A note from Merin: I have been thinking and praying about posting my story for about three years now, but the Lord kept saying, "not yet." The Lord has finally opened the door, and my purpose in writing this is to express to all of you the journey of healing I have found through Christ. I desire to point to the faithfulness of God despite the brokenness of my past. We live in a world that runs to money, sex, and power to numb pain. However, the comfort I have found in the Lord, through my struggles and the redemption of Christ, is what gives me the grace to move forward knowing He is enough and is truly the only path to freedom and healing. I hope you will be encouraged by these words and that perhaps one of you will find the peace you have been seeking despite the pain. If this helps even just one person out there, then it is totally worth it. Please feel free to share, message, or contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions!
My testimony has a rough beginning…but I want to tell you about the redemptive work that the Lord has done in my life and how He is so faithful and good.
It started when I was 11 years old and in sixth grade. I was raised in a bustling household where many evangelists/missionaries would frequently stay, and family and friends would gather just to hang out. Needless to say, there were always people at my house.
There was one man in particular who would come over often with his kids, and I remember him always chasing us around and playing with us…only he began interacting with me a bit differently than the other kids. It occurred several times over a span of six months, until one day he walked into my bedroom, shut the door, and the unthinkable happened to me. I remember being frozen on the spot when this occurred. Even when I told him to stop, he wouldn't. I remember trying to get away, but he had me trapped. After this incident, I stayed away from him as much as I could. I didn't know what it was that was wrong; I just knew that something wasn't right.
Shortly after that last occurrence, six months from when the abuse started, my sister and I sat down with our mom and told her what had happened. I didn't give my mom any details (I was so ashamed about what happened), and she told me that while this was going to stop, we weren't going to tell my dad. We were also not going to report this to the authorities. As someone raised in a male-dominant culture and mentality, my mom advised me with all she knew and instructed me to not tell anyone about this, as people would see me as "that girl," "used," and someone no one would want to marry.
So, for the next eight years, I forced myself to forget about the abuse and shunted the pain of having to continue to see the abuser into my subconscious.
It was the next summer, when I was 12 years old, that I truly gave my life to the Lord. I felt so dirty and unclean, not just from what had happened, but from all the internal sin I had within me. The fact that Jesus loved me enough to die for these sins so that I could forever be with Him brought tears to my eyes. The fact that Jesus wanted to KNOW me and cleanse me of my scars and my sins…
I longed to know this God, and I walked with Him and spent time with Him to the best of my ability for the next four years of high school.
High school was an interesting time in my life. I didn't really have many girls as friends because it seemed like everyone was boy crazy. When I tried to have a similar façade, I couldn't. My cousin talked to me about purity and how the Lord desires for us to be vessels of holiness. It came easy for me, seeing as I wanted nothing to do with men romantically.
Sure, I had guys as friends, but I friend-zoned every single guy who was remotely interested in me and put up several walls. The summer before my senior year of high school, I went to a conference during which one of the main speakers sat next to me. He asked me what I thought of his sermon for the high school kids about purity. I cheerfully replied that it was great and absolutely pertinent to my generation. After a few pauses he said, "Did you know that every single guy sitting in that room is a porn addict?"
That's what did it for me.
I felt that men were animals who simply used women and didn't care about their worth. I developed a deep resentment for them.
This resentment carried on into college. My second year of undergrad was when I fell into the valley of the hardest times I have ever endured.
The feelings of being dirty, unclean, unwanted, and the idea that what had happened was my fault came back. I quickly isolated myself from my friends and felt as if the Lord was nowhere to be found.
I had spent the entire semester with my head deep in apologetics trying to prove God's existence to my cousins who did not walk with Him…at this point, I started questioning His existence myself. At the end of the semester during the middle of a final exam, I felt intense spiritual attack where voices told me, "Nobody cares, nobody loves you…you should just kill yourself." At this point, I put my pencil down, didn't finish the exam, went straight to the psychologist's office, and poured out my heart.
I ended up taking the semester off to go through counseling, where I found out I had severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I often had severe flashbacks while studying, flinched if any man even touched my shoulder, and had nightmares of being attacked. Each week, I would talk to my counselor and right after that, Ben (my now-husband) would call me to "detox" from the counseling session. He was a really great friend in the midst of all of this: constantly encouraging me with Scripture, always offering to carry my burdens to the throne of grace with me. Both Ben and my counselor told me they felt I should tell my dad about what happened.
It was absolutely terrifying sitting at the kitchen table facing my mom and dad. My dad was so gentle. He said he wished I told him when I was younger (I told him that I thought he wouldn't believe me), but that this season was a time to seek forgiveness. He also said that I had my whole life ahead of me and to not let this hold me back.
I remember feeling this huge weight being lifted off of me.
I didn't realize how badly I wanted my dad to know! But that was the final part of my healing process. My relationship with my dad improved after that. We talk a lot more, we even hug each other!
That summer, I went to Rehoboth orphanage in Thrissur, India, and felt joy I had never experienced in my entire life. I loved meeting such incredibly strong little girls. I remember at the end of our visit, there was a girl who didn't want to be in the pictures, and when I asked her why, she said, "I'm ugly, my skin is too dark… I don't deserve to be in the picture."
That's when it hit me how much it hurts our Heavenly Father when He hears one of His daughters saying that about themselves--His own creation! I now know that the voices in my head are flawed lies and that if they do not align with what Scripture says is true about me as a child of God, then those voices are wrong (John 1:12, Romans 8:17).
I struggled a lot with forgiveness--not just toward my abuser, but towards all men. I felt very strongly that all men viewed women as pieces of meat.
This view was reinforced by hearing about men who would exploit women for their gain, my personal experience of being abused, and how I thought that men seemingly had the innate inability to control themselves, often presenting in the form of porn addiction or lack of respect for women.
This resulted in me constantly being cautious and distrusting of men. The uneasiness that I felt for years for simply being a woman was magnified by a man's stare. However, I know now that this is not an accurate representation of ALL men.
Ben was the first man I ever met that broke my presumed idea of what men were like. He had overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles in purity for most men by the age of 18. I first knew this because I overheard him telling a group of guys in college when they thought I wasn't there.
He was the first guy I met who desired to use his strength to protect and serve women rather than for his own personal gain.
So I learned that it was not a hopeless cause and that men and women can fight sinful desires with the power of the Holy Spirit.
As John Owen once said, "Do you mortify? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you."
Sure failure happens, but failure is NOT a permanent condition because we have Jesus who is abundant in His grace!
Now regarding my abuser, I couldn't help but think, "Where is the justice in all of this?" The situation was handled the way it was because women, from generation to generation, have been taught that it is our fault if we become victims to men, that we will forever be looked down upon as "that girl," that people will talk and we will be seen as "used" and "dirty." This has created a lot of anger amongst women today, and RIGHTFULLY so. But there is a far greater truth that we so often forget about, and that is
f o r g i v e n e s s .
I have a God who weeps over the brokenness and evil that sin causes. We live in a fallen world, a world where the justice system is so flawed and justice is rarely given to the victim. But I choose to look to the Righteous Judge who has already won the victory over sin and death and is coming back to restore beauty and joy and renew all things.
This is the hope that I have in Christ.
The truth is, Jesus loves my abuser too. He loves every single person on this planet regardless of their actions--that's what is so amazing about His love: It is undeserved!
Jesus died on the cross and rose again for my abuser, just as He did for me. And now, I have the power to forgive my abuser and have true peace because Christ forgave me of my own sins.
I do not understand the grace God has given me if I do not extend that same grace to others who have hurt me. That being said,
I am no longer defined by my past because
I am a child of God. I am free.
Although I encountered this situation in my life, it was during this time when I felt the Lord's presence the strongest.
He rejoices over me, He has restored my joy, He has blessed me abundantly, He has pulled me from the pit, and now He has blessed me with a spouse who loves the Lord with all his heart, soul, and mind.
And on my wedding day, when I wore that white dress and walked towards my bridegroom,
I was clean.
I was no longer a victim, but a victor. May all glory, honor, and praise be unto Christ Jesus through His redemptive work!