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Free Indeed
Michelle
Indiana, United States

God has done a miraculous work in my life! When He finally revealed to me the many patterns of my life and the roots of how they started, He instructed me to write it down.

Writing it down is going to somehow finish the healing He has done in me. Here is my testimony…

I was a child whose parents divorced when I was two years old. My mother remarried when I was five years old. I had virtually no relationship with my father or step-father and had no idea what a positive male role model should be.

At a very young age, I was introduced to ‘sex’ through an abusive step-uncle (my step-dad’s brother) who was in his twenties or so. This uncle, Billy, sexually abused me and distorted my view of what sex was all about. Having been only about eight years old, I had no idea that what this man was doing was wrong. I can vividly remember him taking me into his bedroom under the premise of "reading me a book" and he would molest (fondling me, violating me) and force me to touch him in private places. He wasn’t violent or threatening violence. He actually acted like it was a normal thing to do. I also remember him taking me into the laundry room and violating me. I do not recall the age at which it started. We would take weekend visits to LaPorte, Indiana, where he lived to see my step-grandparents. I have never told anyone of such abuse until now.

My mom got divorced again when I was about 11 years old and in the 5th grade. When I was in the 6th grade, the curiosity about boys began—as it often does at that age. I can remember going to a fort where all the neighborhood kids hung out. It would not have been unusual to see junior high couples "making-out" at this fort. I can remember playing truth or dare where I was dared to kiss my "so-called" boyfriend.

In the eighth grade, I remember having a boyfriend that I "dated"(not that I really knew what that was), but this boy was what I called my "steady.” We began on the path of what so many other teens do—walking down those first few steps of affection---kissing, and heavy petting. Back then, there wasn’t much talk about sex in schools or in the homes.
When I was a freshman in high school, I dated an older guy named Dave, whom I really liked. After a few months of dating, we broke up because I was not willing to give up intercourse. I then dated an older guy (as younger girls often do) John, who was a freshman in college.

He began introducing me to the activity that led up to sex. I certainly don’t blame him for this because it does take two, but we were pretty heavy into this; however did not have intercourse. After dating him for close to 1.5 years we broke up and then I began dating Dave again, on and off. It was to Dave, in the beginning of my junior year that I lost my actual "virginity" too.

Dave and I had a relationship that was pretty much based on sex. We casually dated on and off, but were not exclusive. On Valentine’s Day in 1986 (of all days), we were together and had intercourse and I found myself pregnant at the age of 17.

This was devastating to me. I had virtually no relationship with God at that point and did not fully understand the sanctity of human life. I shouldn’t have been surprised I suppose, because if I was going to participate in adult behavior, I should have been ready for adult consequences—but nonetheless, it was a shock. I wasn’t taught about sex from my mom in the sense that it was wrong outside of marriage. I remember her telling me, "If you ever got pregnant, don’t come home."

My mom at that point was divorced a second time. I can remember she would often be in relationships where she would sleep with her boyfriend’s at the house. I would ask her if it was "wrong," and her answer to me was always, "No it’s OK if you have been married before because ‘I have my needs’." This never made sense to me, but I accepted her answer.
When I found myself pregnant, I was at a turning point in my life. I had other friends who had gotten pregnant and had the child, but I was not ready to accept the consequences of early sex. I was certainly not ready to play "mom."

I, having virtually no relationship with my father, except to know his phone number, called my dad to see if he could sign parental consent for me to have an abortion. At this point in my life, I barely knew him. I rarely saw him, and he had only recently come back into the area where my mom actually knew where he could be reached. He came over to my house, tried to talk me out of it, and then informed me that because he was not the custodial parent that it would not be legal for him to give such consent. At this point, I panicked. What would I do? I couldn’t tell my mom—especially after what she always said. I waited till about three weeks before I was three months pregnant, and I finally broke down and told my mom. She was surprised and asked me what I wanted to do.

I told her I did not want to have the baby, so she agreed to sign the papers that would give me parental consent to have the procedure.

I can remember going to Planned Parenthood that day—and as we drove up seeing pro-life picketers come up to our car door. They scared the life out of me, but we proceeded into the office. The office door had these locks where you could get buzzed in (for security reasons). I had my appointment that began with a pregnancy test. After they confirmed I was pregnant, they briefly (and very nonchalantly) told me my options and asked did I want to continue with procedure. I said "yes."

I remember sitting in the lobby, seeing all these other girls, and women of all ages. I wondered to myself, "Were they here for the same reason as me?" It was a "clinic day" so I am quite sure that each of them were having the same procedure that I was having. There were at least 25 women in the lobby and they were all getting called in one by one. I was in a daze.

My name was called after several hours of waiting. I slowly walked into the office to meet a nurse who gave me a gown and told me to strip. I did what I was told, and the doctor came in and explained the procedure to me and said that I would get a local anesthetic. She told me about the "vacuum" procedure and said that she would have to put this device in me that would expand my pelvic area so that the suction could be done. She gave me the anesthetic and I was so numb that I don’t even remember where she gave me the shot. She returned to me a while later and did the procedure. It was pretty short. It was over. They then explained to me that part of my uterus was torn during the procedure and they had to give me stitches, "But I should heal just fine."

They never told me about all the healing I would need emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. The physical healing was easiest. She then sent me to the recovery room for about an hour. I remember my mom taking me home and they gave me medicine to keep my insides from rupturing. The next two days, I lie in my bed at home and cried at what I had done.

I was relieved it was over, but was in no way prepared at the devastation it would bring to my life. From that moment of returning to school, my mom never brought it up again. I did have to return to the doctor for a "post-abortion check up" and to ensure that the stitches she gave me dissolved and healed correctly. She said they did. When I went back to Planned Parenthood, I remember them asking me, “Do you want birth control pills?” They gave me a 3-month supply. I also remember (when I signed a form) seeing something on the card that indicated the child whose life I had ended—was probably male—I had terminated the life of my son.

Because I was never counseled after what I had done, this brought me to a pattern of emotional issues that were never dealt with until way later in life. There were other guys that I had relationships with, some of whom I was sexually active with. I always thought that by giving myself to someone it would bring me fulfillment in my empty life that at that point, I didn’t know was one that only Christ could fill.

I went on to college at Indiana University. I continued in the same patterns, getting into relationships with guys and, like the rest of the world, thinking that sex was simply something you did with someone you dated. In college, there were a couple of pregnancy scares—You would think I would have learned my lesson, but again, I had NO concept of what my life had become. I was looking for the love that only Christ could give—the love that I could never receive in any other relationship.

For the next three years, I allowed myself to be consumed with the party scene, the social affairs of college life, a lot of alcohol and drug abuse, and as a result, my grades suffered. No one was there to hold me accountable—my mom didn’t pay for it and didn’t keep tabs on my grades. I had gotten scholarships, grants, and loans. I got excellent grades in high school with very little effort, but in college soon realized that you had to study, had to read, had to actually go to class to make the grades.

I finished my junior year with about a 2.7 GPA. It was high enough to get into nursing school, but at the expense of having to take a couple of classes over. I took those classes over, but it showed on my record and would be looked at when considered for admission into nursing program.

Mistakenly, I spent the bulk of my time working on my social life rather than on my studies. For whatever reason, it seemed important at the time. I know now that I was simply trying to fill a void that no one but Jesus could fill. In the first semester of my senior year, I can remember walking back from class one day to my apartment. I stopped off in a bookstore, and saw a Bible there on the shelf and I recognized it as the student NIV Bible that I had seen my uncle Troy (who was born-again) reading on a visit to him and my aunt one weekend. I remember him telling me it was a great Bible and that I should get it because it would be in language I would understand.

I had virtually little or no church background except that when I was a little girl, I remember going to vacation Bible school on the bus to a little Nazarene church where I grew up. I think my mom let me and my sister go because it was a free babysitter for a few hours. The bus would pick us up and I remember learning bible verses and singing songs in Sunday school. I also remember a very "fire and brimstone" Baptist uncle who took us to AWANA’s several times, and one night during an all night lock in, I prayed the sinner's prayer. I believe I was about nine years old.

I remember how I felt at that moment and I remember telling my mom that I was “saved," whatever that meant. Later we didn’t go back to AWANA’s. I never knew why. Later, as an adult, my uncle shared with me that after I had told my mom what had happened, she stopped letting me come with him and my aunt. (She thought he was a religious nut). I was never discipled, so I believe when the seeds of the word of God were planted, the enemy came and stole the seed, so I never really came to know the Lord in a personal way. The seeds were there, but didn’t bear fruit at that time.

So, on my way home that day, I bought that NIV Bible and began reading it little by little. I decided in the middle of my senior year to go home midyear and take a year off, and then reapply to IUN, which was near home. I was going to work for a year, and then go on to start my clinicals once I got accepted into program. Because I had to take a few classes over, I had to petition the Nursing Board to allow me to apply to nursing school. My GPA was high enough, but they frowned on repeating classes (I got C-minuses and needed at least a C). They had me wait a year and told me to reapply. I had applied too late and they would have made an exception to let me in, except for my having to have repeated those classes. They told me to wait and I would be eligible the following year.

During 1991 (the year that I took off), I began working in the healthcare field using my nursing background. I had planned on reapplying for the 92/93 school year. I read my Bible when I could, but was still not saved. I did not get accepted into nursing school that year because I had procrastinated and missed the deadline by a month or so and had to wait again until the following year to reapply.

In July of 1992, I remember calling my friend Jeff in Indianapolis, a friend whom I had met while repeatedly visiting my sister in Indianapolis (who had moved to California at that point). Jeff was a born-again Christian.

On July 3, 1992, I called him because I was lonely and discouraged. I wanted someone to just hang with. All my friends were home from college and still into the party scene and I had given that up. I told him that I was tired of not having friends to hang out with and was just simply lonesome. He drove up from Indy and stayed the weekend with me and during that weekend led me to the Lord. I remember him telling me that Christ was always with me and I just simply needed to give my life to Him. I prayed the prayer of salvation and my life was forever changed on July 3, 1992. Jeff gave me some Christian music tapes and returned home.

Not long after, I was taking care of a patient and she was born again, and she had a daughter and son-in-law who were missionaries at an Assembly of God church in Merrillville. She encouraged me to visit there because there were many people my age there. I visited on and off for the next six months and finally made it my church home.

Within that year I began volunteering in their children’s ministry department as I befriended their director of children’s ministry who turned out to know my Uncle Troy and Aunt Debbie—having grown up in the same town. We instantly became friends and partners in Christ and she discipled me in my faith and in ministry for the next year. She moved on in ministry and then I was offered her position shortly after as part-time staff as the director of children’s ministry.

At that time, I was also a full-time nanny for two commercial airline pilots and did home healthcare part time. I began teaching and really entered into my anointing as a teacher of children. I had always wanted to be a teacher. When I was younger, I was often found babysitting the local neighborhood kids and actually had little kids that I had watched and cared for, who would knock on my door and say, "Can Shelly come out and play?" I was in high school then and my best friends were five year olds! They loved unconditionally and gave me the love that I lacked from others and made me feel like I was special. It wasn’t enough, but it was love that I longed for.

After I gave my life to Christ, slowly my life began to grow and I realized that Jesus IS the lover of my soul. But I still had not let God deal with all the emotional pain that the abuse and abortion had caused. I confessed it and was forgiven, but did not allow God to restore me.
I desired to keep myself pure before God, but the enemy never gave up on the thoughts, the fiery darts, or the temptations. I dated a Christian man and once gave in to that temptation when I was in a relationship with him. I didn’t have sex with him, but I compromised and fooled around. He later broke up with me and went back to college full time. I was a mere infant in Christ. I realized and confessed my sin and disobedience, and repented. God preserved me from that relationship though. After I repented, the Lord showed me that this guy had a spirit of lust and that I had allowed myself to succumb to it. Thank goodness that I did not stay with that guy because about two years later after he graduated from college, he was arrested for fondling a minor and he was a police officer at that time! God IS faithful to watch over His children.

Years later, I began to grow in my faith and moved on to the NICE Church where I really realized the Power of the Word of God. I was growing, active in ministry, but still the reminders of my past plagued me. The devil was always reminding me of my past and reminding me of the child’s life I had ended. Except for the instance with the one guy, I had kept myself pure—but the enemy brought condemnation on me all the time.
I never let God deal with the real issue—the cause of my using sex to get love. The issues of the abortion—I never dealt with that. Oh, I knew I was forgiven, but I never grieved the child whose life I had terminated.

My love for children grew. At times, it seemed like I was trying to make up for what I had done at 17 years old but, really my desire to minister to kids was stemmed out of a lack of having loving adults teach me that I was a child of God, that Jesus loved me and died for me so that I could live and reign with Him. I never wanted to see a child grow up without knowing the love of the Heavenly father.

It was out of this life without God, as a young person, that I realized I needed to share Jesus with every child I meet. I wanted them to know that, despite their circumstances, despite the lack of love they might feel, despite that there are those who may have rejected them, like a father, a mother, others, etc., Jesus was ALWAYS there for them—an ever-present help in time of trouble—one who never leaves nor forsakes. One who does not require you to perform—just to come as you are—even coming to Him broken, so that He can heal you.

During my new walk with God, the enemy had gotten another foothold on me. I had used sex as a crutch during college, but once I gave my life to Jesus, I knew I was forgiven, but because I never really let God heal me, I began using another crutch—food. I had gained weight through college, simply because of late-night eating, drinking, etc. But food became my new substitute for sex. I wasn’t binge eating, I wasn’t even sitting at home eating Bon-Bon’s in the corner. I was simply using eating as a crutch. Eating was something I could control. I didn’t binge, purge, or anything like that, but I used food as a source of comfort. It was easy—eating socially with friends—I mean after all—it is a church activity. What is fellowship without food? Food was my friend. When I was bored, or sad, or lonely—I could always sit and enjoy a good meal. I could even call a friend and we could go out to eat—all to cover up the pain that I had not allowed God to deal with.

I was active as a young person, in sports, cheerleading, softball, etc. So I could get away with unhealthy eating and not gain weight. But after 3.5 years of college, a four-year sedentary lifestyle, a lot of binge drinking and late night eating—I had gained about 50 lbs. Pretty typical—that ‘freshman 15’—only I had the ‘sophomore 15’, the ‘junior 20’, etc.
After college and over the next several years, I had gradually gained another 50 pounds by simply using food/eating as a substitute for not letting God deal with the emotional issues of my sexual past.

In the beginning of 2001, someone I worked with and a brother in the Lord at church had told me he had a dream about me that he was not really sure about—whether or not it was prophetic.

He told me that he saw me in Walgreen's on Ridge Road in Gary. I was very skinny (had lost lots of weight) and my countenance had changed since he had seen me last (in the dream). He said that in this dream, he was in shock because not only was I very skinny, but I was strikingly beautiful. He explained that it wasn’t so much as how I looked physically, but the countenance I had was beautiful. He came up to me in his dream and said, "Michelle, you look so beautiful, you are so skinny, what happened to you?" I said to him in the dream, "God healed me." The dream ended.

This friend of mine was not really sure what it meant. He shared the dream with his wife and began praying for me and asked God to show him what it meant and should he share it with me or not. God eventually told him that there were some things in my life that I had not let Him deal with and when I allowed God to heal my heart in these areas that it would be the key to everything God wanted to do in my life.
Several months had passed when this friend finally felt led to share the dream with me. He didn’t know those issues I struggled with. Those "issues of the heart"—It’s all about the heart isn’t it?

I HAD given my life to Christ and had been serving him almost 10 years. I was filled with his spirit, but the devil was always reminding me of my past and how I didn’t deserve the blessings of God that so many others had been given.

One of my desires was to have a godly husband and family but… ‘I didn’t deserve a godly husband, after all—I had given my precious gift of virginity away.’ I had given myself over to guys I dated. Why would God bless me with a godly husband? Why would God bless me with a family someday, when I had had an abortion?

Ever since I had been saved I had always prayed for a godly husband—someone to share my life with—someone that I would minister with someday. I mean, I loved Jesus and wanted to serve him; I knew the promises of God, I studied the Word, but I still allowed the enemy of my soul to convince me that I was not worthy of God’s best. The devil would bring thoughts to my mind that I would NEVER have a godly husband, and never have a family. I knew that it was a lie, but part of me still believed it. I also had not completely dealt with the pain of being sexually abused, having an abortion, and all the other issues where it brought destruction to my life. I was forced off that path. I stayed off of it. When I got saved, I was abstinent, but was not totally free.

I am and have been blessed by God. I have had great opportunities to be used by God. He has truly given me the honor and privilege to work in His vineyard. But, there were still areas of my life that I had not made him Lord.

I went through a financial battle in the summer of 2001 which where I found myself unemployed. I believed that I made the right decision in walking away from a job that had managed to consume my life to the point of utter idolatry. It is so easy to lose your focus when your eyes are on other things.

Despite that, God did miracles during that time in my life and financially provided for me in ways that I couldn’t even describe, but most importantly that time caused me to search deeper within my heart for a faith that God had given me—but was under-developed.
During this time, I learned to daily trust my Father for the provision. My past workaholic habits would have led me to get three jobs and try to do everything in my own strength by working myself to death to make ends meet, but God showed me during this time to simply trust him for the daily bread. I diligently looked for employment, but kept finding myself either over-qualified or with an offer that would not meet my financial needs. This time that I spent without full time employment allowed me to grow into a deeper relationship with God, which freed me in a lot of areas. I learned to rely on Him, and not trust myself.

One way he freed me was in the area of giving and trusting. I had always tithed, since I came into the teaching and God had always blessed me with jobs that met my needs—even when I was spending too much. He always brought increase into my life and I was blessed for several years to work in places in ministry acquiring a lot of training and skills that would further equip me to fulfill the call He has on my life for ministry. But this time off freed me in my giving. When you don’t have much to give, and you still give—it takes faith. God continued to show Himself faithful.

In the summer of my being unemployed, I was spending time with a friend and she was telling me about a new bank manager at her workplace. She asked me if I knew this person because he was only a few years older than me and he grew up in the same hometown that I grew up in. His name was Dave—Yes, the same Dave that had gotten me pregnant when I was 17. The same Dave that I had shared myself with, gotten pregnant by, had never told him about the child of his that I carried for three months and whose life I had ended.
I was in shock. I shared some of the testimony with her, which allowed me to begin getting free of all the issues I had been dealing with for so long—almost 15 years.

I shared with her a vision God had given me several years earlier that I would someday be able to share my testimony with teen girls so that God could reveal Himself to them.
I desired to tell them what God had done for me—about His love, His forgiveness, how he had saved me from my past, forgiven me of my mistakes. I was still yet unable to share how I was finally healed—COMPLETELY of all the stuff—because I was still hanging on to it.
I had only given Jesus part of the burdens I carried—some of that luggage that I kept for all those years.

Shortly after that, I gave my resume to someone I knew who was looking for full time office help at his apartment property. Through the divine ordering of my steps, the very day that I faxed him my resume, a lady named Wilma came into his office who was a director of an abstinence organization. He gave her my resume because he knew my desire to work with kids and my previous experience in youth and children’s ministry.

In the next week I was hired to oversee a program that deals with at-risk kids teaching, them abstinence until marriage. I have always had the desire to work with at-risk kids and I knew how to be abstinent. I believed in the message whole-heartedly. My desire was to be pure before the eyes of my God. But how on earth would I ever be able to teach about sexual freedom—with my own sexual past still plaguing me? I took the step of faith as God reminded me of the vision He had given me to share my testimony of His love. Still, I had not allowed God to completely heal me of all the junk that a lifetime of negative consequences (of not doing things God’s way) had brought.

In late November, I remember one day waking up and looking at a picture of myself that had been taken at a recent holiday dinner with family and was disgusted at how I looked. I mean, I knew that God loved me and that how much I weighed didn’t matter to Him. I was angry with myself that I had allowed a lifetime of abusive behavior to control me. I was angry that I allowed circumstances in my life dictate how I lived. So, the next day, I joined a gym, began eating healthy, and vowed that I was going to change things one day at a time—with God’s help.

The more I taught about sexual freedom, the more free I felt. The grip of the enemy was loosed as I allowed God to deal with me in the areas of my sexual past, and as I allowed him reign in my life in the area of emotional eating. Here is the glorious part.
I finally realized in my heart (not just my head) that my Heavenly Father desired to be Lord of every area of my life. Spirit, soul, mind, emotions, will, and my body. Since that time, I have lost 60 pounds and am still losing. I no longer battle with food as a crutch. Food is no longer my friend, but a source of physical nourishment.

I know now, that not only I am forgiven of all the destruction that my past had brought into my life, but God loves me enough to heal me of it, and has promised me a bright future.
Part of that future I know will someday include a godly husband that will love me despite my many mistakes. God loves me enough to bless me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. I know that His love for me is not conditional.

I always knew that in my head, but I had not allowed it to sink in deep enough as I hung on to all those things from my past.

My deliverance did not come at once. It has been a gradual process as I have allowed Christ to have full reign in my heart. No longer do I look at my past with shame, but with JOY as I realize how much God has saved me from it. Would I ever have even realized the joy of my salvation had I not gone through all those trials? Would I have realized the darkness God has transformed me from—into His marvelous light—had I not gone through all that?

Today, as I stand free of the all the junk, I look forward to the wonderful things God is doing in my life, even now, as he gives me the honor of teaching His Standards of Truth in the way of saving oneself for marriage.

His word is All-Wise and His principles are true. I can fully and truthfully testify that after 33 years, I am FINALLY free and a WHOLE person—healed.

I realize that God does desire to give me His best. He has placed within my heart the desire to teach young people the preciousness of virginity, the awesomeness of sexual purity, and the many blessings of doing things God’s Way. One thing He has shown me is that there are so many people out there that are looking for the love of God. They turn to drugs, alcohol, money, relationships, food and even sex, but never find the love of God.

Many women and teens have lacked the love or guidance of an earthly father, and give themselves over to men thinking they will find that love and acceptance. Really they are looking for a love that is ONLY found in the Love of God. My heart’s desire is to share with them the love, the peace, and the joy that can be found not in an earthly relationship, not even from the love of an earthly father, but the love that is unspeakable and full of Glory that is found by simply surrendering one’s life to Jesus Christ.

Now, more than ever, I realize the importance of men taking their God-given responsibilities to teach their daughters the love of the Heavenly Father. They MUST understand the importance of loving their daughters unconditionally, training them up in the way they should go, and making sure they KNOW and understand that God loves them, their earthly fathers love them, and they never have to look for love in places they will never find it. The love they need can ONLY be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ—the TRUE lover of our souls.
As I look back, I am in awe at what God has done for me this past year and in the past 33 years. I know He has always had His hand upon me—ordering and reordering my every step. It HAS been a difficult road… but my life is now entering into His glory as I realize and live out what it means to truly be free!

Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. John 8:36


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