It was hot, the sun was shining, and the reflection off the pool was blinding. It was June in Phoenix AZ and we were moving into a man’s house that seemed a million miles away from “home”. If I could go back to that very day and speak to that sweet, INNOCENT 5-year-old mind, with short bleach blonde hair and not a care in the world, I would tell her she was precious and that nothing that was about to happen to her was her fault and that she was beautiful and pure. I’d ask her to wrap her arms around her mommas long and skinny neck with a white knuckle grip and hold on for dear life. To inhale and memorize the sweetness of her perfume so that she’d have a safe place to go to in her mind when the darkness came!

That Precious 5 yr. old was me and what I didn’t know is that Over the next 5 years of my young life, that sweet scent of my mommas’ perfume would be the only sweet thing I would experience. On that June day, my life would change forever. I would never look at this world the same way I did before that hot summer day. It was the very first time my stepdad forced me to pleasure him and then did the same to me in return. It was as though someone had swooped in and wrapped up all the light in my life and tucked it away for another day. I was seeing and doing things that I didn’t understand and then forcibly being sworn to secrecy. I didn’t understand the evil that was happening but what I knew within the next several weeks is that this darkness wasn’t going anywhere. What started off as a promise to a new life in Arizona had become a nightmare that never ended. Id retreat to my room or into the swimming pool but he always knew just how to find me, then corner me right where he wanted me. His efforts became braver and more aggressive and the threats became scarier and harsher. Overtime, I found myself hating him and the scent of cigar smoke was enough to tie my stomach in knots. Still to this day, my kids know we don’t buy Lay’s potato chips because of the grimy, salty texture they would leave behind on his cigar-soaked hands after eating a whole bag.

Life changes when evil enters and although I am now 31 years old, I still have horrific dreams that leave me feeling dirty and used. I struggle with sex in a healthy marriage because for so long, I used sex for a desperate plea for love and to get what I wanted. My stepdad would sometimes buy me things my mom wouldn’t if I would do what he wanted me to do. He tried to almost romanticize the evil he was committing. I’ll buy you this, if you let me do this…. And if you tell your mom, I will hurt you! It sent a message very early on that sex somehow equaled acceptance and would get you what you wanted but there was nothing positive about it. The sexual sin throughout my life after the abuse stopped is nothing less than shameful and although I know now that I have been forgiven, redeemed and washed clean, I will be the first to tell you that hating God was my mantra for most of my young life. What kind of God would allow this kind of hurt, abuse, sickness and torture? I lived a lot of my life in the “victim mentality” and made my choices based on that. What I am most grateful for in this lifetime and will spend the rest of my days telling the world is that God literally chased me down. He never quit pursuing me and all the time I spent looking for that true love in men and substance, God was calling me out by name. I was flipping him off in all my words and actions and he NEVER once turned his back. See there isn’t anyone or anything in this world that can erase what has been done in mine or your past but there is one true God that can take ANY bruised and beaten victim and turn them into a beautiful SURVIOR AND THRIVER! He loves without fail and holds no record of wrong. He comforts and protects us and offers an abundance of light in a world filled with darkness. Oddly enough, because of this life experience, I have grown to have a crazy passion for all people because you realize that everyone has a struggle we know nothing about!! I pray that if you are struck down by your past and feel stuck in darkness, you’d cry out to him and if you are already living in light, that you’d never take his love for granted. He is the only one who can truly bring peace into the deepest wounds and joy in the greatest sadness. PTL

Still Surviving and Thriving,
Lindsay

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