forgiveness

All posts tagged forgiveness

EMDR 3

Published June 21, 2017 by Chloe Madison

This was an extemely emotional session- I was crying before I even went in (about other stuff though). I feel so deeply tired, like I can’t move my body. Almost like I’m drunk, my body feels numb and tingly and heavy.

We had a discussion about what’s real or not in EMDR and how could Jesus be bringing forward my dad if I don’t even think my dad’s in heaven. If it’s not real, then how can this bring healing? This was important to discuss because it’s even distracting me during sessions. I wonder how much of what’s happening during EMDR is just wishful thinking on my part and how much of it is real healing that’s occurring. So we only did 20 minutes of actual EMDR.

I realize I have new anger with my dad- so much more than before. I’m incredibly angry about the life his actions have taken and the multiple lives it’s ruined.

We picked up where we left off- my dad was there with a sad face and big, questioning eyes, (waiting for me to either forgive or accept him or hug him or something) and Jesus was behind me. I pushed myself back into Jesus- not wanting to move toward my dad and wanting to rest/ rely on Jesus or to know that he’s still there for me.

Jesus and I were standing the same pool of water. The water changed from blue to red, as I was avoiding looking at Jesus because I really wasn’t ready to move toward my dad. I remembered that Jesus nudged me the last time to go toward my dad, but since I didn’t feel ready, I felt ashamed to look Jesus in the face.

The red crept up from the water and moved into the sky and everything became a deep red- I thought Jesus was leaving, but I remembered that’s what the color purple represents. I’m not sure what the red was all about. 

Out of the corner of my eye, I see green grass sprouting up.

Out of the green, blooms a single yellow orchid (which reminds me of my dad because he grew orchids- there’s even a brown orchid with a fuchsia and yellow center named after my dad, called the Charlie Orchid.) 

The Charlie Orchid


The grass morphs into the orchid plant and in fast forward motion, whole sprays of yellow orchids shoot out and bloom. I see a caretaker of the orchid plant- someone (only a shadow) bent over the plant. I think it might be my uncle (because he and his wife grew orchids after my dad died). It turns out it is my uncle. He looks up and talks, but I can’t hear him. I really want to hear what he’s saying so I tell him that I can’t hear him. He gets up close to me, smiles a great big smile and loudly says with a funny, sarcastic attitude, “What I said was…” and then he keeps talking but I can’t hear him again. His mouth moves, but he’s silent. 

I turn to ask Jesus to help out here- to help me understand what my uncle is saying. I think I forgot some parts that happened in between…but I see my uncle smile like I have literally never seen him smile before and he gives a side hug to my dad, who’s also smiling. I immediately think it’s fake. This isn’t real- there’s no way everything is all hunky dory between them. (This is where I question the veracity of EMDR). 
? I don’t remember, but I think I look back at Jesus to see if this (my dad and uncle hugging and smiling) is real- to get confirmation. Jesus looks different this time though. He looks like a real person- not like the glowing light he was before. 

⬆️⬇️ don’t know which happened first 

? At some point, I’m avoiding looking at Jesus and I look down and play around with the water, letting my hands glide over the top of the blue water. The water slowly turns white. After all the water turns white, where Jesus and I are standing together, the water begins to glow a warm yellow. I feel warmth on my back where Jesus is. I think I turn to see him. And then I turn back to see where my uncle and dad are- it’s like I’m checking to make sure they’re not the same- like there are no tricks or anything. (?)

I look directly at Jesus and ask him to talk to me, I ask, “What do you want me to know?” He says in the most convincing, sincere and compassionate way I’ve ever heard, “I LOVE you.” He continues, “I’m here with you… (and he says something else and something else- I can’t remember)…and “choose life. Choose MY life.” Jesus hugs me and holds me and says the same things all over again. I’m confused with what he means by choose “my life.” I ask him and he says, to choose the life that he has for me. I ask him to explain to me how to do that, to show me that. In response, I no longer see any visuals- I hear “scriptures” over and over again. I’m mildly annoyed by this because it’s a vague answer and It’s always been hard for me to discern the meaning or the direction that some scriptures point you in. But “scripture” was the very clear answer. 

EMDR 2

Published June 12, 2017 by Chloe Madison

We started out with the image of my uncle, shot,  face down in the bloody grass.

I almost immediately lifted straight up in the air and was floating over my uncle’s house.

I saw the events of the suicide play out from a bird’s eye view: my uncle barricading himself in the back bedroom, the police coming in through the front door, I see him leave out the back door of his room and run around to the front of the house. I see him come up behind the officers, the last of whom are still entering through the front door. I see him raise his empty handgun and point it at the officers. I see them shoot him. He falls and as they approach and pick up his weapon, they realize it’s empty. One of them says, “Ah, fuck.” 

The police take hours to write up their reports. One of my memories is staring at the circular burn marks in the grass that were made by the police cars idling on top of the high lawn.

My aunt is crying and my uncle is getting taken away on a stretcher. 

I go back into his bedroom, where he’d barricaded himself.

I feel like there’s something I need to see, something I need to find- a clue maybe. 

I’m drawn to the bed…it’s dark underneath- twice I see a long shot gun laying under the bed amidst the darkness.

I find sheets of paper between the mattresses – maybe a suicide note? Or some kind of communication from my uncle?

I hold the papers and a green vine grows up out of them toward the sky, like Jack and the Beanstalk. The vine quickly swirls upward toward the sky and soon, red blood trickles down the vine.

The trickle turns into a gushing of blood pouring down, like the elevator scene in The Shining, where blood gushes out. 


I jump out of the way as the blood pours down from the heavens. It pools on the floor. I keep up against the sides of the walls. I don’t know what to do. I slip out of the door to the bedroom, wanting to leave the mess behind. I feel guilty right away and realize I’m turning my back on my uncle. So I face the door and put my hand on white door and on the door handle, saying to myself that I’ll go back in. I just need a minute. 

Then a yellow light forms directly behind me and garners my attention. I’m drawn to the light but I keep wanting to go back to the bloody room. I hear, “Come to the light.” I think they say, “that’s not yours,” taking about the bloody mess in the room. 

I don’t want to leave the room- it’s my depression. I’m not sure I’m ready to leave the room/ the depression behind.

A hand reaches out from the light and takes mine and it makes me smoothly and swiftly move forward. I think I say something about how easy it is when you take my hand. ? 

It pulls me sharply through a membrane or energy field kind of thing- into a bubble filled with white light. 

Inside the bubble is bright but we can see through it. We float up again over the house. I see the dark room – blackness envelops the outside of the room and the red blood is still pooled in the inside. It seems they’re pointing me in the opposite direction of the room to find happiness. It’s not toward the bloody, black room- it’s elsewhere.

I look over to see what/ where happiness is and the place has green foliage with red roses and a blue ocean. I see the red roses vividly- they stand for life. It’s just the rose- no stem, no nothing- just the flower. Suddenly I’m out in the ocean and there are about 5 or 6 of the roses floating in the blue ocean with me. I question whether the ocean is truth like the other blue water was. It’s not. It’s darker, deeper. I see it as being how I describe depression and suicide- like an uncontrollable, wild sea overwhelming and devouring you. 

Like La Mer:


Like my twitter picture:


So I decide the ocean is not where the roses belong. I look toward the shore and see the white sand of the shore and the green foliage with palm trees. I think that’s where I need to move to. I pick up the roses floating in the ocean and gather them together and paddle for the white beach. Paddling goes on forever. I make it to the white beach, sit down, gaze out over the ocean, and set the roses down in the sand. As I’m looking at them, I realize they won’t flourish here. They’re life. And to make them live, they need to reach the green foliage behind me. So I pick the roses up off the sand and take them to the greenery. I see a small gentle waterfall flowing into a small cool pool of water in the middle of the green foliage. I think the roses might belong there so I put some in the greenery and I lay some on the water to float. I stand in the water and analyze the roses in the greenery and the roses floating to see which is better. The water is better. So I take the few roses from the greenery and put them in the water with me. 

I want to lay back in the cool water and float, but I don’t want to lose touch with the roses. So I take a rose in each hand and lay back and float. With the red color in my palms, it reminds me of Jesus on the cross. 

When you float and water is in your ears, you can’t hear most of what’s happening around you. So I think it’s not safe to float because I can’t hear if anyone or anything approaches. So I sit up to see if anyone is there. I spin around and do a 360 and see no one. But I feel like someone is there so I say, “who’s there?” At this point, I think my dad begins to come forward- a faded figure with a belly. I’m not sure though. As he emerges, it becomes clear that it’s definitely him. I see his jeans and his red and white plaid shirt.


 I recognize his body, but his face is more blurry. 

I think he’s there to finish our conversation. I go to get out of the pool to hug him/ greet him. But I stop. I picture wearing wet clothes and think because of him and his past, that might not be appropriate or safe. So I remain in the water. He sits on the edge of the pool with his feet in the water. I want to talk so I say, “Is there anything you want to say?” He says, “I love you” and then says something about if there was ever any doubt or there shouldn’t be a doubt. I think he says something else but I can’t remember. 

<I think something significant happens here, but I just can’t remember what… >

I apologize, but I bluntly tell him that I just can’t trust him. I see a picture of the clown painting and a bird briefly enters the picture. I think the clown painting (representing grooming or deceitful, manipulative actions) might represent why I have doubts. 

I just don’t believe him.
I ask, “Can God say that to me so I can believe you?” But I feel bad right away and drop my head, thinking of how you shouldn’t ask God to prove things to you. 

Jesus comes almost immediately, full on in all His glory. No shadowy figure- but a bright white and yellow, very clear image of him appears. He gets in the water with me and stands right in front of me. It’s almost invasive how close He gets…but it makes me realize He’s there for me, how close He is to me.

He holds his hands out toward me with a red rose in it. The red rose turns into the red sacred heart. 


I think I hear “Jesus is life/ I am life” and “choose life” over and over and over again. Jesus takes me by the hand and I say how easy it is when he holds my hand. I grab? His other hand and ask him to never let go. We embrace in a long, strong, very safe hug.

I don’t know if I ask him if my dad loves me or not. My dad is there off to the side waiting. I explain that I love my dad and I think I’ve forgiven him. Jesus answers by saying, “I love you” with the implication of isn’t that enough? Or isn’t that all you need? Inside I know it is. I don’t answer out loud. I cry a lot (in real life) while this is happening.

I think I still want to know about my dad- what to do. When I asked Jesus to never let go of my hands he didn’t…until this point. He turns me around to face my dad and puts his hands on my shoulders. His hands feel huge and they grip strong so I know he won’t let go of me. He’s got me, is supporting me- he’s got my back, so to speak. I feel a gentle nudge forward, towards my dad- Jesus asks if I’m ready to move forward. I hesitate. I don’t know. I feel I’m not ready and I don’t know if I should accept him or what. ? 
The therapist says she sees the Holy Spirit all over this. She said something similar the last time too. I wonder if she just says that to everyone. 

I didn’t want to go today. I was crying before I even went. I’m so angry and so overwhelmingly sad. I’m surrounded by love at the moment, but all I want to do is get away- run away. I just want to disappear. On multiple levels.

EMDR session #1

Published June 10, 2017 by Chloe Madison

You’re supposed to focus on a picture of the most distressing part of the issue you’re dealing with. Then, you decide what’s the biggest negative feeling you have about it. I wept throughout this entire session- not sure why.

I have a picture in my head of my uncle’s suicide- his body laying face down in the grass, the stark contrast of the red blood on the green grass. 

The feeling I have is that I should have been more understanding of him, I should have known (what I didn’t know yet) about his abuse by my dad. I should have been more compassionate. 

I feel pain in my heart and chest- it blows up, swells, and feels like it’s going to burst. The pain moves up through my neck and into my head. I feel like my head is going to explode as the pain swells greater and greater. I feel like the explosion will come out of my eyes and my head will shatter. 

So I turn away from the sight because I can’t deal. I keep trying to move away and I feel like I start to float away from the scene. As much as I turn my head in that direction, wanting to move away from the scene of the suicide, I feel obligated to return. It’s the right thing to do. It’s like I just can’t turn my back on my uncle- it’s not his fault. 

I feel like I need to talk with my aunt to tell her the truth. (In reality, my uncle had been sexually abused my my dad when they were younger- my uncle told several people, but no one ever believed him. He spent most of his life depressed and eventually committed suicide). So I feel like I need to tell my aunt that my uncle was telling the truth. But I don’t want to because I’m afraid it will crush her. I see us talking in fast forward with no words.

We move into her house and we begin to become submerged in blue water that’s all throughout the house. The water stands for truth. We soak in the water up to our mouths- our entire bodies are submerged and part of our heads- up to the level of our mouths. We don’t talk anymore, we just soak in the truth. I can tell it’s going to take her time to take it all in (just like it took me time to digest everything). 

As we’re soaking in the blue water, I notice the sky turns a deep red. It becomes a dark maroon, like something foreboding is coming. But there’s a lighter, circular spot that develops in the sky. In the deep red sky, this lighter spot turns into an orange color, then fades into yellow. I feel like Jesus is going to come through that spot on a chariot or something. 

But I don’t let him. Even though I don’t have the power to stop God, I push back and don’t let him come out of the sky. The sky begins to turn a deep purple. I feel like it’s a signal that Jesus is permanently leaving. (The therapist says at this point that it’s our choice to follow Jesus and allow Him to work.) 

So I realize the mistake I’m making and I say, “Sorry! Come back, come back!” I don’t quite remember, but I think the sky turns from purple to orange. I rise up out of the blue pool to get a better look to see if Jesus is coming back. I keep rising up and as I do, I’m spinning and floating upwards, looking all around. I don’t see Jesus, but I get the feeling that he’s all around me. I look up, directly overhead and I see a circular area that’s made up of a whiter light (this reminds me of the very end of Twister when they look up into the middle of the tornado). I’m floating up into this white light. 

I feel like it could be God carrying me up into Heaven, perhaps for a visit. I want to visit my uncle and think that maybe I’ll see everyone there. I see the shadows of all my family members who have passed on. But then I see all the shadows of everyone fade and back away. One person floats forward (he’s a dark shadow with a bigger belly) so I think it’s my dad. I never see him clearly so I’m not sure. I wanted to check on my uncle so I keep thinking my dad will fade and my uncle will come forward. But it doesn’t happen. 

My dad keeps coming forward. He puts his arm around me, his hand on my shoulder and I think he says he needs to tell me something. He says, “I’m so very sorry.” Well, this is all I’ve ever wanted to hear! So I wonder if it’s real or imagined. I think I asked him if he apologized to my uncle…I wanted to make sure they’ve resolved things. He says, “I never meant to hurt you.” I think he said I love you. I don’t seem to receive these messages too warmly as I find myself still preoccupied with wanting to know if he’s resolved things with my uncle and if my uncle is ok. He asks me for forgiveness. I kind of hold off answering, almost like- well, if you apologized to Uncle Gary, then yes- if you didn’t, then no. I’m preoccupied with the injustice my uncle dealt with his entire life. Then my dad says, “Justice is not yours, it’s the Lord’s.” It makes me think of academy and wanting to help others get justice because my uncle never got it and I never did either. 

I tell my dad, “Of course I forgive you. I always have.” We go to hug, but I pause in the embrace. I question if it’s safe. I hold off hugging because I keep questioning the safety/ protection of the situation because it wasn’t safe before. I then see another person’s face- a giant sized face just floating there. This is a safe person, but I try to push that face away because it has nothing to do with the situation. The same giant face comes back again- this time the face itself is faded, but I recognize other facial features. I push it away again, thinking it doesn’t belong (except for the fact that it is a safe person). I can’t quite remember what happens next. 

I don’t know. I think we never fully hug. I think I inquire about my uncle again. My dad answers with something like- he did or said what he had to/ needed to me. (I notice we’re running out of time in the session.) I keep thinking my indecision to embrace or my indecision about whether hugging my dad is safe or questioning about my uncle is making Heaven impatient with me. The white light we’ve been in turns dark purple and I feel like I’m running out of time. They’re going to send me away. 

I descend back to Earth, back toward the pool of blue water. I look up and see my dad’s hand is reaching down to me. I reach up to him, but we’re too far away. God doesn’t let us touch or let us have more time. I keep descending and his hand fades away. 

I can see my aunt again in the water with me. I ask her if she understands now. There’s no response. I’m distracted by the sky turning orange. I see a light circular spot developing again in the sky. I think it’s Jesus coming back. I can’t remember, but I think I decide that  I don’t want to push him away again. 

I think it ends there. I’m not sure. I don’t remember. 

Would have been…

Published May 26, 2017 by Chloe Madison

Ignore this- you know it already. I need to tell a story I’ve already told before. I just can’t get my mind off this. 

My uncle committed suicide by police. I was there hours later, standing next to the spot where he died. I remember finding his blood on the grass. I noticed all the circular burn marks in the grass, where officers’ patrol cars had sat idling for hours. Even then, his wife refused to tell me what was really going on. She explained in detail how he had died. How he said he wanted to die and she called the police to Baker Act him (Baker Act is a suicide hold). The police arrived and he apparently set his secret plan in motion. He barricaded himself in his bedroom, ran out of the back door (located in the bedroom), and circled around to the front door of his house. He carried a handgun with no magazine in it. He ran up behind the line of officers, who were still entering through the front door. They noticed him and he raised the gun and pointed it at the officers. They fired. Of course, it wasn’t until afterward that they realized his handgun wasn’t loaded. Suicide by police = quick and highly effective. 
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I found out why my uncle committed suicide. I don’t think that many people knew- I know of two. But those people- my cousin and my aunt (my uncle’s wife) refused over and over again to tell me. My cousin let out the most information, saying that my Uncle Gary had always accused someone of something and no one had ever believed him. Well, with my past, my mind immediately went to sexual abuse and I thought maybe my dad or someone else in the family. (I had always wondered if someone ever did anything to my dad- I mean, where did he learn this from?) Anyway, maybe two years ago, I was back in my hometown visiting. I was with my cousin and had already decided in my head that I was going to extract this information from her before I returned home. We had already gotten into some deep conversations- her husband (one of my most favorite family members) had been murdered. He was a government agent and she thought he’d been murdered by his own people. (Btw, if this blog suddenly disappears, there ya go.) So we’d broached heavy topics and I brought up my uncle. Again, she refused to tell me what he’d been so depressed about his entire life. I knew he hated me…he hated everyone. But I never knew why. I remember being so confused at his funeral as his co-workers stood up and relayed stories about how sweet, kind, generous, and funny he was. I thought these people are at the wrong funeral!! Who are they talking about? I never knew my uncle to be sweet or generous or funny. Ever. I was shocked as person after person went up to the front and said all these things about him. They were describing a side of him I never knew existed. And I remember thinking again… why did he hate his family so much? But he loved these people? I was so confused and unsettled. So years later, I’m sitting in my cousin’s kitchen. It’s nearly 2am. I told her I wouldn’t leave until she spilled it. So she finally did. 

She told me how my uncle had accused his older brother (my dad) of sexually abusing/ molesting him. No one had ever believed my uncle. I’m assuming he must have despised my father. It was no wonder he hated me too then…I was my father’s child. He was probably disgusted with all of us. And…now that I know how my grandma helped cover up my abuse…I’m assuming she did the same with my uncle. No wonder he was such as ass to her too. He had told her and she had acted like she didn’t believe him. She just kept it all covered up. Is that a mother’s loyalty? I don’t think that’s right, no matter how you look at it. 

Tears stream down my face right now as I know I would have been the only person to believe him. I wish I had known. I wish he had told me, instead of just hating me from afar. I wonder if he had shared and I believed, would that have comforted him at all? Would that have made a difference or prevented his death? Would he have been more disturbed to discover that my dad had abused another? 

So that’s where I find myself stuck. I very slowly came to the realization that my dad was a sexual predator, a child molester, a 
Until I found out about my uncle, I never thought of my dad that way. I’d honestly thought he was a good person, as everyone had repeatedly told me, who made a mistake once with his daughter. It took a while to hit me…there was more than one victim. I wasn’t the only one. That makes him all those bad things. Maybe I should have thought of him that way before, but I just didn’t. I think it’s easier to forgive your father. You want a dad so badly, you wouldn’t want to push him away by being unforgiving. 

Part 1, Still continued…

Published November 6, 2012 by Chloe Madison

I kept going to church with Cam.  It was my safe place, my refuge.  I was learning to love God and to love others.  I was learning to focus on the joyous experiences in life and to love those who were hurting. I clung to those beliefs, that church, that youth group and those kids. I could be my silly, tomboyish self and was still loved.

_479

I also had my first boyfriend during this time.  He was my first real love.  His name was Paul Love. Isn’t that the best last name? He was like McGyver to me.  He could do anything, knew random facts…he was kind, gentle, thought the world of me and was a romantic. I learned what love was like with him.  We had a pure relationship, no sex, no lusting.  We simply adored each other and were deeply in love.  We spent a few years together and at that age, it’s like being together forever.  We wound up breaking up and he married his very next girlfriend right out of high school.  He disappeared off the face of the earth and as we unfortunately lived back in the days of no cell phones and no Facebook, we lost touch.  But, he will forever hold a special place in my heart.  To this day, I still look at aged pictures of us and read old, worn out love letters from him.

 

Australia…

In high school at the age of 16, I went on my first major missions trip.  Cam was on the team, which made it feel safer.  We went to Australia to build a camp for the kids there.  Do you remember the last few days of the school year?  The last couple of days are usually reserved for final exams and are sometimes even half days.  It was one of those last few days, right before I was to leave on the trip that I think I had an encounter with an angel.  This man came to visit my teacher…she recognized him as he was a former student and she chuckled as he explained that he was in seminary.  She said he was such a terrible kid in her class that she was surprised he was following God.  She pointed me out to him, stating that I was about to leave on a 2 month long missions trip.  He asked my teacher if he and I could talk privately out in the hallway.  She let us go outside and talk.  He said he felt like he needed to tell me something.  He wanted to tell me how to cast a demon out. Inside, I freaked!!  I thought ‘this man needs to get away from me!! What a weirdo!’  But, I heard him out as I kept casting a longing eye toward my classroom.  He told me three things were important.  The first was that “the name of Jesus Christ” had to be used.  The second was that we had the authority as children of God to do this and that our faith facilitated its effectiveness.  The third…. well, I can’t remember the third one to save my life.  😦   He asked to pray with me and over me and he did.  I never saw him again.

dark angel

 

I left on my trip and within weeks, found myself face to face with demonic possession. Her name was Grace.  She was a frail looking 14 year old girl who acted terrified of everything.  At first, we didn’t notice anything was really wrong.  She was covered in sores from head to toe, wore her frizzy, blond hair down in her face and over her eyes, and was thin and pale.  She threw up every, single day as we opened our Bibles to do our daily devotions.  She was timid, but had an amazing ability to draw.  The guys on the team would flip through her sketch book in awe of the ‘cool’ creatures she drew.  I caught my first glimpse of her art and asked to see more.  I remember thinking it was odd for a girl to draw such scary, scaly creatures in caves.  We first knew it was real when one of the team members saw ‘it’ with her own eyes.  One evening, we were bumming around our tents as the sun was going down.  I heard a shriek and looked up to see one of our team members running wildly toward her tent, which she dove into head first.  I ran to her, along with several other kids to see what was wrong and how we could help.  She was pale white, shaking violently, weeping hysterically and could only mutter Grace’s name.  I sat back, wondering where Grace was.  I looked around and saw that she appeared to be on the ground in the middle of the field.  A few of our leaders had huddled around her.   I went over to see what was happening, but they wouldn’t let us near her, so I went back to our hysterical team member to find out what happened.  She explained that she saw Grace on her knees in the field, looking up toward the sky.  She saw another figure floating up in the sky, reaching down and strangling Grace.  She said that at first, Grace was grabbing it’s hands that were around her neck and appeared to be trying to fight it off…but then, she gave up.  Her hands dropped to her sides and the figure appeared to be winning.  That’s all she saw.  From there, it was made clear to us that we were dealing with something else.  A few days later, I talked to Grace privately and asked about everything.  I asked about her drawings.  ‘It’s things and places they show me’, she said.  I asked why her hair was in her eyes and covering her face.  She shrugged that she didn’t really know.  I asked her if I could cut her bangs and she agreed.  I asked her what she thought caused this.  The only thing she could only think of was playing with a Ouija board when she was younger.  In retrospect, it all added up.  The sores on her body, the throwing up as the Bible was opened.  She explained it herself, ‘it won’t let me read the Bible’.  Things seemed to happen more at night.  One night, I remember my tent-mate frantically waking me up.  I heard screams and animal roars.  ‘It’s Grace!’ my tent-mate informed me.  I flew out of the tent and came to a screeching halt.  I saw multiple people huddled inside and half outside Grace’s tent, Grace flailing and thrashing around, animal roars coming out of her mouth.  Two of our leaders were commanding the demon to leave her as they were trying to hold her down.  Her eyes were rolling into the back of her head and she was yelling out in a deep, male voice incomprehensible things. Just then, from Grace’s thrashing about, a lantern got kicked over against the side of the tent.  Within seconds the tent was up in flames.  Everyone got out safely, but we were petrified.  Nearly all of us had commanded the demon out in the name of Jesus Christ, but it didn’t seem to be working.  On another evening, we had gathered outside for prayer…a special prayer time to specifically pray for Grace.  We were in a circle and taking turns praying out loud.  I heard a low rumbling that came from a distance and seemed to get louder and closer.  A great wind came rumbling across the field and blew a giant metal pot off its hook in our outdoor kitchen and flung it into the center of our prayer circle.  We literally had to duck out of the way! It seemed to be angry that we were praying against it and it was displaying a threat as it showed its control of nature.  It wasn’t until halfway through the summer that I remembered this man and what he tried to tell me.  Over the course of the summer, our leaders took her to multiple exorcisms in Australia.  None of them seemed to work.  It wasn’t until the end of the summer that she came to us all, looking like a completely different person.  Her face seemed to glow and she couldn’t hide her smile.  She said she must not have been giving herself 100% to Christ.  She explained that she prayed, offering 100% of herself to God…and it was then, that moment, that she realized it was gone.  I went home from that summer in Australia so joyous and relieved that God had rescued Grace.  My faith was now cemented.  When you experience things first hand, when you hear a man’s voice and animal roars come out of a 14 year old girl’s body, when you see her throw up on cue of an open Bible…it cements your belief.  I was back at school only days after returning home.  I had the same teacher again, but for a different class.  I couldn’t wait to tell the guy she knew about what happened and that I was thankful he told me how to handle it.  I asked my teacher the name of the man who visited our class and how I could get in touch with him.  She acted like she had no idea who I was talking about.  I reminded her that he was a former student, was in seminary now and used to be a bad kid.  He was only here, visiting her class just two months ago.  She couldn’t think of who I was referring to.  I asked her repeatedly, tried to jog her memory and years later, I was still asking her…’you really don’t remember that guy that came to visit you??’  She’s not a Christian, but she joked that perhaps he was an angel.

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After high school….

As I found myself graduating high school, I felt good and stable, even though I was too poor to go away for college like all my friends.  I stayed home and went to the local community college.  I stayed on with the youth group as a volunteer leader and was able to prolong my joy and my stay in my safe haven.

I met my next boyfriend at the time.  He was the temporary youth leader for the youth group. We fell in love and were together for a total of 4 years.  At age 18, I had willingly made love for the very first time.  And the very first time, I wound up pregnant.   We were scared, but excited and longed to do the right thing.  As we discussed how to tell our parents, he said…”well, I was already wondering if you were the one.”  As he clarified what he meant, he expressed wondering if I was the one that would one day be his wife.  We decided that we’d get married and have the baby.  Having the baby was never a question, just whether or not we should get married.  His parents were out of the country, so we approached my mom first.

To say she flipped out is toning it down. She demanded we get an abortion and opposing her was not an option.  Marriage was out of the question as well.  And to my surprise, she got me out of my college class early one morning and drove me straight to an abortion clinic.  She had already arranged for everything and it happened that day.  I mourned the loss of my child, but in my 18 year old, immature brain, I told myself that the very next child I would be pregnant with would be the same one.  I rationalized that I was just postponing the birth of our child.

The reality of what we did didn’t hit me until we broke up.  I didn’t find out until after we broke up, that he had fallen for another youth counselor at the church. Apparently, he lied to her and told her we had broken up when we didn’t.  But, when I lost him….that cemented the loss of our baby.  I realized that baby was never coming back again if we would never be together again.

As he was at church and she was at church, going to church became agonizing to me. Seeing them together hurt me more than I could express.  I felt so betrayed and thrown away. To make things worse, my church betrayed me next. I got called into the office of one of the pastors. He told me that my presence in working with the youth group made my very recent ex and the girl he cheated on me with “uncomfortable.” Ha! Made them uncomfortable?! I sat and listened as he explained to me that since the two of them were on staff and I was just a volunteer, that they would like me to stop volunteering. Hearing those words were like a hot knife slicing my entire torso open. I was in shock and was incredibly hurt that I was being pushed away from volunteering with the kids. That was one of my biggest joys in life. I walked out of that pastor’s office with my legs feeling numb…I was stunned. I never showed my face again in that youth group…and I decided to never show my face again in that church. I felt so ashamed that the pastor had asked me to stop being a volunteer. It made me feel like a complete and utter failure, completely and wholly unwanted.