turned my bad into something good, I have a heart and passion for women who have been abused and I want to share my story to let others know that they can overcome too!

Through the journey of my healing process, I had to declare things over my life, to truly move forward. Here’s some scripture that I’ve spoken over myself and has helped me to overcome!

 

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Forgiveness was a big part of my healing that had to take place, I needed to remind myself that no matter how much someone has hurt me, I needed to forgive. I always felt guilty, so I had to not only forgive the ones who hurt me, but also forgive myself. When we don’t forgive fully, it consumes our minds with resentment, when there’s freedom that God desires for us to walk in. When I was able to forgive, freedom took place and shame, guilt, and resentment left me.

 

Psalm 139:1414 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Reciting that scripture over and over again, brought truth to my life- that I’m wonderfully made. God sees me and loves me, as I am. It isn't a mistake that I’m alive and living today. I find my worth in Christ alone, as he is the one who has created me. 

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

God has made everything new, he takes my past and makes it into something great-greater than I dreamed or imagined. I know God has the best in mind and desires me to live an abundant life in Him. I was always fearful because of my past, that I wasn’t able to attain things I desired. Like a happy family of my own, a healthy marriage, or even to just find joy in my life in general. But God makes all things new! I know now, that my past doesn’t dictate my future- he really does make all things new!

 

Psalm 23 I loved this passage of scripture, it holds dear to my heart, especially this year! I know God has me, I lack nothing and I find everything I need in him. He wants us to be aware of his faithfulness, how he doesn’t leave us in tough situations, and I find my peace in Him! His faithful love pursues us and he truly is enough!

 

If there’s anything I want you to get out of this, it is this:

You are not a victim, you are victorious!

Your past does not define you. God forgives as far as the east is to the west.

Don’t let what has happened to you, dictate where you will go, may it make you stronger and push you into greatness.

You are beautiful, NO MATTER what a guy has said about you, what society has spoken over you, and what you might believe for yourself. You are created so uniquely different, no one can take your place, and your life is valuable beyond measure.

God pursues you because you matter and you are worthy! May you know that God loves you and that within itself is enough and nothing else can satisfy!

Never think that what you went through didn’t have a purpose. He will use our struggles, our hurts, and uncomfortable seasons for his glory!

Be mindful of God’s redemption, there’s nothing that he can’t turn around and make new.

Don't let your past hold you back, God desires for us to move forward!

I may have been hurt, bruised, and scarred, but I’m not a victim. I find victory in the one who reigns victoriously and because he has the victory, so do I. I hold on to the promises of God and know that what he has ahead of me is something I can’t even fathom. I’m fully aware I’m not perfect either, there’s so much to learn and grow from. But I stopped making excuses because of my past that I couldn’t achieve certain things. I know that he’s the potter and I’m the clay; he continues to mold and shape me into the woman he desires and I let him in fully. I walk with confidence in who he is and knowing he’s so graceful and merciful.

 

You are his daughter, his beloved, you are His!

 

With love,

Jen

Sidenote: Abuse is a real thing and it’s not ever something to be taken lightly. I know God was so gracious in my story and I was able to get out and it’s not always that easy for someone else. If you or someone you know is being abused, please seek help. Whether it’s calling a hotline, a counselor, or sharing with someone you trust. I provided two hotline numbers for the state of Florida, if you’re not from Florida you can search online for the hotline number in your state.

 

Florida Abuse Hotline: 1-800-962-2873

Florida Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1-800-500-1119