My name is Janice Marie. I would like to share my story of how I was gracefully broken and in pursuit God found me and saved me. I was 24 years old when my life took a drastic turn for the worst. Early on that year, I began to go through a disturbing divorce and became a single mother of two girls. I became single because in the process of my divorce I began to lose myself and my mother was more of a mother to my daughters than I had been. I was so heartbroken and in disbelief that I began to run to everything I could think of to fill the voids in my heart.
I grew up in a home where divorce was never an option and sticking it out until the end was the only option taught. I felt like a disappointment. No one would ever understand why I was walking out on my marriage of seven years that involved two children. It was a difficult decision for me to make, but the right decision for the well-being of my children. I didn’t want my children to grow up in a home lacking love, receiving abuse, and thinking that disrespect, infidelity, and fear were all normal things that should be in a relationship. So, I decided leaving was best.
A few months after my divorce, just when I thought nothing else can go wrong, I encountered one of the most horrific nights of my life. I was sexually assaulted by a co-worker. A night I would never forget. Earlier that day, I remember thinking that I was finally feeling peace about my divorce almost being finalized and was ready to start over in life with my children. I was finally ready to get my life together.
I had no idea I was getting ready to make a decision that would mark my life forever.
Later on that night, after receiving a phone call, I decided to let a co-worker come over. With zero intentions to allow anything outside of just talking to go on, my night went sour. It all happened so quickly. He wasted no time. It was almost as if it was a pre-conceived notion in his mind that he was going to get what he wanted by all means necessary. One moment he was walking into my apartment and the next he was forcing himself on me. So many thoughts running through my mind, but no power to do anything.
In my mind I thought, "fight back," so I did, but he laughed in my face and pushed harder. I thought maybe if I cried he would feel sorry for me, so I cried... but he felt no remorse or empathy for pain he was causing on me. It was all over and he was gone like the wind. I was left alone in my apartment with no one to reach out to. I mean, how could I? How could I call anyone and tell them what had happened to me? I felt disgusting, dirty, shameful, and like a failure. I blamed myself. I thought to myself, if I didn't answer the phone, he wouldn’t have come over and done what he did and I would still feel "alive." Of course, I ran to silence. I shut down and refused to answer my phone for days. I refused to go to work. I didn’t want to be around anyone, let alone co-workers.
I did what most people automatically do when something unexpected happens, I put the blame on myself. I want to take a minute to let you know that if you have been the victim of any type of abuse; physical, mental, emotional, or sexual it is not your fault. Your abuse will not devalue who you are, who you were created to be and where you are destined to go. Instead, your abuse will allow you to face life from a different angle and will help mold your perspective. Shake off all feeling of shame, insecurity, guilt, hatred and dress yourself in peace and love. But why? Because God is love and His love is all you need. It is enough to wash away everything as you knew it and make all things new in your life. You are no longer a victim. Maybe for a moment you got caught up in being a victim of your work, your finances, and your friends. But, today you are embraced with the reality that you are not a victim. You are a warrior, a survivor, and if you lived through it and survived, God wants to use that to shed light on someone else's pain and weakness.
I didn’t understand this as it was happening. I went through a hard process that led me to suicide. I should be dead. I purposely overdosed when things got out of hand. But God…. My mother, a prayer warrior found me on the floor and she began to declare the blood of Christ over my life. She began to cancel my suicide attempt. I was gone. There was no temperature in my body. I was cold. My mom would not give up. She kept praying until all of a sudden… As I drifted away, I was confronted by the cross. I found myself at the foot of Jesus simply saying over and over again, “If you love me, save me, but change me.” I cried out to the Lord in my moment of despair and He heard my cry.(Psalms 34:4)
I am here today to tell you that God is love. There is nothing that we can say or do to change the heart of God because He does what He does simply because He loves us. He died so that we could have life. Maybe you have found yourself going around in circles, wanting a way out and not finding one, that is okay. Today is a good day to accept that you can’t continue to do life on your own that although you don’t understand and you don’t see what will happen next, it’s time for a change. That change is Jesus.
Today, I declare that the blood of Jesus has the power to restore you, to mend your broken heart, to make all things new in your life. I declare that suicide, depression, anxiety, financial hardships, abuse, marital problems, insecurities, living in dark places have no authority over your life. The blood of Jesus ports all of the power needed to set you free, it is a matter of calling on the name of Jesus. If He did it with me, He will do it for you. I want to leave you with this thought, your hardship is the very thing God is using to position you in life.
I am eternally thankful for all the Lord has done in my life. Today, I am married to my Boaz and am blessed to have four beautiful children. I still serve in the Marine Corps and have been restored to be exactly where God wants me to be. His grace and mercy wrote my story and I wouldn’t add to it nor take away from it. Not only do I have the privilege of being Youth Mentor alongside my husband at our local church, but I also get to do what I love to do and travel with my husband in ministry. The Lord has been so good to me.
I pray the Lord may have been able to tug at your heart, may you embrace your story and may His love overflow in your life.
Always remember, “The Lord will fulfill His purpose in your life.” Psalms 138:8a