“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” – Isaiah 43:19a

I grew up very fearful of my father, who has a terrible temper and would yell and swear at us daily, sometimes even hitting us. When he came home, my brothers and I would scatter to our rooms so we wouldn’t be the one to throw him into a fit of rage.

My father never wanted to spend any time with me, and I grew up thinking women were inferior to men. Meanwhile, my mother tried to hold it together, raising four children on her own with my father always gone.

In my 20’s, I began drinking a lot, taking addicting anxiety medications and throwing myself at any guy who gave me attention — anything to numb the pain from my childhood. Men were my god and I wanted to please them to be accepted. This began a string of unhealthy relationships with men who were extremely abusive both verbally and emotionally. Eventually I started a tumultuous relationship with an older man. He was an alcoholic and cheated repeatedly and I was depressed and filled with anxiety all the time. But I thought, “If I am perfect then the man I love will want me and love me.” I was so obsessed with him that I was stuck in this intense stronghold for 3 years.

Then I met a much older man who became my new god. He belittled and disrespected me, and spent his nights with other girls. Crushed and anxiety-ridden, I started more anxiety medication and drinking more and more alcohol (as he was an alcoholic too); not knowing the combination of those can be deadly. Again, I thought if I were perfect, he would want me. When we broke up, I went into a deep depression staying at my parents for months as a walking zombie; I went to work and came home. I cried so hard at night my parents would hold me and worry. I was haunted daily by my ex, with all of the overwhelming hurt I had suffered yet whom I longed for so badly. I remember being so depressed as I drove on the highway and thinking how easy it would be to just drive off the road and end it.

Then I met another man. I saw a million red flags, his history with drugs and alcohol and violence, but I ignored them. After breaking it off, I went to his apartment one night to get the rest of my belongings. He invited me in, but got angry that I wasn’t spending the night. He yelled at me and threw my cell phone outside. I pleaded with him to let me get my stuff and I’d leave. He grabbed my arm, pulled me down the stairs, opened the front door, and threw me down a flight of cement steps. That was my rock bottom. I had run for so many years, never healing, and getting more and more hurt. That was it, something had to change or I wouldn’t be here today.

During this time, I had been attending church. I believed in God growing up, but it wasn’t until I hit rock bottom that I fully gave my life to Christ. I completed the Healed and Set Free study a couple months ago where I met some amazing sisters in Christ; we share a bond that I have never had with anyone.

Through the Healed and Set Free Bible study, God gave me tools to live set free and I continue to use the biblical tools daily. The process of being healed and set free has been the most difficult, yet rewarding, thing I have EVER done. I have forgiven my father, and the men and women who have hurt me. I am set free daily as I shoot down Satan’s attempts to throw old memories at me. Now I can go out in public without fear of running into anyone like I use to do. I’m still working on finding “the new me” with God. I look forward to praising Him daily and focusing on the higher calling He has for my life. I pray for my future husband every day, whoever he may be. My mom, who completed the study with me, told me she sees a smile on my face that she has not seen since I was in middle school.

Now I love God with all my heart, mind and soul, and I long to know Him more. He brought me out of my black hole of despair, self-hatred, shame, anger and fear. I NEVER thought I would be able to forgive, forget and move on with my life.

Thanks be to God and His amazing love for us to heal and set us free. For we aren’t alone in this journey and God has more for us as we follow where He leads.

“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” – (John 8:32 )