FORGIVEN YET SEXUALLY SCARRED
By: Eli Hinderberg
I was just browsing through Google tonight, looking for resources on forgiveness when I came across your Precious Testimonies website and got to read FORGIVEN SEX CRIME OFFENDER (The Robert Swift Story).
I just wanted to tell you how much it blessed me. When I was 14 months old I was burned in a house fire and was not expected to live. I had scars on my face and hands, but was really oblivious to it until, at the age of six, I had an extensive operation done to conceal the most obvious scars. After that I began to notice how people looked at me and I began to realize how different I was.
As a kid, my family moved a lot, so not long after the operation we moved to a different town. I was excited to go to a new town and new church - but also very hesitant because of the realization that I had come to know of my being “different.”
To make a long story short, I met a boy that began to "bully" me ... saying cruel things like "Jesus doesn't let ugly people into heaven," and moments of violence, like pushing me down flights of stairs.
Slowly I began to lose what little I already had of my self-worth. About four months into this, I "accidentally" stumbled upon some hard-core porn sites on our computer. Don't ask me why I didn't immediately run away screaming or turn it off. I don't know why. Don't ask me why I returned to it the next day...and the next. Maybe it was because I could tell the women in the pictures were not concerned about their faces (which is where most of my scars are). I think it made me feel more valuable ... realizing that there was something of worth in my body...as if I still had a chance, you know? (I was only seven at the time...give me a little credit).
But, also, being a visual person (though I am a girl), what was once the unthinkable became not only common, but addictive ... and by the time I was eight I had spiraled down into deep sexual sin.
If you are already grossed out I'm sorry ... I'm doing my best to be vague...but its about to get worse.
From the age of seven to nine I had found "opportunities" to see X-Rated movies and view the same type of materials through magazines, doing my best to feed the unquenchable flame of lust that had been so early awakened ... all the while my family being oblivious. To say in short - they had NO clue.
My parents were/are Christians, and as a kid I grew up "cutting my teeth on the pews." So as you can see, I did my best to conceal my "other life." Shame was a constant overcast in my life, and I was miserable.
Then one day, I was sitting with my mother,
and she began talking about how Jesus came into people’s hearts and made them
beautiful on the inside. In a sheer moment of desperation and holy conviction
I told her that I didn't care if I was ugly on the outside. I wanted Jesus to
come in and make me beautiful on the inside. That's how I got saved.
I immediately felt the shame lift and (like everyone first does) started thanking Him and making promises to Him I had every intention of keeping (one being never to look at porn again).
Life was good then. When I was ten we
moved. I was a new Christian of three months, and though I was struggling to
stay pure, my promises still held true. I think those three months hold the
best days of my life.
I'm kinda' at a loss of where to go from here. I guess it just gets real personal to me...
A couple of months after we moved I became "involved" in a sexual relationship with a family member, and as much as I hated him ... I think I hated me more. I could have told him to stop. I could have kicked or screamed, but I didn't, because in my heart I felt like he was doing me a favor. With my low self-image, I took his actions as a (very sinful) complement that he could find any form of physical pleasure in me.
The "relationship" continued for about two and a half years. The first night it happened, I felt immediate shame and guilt, especially since I also took some form of pleasure out of it, and ended up retorting back into my old "lust cycle." No one knew except me, him, God, and of course, Satan ... and I was sure God had left a long time ago.
After showers, I still felt dirty and believing that I was "used merchandise." I coped with my shame by shaming myself more (did that make sense?). It was two and a half years of this cycle until one night I was with my best friend, and instead of "choosing" me (which I loved/hated) he chose her to satisfy his sick desire for lust. And man, if looks could have killed that night, he would have been a dead man! A few weeks after that he came back, but I wouldn't let him touch me and that was the end of that.
Time has passed and a decade has gone by since my first encounter with porn. I find that the only thing in life that is constant (other than God) is change. Can I tell you that I never struggle with temptation and (dare I say?) fall??? I could … but that wouldn't be the truth.
What I wish - with all my heart that I could do - is save other girls from the heartaches of relationships that won’t get them anywhere! I wish I could show them the unfailing Love of Christ that fills the holes in our hearts … that heals wounds of the past … that touches and breathes life into our very being!
Do you ever wonder why feelings can sometimes play so hard against you? You have made a decision to forgive, because (just in case you don't know, forgiveness is not a feeling but an act of the will), and yet sometimes something happens and the old emotions arise. I saw him the other day ... I don't know why it hits me so hard sometimes. I mean, it's not like I don't see him around ... but I suppose I allowed myself to review, again in my mind, what had happened between us. Inside, I felt my emotions seethe, like a blazing cauldron of feelings I could barely control. The sorrow and pain I felt for what had happened was greater than what I had ever experienced before, yet they were just dwarfed by my anger ... white-hot rage at the willingness I had shown to allow it -- bitter resentment that I didn't have the power to change the past or at least change how I felt.
The violence and heat of my inner storm frightened me. Normally when I experience such strong emotions I (for lack of a better term) "blanket" my inner fire, beating my emotions, obscuring the way I really feel, and lose myself in the process. Smothering my feelings had always been, I felt, safer than allowing them to burn out of control, and I've needed to feel safe. I need to feel safe. But Christ has, lately, been trying to teach me that there is a safety in Him, one that doesn't deaden my emotions but allows me to face them in all their heated glory. And if I trust and rest in Him, then I - just like those three men in the bible that were thrown into the fiery furnace - can face my flaming emotions and come out on the other side unharmed.
So today, when my
emotions came flaring up, instead of smothering them out and having nothing
but a charred, blackened wasteland of numbness ... I did my best to give it to
God, asking Him to "rain" His peace on my blazing heart. It took awhile (I
suppose as long as rain normally takes to put out a fire), but eventually the
peace settled. I suppose it's not really that big of a deal, but to
respond that way to my emotions rather than cutting or "doing it"... I don't
know ... it was a big deal to me. It's so scary and amazing to trust
God, always depending fully on Him!
"Whom have I in heaven but You? And I have no delight or desire on earth besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm strength of my heart and my portion forever. " -- Psalms 73:25-26
Staff Note: We felt impressed of the Lord to incorporate part of Eli's testimony in our Ministry Update, to allow the Lord to use her words to minister in a slightly different fashion. We encourage you to take the time to read it.
We also encourage those of you who may have a story of your own where you have been abused, and even though you have gone to the Lord and forgiven the person or persons who have abused you ... and strong emotions still rise from time to time when that person is seen or comes to mind. Please allow us to pass along a weapon of spiritual warfare that God has given us to use when this happens. It was Jesus who said in Matthew 5:43-44:
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,"
First off ... God is not saying to be a doormat to let your enemy run all over the top of you, especially in severe abusive situations. However, praying for those you would consider your earthly "enemy" is great wisdom. Why? First of all, God always somehow honors obedience to His Word. We don't have to understand His Word to obey it either. However, when we pray Salvation for our enemy, God places a greater hedge of protection from His angels around us. When that happens, our emotions are not so apt to start bringing up feelings of anger, bitterness and revenge toward that person.
To have strongholds broken in your mind about those who have harmed you ... Love is demonstrated by praying for the lost soul of your enemy, rather than praying God's wrath upon your enemy. Love is demonstrated by taking authority in the Name of Jesus through prayer and binding the demonic forces that are operating through the one harming you. Love is demonstrated by doing everything the Holy Spirit gives you divine unction to do to turn your enemy into a dear brother or sister in the Lord to defect from Satan's influence and for them to come under the influence of the Holy Spirit. This is one of the most difficult things God asks a believer to do ... but it is a way that will bring amazing deliverance and healing from those who have hurt us. Do we want to walk in victory or do we not? Yes we do!
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JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT!
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Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you ... please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God; to be at peace with God; to have your sins forgiven; to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity; to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life.
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