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Redemption Gift

June 29 was the 4th "anniversary" of Melina's death. She was my niece but more than that a dear friend and like a true sister to me. She too was a "Me Too". Sadly.

Our first book is dedicated to her and her story. As a way to celebrate her life I am offering free books to anyone that messages me or leaves me a number to call for an address to send books to them.

For preview:

https://www.amazon.com/Elephant-Gospel-Deborah-Ann-Saint/dp/151276955X

?https://www.amazon.in/Are-You-Willing-Greatest-Treasure-ebook/dp/B07Y8WR2WW

AMAZON.IN

Are You Willing?: Sharing Our Greatest Treasure, Stories About loving All People With Grace, Mercy And Truth.

I decided to blog the content of The Elephant Gospel for anyone who wants to read it. (Below these paragraphs) I am hopeful it will help people discover a life of forgiveness, NO SHAME, recovery and the greatest love known to man through Christ Jesus, my Lord.

On Twitter account The Sound Cloud of the first chapters is also available free. Please share with those that you think might be helped. There are so many who have had abortions or abuse and are in recovery. Redemption is possible. I am a vessel of mercy and living proof of his living hope. In His Passion and Love,

Deborah

Here is the first part of The Elephant Gospel Book:

The Elephant Gospel

Unshackled to Live the Secret of Hope

Information for Copyrights Page

© 2016 Deborah Sack “Saint”

Writing completed 9/2016 by Deborah Ann Sack “Saint” with input from her husband.

Edited by Karen Porter of Bold Vision Books and Lyndi Markus of Open World Communications.

Dedication

To a precious friend, who happened to be my niece. Thank you for believing in me, this book, its message—and for the many talks we had about its contents. You prayed your heart out for me, encouraged me, and offered compassion and a shared understanding. I love you tons, more than I can express, and I miss you just as much. This book is for you, and for all others like us and the ones our stories will affect and have affected—our husbands, our children, our families, and others who have paid dearly for what was done to us and then what we suffered and did. May God redeem it all. I am praying our lives will impact many lives with the redemption Christ came to give. I dedicate my life, our stories, especially their disasters and fallouts to be messages of hope to the glory of God.

“For many in our high-paced world, despair is not a moment; it is a way of life.”

--Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God

Yet, the LORD makes known to me the path of life; in His presence there is fullness of joy; at His right hand are pleasures forevermore.

--Psalm 16:11, ESV (paraphrased)

(Forward omitted)

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Elephant in the Room

Part 1: An Elephant Shackled

Chapter 1 – My Story; An Elephant’s Story

Chapter 2 – The World Needs Hope

Chapter 3 – The Secret of Hope

Chapter 4 – The Hope of Forgiveness

Chapter 5 – Hope for Your Story

Part 2: Elephant Stampede

Chapter 6 – The Church Needs Hope

Chapter 7 – Gospel of Hope

Chapter 8 – Hope for the Cultural Collision

Part 3: Elephants on Parade

Chapter 9 – God’s Hope for Hopeless Stories

Chapter 10 – Covenant of Hope

Chapter 11 – Heralds of Hope

Chapter 12 – Audacious Hope

Conclusion: A Final Thought on Hope

Appendix: For Those Who Made the Decision to Abort

Special Prayer for the Heralds of Hope

Suggested Resources

References

Introduction

The Elephant in the Room

There is an elephant in the room. Too large for the space it inhabits, it’s destroying its home from the inside out, crashing into mirrors and smashing into walls. Yet we usually don’t talk about it. We act like it doesn’t exist, though the damage persists and we find ourselves staring at it in hopelessness, wondering if we must deal with this forever, and alone.

Our elephants are our secrets, our secret sins, the ones we never mention. The things too shameful for us to say: things like sexual abuse, abortion, homosexuality, and addiction. In our culture, the elephants are the hot topics, sometimes used to bludgeon the church into silence even when Jesus would beckon us to take a righteous stand. Sometimes, if the church does take a stand and talk about the elephant, it still doesn’t usually know how to help the people affected and bring them to restoration.

These elephants often wear masks to try to look more appealing, but they can’t really hide. They’re still elephants, and they’re still in the room. If we leave the elephant masked, we run the risk of never again being free. We refuse to be honest with the facts of our story and where the secrets came from, whether in the church or on a personal level—and that’s how an elephant in the room becomes a controlling skeleton in the closet.

I can no longer live the charade. Pretending does not work, and it hinders the Gospel. In Sacred Secrets, Beth Moore states, “Secrets manifest.”

In the DVD of this study, she states,

“Our triumphs and our defeats erupt from our vaults.” What is vaulted in you is the seat of your success and failure, your triumphs and defeats. It is impacting and living itself out all over your life. That is what we have come to tend to. So much defeat is caught up in that vault. What I want to prove to you Scripturally is that every true success, every true Biblical success will come from that same vault. Right there in that secret place.”

Psalm 51. Our secrets taken to the Lord, get redeemed.

Jesus knows all of our secrets. There are no secrets with Him. He knows all about us and loves us completely. He does not want us in secrecy, shame, or condemnation and has done everything to bring blessing and redemption through forgiveness that comes by His sacrifice.

I want to be genuine, so I will no longer hide or pretend. I have faced the truth and been to the cross, and I have appropriated Christ’s work by faith. I have begun to live authentically and this is where I will unmask, taking off the old man, that skeleton of shame and disgrace I have worn or carried for so long and putting on the righteousness of Christ.

This book is my story of how the Gospel was first heralded to me and Christ became life to me. It is the story of how I began to herald, or share with others, what I have received.

Redemption in the Telling

Because I carried so much shame, initially it seemed impossible to write my story and apply the Gospel to it effectively. Shame robbed me, disconnecting me from the Gospel’s power. I began trying to make the Gospel work by my “good works” instead. I thought that if I tried harder, I would find hope. I never found hope or peace or joy because I was locked in shame by default—and habit. Shame became my identity, and it affected my relationships and every part of my life. I craved relief from myself—from trying to prove my value because I felt worthless. If you met me, you’d think I was self-assured and confident, which I used as a defense. I needed a deeper experience of God’s love and Christ’s cross.

It is God’s will for my story, all our stories, to be redeemed. In hearing mine, perhaps you will experience His story in a greater way. Perhaps you will gain insights and a greater grace understanding to apply to your story to bring redemption in a greater measure.

To herald the Gospel to the world more effectively, we must be sure we have embraced the love of God, know the Truth of God, and have discovered the secret of hope found in Him. This process begins with Christ’s covenant story and our personal story.

It continues with our being able to have true confidence in Christ’s story, knowing the elephants cannot trample us: accepting the truth of the Gospel and the need we have to herald it. Heralding the Gospel, both to ourselves and to others, is a vital step on our way to healing.

Through the Gospel Lens

As I began committing the truths of God Word to my heart by writing and processing my past through the Gospel lens and the Spirit’s work, the shame diminished more and more and the desire to share my story came through. My head knowledge is becoming heart functioning in Gospel living.

As one thinks in his heart so he is (Proverbs 23:7, NKJV).

Paul told us, “To live is Christ,” and Jesus told Peter, “strengthen the brethren.” Oh how wonderful if the Lord would work in us, me and you, and by His Spirit, teach us to live like these first apostles in the Book of Acts. We too could turn the world upside down with the Gospel!

Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the Gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, NET).

Work in Progress

I am a work in progress, and it’s been messy. I am learning to accept myself and my past in the light of God’s grace and truth. Religion, or a set of rules to follow based on our own works, doesn’t work. But the experience of the true Gospel based on the sacrificial death of Christ has opened my eyes to hope. Resurrection hope.

I have received God’s grace and mercy. Christ died to give me these unmerited favors. Though I received them in the past, at times I have poorly understood them and rarely applied their riches or utilized their gifts. Shame has hindered Christ’s forgiveness too long. I was deceived to think I could overcome shame by my own works.

The realization of my dependence on works has been intense. I realized how much I depended on my performance to make me righteous. I continue to process my feelings and abide more fully in Christ. Only Christ’s blood overcomes shame and all sin and brings the victory. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22, ESV.)

I want to use what I have learned from the Word and to live what it teaches and what I say I believe—and I want to share this process with you. Christ promises victory!

The process of breaking my silence and revealing my secrets as well as breaking out of legalistic religion has not been easy. It has been a slow kill inside of me. But in its death, new life has hope. I fully desire to overcome (Revelation 12:11), worship in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24), and live a life of abundance (John 10:10; Ephesians 3:20).

The Elephant Gospel

We are greatly loved and intimately known. The creator of the universe loves and cares about us, individually and specifically. His love is more than words and sentiment. His unconditional love is backed by action, the giving of His life. He knows us fully—our inner thoughts, feelings, and our outer actions, including every good or bad thing we have ever thought, said or have done. And yet He loves us. His love is infinite and is unaffected by our past.

His love gives us hope.

The Elephant Gospel is what happens when we acknowledge the elephant in the room and take off our masks to recognize our brokenness and bondage. Then we begin to herald the message of Jesus Christ as it was meant to be heralded: first, with honesty and genuineness to ourselves; second, through the Body of Christ to the hurting and broken world. The saying goes that an elephant never forgets. It is ours, through the Gospel, never to forget the hope that was won for us on the cross. The Elephant Gospel is the story of the secret of our hope.

And my hope for this book is that, as I take off my own mask and discuss the elephant herd that has touched my life, my secrets now told will show the secret of hope, as I have discovered it, to you. I am learning how to depend only on Christ to deliver me and take my old self to the cross, leaving it there for good. No longer may it have a negative hold on me. The stronghold of shame is broken. My identity in Christ is secure.

I pray the finish to my life will make the enemy very sorry he ever messed with me. Hope from hopelessness.

Prayer

LORD, in the Holy Spirit and with much assurance in power and in word may our gospel come forth (1 Thessalonians 1:5). May the focus be on Christ and His completed redemptive work accomplished on our behalf. Give us clear words of testimony about how Christ’s blood purchased salvation. Open the eyes of the unsaved so they may see the truth of how sin separates us from you. Thank you for grace for repentance and faith in Christ. Help us unmask the elephants through Christ’s work for salvation, not depending on our own works. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Part 1: The Elephant Shackled

Circus elephants are magnificent creatures. They parade underneath the colorful big top, amidst the antics of the clowns, the tricks of the acrobats, and the smells of cotton candy and popcorn. The circus elephant lives to entertain and amaze. But perhaps the most amazing thing is that an enormous elephant can be kept in line by just a shackle attached to a tiny stake in the ground: a stake the elephant could easily overpower and be free from. But why doesn’t it? Because the elephant was chained to that stake since its babyhood. It tried and tried throughout its young life to break free from that shackle, but it learned through hardship and struggle to see the stake as its master. Now, as a “well-adjusted adult,” the elephant believes it cannot get free, and doesn’t even try any longer.

When horrible things happen to us at a young age, shame tries to take over. Lies get entrenched and seem so true. Trusting in God’s love seems impossible—we more easily trust in counterfeits. Horrible things are bad enough on their own, but Satan takes them and exploits them for his own advantage, to kill, steal, and destroy, deceiving us into thinking God doesn’t love us. Just look at all these awful things that are happening to us, all the terrible things that we have done!

Shame becomes our chain, our stake, and we believe we can never escape. Sometimes it begins with things that are done to us, but often it continues with our own choices. Sometimes we choose hopelessness instead of hope.

At this stage in the journey of the Elephant Gospel, we may try to self-manage our sin by our works, say our sin is okay, or even parade it, pretending we feel no shame because it is easier to say we are not wrong than to admit we need to change. This elephant’s Gospel needs a confrontation with Christ’s death on the cross to truly find hope.

It is hard to imagine we could be capable of evil and then be deceived into thinking enough “goodness” would balance the scales. But this is the way I have lived without realizing it. As I give “the word of my testimony,” my story, please remember that if you were given my life, you too could have done the things I have done.

Chapter 1

My Story; An Elephant’s Story

You will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,

because he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21, KJV).

Sin is the second most powerful force in the universe, for it sent Jesus to the cross. Only one force is greater—the love of God.” --Billy Graham

“Knowing God without knowing my own wretchedness makes for pride. Knowing my own wretchedness without knowing God makes for despair. Knowing Jesus Christ strikes the balance because he shows us both. God and our own wretchedness. -- Blaise Pascal

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things. (Romans 8:32, ESV)

My Hopeless Story

When I was two and a half, neither my doctors nor my parents expected me to live.

I was severely ill with high fevers that brought on seizures, including the longest grand mal seizure my doctor had seen to date. Initially I was diagnosed with encephalitis. After many spinal taps, numerous shots, countless medications, and various tests in that intense time of hospitalization, the doctors told my parents that if I recovered from this infection in my brain, I may be mentally impaired or sustain other negative long-term effects.

The cause and diagnosis were never confirmed, but the after-effects were unpleasant: I grew fast and looked, acted, and felt different than I did before. The doctors said they thought the illness had affected my brain, growth, and possibly my cognition, though thankfully over time the effects seemed to stabilize. Nevertheless, in my childhood I suffered from these abnormalities, and other children teased me.

The Beginning of Abuse

I do not know when the sexual abuse started or when it stopped, but many of my earliest memories are sexual. I have no precise memories of this early abuse, but I have all the signs, feelings, and many “before-and-after scenes” that can be pieced together. Counselors see the clear signs of sexual abuse. I feel great shame. I have felt unlovable, defective and as though I do not belong. Not knowing why I feel what I feel or remembering the actual details of the abuse disturbs and haunts me.

Feeling abnormal, rejected, and unlovable has been a way of life from my earliest memories. These feelings led me to behave in unusual ways. My actions concerned my mother, and she took me to doctors when I was a preschooler to find out what was wrong with me. But in the early 1960s, symptoms of sexual abuse were not recognized and diagnosed as they are today. The doctor told my mom I would grow out of these behaviors.

I felt repeated shame and humiliation and confusion as my mother tried to help me grow out of these abnormal behaviors. I knew I wasn’t normal, but I did not understand how to become “normal.” I know now that my mom loved me, wanted to help me, and was doing all she knew to do. However, all I wanted then was feel more of her love and acceptance. I just felt disgusting and disgraced. I tried to be good, because I thought if I was good enough I would be loved. Yet I still saw myself as unlovably bad.

I lived with agonizing feelings of self-hatred and self-rejection. I got to the point that I was afraid to use the bathroom because I might touch myself and be dirty. This was my understanding as a preschooler. I remember wanting to die, even as early as five. I thought of drinking some of the weed killer or chemicals stored in the garage.

By about the age of six, many of the effects of the severe illness and abnormal behaviors had normalized, but my growth and a few disabilities continued to be problematic. I was very aware of how big I was and how concerned my parents were about it. I was also hyperactive with a few learning issues. It was not a good mix—to appear to be the oldest, yet be the youngest. It only accentuated the deficits. I was bigger and taller than my older siblings and all my classmates, and I felt awkward and out of place, even with my family and peers. I was treated like I was older than I was, but I couldn’t meet the expectations of my presumed age, so I felt shamed. I tried my best to behave and was an obedient child to the best of my ability.

Hints of Hope

Before I go on, I want to mention that there were stabilizing forces throughout my childhood, too.

I remember my dad holding me in his lap, saying, “You are my little girl,” and I felt his love and affection. Every night, my mother would kiss me goodnight and pray with me. “Sweet dreams,” she always told me. “I love you. God bless you.” Also, I felt loved by my siblings.

To provide for us during the early years, Daddy sometimes worked three jobs. He was at work during much of my preschool years, so most of the responsibility to raise us fell to my mom. Mom did her best to keep things organized and consistent, and she ran our household well. As I look back on it now, I admire her and what she accomplished.

My parents were married more than fifty years and did their best to live their faith before us. They worked hard to provide for us, were orderly and clean, and set good examples of a healthy lifestyle. We had a moral, upstanding family.

We attended church faithfully. Every Sunday and all Christian holidays, my family was at church and often at catechism. My first Holy Communion and Confirmation were highlights of my childhood. I did not understand how God was with me always, or that I needed a Savior and why, but I had heard and knew about Jesus, and I knew He had died on a cross. Sadly, my conclusion as to His extraordinary sacrifice was that I needed to be good to please God and receive His love.

Despite the challenges I faced personally, I can see evidence of God’s love and favor in my life. He gave me talents and abilities with extra measures of perseverance, persistence, motivation, and a willingness to work hard. These often accentuated the special gift of athleticism I have been privileged to possess and immensely enjoy. I am so thankful for these consistent stabilizing factors in my childhood.

Attacked

When I was four or five years old, I was held down on the ground by a mentally unstable neighbor. He had me fully pinned and was on top of me with his hand over my mouth and nose, which blocked my airway. I was petrified. I could not breathe. Thankfully my protective two older siblings and our mother came to my rescue just in time, before anything worse happened.

The man said things to me while he held me down. I do not know his specific words. I was too young to fully understand them. I do know the impression they left on me: I was disgusting, worthless, and he wished I was dead. The effect this had on me seemed to confirm my worst fears. I believed these impressions to be the truth. On top of that, I felt guilty. I was in his parents’ yard, where my parents had forbidden me to go. I felt what happened was my fault.

I vowed to be more obedient and worthy of love. My focus and obsession worsened in trying to be good. Still I struggled to be still and quiet especially in school; because of my hyperactive tendencies, the doctor wanted to treat me with Ritalin™, a new drug. My parents didn’t want to risk it, given my medical history.

Looking for Love

In my late elementary years, I was sexually abused in a very traumatic and unusual way by someone my parents thought they could trust. I think the man was drunk when the abuse occurred, and it was only a one-time event. But even once was too much. I developed a wrong concept of love, and it impacted how I interacted with boys my age. I thought that if a boy wanted to touch me, I was accepted and it was love. What a lie I believed!

Before I was twelve, I invited the boys in the neighborhood to meet me at the fort, telling them they could do whatever they wanted to do. To this day I wonder, Why would I offer myself like that? Nobody came. Nobody came! I determined that I was unlovable and unwanted. I walked around in the woods wanting to die. I was too afraid to talk to anybody about these fears and thoughts. I blamed myself and did not know what to do to be better.

When my art teacher told us to draw a picture of who we wanted to be, I tried to draw my sister. I thought, Maybe if I could be a different girl, things would be better. In my mind, she was far superior—prettier and more feminine. I was much bigger than everyone in my class until 6th grade, when one of the other students finally attained my height. I was strong, but often clumsy; my fine motor skills had not developed. Although I tried to be more coordinated, I was often told I was a “bull in a china shop.” It hurt. I acted as though it didn’t. I felt weak, but I pretended to be strong. There was safety in strength. I didn’t know how to be like other girls.

So I became a full-fledged tomboy, and got in trouble many times for playing football and doing things only boys were supposed to do, even though I was better at sports than many of the boys in our neighborhood. I was a talented athlete—the one thing I loved about myself. The only times I really liked me were when I performed well in sports. For the most part, though, I hated being me and wanted out of my body.

I never felt good enough and tirelessly strived to be better, different—whatever would get me to feel loved, whether I was loved or not, if I just could feel loved for that moment. It was a formula that led me into much trauma, abuse, sin, and sadness. I just wanted to be okay with who I was, and I wanted others to be okay with me, too.

The kids in my neighborhood teased me for my size and even my ethnicity—my father’s family were full-fledged immigrants. Thankfully we moved far from that neighborhood about the time I entered my teens. In the new neighborhood, I was accepted.

I continued to have a great ability in sports, and coaches esteemed me. I learned to work radically to make the most of these talents, and the acceptance that came with this spurred me onward. Sports became my life. I swam competitively on a national team and practiced for hours most days from the age of 12 until I was about 18 years old. One coach encouraged me to try for the Olympics. Although I did not make it to the international stage, swimming was a stabilizing factor in my life. Athleticism was the one area of my life where I felt successful and valued.

Then in my late teens, my spinal health deteriorated (due to a defect I was born with). I was unable to continue swimming at that level of competition. My life fell apart. I had lost the identity I found in the value I had in my performance.

Hearing About Hope

My conclusions about life were that I could be right with God just by going to church and being good. During a youth retreat on the July Fourth weekend when I was fourteen, I heard the Gospel for the first time: I learned I was a sinner, that I had to accept Christ’s gift on the cross, and ask forgiveness for my sins in order to be restored to my heavenly Father and be saved.

At the retreat, I heard a lot of the others’ testimonies, telling about all the bad things they had done—drinking, smoking pot, partying hard. They made their partying sound so fun I wondered if they regretted giving up something that had been so pleasurable for them. I was confused. What had they gained? Well, I hadn’t done any of those “bad” things—I’d never used drugs or alcohol because of my commitment to swimming—so I felt pretty good about myself in comparison! However, I had lied and cheated in school, had hate in my heart, and I often felt dirty, defiled, and bad. I was convicted of my sin and did not want to go to hell, so I said the sinner’s prayer, and I felt peace in my heart.

Just weeks after my salvation experience, I was taken to a party by a trusted adult relative. I had no idea what that night would usher into my life. I did not know that it would be an occult party, and that abuse would take place. The years that followed were undoubtedly the worst in my life. My life after the occult abuse unraveled at a rapid pace and in an awful way. From the age of fifteen to twenty-one, I lived in depravity. I embraced sin. I regret those years more than any in my life, and I can’t explain the force that drove me. It felt as if I was under some curse or spell that I could not break.

All semblance of normalcy in my core identity was attacked repeatedly. The innocence I wanted to live was adulterated by perversion. The enemy capitalized on the foundational lies of my early childhood. The monsters of fear, insecurity, betrayal, counterfeit love, worthlessness, and sexual sins consumed me.

Betrayal, Confusion, Collapse

My two first serious boyfriends, whom I had trusted, betrayed me. I thought it was my new commitment to purity and my fear of sex that caused both of them to ultimately reject me. I desperately wanted to know I was wanted, but I held back, giving mixed messages of desire and restraint. I was trying to be a good Christian girl, but I was a mess, a tease, a contradiction, and mass of confusion.

I talked to a close girlfriend about my fears and insecurities related to sex and boys. In the sharing, we got too close. Our talks turned into the worst nightmare of my life. For about a year, I was sexually confused, searching to make sense of life and my identity. Shame defined me.

When I went away to college, I carried the secret, the shame, and the confusion, hiding my struggle from everyone. I tried to seek God. I made a decision to never go “that way” again—a resolution I have always kept. My “friendship” with the other girl ended completely.

I believed that if I told my parents or my church, I would be cast out and disowned. I would have no home and no support, and no one would understand. So I kept it to myself, and I felt so alone. In the 1970s, homosexuality was still designated a mental illness. Even though by the late 70’s culture was beginning to consider homosexuality differently, I still thought it was considered by most to be a blight and a terrible affliction, a stigma, an abnormality, and completely unacceptable. “Completely unacceptable”: that description fit how I often felt much of my young life.

I wanted to turn back time for a do-over, but that’s never possible, is it? I was more confused than ever, and I was still afraid of men. Once again, I prided myself on how strong I could be, and I hid behind the false strength.

Like a roller coaster, my mess of emotions careened to wild ups and downs. I struggled with an eating disorder, and like most college kids, I used alcohol. I discovered that partying wasn’t the pleasure others had seemed to present it to be. It never brought lasting joy; and for me, it created more problems and hurt than any minimal pleasure it gave. Alcohol and pain were a bad mix for me. Too often my pain and emotions came out when I drank. Eventually, I saw that alcohol was a problem in my life, so I tried to clean up my act and I basically quit drinking altogether.

Loved at Last

My third year of college, I met the “stand-out” man who is now my husband of more than 35 years. I thought he was the best thing that ever happened to me. He wrote me love poems and notes, and called me a special nickname. I fell deeply in love with him, and I cherished the thoughts of his heart. I finally felt treasured and loved! We had a very romantic first year together.

I trusted him, and I shared my heart with him as well as my body. I even told him my teenage secret—he was the only person who knew. But he accepted me, and assured me of his love and my value. I thought my life could finally be different and better.

We were both believers, but obviously not pure—it was no secret that we were involved. I was a bad witness to our families and friends saying I was Christian, but living in sexual intimacy outside of marriage. To me, it was almost a stamp of approval that said, “See? A man wants me.” I had no idea how distorted my perverted thinking was.

My then-boyfriend and I spoke of our belief in God—both of us desired to grow closer to Him. We planned to have a large family together—six to eight children. But I have to admit, I had fears about marriage. I was afraid to vulnerably trust any man. I prayed about whether I should marry him, and I felt that He was God’s choice for me. I remember the day he asked for my father’s permission to marry me. My father and my family loved (and love) him, accepted him with open arms, and gave us unanimous approval. We were engaged a short time and married a little over a year after first meeting. He was safe and loving, and I trusted him.

D-Day

Months after we married, I unexpectedly got pregnant. To my shock and utter horror, he did not want this unplanned pregnancy. I saw this as our baby; at the time, he saw it as an accident, an untimely mistake we could not afford.

I begged and cried to keep the pregnancy. I desperately wanted our baby. I wanted my husband too, but I felt the only way to keep him was to do as he desired. I had such turmoil about who I was and my value; and sadly, my husband’s opinion of me was my barometer. I did not realize at the time that the loss of our baby would spell out my loss of my husband and of myself as well. Our choice became a breeding ground for death.

I was also afraid my secrets would be exposed. No one knew about my teenage relationship. I had not sought any treatment for my eating disorder, and it seemed to control my life. I felt ill-equipped to be a mom—too unstable even to care for myself and our marriage.

Since it was only a few days past my period when the pregnancy was confirmed, I told myself it was just like birth control. Only cells; the heart was not formed.

The day we aborted our first child was a D-day for us. It has defined and destroyed many of our days and much of my life. I felt our life and family was constantly missing an important person—our child.

I was not the same afterward. I couldn’t stop thinking about the baby and the abortion. The more I tried to put it out of my mind, the more the memories chased me. And the more I suffered, the more I blamed my husband and myself.

Our marriage was in shambles, and our great loss became greater. We were becoming enemies to each other, distrusting, sad, and no longer very loving. Unforgiveness and bitterness threatened to destroy me, us. I lived by rote, my heart grieved, dead, and buried by the ashes, pain, betrayals, and agony. The rejections of my young years repeated themselves.

The skeleton in the closet of my soul had not just controlled me, but it had become the poison that was killing me little by little, piece by piece. I needed an extraction and a resurrection.

For years I struggled with suicidal thoughts, fighting to keep sane, in horror that others might someday find out. I can honestly say if I had not sought Christ during this time, I would not be alive today.

The mask of performance I hid behind came naturally to me. My life seemed normal for the most part. However, there was no mistaking the volcano that sometimes erupted in me, which surely affected my family as well.

I have suffered more than thirty years grieving this deadly and awful decision, and have struggled against unforgiveness and bitterness. I should have refused the abortion and done whatever I needed to do to keep the pregnancy. Part of the consequence was the death I felt inside. I knew my past sin, and how I longed so deeply for love and acceptance from a man. I felt unlovable.

There are times I am mad at God for allowing me to suffer and go through such horror. I prayed about marrying my husband. Was I fooled into thinking it was God’s will when it wasn’t? Why did all this have to happen? Why could it not have been prevented? It has taken the supernatural intervention of God for us to live the Gospel, receiving forgiveness, forgiving ourselves and each other through Christ, and choosing to continue to love.

In these forty-plus years since my older teen years of sexual sins and the more than thirty years since our abortion, I have lived with that mask on, trying to pretend all of this never happened. I did not think I would ever tell these secrets or give this kind of personal testimony.

At various times during my marriage and our family life, I felt I had reached rock bottom. Like a circus elephant, I had accepted bondage as normal, seeing no other way of life, wearing my colorful mask as if everything was okay. I didn’t know I could be free, how to get free, or how to live free. Defining and finding the key to unlock all shackles and reconditioning my thinking has been a process for me, a process in the midst of hopelessness. And it started with taking off the mask and being honest with my weakness.

Perhaps your story, too, contains elephants, shackles, and skeletons. Maybe your story shares similarities with the elephant’s tale. My hope is to help us look at our shackles, secrets, what has held us back, and what has poisoned our thinking and our souls. Then we can begin to apply the truths that will free us and help us be restored. Our stories do not always start out great, but they can still be great, the bad turned to good. There is a time to look back and learn and there is a time to go forward in freedom with what you learned. The time for healing is now.

Prayer

LORD, I don’t even know how to pray right now. It is so hard to share and admit how sinfully and hopelessly I have lived. Thank you that you know all about what we have done, but you still love us so completely. Please help people who have experienced any of these things to know they too can live free and be forgiven and healed, with a clear conscience in Christ. Please help us receive the gift of forgiveness that you have extended to us so freely and completely; may we experience the Gospel’s power to transform and then extend it to others. Please help us all to live, despite our circumstances, welcoming the message with joy from the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:6). Help us to live in your hope, your Gospel. In Jesus‘ name, amen.

My plan is to blog a chapter a day until the book is free online. If I had better computer skills I would make a free download of book available. But I do not know how to do this yet. Til then, I pray this helps anyone willing to read it and or share it. Peace and grace to you all.

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