I grew up in a home that from the outside looked like your average family. I went to church often and attended Christian schools. However, emotional abuse, neglect, and the haunting secrets of sexual abuse from early on in my childhood created an atmosphere of deception and toxicity. Shame and confusion became my identity, as I could not separate what had been done to me from what I was now feeling so compelled to do. I did my best to live like the “good Christian girl” everyone saw on the outside, but inside I felt hopeless and alone. I started self-harming, and I soon became suicidal.
No one in my life knew any of the struggles I was facing because I was successful academically, socially, and spiritually. This idealized self I had learned to portray to those around me only intensified the shame I felt inside. I believed that if anyone knew my real problems, they would certainly be disgusted and leave me. I felt less than worthy of love from humans, let alone the God who I knew saw my deepest secrets.
When I was 16, I met the family that is now my spiritual family. They were the first people to whom I confessed my addiction and need for help. They loved me and fought for my healing and were used by God to begin the process of disarming my identity and built-in shame. I moved in within them after being released from the psychiatric hospital soon after I turned 18. Slowly all the secrets and pain I had stuffed down inside started to spill out, and my unhealthy behaviors increased while my depression and anxiety worsened. That’s when they suggested I apply to Mercy Multiplied.
Mercy truly became a safe and steady place where God so kindly reintroduced Himself to me. I had to own some anger I was holding against Him. I had felt abandoned by Him for years, begging Him to provide a way out of the life I felt trapped in with what seemed like no answer. As I learned that God could handle the truth of my emotions, He began to show me that He never left me. His gentle presence was making a way long before I could see it. His grace covered me even in the moments I felt most alone, and He heard every one of my prayers. Most of my time in the program was spent working through the shame-based identity I had taken on—the abuse and abandonment I had incurred only compounded the shame. God continually spoke the name “worthy” over me during my season at Mercy. He dismantled shame’s loudest lie with just this one whispered word. Worthy of being known, heard, and valued for who I was- not what my body or achievements could offer. The most healing came from God continuing to call me worthy of being His Daughter. Not for one single moment, in any situation, regardless of what I was doing or what was being done to me, did God retract this name of ‘worthy’ from me. Believing God saw me no less worthy in the depth of my sin than in the peak of my worship was the key to internalizing and accepting His identity for me as my own truth.
Piece by piece and day by day, God has made me new during my time at Mercy. Loneliness was no match for the promise of His presence, sadness for the anchoring of His hope, fear for His faithfulness, or shame for His robes of righteousness. My heart has relearned my Father and is captivated not only by who He is, but who He has been all along. I am in awe of the Lord’s hand in this season. Every person in this Mercy journey has had an impact on me, touching parts of my heart that had never seen the light of day.
After Mercy, I will be going home to my spiritual parents. I do not have adequate words to share my love and gratitude for how they have made me a part of their precious family. I will spend the next season catching up on life at home and babysitting for some local families. After that, I plan to move out and go to college. I am so excited to continue this healing process and walk out the freedom God has given me!