ts2For the topic for this month I decided on something that is very personal and close to my own heart. I decided to talk about the month of April. To you this may just be another month in the year. But to me it is so much more. No, my birthday isn’t this month and there are no special holidays, yet it is still incredibly important to me. The reason I love this month so much is because it is Child Abuse Awareness Month. Every day I will put on a small blue ribbon that represents my pain and my freedom. As a little girl I was abused by my father, and that is my pain; but as a growing Christian woman I have been given my freedom. There are a lot of approaches that I could take when talking about this subject, but what I’d like to do is encourage you and show by example that good can come from evil if you ask God for direction.

Today I am part of a strong, confident, and God-centered family, but we didn’t come this far on our own. It was my mother’s unbelievable strength and faith in God that helped us through. Mama never once questioned us when we first told her what was going on; she trusted us and immediately got the three of us out of that situation. Every now and then I will try to imagine how she must have felt during those difficult times. I imagine fear, confusion, anger, and hopelessness, but when I ask her what it was like she rarely mentions those emotions. She tells me with honesty that yes, sometimes she felt some of those feelings, but she was never hopeless. Instead, she drew strength and comfort from her family and her faith in God, and without their help we would not have been able to get through it all.

ts1Mama passed her strength and wisdom on to her children, and we were able to grow up and have a relationship with Christ despite our past. She taught us that we had nothing to be ashamed of and that we should never, even for a second, think that we deserved to be abused. Our past was something that was always open for discussion, not something we should hide. She helped us see that God loves us and never wanted that evil to happen to His innocent children (Matt. 18:6).

If it wasn’t for my family and their faith in God I probably wouldn’t be writing this article for you today. It is likely that I would have become the typical statistic of an abuse victim. Possibly acting out or running away and doing many things wrong. It wasn’t by luck that I became the content Christian I am today but by God’s grace and healing. It was a daily effort to reassure myself of God’s unfailing love. There was a time, not long ago, when I was constantly angry and confused about everything. I had issues trusting and seemed to doubt others’ sincerity. But one day I came upon a great chapter of the Bible that began my transformation. It changed how I saw my relationship with God and caused me to start trusting Him and looking for His permanent place in my life. Psalm 34 is the chapter that I so fondly remember.

ts3I will not include the chapter in its entirety, but will instead share my favorite verses. “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (4). “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him” (8). “The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (18). These three verses are just highlights of the chapter and I sincerely urge you to read the rest of this chapter. It was so amazing the think of God as an everlasting shoulder to lean on. He allows us to give Him our burdens (Matt. 11:28). This was a turning point in my life and made me seeing everyone and everything differently. It didn’t cause me to automatically stop fearing life but it gave me the courage to begin to live. It gave me the courage to look at myself as someone deserving of love.

I hope those words touch your heart and help you to feel loved by God and know you are special in His eyes; after all, the good news is for all of us (Matt. 28:18-20). Those were the words I needed to hear to make me truly understand that God loved me. He doesn’t think I’m ugly, but beautiful. He desires my obedience as well as my happiness. I am His child and He is my Father. There are still times that I cry because of the pain I feel inside but it’s okay because now I know God is by my side. He is with me always (Matt. 28:20). I hope you realize that God wants you to feel the same way and that if you have not begun the right relationship with Him that He will pierce your heart. There is no greater comfort in this world than to know that you can always draw strength from God!

By Shelby Garrett

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