My story begins at what should be the innocent age of one. I learned the harshness of life earlier than most. At one, I was abused by my own father. When my mother found out, I was taken far from his reach. Still, even though one would hope that a one year old wouldn’t remember such a thing, I do. I still feel safest in closets; I was hidden in a closet to keep me away from my own personal monster.
I thank God that He gave me a mother who was strong enough to take us out of that situation and keep us safe. My mother was a Christian and she held strong to her faith through this devastation. When I was still a small child, she was honest with me about what had happened. She always told me about my heavenly Father who loved me and would always take care of me. I believed her and knew that it was true. At five, I decided I wanted this Father to be my very own, to live in my heart. God took away the feelings that should have been hate and taught me to forgive my father.
If you know anything about forgiveness, you also know that you can forgive once and need to forgive again and in different ways. I forgave and had no hate, but I had hurt. I had been abandoned my father. I suffered from the labels with which Satan wanted to fill my mind, “unwanted,” “damaged,” and “a nobody.” Other little girls had fathers who picked them up and twirled them around. Their fathers took them nice places and those little girls were their father’s princesses. No amount of explaining to a little child can help her through the pain of knowing that her father wanted to take care of himself more than he wanted to love her.
This led to unhealthy relationships with guys throughout my high school years. I wanted guys to like me, so I would change to be what they wanted me to be. Yet while I was dating these guys through high school, God was still at work in my life. I began to learn that God loved me personally. I learned that God had a plan for me, and I knew I wanted to give my life to Him. No matter what was going on in my life, God was still present. He knew that I needed to learn that He was the only one who would never abandon me. Though I was in sin, He never left my side.
However, I continued this pattern into my first year of college. Finally, I hit rock bottom one day at church. I knew I couldn’t go on living two different lives. One in which I went to church as the good little girl and one where I gave guys parts of my heart and my body. God doesn’t play halvsies. After many tries and much confusion, I separated myself from guys altogether.
Nothing was immediate. I had some serious healing that needed to happen and God was the only one who could do that. When I went home that summer, God gave me a vision of a book that opened up and a sword was sliced down the middle of the book. He took away the past and gave me a new start, hallelujah!
Since that time God gave me the right man when He knew the time was right. He led me to South Africa to be a part of what He was doing at a little orphanage in Winterton. I married my right guy and became a military spouse moving frequently from place to place. I have even had a wonderful baby boy who has brought me so much joy that I can’t remember life before he arrived.
I am a follower of Jesus because He pursued me. He wrapped his arms around me every chance He got to tell me how much He loved me. He has taught me about who He is and how strong He is in my life. I have seen His love alive in others who reached out to me and I have seen His hand bring me to places I would have never brought myself. Surrendering to this kind of love is the easiest thing I have ever done. Still I must surrender to Him daily, take up my cross daily. He asks that we take up our cross so that He can take it from us and offer us his yoke instead. What a gentleman. What a God. What a love.
“Then he said to them all: “’Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’” – Luke 9:29 (NIV 84)
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:29-30 (NIV 84)
© 2013 – 2014, Brooke Shambley. All rights reserved. Love it? Please share, pin, tweet or email but do not use my work without permission.