My dad was an alcoholic, and much of what I remember from my childhood revolves around him being drunk. I longed for his love and attention, but never received what I was looking for. So I began to search for it in other places in my early teens, looking for a way to ease my pain. Relationships, boyfriends, and alcohol became a large part of my life, and by the end of high school, I had developed a double life: being the good girl at school and in front of adults, but the party girl on the weekends.
I had already had several physical relationships with men by the time I started college, and my first semester was one long party: life consisted of parties and guys and fun. I surrounded myself with people who were happy as long as the beer was flowing, who weren’t concerned with going deeper than a surface relationship. That was completely fine with me.
I had never truly met Jesus either, although I had believed that I was on good terms with God. I lived life expecting God to come through for me, yet denying Him at every turn, being completely rebellious to what little I did know about His word and plan for my life.
Not long after starting college, I met my future husband and we began dating. Just after we got engaged, a Christian uncle sat us down after a family member’s funeral. He asked what would happen to us if we died the next day, and he shared the gospel with us. You see, we both thought we’d go to heaven since we were ‘good people,’ but he explained that was not enough. Both my fiance and I met Jesus, and our names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life that day.
We married later that year, and it seemed that life was perfect. We had a nice church home, were very much in love, and now were living life with Jesus. Yet shortly after the births of our first two children, things didn’t seem so perfect anymore. Life was hard, money was tight.
I thought that with Jesus all the pain and hurt from the past would go away. But it didn’t, it was much worse. I had become an angry wife and mother, and it seemed that once again I was living a double life, only this time it was one life at church and around other Christians, and a completely converse life at home.
My husband and I fought and seemed to be growing farther and farther apart. I longed for joy and peace in our marriage and home.
Brooke going through the fundamentals of the faith with a group of moms of the kids that are part of Potter’s Field Kids in Antigua, Guatemala. Brooke loves studying the Word with women!
After several years of this, the Lord spoke strongly to both my husband and me about our commitment to Him. We both knew we were not fully committed to Him. We served full time on the mission field for five years. I thought all the pain would finally go away once I was a missionary! But it didn’t.
Those were lonely, difficult times. Yet the Lord used them to bring me to the point where I was able to release all the pain, anger, hurt, guilt and shame I’d kept inside my whole life. God used the Healed and Set Free Bible Study to truly heal me and set me free! I am a different woman today because of what I learned through this study!
Galatians 5:1 and Philippians 3:13-14 encourage me daily to forget about the past, press on, and stand firm in the freedom Christ has given me. I am so thankful for this study and the work of the Lord in my life!
~Sanada y Liberada (healed and freed)
MY GOD STORY
Brooke and Debbi BrysonMy husband and I were serving with Calvary Chapel Villarreal (Costa Rica) when I first met Debbie Bryson. She came to speak at two women’s retreats held over two back-to-back weekends. I loved the way Debbi taught because she made everything personal and had a story for everything God had taught her. I was greatly impacted during each retreat session, and I knew God was calling out to me, but my heart was so hard. There was a beautiful time of healing that took place one night and many women found healing and freedom. I remember clearly Debbi asking for one more woman to come forward. I remember her praying for this woman.
I remember looking around and seeing all of the women and desperately desiring the healing they were receiving but I felt so cold and numb. I heard Debbi ask for that one woman to come forward, but I couldn’t seem to move.
No one else came forward.
That night in my hotel room, I sat on the bed with my friend and I cried. I was so sure the Lord was speaking to me, but couldn’t figure out what I needed to be healed from. The next morning I woke up and knew without a doubt that the Lord wanted me to talk to Debbi. I made excuse after excuse throughout the morning not to talk with her. I even told God that if she sat at the table next to me, then I would talk with her.
Debbi did sit down at the table next to me. She began talking with the ladies she was sitting with, so I told myself that it would be rude to interrupt. I left the dining area quickly with my friend and we sat down outside. A few minutes later Debbi also exited the dining area, sat down beside us, put her hand on my knee, looked right in my eyes, and said to me, “So, sweetie, what’s your God story?”
I have to laugh at how persistent God is with me even in my rebellion. What great love He has for us. He called out to me; I ran from Him. But He spoke to Debbi, and she thankfully was obedient. Over the next hour or so, Debbi listened to me and asked several key questions that ultimately helped open my eyes to the root of all the anger, bitterness, hurt, shame, and guilt I had carried for so long.
Debbi walked with me and listened as I unraveled the story of my past, shared the pain I had always carried inside, and ultimately witnessed God reveal to me the road to healing and freedom. As we sat in the rainforest of Costa Rica, the Lord used her to finally bring to light the secret I had kept since I was five years old of being sexually abused.
I had worked so hard to keep it buried I had forgotten it. Yet, it had affected every aspect of my life and had grown roots of bitterness that had hardened, poisoned, and defiled my heart as well as those around me. That day, the thick, cold walls around my heart came tumbling down and I felt really, truly free for the first time in my life. I had never told anyone this secret, not even my husband.
I felt free and terribly afraid at the same time. Debbi told me that in order to remain free, I would need to bring this to light. I would need to share this with my husband first and then those closest to me. I told her there was no way I could do that. She said that it was my choice and that the choice was one of life or death: To keep it in the dark would give Satan control over me and keep me in bondage. To bring it to light by sharing it with those who loved me would bring Jesus glory and bring healing to my life that I had never imagined.
So I began to share with those closest to me, and then I shared for the first time publicly at the second ladies retreat. What happened next was absolutely a work of the Holy Spirit, as several other ladies began to share about abuse in their own pasts. God worked through those ladies that night, including me; He poured out His Spirit and there was much healing.
A few months after that, my friend, a pastor’s wife, asked me to lead the Healed and Set Free Bible Study with the ladies who were on that retreat. The Lord worked mightily in us. Many found freedom and healing from lifelong hurts and wounds.
I was able to reconnect with Debbi in San Diego on a visit there a few months after finishing the Healed and Set Free Bible Study. She is a tremendous blessing to me and I am so thankful that God brought her into my life. He used her in a mighty way. I am a different woman today because of the work of the Holy Spirit in me.