The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

It's easy to take the good, but what about the bad and the ugly?

**Meet our dear friend, Kimberly. Her Whimsy story is one that will leave your heart racing until the very end. Relief finally comes in her life. Jesus. Only Jesus. Her story reminds us that the pain we experience is never wasted! Never. Never. Never wasted. Our suffering means something. Every single piece of our life has purpose. The good, the bad and the ugly all matter to God. 

During an emotionally excruciating time in my life, I wailed and cried out to the Father, “Why?! Why do I have to go through this? WHY?”

Just as clear as if He was standing next to me, Father lovingly replied, “Because I want MORE for you.” 

I knew in my spirit He wanted more for me- better for me. He did not want me to stay comfortable because comfort never produced growth in me. He had a better plan. Yes, pain was involved, but I had a deep understanding in my spirit that this “more” was intensely driven by love. 

That has been a pattern in my life: there’s always more, there’s always better if I’m willing to trust my loving heavenly Father through the intense darkness, through the pain, and do the hard work. Growth will bloom. Life has been very, very hard, but Father has been very, very faithful.

He has allowed me to bloom like a stunning, yet thorny, rose growing out of the ashes. I’m stronger only because I am more deeply rooted in my Father’s unending love.

I have two testimonies: one I told before I was 17 and one I told after.   

My testimony before 17: 

I was raised in an amazing Christian home. Both of my parents loved the Lord and talked constantly about Jesus. My older brother was a Christian, too. We went to church every week, served on committees, lead worship, and taught the youth. We had family devotions every morning around the breakfast table where we read “Our Daily Bread”. We lived on the most gorgeous 10 acres behind a state park. I spent most of my life outdoors, gardening, pretending to have to survive by eating wild onions washed in the “crik.” I felt intensely loved by a daddy who listened to me, fished and hunted with me, and dreamt with me about my future. It was a good life. Sure there were a few problems, but doesn’t everyone have secrets?

My testimony after 17:

When I was 17-years-old, I was serving as a leader in my youth group. Our church was hosting a “freedom in Christ” conference spanning a couple of days. I brought a friend who needed to hear the good news. The first night, the speaker revealed the statistic that 1in 3 girls are sexually abused.

God only knows the timing, but something in me snapped. I held it together for my unsaved friend’s sake, but for the next 24 hours, I sobbed and shook and wailed until I vomited.  I sobbed from a depth of my spirit that felt like a grand canyon. The pain I had stuffed for so many years flowed from me like the mightiest flood. There was no holding it back now.

The next night I put on a good face and attempted to do my work as youth liaison for the conference, but God had other plans. I broke down sobbing into my daddy’s arms in the last pew of the church. I barely could talk but through my cries, but I confessed, “My brother has done horrible things to me for as long as I can remember.”

JD (name changed), my brother, is ten-years-older than me and my only sibling. He abused me for years. I could just stop there, but “abused” is a word that can so easily be glossed over. ”Abused” is a semi-safe word, but I want to be genuinely vulnerable here for the sake of helping others.

My brother stole my innocence when I was a tender age of 2 years old (especially hard to swallow when I have a 2-year-old daughter now) and finally broke my silence when I was 17. I suffered through 15 years of him touching, feeling, and arousing sexual desires before they were meant to be awoken- 15 years of him teaching me things sexually that many married couples don’t even do.

We did not have “technical sex” because he believed that would be “unchristian” of him to have sex outside of marriage (heavy sarcasm), but he abused me when we were children living in the same home. He abused me when he was married, and even when he had three children of his own. He abused me when people were around and when we were alone. He waited for the opportunity to sexually abuse me for 15 long years.

The showers I took many times afterwards stick with me the most… I would curl up and sob and feel so, so dirty. The water never washed it away. I felt the depth of my nakedness in those showers, so emotionally raw and so ashamed. He, like all abusers, twisted my mind so badly that I didn’t know what to do.

I avoided thinking about the abuse because I had to survive. So when it was happening, I’d “turn off” and disconnect from reality. I learned to live most of my life disconnected and not truly present. (I still struggle, even now, with "floating” as my counselors over the years have called it.)

It started when I was so young that I almost didn’t realize there was another way of life. And just in case I’d ever get the idea to stop it or tell someone, my brother deeply engrained into my psyche that because my body had a physical reaction (what God created it to do) that I was just as much at fault as he was. He forced me to believe that I liked it, asked for it and that it was consensual. He convinced me that if I talked, I would break my conservative Christian parent’s hearts. 

But that evening on the church pew, I broke my silence. I told my parents and they believed me. They confronted my brother, and he confessed. It was handled within the family.

I was told to NEVER talk about it outside of my immediate family. I was instructed not to tell JD’s wife or anyone I might like to marry- don’t tell my husband even if I can’t perform sexually and don’t ever talk to a counselor, pastor, or friend, and especially never ever involve the law- they are from the devil.

I was told that I would “single-handedly destroy the family!” I suffered through depression, migraines, and all sorts of illnesses. I was always sick, crying, or sleeping. Sleeping was the best escape from the memories. I rarely dreamt about the abuse, so if I could just sleep all the time I didn’t have to see the memories replay in graphic detail in my mind.

Over the years, my family unraveled. I don’t blame myself (thanks to counseling), because it was already crumbling internally. I just brought the truth to light and there’s healing when scary secrets lose their power in the light. 

I told my college roommates one by one. Later I fell for a great Christian guy at my college, and I told him everything (very much against my parents warning). I was also desperately praying that God would bring a woman into my life that had already traveled this road- someone who could help me overcome this. That guy, who I ended up marrying, worked at a church that had a free counseling program. He made my first appointment for me just after we started dating. My parents fought viciously for me not to go and were horrified that people knew and feared their reputation would be ruined in our community and church.

My parents said that if people found out, I couldn’t wear white when I got married because I would no longer be seen as pure!  They asked, “Why’d you let us go through the purity ring ceremony when you weren’t pure?” They tried to make me feel guilty and unworthy. 

However, I disobeyed their warnings and received Christian counseling from two amazing women who had traveled a similar path. They gave me the guidance in Scripture to deal with my anger (which I claimed not to have), helped me understand God was angry too, how to use anger in a God-honoring manner, and how to forgive repeatedly every time a memory would come to mind.

They taught me to understand that reconciliation is NOT the same as forgiveness, and to follow Matthew 18’s guidelines concerning my brother because of his affair on his wife. They taught me that overcoming abuse is like the layers of an onion; new layers will need to be worked through my entire life and that’s normal and good. They helped me see how unresolved abuse spreads like a deadly infection, eating you alive from the inside out and infecting others around you. They taught me to see the generational cycles of abuse in my parents and grandparents.

For a long time, I fought the idea that abuse was deeply rooted in my family. I clung to the happy picture of my parents and family that I had built up in my mind for survival for so many years- that picture-perfect testimony I gave before I was 17. I refused to acknowledge that my father had been accused of molesting a friend of mine in the 5th grade. I blocked out accusations that both my mom and dad had abused other family members. I only wanted to admit the secrets of my brother.

My family continued to unravel and my brother began to admit things he’d done to his own children and wife. He was reported and the DA prepared a lengthy list of charges against him. My heart broke because I still loved him as my brother, but I knew he needed to be stopped. 

However, JD got off on a technicality of statute of limitations during the years of abuse vs. current laws. He did not become a registered sex offender and can freely be around kids. His wife divorced him, and she was hospitalized for a mental breakdown. My parents were so embarrassed by it all that they left their church and drove an hour away to attend one where no one knew about our family.

Meanwhile, I tried to make it work with my parents. The nail in the coffin for my rocky relationship (understated) with my parents was when a different counselor said, “You know when your daughter has had a bad day, right? There’s no way in the world your parents didn’t see the signs you were being abused for 15 years!” She was right. Several experts have confirmed this to me.

My parents had created a household that was sexually charged with no healthy boundaries or privacy. I was encouraged to sleep in my brother’s room or on my parent’s floor until I left for college. Hearing them have sex and seeing my mother wear see-through nighties around the house only fueled the fire. Over the years, I’ve given my parents ample opportunities to choose differently; to protect me THIS time, but they never do.

I have two precious little girls, and with the sexual abuse accusations against both of my parents, I cannot allow my children to be around them. It would be devastating if I selfishly put them around dangerous people. I still struggle with longing for my mom and dad to be in my life and to let them see and celebrate my children. I ache for that, but they are not healthy people. I have to protect my girls.  

“I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.  I remember it all- oh, how well I remember- the feeling of hitting the bottom.  But there’s one thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal Love couldn’t have run out, his merciful Love could’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning.  How great your faithfulness!  I’m sticking with God (I’d say it over and over) He’s all I’ve got left.”  Lamentations 3:19-24 (The Message) 

There is more to this life; more than just surviving. Father has given me amazing joy, amazing love, amazing compassion. Father has provided for me in ways that make people’s jaws drop. He has held me through all of steep valleys and amazing mountaintops. He continues to give me a deeper desire for more of Him. He’s given me the desire to be healed and used and filled and satisfied by His Spirit.

I am honored to use my story to help anyone who has walked a similar path. Helping others gives purpose to my pain. It’s also given me purpose to ensure a better life for my girls. I’m going to do for them what my parents couldn’t, wouldn’t, or didn’t know how to do for me. There’s more for my precious daughters' lives too! Why should they spend the first half of their lives overcoming, when they could start from the beginning being powerfully used for the Kingdom?

My husband and I (both from rough childhoods) wrote a family mission statement that reflects our heart: “We are a family who strive to break generational cycles and replace bad patterns with healthy habits that form us all into people who make God smile.”

Father protects and He is strong (Psl 34:5, 73:26). 
The Lord does what is right and fair for all who are wronged by others (Ps 103:6) 
His heart breaks for those who are heart-broken (Ps 147:3). 
He cries with those who are hurting (Ps 34:18). 
He gets angry at the horrible things people do to one another (Psl 103:6) 
He promises never to leave us and to hold us by the hand. To be our strength (Ps 73:23-26) 
He loves us so much He sacrificed His Son for us (John 3:16) 
He lavished such great love on us that we can be called the daughters of God (1 John 3:1) 
Moreover, He turns beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3), victims into victors and He uniquely equips us to help others who are hurting in similar ways (2 Cor 1:2-5). He gives us the desires of our hearts and makes the desires of our hearts the same as His. To love, to help, to heal, to point people towards Jesus- the lover and healer of our souls.

“God of all healing counsel. He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”  2 Corinthians 1:2-5

Thank you for allowing me to tell my story. I'm believing God He, too, will restore, heal, and redeem anything from your past to breathe hope and healing into your life. Jesus saves no matter who, what, when or where! HALLELUJAH! YOU are a child of the most high King, beloved. Lets wear our crowns proudly because of who He is and what He is doing in our lives.