there is life after sexual abuse…

5C464366-6030-49E0-B189-0138BF49B5B4The affects of sexual abuse have stayed with me for years, paralyzing me and keeping me from experiencing the joy that I know God intends for me.

I had lived with it for so long that it had become a part of me, something that I couldn’t imagine living without.

there have been years where i could go through the motions and live life somewhat normally, pushing the darkness deep down inside of me.

but most of the time, i was plagued with the darkness and the lies that wouldn’t stop racing through my mind.

C7EE8BCD-D30C-41B7-A9F9-9E8618D2F4CDAbout six years ago, I began to struggle with clinical depression.

some times i would find myself in such a deep pit of depression that, had it not been for my husband, i probably wouldn’t have left my bed.

knowing what i now know about depression, i am convinced that my past has played a big part in my struggle.

Thankfully, in the past year, the depression has lifted significantly, leading me to believe that this is just one more way that God is bringing healing to me…..

168F4194-344D-4CA9-BC1B-F5B591910ECBJust over a year ago, God began to walk my family through some big, yet amazing changes.

first of all, he brought me to a point in my life where i finally felt ready to walk in freedom.

Freedom the affects of sexual abuse.

My first step was to share my story with a close family friend, who also happens to be a pastor.

he helped me to see that what I’ve been dealing with all these years is shame.

98199AE5-80FD-42AF-A211-8766BBB53AF7This may sound weird, but I can’t begin to tell you how helpful it was for me to be able to name my struggle.

Our Pastor/friend suggested that i read the book, Shame Interrupted by Ed Welch.

reading that book was such an eye opener for me; it helped me to understand the affects of sexual abuse, and allowed me to see for the first time ever that I wasn’t alone.  And that my struggles and feelings were totally normal.

the author shared Scriptures meant to share God’s love and desire to take our shame and replace it with freedom and joy.

as i read this amazing book, God began to magnify my desire to walk in true freedom.

5937CDF4-774C-4305-A30A-2C26AE9E0CA0My husband and i both felt that i would benefit from some godly counseling, however, we also knew that we couldn’t afford much.

we both began to pray that God would open the doors for me to get counseling if that was his will for me.

during this time, our family was actually transitioning,  as we had recently left our church of thirteen years.

God led us to an amazing church, and little by little began to change our lives.

the Sunday sermons seemed to be directed right at me….it was as if God was telling me that He was going to set me free.

on New Year’s Day of last year, i sat in the Sunday service, tears streaming down my face, as God spoke to my heart, telling me that this was the year He was going to bring healing and that I would experience the true freedom that only he can give.

39AF4231-8CBD-4DD6-BC07-32826F4E8843Within a few months of becoming a part of this amazing church, we found out that the church has an awesome counseling ministry that is free to members of the church.

and so, this past fall i began what is called Bibical Soul Care.

i meet twice a month with my my counselor, as well as two other ladies; one is a dear friend of mine who is acting as my advocate, and the other is training to become a soul care counselor herself.

friends, this counseling is changing my life.

I’d be lying if i said that its been easy.  Because it certainly hasn’t.

the homework is filled with Scripture, and I am learning how to identify my thought patterns…the good ones as well as the bad.

This past session was the most difficult by far…I had to share the 5 most painful experiences of my life, giving as much detail as I was comfortable giving.

53E42295-F734-4361-B2C0-9BFF7C2A3FA7I literally sobbed through the whole session.

i couldn’t stop the tears.

and i shared my story.

once i was finished sharing, i was able to stop crying.

I felt such a relief wash over me, and i experienced a taste of the sweet freedom that Jesus has for me.

We meet again this Tuesday, and we will be talking about the ways those painful experiences have impacted my life and my thinking.

I have a ways to go, but little by little God is peeling away layers, and replacing them with sweet glimpses of His amazing love for me.

and you know what? He wants to do the same for you!

** Have your past experiences kept you from experiencing the sweet freedom that Jesus wants for you?  I’d love to chat with you in the comments, or as always if you’re more comfortable emailing me, please feel free to do so! Lifeofpattyanne@gmail.com

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Christmas meanderings…

0D22482A-5A30-4742-896E-C8D5B71E5F3EEvery year, Christmas seems to come and go, leaving me breathless and wondering how the time went by so quickly.

and no matter how hard i try to plan ahead, i still find myself scrambling a few days before Christmas, allowing anxiety to slip in just enough that it threatens to rob me of the sweet joys of Christmas.

i feel like i handled things a bit better this year—when i felt the old familiar anxieties  start to flair up, I simply reminded myself to relax and do what i can, accepting the reality that the most important things will get done and the rest can be let go.

it’s actually quite crazy the things that I allow myself to get worried about; i mean, quite frankly, who really cares if we have five different types of Christmas goodies rather than eight?

5BDB62B4-B991-4988-8B3E-5F60B43BEAF3All in all, we had a wonderful, relaxing Christmas, and thankfully, we were all healthy!

i messed up on both the breakfast and lunch menus, but my family was very gracious and no one went without eating.

we ended the day by going to see the movie, The Greatest Showman.  I’m telling you, if you haven’t seen this movie, you have to go see it!  It’s phenominal!  And to be honest, when my seventeen year-old daughter told me about it, I didn’t expect to like it.  But it made me smile and it made me cry, and i can’t recommend it highly enough.

BFBAD609-DA52-449B-A80D-B5AC10D0ECFFOf course, the day didn’t go by without me thinking about our adult daughter.  It’s hard to think that she’s out there somewhere, and i have no idea if she’s ok.  I find myself wondering if she’s safe, or if she’s even alive, for that matter.  And i cant help but remember the years when she was an innocent, sweet child who made us smile by just entering the room.

i’ve come to accept that this is our reality.  And i realize that there’s a possibility that we may never see her again.  Or that she may die as a result of the dangerous choices that she makes.

Sometimes i think i’d give anything just to hug her and pretend that our lives didn’t turn out the way they did.  But the reality is that she made her choice,and i can’t do anything about it.

and as painful as these past six years have been, I wouldn’t trade what God has done in my life, as well as in my husband and younger four kids.

He truly has made beauty out of the ashes.

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