I was Sexually Molested at 5 Years Old.

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Every human starts out in life with a fallen nature, but those who indulge themselves in open sin at a young age are usually guided there by circumstances. For me, this came in the form of sexual abuse. I was five-years-old when a neighbor boy began molesting me. The belief that I was a “bad girl” was reinforced by the verbal and emotional abuse I routinely received from an angry father.

When I was twelve, I accepted Christ as my Savior. In my youthful naivety, I didn’t understand that I needed forgiveness for my sinful nature. I could only see the need to be forgiven for the bad things I had done with that boy. I didn’t understand that I was a victim of molestation—not a willing accomplice.

Nevertheless, I did my best to be a “good girl” throughout the rest of my youth. I was very active in church youth activities, particularly choir. Being from an extremely small town, going to church was a social experience for me. I assumed that since I enjoyed going, and rarely missed, I must be living the Christian life. I also resisted opportunities to be involved in sinful behavior like smoking, drinking or promiscuity. I was determined to be a “good girl.”

I didn’t understand that a person cannot live the Christian life without the abiding presence of Jesus Christ. All my attempts at being good were carried out in my own strength. Moreover, my good intentions were being worn down by the anger of my father. No matter how hard I tried to please him, I was always left with the feeling that I just didn’t measure up.

Looking back, I can see that I was hungry for love, validation and affection. As a senior in high school, I finally gave up inside. My boyfriend had been pressuring me to have sex and at last I relented. To my horror, I soon realized that I was pregnant.

It just so happened that I was soon to leave for college. I was so terrified of my father’s reaction that I delayed telling my family the news. When I was six months pregnant, I finally came home for a visit. My dad emotionally shut me out. In fact, he would not even talk to me except to tell me to “shut up” when I would cry.

His solution to the dilemma was to arrange for me to marry the father. I had not dated the guy since that night; the fact was that I never wanted to see him again. This marriage was doomed to failure from the beginning. But this was 1972 and out-of-wedlock pregnancy still carried a terrible stigma.

The child was born and dreams of college and a bright future quickly faded. My little boy was a joy to me but marriage was torment. My husband did not like me, much less love me. Like my father, he too was verbally abusive and controlling. After a second child was born, the abuse worsened and I decided to divorce my husband.

This was a distinct turning point for me spiritually because I knew I would be labeled once again by my family and community as a bad person, (and I was) so I figured it didn’t matter how I lived.  I convinced myself that I must not have been a Christian after all or I wouldn’t be such a bad person.  After months of living a truly shameful life of immorality, I decided to leave the state and start all over.

Within months, still desperate for love and acceptance, I moved in with a man who provided a sense of financial security and physical affection, but even this relationship lacked real love. He soon left me for another woman.

By this time I realized that men would never meet my needs. It was then that I changed my perspective and decided that I would throw myself into building a career. Over the next several years I made it my goal to climb the corporate ladder and make a good life for myself and my kids.

Even though I retained a lot of resentment toward men, I continued to give over to promiscuity. My family had long ago rejected me because of my sinful lifestyle, and though I occasionally visited church, the perceived stares and gossip were more than I could bear.

One day I discovered that I was pregnant again and chose to have an abortion. Before long, another one followed. I blocked out the guilt of my actions, convincing myself that abortion wouldn’t be legal if it were wrong. By this point, I had become a proud and defiant woman.

I didn’t realize it then, but there were many people praying for me during that time. It seemed that as much as I attempted to steel myself against it, the Holy Spirit continued to convict me of my sinful lifestyle.

One night, I was awakened—as though God was in the room. He simply said, “Enough.” I knew He was speaking to me and sobbed uncontrollably. I knew that I was not the woman He had intended me to be. I knew that only the Lord could rescue me from my bondage to sexual sin. In desperation I cried out, “Lord, I don’t want to live like this anymore, please forgive me!”

From that night on I became a different person. I could not wait to get back into church. I started reading the Word every day, learning all I could. I was desperate to be different and was in awe of this Savior who could love me after all that I had done.

One of the truths that God made real to me came from the words of Jesus just before He went to the Cross: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit.” He was telling me that anyone who desires to follow Him must die to his or her own life and embrace His. In fact, in the very next verse He says if we struggle to hold onto life, we will lose it. But if we are willing to let go of our lives in order to experience His, we will find life in the fullest sense of the word. (John 12:24-25)

This is what I have endeavored to do during the past 21 years—simply by trusting and abiding in Christ every day. What a glorious adventure it has been! He brought a godly man into my life who is not only my husband but my best friend and spiritual mentor as well. God has graciously restored relationships within my family. He has opened amazing doors of opportunity for me to minister to women across the country and in other parts of the world. My story proves that God uses simple and ordinary people to accomplish His wonderful work.

When I lived for myself, I was indeed a very sinful woman. But my testimony today can be summed up in the words about another woman like me: “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love.” (Luke 7:47 NLT) By God’s grace I intend on spending the rest of my life loving my Savior and the people He brings into my life.

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