I was raised in a household that had secrets. My father was an alcoholic and far from God. My mother was very involved in the church, a Christian, but loved my father so she stayed with him through all of the good and the bad. My mother never wanted anyone to know anything that happened in our home. There was a lot of difficulty, but there was also so much good. When sober, my dad was amazing. He loved us and made sure we knew his Alcoholism was NOT our fault. I knew my parents loved me and my brother and loved each other as well.
My grandparents most likely knew something was going on, but I don’t believe they knew the extent of what was occurring. I know for a fact that my grandparents prayed for us all, but especially for me and my brother that we wouldn’t fall into the traps that growing up in such a household can lead to.
I accepted Christ at a young age. We went to church three times a week at least. I had a relationship with God in my early teens, but as many do, I fell away and got involved with guys and friends and as a result, ended up pregnant shortly after graduating high school. They guy I had been seeing was not marriage nor father material so when he was not very enthused about raising a child with me, I was ok with it. I know in my heart that he had some of the bad traits that my dad had, but he was lacking in the good ones. So I went about raising my oldest son while living at home, going to school and developing at routine. Several years passed and I met a man in a class at YSU, we became friends and as time passed, we began to date and later married and had two other children. Jim took my son in as his own and raised him no different than our other children. Things were good. I look back at this time and realize it was my grandparents and mothers prayers that benefitted us in numerous ways. Neither my brother nor I became addicted to Alcohol or other substances. God sheltered us from a lot of the potential destruction that could’ve occurred. .
As the years passed, although I was out of the home, my father’s alcoholism worsened. Had eventually was diagnosed with cancer for which he refused treatment and he was given 4-6 months to live. My sister in law told me she and her church group prayed that God wouldn’t take him from this earth until he accepted Christ. That rang true as God kept my stubborn father on t his earth for an additional 17 months as he wrestled with God and his fate, his guilt and his family Just 2 weeks before he died, he accepted Christ.
In 2004, died of a massive stroke. He had been the leader of the FCA and the showing at the funeral was stunning. It was seeing the amount of people that were touched by his love for Jesus. At that time, I recommitted myself to walking with Christ. I wanted to impact the world for His glory and not mine.
In 2011, numerous things happened that opened my eyes to the fact that we really control nothing. After a several year period of relative calm, my world came crashing down. Several people in my family became ill and things were changing in our personal and family lives in dramatic ways. I remember so many nights that I would lay awake in the quiet asking all of the what if’s. God very gently spoke to my spirit telling me He’s got it under control and He will not let anything happen to his children that cannot be used for their good and his glory….in time….as He did with me. From that night, I have moments of emotional upset, but ultimately, I know that I cannot control Anything anyone else does. God has taught me that He is in control…I am not. . Day by day I am learning to rely on god to sustain my worrisome heart
Last year, we did a study called Breaking Free. It spoke about strongholds and how they are often carried down by families. My family has a bushel load of strongholds: depression, anger, denial, fear, worry, secrets, pride. These are all things that were passed down to me from family. Family patterns and behaviors that felt adaptive, but were destructive and didn’t allow for the growth that God deemed necessary for us as a whole and individually. Part of me telling my story is allowing God to break a stronghold in my life. No more secrets. I will allow myself to be more vulnerable and will not hide behind the “helper” role. I found that as I helped others, it allowed me to protect myself…if others were in need, they didn’t know my vulnerabilities.
As I think about the strongholds that have held my family hostage…the walls that were too high…the secrets that indicated pride (distrust in God) I know that I do not want to continue to carry those. I am trying with Gods help to be more transparent and vulnerable and not be so prideful to let God work through me through that. As Jeremiah 29:11 says, God has plans for me and all of us….to give us a future and they are plans for good and not evil. So no matter what, I am trusting him to work in me so that others will see him. I have prayed to God that I will do anything he calls me to because I know He is good.