Tuesday, 21 June 2016

My Testimony: My Chains Are Gone, I've Been Set Free!

Hello Hello Hello :)  It has been a while since I last blogged, well 2 years and 3 months to be exact. The last time I blogged I had recently returned from Fiji. I was there for a year doing missionary work. I adjusted to a different life; I discovered a lot about myself and grew as a person. Fiji was a life changing experience for me, seriously life-changing! I experienced different facets of God. Readjusting back to life in London was HARD!!! A lot has happened since I've returned from Fiji. I feel like I've been experiencing battle after battle but in spite of it all I am good, I’m continuously learning to give thanks and praise God regardless of what is going on around me. Our circumstances do not define who God is.

I am feeling a bit nervous about sharing what I am about to say but I feel it's time. It’s time for me to share my testimony, I pray that someone is encouraged :) 

When I was around 9 years old I was sexually abused. I can’t recall how many times it happened. I used to believe that my life was ruined; I felt like there was a black mark against my life and used to feel like I would never succeed in life because of what had happened. I used to feel like my life was destined for destruction. For a long time I allowed my negative thoughts and the lies of the enemy to depress and discourage me and I realise that it was because I had not allowed God’s word’s to become truth in my life. I did not believe it could apply to me and my situation. Proverbs 4:23 GNT says “be careful how you think, your life is shaped by your thoughts”. Proverbs 23:7 NKJV says “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he”. What do you think and believe about yourself?

My mind, oh my mind, my thinking, the way I saw myself and viewed life was distorted. Oh the devil is a liar!!! When we go to God, He exposes the lies we believe. He challenged my thoughts and showed me that some of the things I believed about myself were not true. I used to believe the words of the devil more than God's. I struggled with unbelief (to be honest I still battle with unbelief at times). I heard a preacher say that “when we do not believe God we make Him a liar”. When we fail to believe and accept what God is saying as truth, we make Him a liar! Eishhh, what a sobering thought!

I never used to think about marriage, having a family etc, such thoughts were robbed from me. My focus was on finding ways to stop my past from eating me up. I would suppress it. The second thoughts or flash backs would come to my head I would block it out instantly, I didn’t want to deal with the emotions that came with it.  I felt that they were too frightening and too painful to deal with. Looking back I realise that it is better to deal with past issues rather than fighting to stop it creeping up.

Sexual feelings were awoken before its time. The man who abused me told me to not tell anyone and that’s exactly what I did. At around 9 years old I was keeping a big secret. The first person I told was a friend in secondary school I think I was around 12/13 years old at the time. I did not know I was sexually abused until I found out what it was. I came to realised that what I encountered was not normal or right at all! What happened to me was immoral. It's crazy how we can grow up in situations, unhealthy situations and environments and think that they are ‘normal’ when they are not. How many of us have grown up thinking something was right just because it was the norm. We can think something is normal only to one day realise its far from normal…its abnormal. We can think something is normal and become blinded and desensitised to things but the truth remains, it is not right. Normal does not mean right. Just because something is considered to be the norm that does not mean it is right or the truth.

A few weeks before I left to go to Fiji my past kept coming to the surface, I was experiencing flash backs but I kept shoving it to the back of my mind. It was really bugging me especially because it was not something I was ready to or wanted to deal with. I had decided that my family would never know about this, I had planned to die with this secret. I told my former work manager about it and she said when I get back from Fiji she would see to it that I got counselling. I didn’t realise that it was God who was bringing it to the surface or that He would do a work in me when I was in Fiji.

I remember the night it first happened I felt shocked and perplexed. I had been robbed of my innocence and childhood. It affected me emotionally. I also battled with trust issues, shame, bitterness, rejection, confusion and numbness. I remember when I was in Fiji God spoke to me through a coconut. He showed me that the coconut represented me and He wanted to break my heart of stone. God revealed to me that my past experiences have led to me building walls around my heart. When we build walls around our heart because of past hurt and offences, we not only push others away but we also push God away too.  

I went to Fiji believing that God would use me to bless others. He did that. But first He took me through the process of being open and sharing my story. I once read somewhere that “unhealed wounds keep us in bondage”. My past kept me in bondage, I felt bound and caged. When I started opening up and being vulnerable with people I met in Fiji I realised deep down that I longed to be free from my past. I desired to be made whole. It was so PAINFUL to go back to my past. There was a day I opened up to friends at the base about being abused and boy the tears rolling down my face was unbelievable. I had held back my feelings for a loooooong time. It was at that moment the healing process began, Jesus gently started unpicking the wounds that I so terribly tried to cover up. 

When I was in Fiji I became FREE. Chains were broken, my secret was out and I experienced healing and freedom. God changed me, I became a different person…and then I returned to London. Gloomy London. I returned home and met my past face to face again. I felt bound again as my parents and siblings did not know.  Last year I told my family about what happened and we have been working through it. Now I no longer cry about it when I think about what happened, I feel at peace. God has healed and restored me and I have forgiven the man who abused me. I know now that I am not defined by my past. 

What have you buried away? What are you battling with? What do you need to take to Jesus so He can heal and deliver you? Jesus said "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28 NLT). Do not let your past torment you and keep you bound. Whether you've been hurt or you have hurt others go to God, His arms are open wide. Psalm 86:5 NLT declares “O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help”. I was sick and in need of healing and Jesus the Great Physician came to heal me, He loves you and wants to heal you too. 

Love Josie