How can a Pastor’s daughter, who was raised to know right from wrong, get so far from God? This is the most common question asked of me.
For me, it started in my youth. At the age of 16 I fell in love with a boy that I met in church. I was infatuated with his attention and eventually gave him my virginity. Once that line is crossed it is very hard to become emotionally unattached because sex was created by God to bond a man and a woman together in marriage. I wasn’t thinking about marriage and I didn’t foresee the emotional bondage sex would create. I made the mistake of bonding to a man who was not meant for me.
Two years later my family went through a traumatic experience within our church and home. My mother and our Pastor were having an affair and conceived a child together. Both my father (co-pastor) and the Pastor resigned from the church and left their families. My mother and our Pastor made their life together and my father lost himself for a few years. I will not share more than that because it is not my story to tell, but it did affect my life. From that experience I began to lose faith in Christianity and love. I allowed anger toward my parents to fill my heart and I vowed to never go back to church. I felt that they neglected their commitment to our home, our church and to each other. Everything I once believed to be true as a child had revealed itself a lie. I carried that anger and fear into adulthood.
At the age of 21, I conceived my first born. I had been with the same boy for 5 years, but I was not prepared to be a single mother. I wanted my baby to have a stable life with both parents. Despite our very unhealthy relationship I agreed to marry him in hopes that our relationship would get better. Over the years he began using drugs excessively and I was drinking alcohol. We used drugs and alcohol to deal with the unhappiness in our lives. Eight years went by and our marriage was not any better. We were constantly fighting and separating. We caused one another a lot of pain and eventually things became violent. I made the decision to leave him when I started to fear for my son’s safety. Throughout those years I drew further away from God, occasionally calling on Him when I was desperate, but when He wouldn’t answer I would feel foolish and would go back to trusting in myself.
After my divorce I decided I would never marry again, I only wanted to have fun. I was drinking more and more and partying with the wrong kind of people. My ex-husband would show up wherever I was and we would usually fight, one argument lead to him choking me in front of our son. I couldn’t get him off of me, I couldn’t breathe, I felt that this was the end. In my spirit I cried out to God “please don’t let me die this way in front of my child!” My son jumped on him and when I saw this man throw my son down I fought back with a force that didn’t come from me. I was able to get him off of me and grabbed my child and ran to get help. In that moment I cried to God and thanked him for hearing me. My father had reconciled with God and began a new ministry in Dallas, although I swore to never step foot in a church again, I decided to go back. I was so exhausted and was becoming desperate for peace in my life. Sunday after Sunday I would go and listen, but still I could not find peace. I tried to pray and get close to God, but when the weekend would come or life would get hard I was out drinking again.
One night I went on a date with a man who had been asking me out. One minute we were laughing over a game of cards and the next I was waking up bruised, sore, and naked in a home I didn’t recognize with men I had never seen. Full of shame and shock I left and didn’t say a word to anyone. I have had flashbacks of that night, but I cannot recall every detail. By the time I realized what happened I did seek medical attention, but too much time had gone by to determine any date rape drug usage. I buried the anger and shame and decided it must be my punishment for the life I was living. I knew God had been with me, but I was so full of guilt for the way I had been pushing Him out of my life, that I didn’t feel I was worthy of His forgiveness or healing. Throughout the weeks that followed, the burden of my shame became heavier. I began listening to sermons in my spare time.
One afternoon while cleaning my apartment, I broke down in tears during a sermon on TV. The Pastor was talking about letting go of your burdens and letting God carry the weight, He spoke about God’s forgiveness and forgiving ourselves because the price had been paid. A message I knew well and had heard so many times before, but this time I felt it in my spirit. I cried until I could not cry anymore. I plead for God’s forgiveness and thanked Him for always walking with me even when I chose to ignore Him. I asked Him to help me change my life and to help me love myself again. I was never the same after that day.
The scene I was in started becoming uncomfortable and soon God was removing people from my life who were not beneficial to His plan. Day after day my heart began to change.
During my chaos, I was introduced to a man at church that was also going through a divorce and raising two children. I was not looking for a relationship, but he was there for me. I began to fall in love with him but out of fear I would push him away. I didn’t understand why this man continued to pursue me despite all my mess, but God knew.
Two years after dating, we were married. We have now been married over 5 years! I believe God put my husband and I in each others lives to show us that we are worthy and capable of accepting and giving love and to help each other grow, but our life together has not been easy. Satan is constantly attempting to destroy our happiness. We have faced attacks on our marriage, on our finances, and more recently in the lives of our children.
My faith was recently tested as I faced challenges with my 17 year old step-daughter. She came to me crying because she was pregnant. She felt ashamed and afraid to tell her father. Thankfully, God gave me the ability to help her get through that difficult time and to calm my husband’s fears and anger. I began to see the grace and mercy God showed me as his daughter and I did my best to apply that in her life. I learned to understand that my parents are human and made mistakes just like everyone else and I was able to forgive them. As for the men who took advantage of me, I have also forgiven them; wherever they may be, I believe God will bring justice. My spirit is always trusting in the Lord even during the storms and my heart is at peace.
This year, God has blessed our family tremendously. I have seen His hand in my life and the life of those who surround me and I am amazed at the love He has shown me despite my rebellion.
My testimony has come together through different seasons in my life and is still being written. I used to believe I was too far from God for so long that I was unworthy of His grace, I was wrong. God’s amazing grace took me out of a life of misery and destruction and into a life I thought was out of reach. I want you to know that you are worthy of love and forgiveness and capable of change in Christ Jesus! There is nothing Gods love cannot forgive as long as you seek Him. May you be blessed!
2 Corinthians 12:9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! Luke 7:47 “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
By Sandra Meza