In the early years of my life, from what I remember, my dad wasn’t around too much. When I was about five, he and my mom decided to move us to Colorado to start a new life. Around that time my sister was born, and she quickly became my dad’s world. I felt rejected and unloved at times, never feeling good enough for his love and affection. I remember for so many years feeling like I was the child he didn’t want. Quickly, Colorado became the most traumatic experience of my life. For six years, until I was 12, a family member had been sexually molesting me. At one point, I told my parents, and after that, my life and my family’s lives were threatened when he found out. The abuse continued, along with the brainwashing. Again, I felt unloved and rejected. I held onto this secret, never sharing with anyone what I was going through or feeling. I kept my emotions inside, rarely crying. I would hide, have fits of anger, or go along pretending everything was great, when inside I was dying.
We moved back to California when I was 12, and the effects of the abuse came with me. I battled with nightmares, flashbacks, and severe anxiety, often times wondering what was going on, because I thought I had pushed the abuse away for so long. When all that started happening regularly, I started having thoughts of suicide, just to end all the pain for good. I first attempted suicide at 15, and would later attempt suicide 2 more times. I constantly thought about how great it would be to no longer be here. School was very difficult. I often got into fights because of my anger, or just not caring about anything, and barely graduated. I would try to do everything to fit in and make friends, hoping to feel accepted and loved by others, even though I didn’t love myself at all. I started cutting and hurting myself. The pain I created on the outside of my body was the pain I was feeling on the inside, but didn’t know how to process it properly.
When I was younger, I would occasionally go to church, but only to make others happy. I always believed in God but never totally allowed him into my heart. Heck, I would rarely let people into my heart, let alone Jesus! It was because I was scared. When I opened up to others, I would always think they would think the worst of me and leave me because I wasn’t good enough. So that’s how I viewed God. I felt that I was too broken for God to even love me or care about me. But then he spoke to me unexpectedly through a friend and helped me to start understanding his love in a new way.
About 3 years ago, while battling with severe depression and thoughts of suicide, I received this totally “random” text from someone I barely knew, saying that God had put me on her heart. Little did she know I was just an hour away from taking my life. We ended up talking for hours, and she started to read me scripture and explain to me about how Christ loves me unconditionally. I was later invited to church, and was introduced to some great women. Some have even become like family and showed me a love that I had never experienced before. Their constant encouragement helped me to keep my eyes on Jesus, even during the difficult times. But even though I was finally starting to connect with God, I still wouldn’t let Him heal my heart from the abuse. I struggled with looking at Christ as my Father and loving me unconditionally, since I never felt that from my father here on earth.
I moved out to Orange County in June to find work and a fresh start. I started attending Crave and found a sense of community, like maybe this was where I belonged. Each week while attending Crave and talking with leaders and friends, God slowly started changing my heart, and I could feel it softening and healing. I started making an effort to seek God in all I did, giving Him total control. God started to reveal Himself to me in so many ways, through worship, messages, scripture, and people, but the part that really started to affect me and change me was the way He constantly kept showing me that He had a plan for my pain and for my life! He showed me that I was worth it!
I went on Crave’s winter retreat in February and experienced Christ in a way I NEVER had before. At one point during worship, I felt the arms of Christ wrap around me, something I never thought would happen. When I came home, I knew my life and walk would never be the same. I used to just occasionally get in the word and pray, but now I’m in the word as much as I can. Anytime I have something on my heart, God is the first one to know about it.
I’m so grateful that I decided to get involved here at Crave right away! Through small groups, I have met some amazing Christ-centered friends that have spoken into my life in so many ways. With the guidance and encouragement from those around me, and the Crave team, I have continued the healing process, and with the help of counseling, found that even in all the pain, Christ was always there. He wants wholeness in my life, and wants to make my past into good for His kingdom. I have found my voice through Christ. One of the things that I have realized in my walk is that Jesus has called us to serve those around us, to be His hands and feet to those that might not even know Him. I have been serving at Saddleback and Crave Rancho as well as interning for a non-profit that helps teens and young adults battling with depression, suicide, self-injury, and many of the things I have dealt with in my past. I have realized that God will ALWAYS turn our hurts into good. Serving allows us to be like Christ, and to show Him to others through our actions and our hearts.
The healing process is just that—a process that is still continuing. Isaiah 43:18-19 says, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." Life is not perfect, but I know I can hold onto God’s truths. I am a new creation. There are still feelings and relationships that I am currently healing from. But my relationship with Christ is stronger than ever. He has a plan for me and will never leave me nor forsake me. I know that through Christ, all things are possible. There will still be pain, but My Abba Father is there, always to wipe my tears and bring comfort, no matter what has happened. Before, I used to think that if I messed up, God would leave me. I used to think that Jesus could never love someone like me. Now in my heart, I know those are all lies that the enemy wants all of us to believe in some way or another. What are the lies you’re believing? Recognize the truth—that we have life and hope in Christ. He is always there, no matter what. If this is your first time here, get connected. Crave is a safe place where we as broken people can come each week just as we are and feel the love of Christ. If you are hurting or battling with something, come talk with someone up here or in the back. There is hope. You too can have complete freedom in Christ when you allow Him into your heart. You are loved and so worth it.