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A Lifetime of Abuse Outpaced by Love

“Well, I had just fed him.  And it was like an hour and I, and I jumped up and I'm like, ‘Oh my God, you know, He's not breathing!’” Teresa remembers painfully.  

Teresa’s twin sons were just ten-weeks-old when one of them, Tristan, died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  Her desperate pleas to God seemed to be ignored.

“And I was begging Him to let him live and he – and he didn't live.”

A couple months later, Teresa was in her back yard, warming herself by a fire pit, when the pain completely engulfed her.

“Why am I sitting here doing all this suffering in life?” she recalls thinking.  “I just poured gas, you know, all over me, and was fixin’ to step into the fire.”

But it was more than losing her son that sent Teresa over the edge. She’d already endured a lifetime of abuse, starting with her alcoholic dad.

“I just wanted to be able to love my father and not be scared of him.  He would spank you harder than you needed… and just like no reason.  I mean he would beat my mother sometimes -- it's like you didn't want to hear it, but you had to hear to make sure that she was okay,” she explains.  “My father would switch from being happy to being mean and abusive, and that's how I perceived how God was.”

Then, there was the babysitter.  For six months, he molested Teresa each time he came.  She was just five.

“He would say that he was doing that because I was being bad,” Teresa says.   “And he knew I was scared of my father. ‘Your father is gonna beat you, your mother is not gonna love you.’”

Noticing a change in her daughter, Teresa’s mom asked if something was wrong.  But the five-year-old was paralyzed by fear, and said, “no.”

“Inside I was screaming for help," she admits.  “‘Make him stop, somebody help me,’ you know, but it never came out.  But the main thing that stuck with, you know, I was being bad, and it was my fault. And I started believing it.”

Her mom figured something was going on and stopped using the sitter.  A few years later, Teresa’s dad died, and she was left to grow up with the ugly scars of abuse.  At 12, she found alcohol helped with pain.

“Oh, man, I was just shut down.  I was isolated emotionally, you know, I was messed up, and I just, you know, I just withdrew,” Teresa remembers.  “Before I was even 21, I was out drinking at bars and drinking quite regularly.”

Hoping a loving family of her own would fix everything, Teresa married at 20.  But she was too emotionally fragile to allow anyone to love - or even touch her.  

“You know, I didn't know how to be in a relationship. You know, I felt guilty and ashamed.”

Two years in, Teresa gave birth to their daughter -- but her husband soon left them.  For years, she would fall deeper into depression and alcoholism.  At 30, she and a boyfriend had the twins, and that’s when Tristan died of SIDS, Teresa doused herself with gas, and planned to end it all. Her eight-year-old daughter walked out in time to stop her.

“I believed that God was punishing me for the sexual abuse that happened when I was a child,” she confesses.  “What am I even here for, you know? Nobody can love me.”

In the coming years, the only things keeping her going were her two kids, alcohol, and later, drugs.  She landed in jail several times on DUI charges. During her last stint, she met some women from a jail ministry.

“They would play some Jesus songs before they would, you know, bring a word, and I'm not really understanding what they're saying, but they sparked my interest and I just believe it was God making a way,” she recalls.  

Still, Teresa kept them at arm’s length ... that is, until she got out, and found her house vandalized and her car impounded.  With no one to turn to, she called the ministry, asking for help. Two ladies came to comfort Teresa and invited her to church.

“I never, ever felt a feeling like that ever before in my life. It was just so like powerful and peaceful,” Teresa says.  “He was preaching on Joseph. I guess I seen, you know, everything that Joseph went through. And I think for the first time in my life I had some hope.  When he got done - phew! - you know, I just went up to the altar and the pastor prayed with me, and I gave my heart to the Lord.  It just brought something that I've never felt.  I didn’t want to drink, I mean, or do drugs. When I went to that first church service, I had no desire. I didn’t have withdrawals.”

As Teresa began to trust God, she opened up about her past to a therapy group -- and discovered God’s love for her.

“She said, ‘God said He has been trying to love you for such a long, long time, if you will open that wall down and let Him in, He will pour more love on you, all the love that you've missed out on.’ That's when He pulled out the abuse and just started walking me through that healing process,” she clearly remembers.  “That session opened me enough, you know, where I believed that God was real and that He loved me. The shame and all that, you know, I think I was healed of that, you know, pretty quickly.”

In time, she also forgave her father and her abuser.

“Asking God from my heart, you know, to forgive him and let him turn to Him and touch him like He touched me. That forgiveness is the key to it all.”

Teresa now helps other women to heal from their traumas, focusing on where she found genuine, lasting love.

“Reading the Bible, reading the Bible, and as I seen God was love, and, it’s a fallen world.  God didn't cause that to happen,” she now believes.  “Jesus, He died for me, because He loves me. And He set me free, and I'm nothing without Him, and I love Him with all my heart.”

__

Jesus said “In this world we will have trouble. But be of good cheer because I have overcome the world.”

Translation? We can’t escape the inevitable crises that face all of us at one time or another throughout our lifetime. Whether it’s sexual abuse, addiction, depression, career challenges, or gut-wrenching losses, these experiences can destroy our morale and lead us into despair if we let them.

Grace Revealed: Finding God’s Strength in Any Crisis is an inspirational and practical handbook to encourage and guide you to the better days that God intended for us. The real-life stories you’ll find there are a testament to the truth that Jesus has indeed overcome the world!

Learn more at www.storiesofgodsgrace.com

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