I Once Was a Shell of a Girl

I Once Was a Shell of a Girl

March 16, 2017

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

Devotion Graphic

[Editor’s Note: Today’s devotion might be a trigger for anyone who has survived childhood trauma. If that’s you, check out the Connect section today. We pray this story encourages you and brings you hope.]

Have you ever believed the wrongs of the world were too big for you to make a difference? I have. And instead of doing something, even something small, I did nothing.

I thought big, world-sized problems required big, powerful people.

But then a friend told me about spending time with rescued victims of sex trafficking. I knew that conversation was meant for more than just two friends connecting. I couldn’t just say, “Wow, how awful,” and go about my normal life. I had to do something. Even if it was something very small.

My small act didn’t solve the evils of the world, but it did help combat the evil being done against one. And that small gift tendered my heart to do more.

A few years later, I spent almost a week living and serving in a shelter for girls rescued from sex trafficking. Coming face to face with those affected by evil was starkly different than just hearing about it. I listened to their stories, saw their tears and held their hands.

What I heard and saw horrified me on deep, deep levels. I kept thinking: How can this be going on in America? How was I so unaware?

And yet the reality is, I personally know the horrors of being taken advantage of and feeling powerless. As a young girl I was caught in a vicious cycle of sexual abuse by a family “friend” for years.

His threats kept me silent. Over time, that silence turned into overwhelming shame. Hatred cloaked my soul in darkness. And that bitterness seeped into the deepest crevices of my heart, changing how I saw myself. A girl can get completely lost inside the caverns of hate and lose every bit of what used to make her feel alive.

I once was a shell of a girl, ravaged by evils done to me.

But now I’m a girl who has hope bigger than the hurt. Light brighter than the darkness. And a life full of truth as God set me free from those death chains of hatred.

How did I find that pathway to healing? Someone told me about Jesus.

Jesus promised me a new life through following Him. As I did, He saved me by His love, comforted me by His grace and freed me by His truth. Christian counseling helped me understand how to forgive and challenged me to share the hope I’d found. Every time I shared my story, it miraculously deepened my own healing. Every time I comforted another hurting woman, my own soul found deeper comfort.

The Bible reminds us that God has comforted us “so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:4b-5, NASB).

Your story and circumstances may be different, but we all need personal healing and comfort of some kind. Seek that comfort from God today. But don’t stop there.

God doesn’t comfort us to make us comfortable. He comforts us to make us comfort-ABLE … able to help others.

Seek out someone to help today. And if you have a story of hope like I do, share it. Love others. Share comfort. And believe small gifts aren’t small at all.

Dear Lord, thank You for being our Comforter. Wrap Your loving arms around each woman struggling with hurt and pain in the world right now, Father. And please show me how I can be an instrument of Your hope and healing in very real and specific ways today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Psalm 62:7, “My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.” (NIV)

Matthew 18:10, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” (NIV)

Jesus tells us in Scripture that He is the Light of the world. Not only does He bring light, but He also brings deliverance from the darkness. If you want to experience the Light of the world in a fresh way, Lysa TerKeurst has a new Bible study focusing on the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus. This study will help you stop living like a slave to your circumstances by training your heart to embrace the life-giving freedom God wants for you. You can order your copy of Finding I AM here today.

If you’ve experienced abuse or trauma recently or in your past, you might benefit from professional counseling. For a one-time consultation, or a referral to a Christian counselor in your area, click here.

You can connect with Lysa on a daily basis, see pictures of her family and follow her speaking schedule at her blog and on Instagram.

What small thing could you do today to help those who are hurting in the community around you? Pray for them and then take action however you can.

© 2017 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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  1. Lysa,
    I look forward to reading anything from you. God has placed such wisdom within you and I am so grateful to Him for that. This was a beautiful piece today. I was assaulted as a young teen and I was chained by it for so long. Jesus broke that chain and set me free and it is my heart to offer hope and healing to other teens or young ladies so that they can be freed from bondage also. He is the only way! Thank you for sharing your heart so openly and honestly. You are such a blessing to all of those who encounter you. May God continue to bless you and your ministry.

    • Christy says:

      Hey Jen I saw your comment while reading this and I was wondering if you could give me advice. I’m 19 and was molested as a young child. And I’m struggling. Thank you so much.

  2. Thank you for this great insight today. It reaffirms another piece in my own story. God is so amazing…always knowing what I need and when I need it.

  3. Jennifer says:

    My 9yr old daughter and I are signing up for the Illinois marathon that is taking place at the end of April. This year the marathon is sponsoring an organization that rescues people from human trafficking! Really excited to help with this. Also, I love that my little one can get involved.

  4. You are very brave Lysa. Thank you for using your pain so that others could heal.

  5. Beautiful devotion. I too was abused as a child. However, I never felt hatred…only sorrow and bewilderment as to why someone would do that. When I later, as an adult, I shared my story with a counselor, I was told something was wrong with me if I didn’t hate him. I felt shamed. I wondered if something WAS wrong with me if I didn’t hate. But, hatred didn’t feel like the truth.

    Much later, I attended his funeral. As I sat behind his wife and saw her shoulders shaking with pain and sorrow, I prayed that God would forgive him for what he’d done. Not because I loved him, I never did. I didn’t hate him but neither could I love him. However, SHE loved him. And, he was someone’s child and that person must surely have loved him.

    For their sakes, because of my love for them, I prayed a God would save him from hell so they could see him again. I understood someone must have hurt him badly for him to have also hurt me. I hope at some point he too had asked God for forgiveness.

    I know many will never understand my lack of hatred or why I asked God to forgive him. But, we were never called to hatred. We were called to love and forgiveness. We may not be able to love but we always have the power to forgive and that is an act of love and healing…both for ourself and others.

    Thank you for sharing your story. When each of us shares our story, it continued to lose its power to hold us down. And, it helps others to see that they are not alone and that they too can have hope. <3

    • Bless you, Anissa, and thank you for taking the time to type this compassionate, loving response!

    • Anissa, thank you so much for your testimony. Nothing is wrong with you, you just had God’s Holy Spirit working in you. I was also abused as a small child and had to learn forgiveness for the guy that did it. He was a teenager at the time. I never hated him, but was never comfortable around him or any other guy for many years until meeting my husband. Fast forward a couple decades and I have recently found out that someone very close to me also abused someone younger and close to them. I was hurt, disappointed, and angry that they could betray me and the family for sooo long by lying about it. However, when it came time for me to address this person, God instilled in me nothing but compassion for them. They were truly and sincerely sorry for not only their sinful action, but for the immense pain they’d caused the family because the girl felt rejected by her own family and rarely came around. It’s been an incredible journey for both of us – me to finally put that last piece of forgiveness in my heart for the guy that hurt me, and teaching this other person about God’s grace and compassion. You see, I haven’t seen my abuser since I was a teenager, but this other person didn’t have a close relationship with the Lord and felt so much shame, believing the enemy’s lies so long, he really believed he was unworthy of God’s love and it broke my heart. He is an incredible father, a good husband, and great friend, always willing to help everyone. And just like that, he is a monster, a child molester, you name it. We did investigate and found no other victims, so we believe it was an isolated incident and he said he was so ashamed, he never did again. He also was a teenager when it happened. As a victim, I understand how others feel anger, hurt and everything associated with that. But as a friend and fellow Jesus believer, I finally understand His grace in a whole new way. Not all abusers will find this grace and be truly remorseful, but your story speaks to what I just learned: that these are people, imperfect like the rest of us. If I can have unearned grace by God, so can everyone else. God bless you!

      • Rachel, your story moved me to tears. I’m happy to hear that you too came to see how powerful forgiveness and grace can be. it doesn’t mean we condone what they did…it means we see them as children of God who are broken and in need of His grace and mercy.

  6. Kim Thomas says:

    Lysa, thank you for being so real and so honest.That’s just one of the reasons you are such a blessing to others.

  7. Dear Lysa,thanks for sharing! God truly can turn chains into wings! Cheers from Brazil!

  8. I to was abused by two people close to me. People I trusted I loved, I wonder why me. It was most like because I was an easy target. I never could stand up for myself,always wanted to be a people pleaser. If I told , I was afraid, afraid no one would believe me if I spoke out,that it would be said it was all my fault. I was powerless. I’ve completely forgiven them but it has changed who I am. I’m a stuffer of feelings, hurts. I have always felt not good enough,a loser. I’m not sure I have ever dealt with it. I’m in my 50’s now and well life goes on …

    • My sister Myrna I just want you to know you have ladies you don’t know standing behind you praying for you and shedding tears for you….and if I feel that way I can’t imagin how much God is rooting you on. I hope you have a day filled with his peace 😗

  9. In his book, “Mending the Soul,” Steven Tracy says that abuse is a perversion of the image of God–in both the abused and the abuser. That’s why it is one of the enemy’s favorite tools–it’s like a 2-for-1 sale, two souls separated from God by the same act.

    “He restoreth my soul” (Psalm 23:3).

    • Shirley! I look for your response each day. Thank you for your beautiful words and elegant touch. I am blessed because you speak Holy Spirit. Yay, God.

      Fellow friends, God is a God of reconciliation- He can heal and provide a way to make good from brokenness.

  10. Shirley Stallworth says:


    Thank you. I am one of those people who was abused as a child and as an adult by my mother. She never bonded with me. Children learn what they live and I became an abuser. I recently acknowledged this shameful fact and have prayed to God go give me the gift of love and to heal my stony heart and create in me a new heart


    • Shirley,
      It sounds like God is leading you down a path of healing. Praying that you will be filled with courage as HE lights the way. One tool that you may find helpful is a new book from Rachel Macy Stafford, entitled Only Love Today. It was just released last week, but is already a best-seller on Amazon and in Target stores. Rachel’s tender-hearted wisdom is healing balm to the soul, a warm blanket of grace, encouragement and hope. Thanks for bravely sharing your story here. Cheering you on, my friend…”I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

  11. God always gives me what I need each day through this devotion. Today I am going to meet with some “big” people to try and correct a problem with the place that I work. I work with at risk juveniles and they are not being treated the way they should and I have been fighting this for so long trying to get someone to take notice but never really stepping out of my comfort zone to take it higher. But I have been in constant prayer and God instructed me to do more than I was doing and so today I will go be the voice for the juveniles in my care in hopes that something can be done about the way they are being treated. Please pray.

    • Stephanie says:

      Thank you for being willing to stand up for those that don’t have a voice! I will be praying that your meeting goes well and changes are made!

    • You are doing the right thing in speaking up. It’s hard I bet, but harder than not saying anything. I pray for wisdom for those listening to you. That’s wonderful you are giving the kids a voice! Stay strong!

    • This is what the LORD requires of you: DO justice, BE merciful, and WALK humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

      David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, …and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
      1 Samuel 17:45-47

      You are glorifying God and are one of Christ’s true disciples when your faith bears fruit! John 15:8

      Who can win this battle against the world? Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:5

      I hope these verses are an encouragement to you as you go in and face these giants. I am praying for you, that you will be strong and allow the Holy Spirit to speak in your place and that God will soften the hearts of those hearing and things changed for the oppressed. All to His glory and your good!

  12. WHY? Would a Loving God and Jesus allow such horrid abuse on a child, teenager, or an adult? It is one thing I never understood. People says it’s the work of the devil. But why does Jesus or God allow it? Sexual abuse is not something anyone gets over. There may be pain that can be healed. But the damage is a long lasting effect.
    May those that have been damaged find some peace, even though they live with the damage the rest of their life.

    • We don’t have all the answers, only God does. But, look at the story of Job in the Bible. He lost his children, his own wife told him to “curse God and die”, his friends gave him horrible advice and tried to blame him for all the bad that was happening. No, it was not sexual or emotional abuse, but don’t you think it was traumatic?? It also says that he still praised God in the midst of all this happening. I believe that even though we do not under why we must go through such pain, that God will use it to strengthen and deepen our relationship with Him. I also believe that He will use us to reach others for Christ that have suffered trauma. It would be hard to reach out to someone if we couldn’t identify or sympathize with them. Having a “goody-two-shoes” life would make it hard for others to see how God has worked in your life if it’s all roses and daisies. “All things work for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 9:28

      • All things work for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to HIS purpose Romans 9:28
        Tell me if you are so much loved by the Lord, and serving him, then you are raped at any age, where then is that to HIS purpose? It is one of many reasons I question WHY! Because there can be people who can still be physically or mentally damaged.

    • Niecee777 says:

      That is the hardest question of all….WHY? And yes it can cause damage…great damage. But what joys we would miss if we lived in that space and time the rest of our lives. How many joyful moments I surrendered to WHY…how many sleepless nights I gave to WHY….so many beautiful moments in a relationship…all because of WHY…sadly WHY never gave anything to me. Do I want to know fully why…of course…but there is so much of me that I would never share….or use to help someone if I never had that WHY. So I had to replace that WHY with the knowing that evil exists…and it’s so easy for me to say well just get rid of evil right now…right here…to sit in the seat of a judge…what if my child does wrong…do I throw them away in wrath to appease the person they caused harm? If that’s the case when I’ve hurt someone where would I be if I was deemed evil and unredeemable…all I can do is pray that grace covers those areas that caused that WHY in my life so many times….to see past the WHY…to see the grace that carries me through…and extend that same grace I learned to another heart….that is burden down with WHY.

      • I too struggle with the why..my husband tells me that that is my biggest issue in healing and I think he is right, I want to know why I was beaten and left for dead by a man whom I thought loved me and we were going to get married, I want to know why my ex husband left me and married his mistress the same day our divorce was final… I have so many questions but maybe I will never know the answers… its kind of frustrating but its all about God’s Grace.. So now when I want to ask why and I want to get mad over a reason I may never know the answer to I just have trust God and accept God’s grace that I am healing slowly. Prayers to you.

        • Dearest Traci, “Why” and “What if” become very hard places to live after a time. They bind us to the past and keep us from moving into the future God has for us despite the past. I have found “What” and “What is” much healthier places to live. They give me freedom to move forward. I found this verse that helped me and I hope will speak to you as well. My life is a small part of God’s huge world and I may not understand at times but I can trust Him despite the depravity I see or experience. Deuteronomy 29:29. 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼

    • God gave man free will. Freedom to choose life or death, heaven or hell. God’s heart breaks when we choose death, sin, destruction. It’s not God’s will for any to sin, or to suffer or be hurt, that’s why we pray for ‘God’s will to be done on earth, as ot is in heaven’. God in His graciousness and wisdon uses everything for good. Because He is good. I pray this helps, I’ve wrestled with the same thoughts.

    • Here is what I came to learn…God works all things together for good. He gave me strength to not only survive, but to thrive. I’ve taken the pain I felt as a child and turned it into compassion and grace to help others. If God gave me the choice now to have never been abused, I would turn Him down. I see the gift that came from the pain. I use that gift you help others.

      For the record, we are not damaged. I’ve personally always detested that view. What someone does to us never damages us unless we give it that power. The reason I never told anyone…I’d heard my own mother refer to someone who had also been abused as ‘damaged’. I didn’t want people to see me as damaged. It took me more time to rise from the ashes of being considered ‘damaged’ than it ever did for me to overcome the actual abuse. Please never refer to anyone as damaged. We are survivors….we are strong. Blessings to you.

      • Beautifully written from the heart, Anissa. I agree that the word ‘damaged’ certainly misses the mark. Survivors, yes. But, what I really heard in your post was the voice of a warrior, a warrior clothed in the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). Carry on, my warrior friend.

      • There can be some major DAMAGE lifetime damage to some one sexually abused. So the word damage can fit for a lifetime.

        • Allen Radford says:

          The damage is only permanent when it isn’t handed to Him… But if you could trust Him just a little, that illusion of permanent damage will be healed into a permanent ministry….See the opportunity you’ve been given…There is no greater self satisfaction than being personally used by Him to bring permanent healing, salvation, and ETERNAL change to someone else’s life….I pray for your peace

        • Allen Radford says:

          Oh God my Father,I pray right now in the precious name of your Son Jesus that you fill this heart with perfect peace…I pray you empty all the anger, hatred, and low self esteem that clouds faith in You…. I come against the powers of hell who mistakenly think they have won… You have my Lord, and because You did,we share Your victory…. Open the eyes blinded by the illusion of satan… That Your perfect will be accomplished…Thank you Jesus

    • Allen Radford says:

      God is the one who makes us free…But that freedom must be appreciated and respected. Unfortunately it isn’t always….My daughter was a victim of my brother at 7 years old. I constantly asked God why he didn’t just kill my brother before he committed such pain…My Father quickly reminded me of all my selfish sins…But all things work together for good, while God my Father couldn’t stop my brother no more than stop my mistakes,He has given my baby girl healing and a ministry. As we all see on this precious anointed site,it takes a victim to help a victim… While most victims don’t know the Christ,my daughter does and she now happily introduces other victims to Him…Was it His will for her to face this absolute horror? No… But now that little girl, and her daddy, know the healing power of God first hand… Take that satan

    • WHY? Unfortunately we can not control what others do and God doesn’t either. He gave us all a free will to do good or bad. We will never fully understand what is going on in our lives, around us or in other lives. God gave us a free will to follow Him. He will show each and everyone of us the right path to go on and the way to Him. It’s our decision to do so or not. The bad thing about free will is that people do bad things. But, God also gave us the free will to forgive, love and help others. That’s the beauty in it. I hate that we go through terrible stuff, but when we find God in the midst of our storms and life we can hold on to Him and some how He gives us strength to move on.

  13. heather bowes says:

    Oh Lisa, me too. Now one thing I didn’t see in your recovery was anger at God for letting this happen I’m stuck on this. Can you help? Thank you so very much. Heather

  14. Almost 7 years ago, my 15 year old daughter began to intentionally starve herself which eventually lead to her hospitalization out of state for treatment for her eating disorder. While trying to deal with her treatment & recovery, I felt ashamed and isolated, blaming myself for not recognizing her pain which lead her down this path. During this time, God used several people in my life to comfort me. Most notable was a friend from church who shared her story of her daughter’s issues with eating disorders. She understood the guilt I was feeling, offered hope as her daughter had moved on, was married with 2 children. Since that time, I have had a few friends, or friends of friends, reach out to me as they encounter a child suffering from eating disorders, & I pray for God to continue to use me for the comfort he provided to me.

  15. Joanetta Hill says:

    Reading Lysa’s daily proverbs increase my thurst to minister to others as the word is ministered through Lysa. I encourage all to grasp hold of the word as Proverbs.31.org is a great tool used to usher in the presence of the word of God.

  16. Sister Lysa,

    Thank you so much for sharing your testimony. I can relate to your testimony and the power of Almighty God who does restore and make us whole and free us from the bondage of shame, guilt and pain. From the age of 8 to 13 I was prostituted out by my mother so that she could pay the rent. God knew I would have to go through this, which is why a week before the abuse began, I was baptized. It was as if God was saying they will touch your body but not your soul, therefore, hate could not fill my heart, only love and forgiveness. Which is what I did in forgiving my mother and the abusers. However, even though not of it was my fault, I felt dirty, shame, guilty and unlovable. To deal with all of that, I began doing drugs and drinking alcohol, quit school, prostituted myself out to, became pregnant at 15, had no respect for authority figure. However, during my time of living in darkness, I could always feel the presence of God and would pray and call on Him seeking and asking for forgiveness for what I was doing to myself. Fast forward, little did I know that God would use my life and testimony for His Glory. In 1993, my life changed, and I became clean from the drugs and alcohol, stop prostituting, went back to school and received my GED and than on to college and received my Bachelor Degree in Business Administration, raised a beautiful, awesome and loving daughter who loves the Lord, and wrote my first book in 2011 to share my story entitled “Mute But Now I Speak” to let anyone who is still in bondage dealing with any type of pain and shame and unforgiveness, that God can and will turn things for them just as He did for me. I am now being used by God as a Motivational Speaker, going wherever God leads me to go and do His will. My entire life belongs to God. I am no longer a victim. I am a VICTORIOUS Woman who want to be used by God to spread the good news of His healing power, His love and His forgiveness.

  17. Melody Ipock says:

    Lisa, I have a masters in counseling. I worked as a counselor in schools for years. I am off in the summers and would be willing to help if there is a shelter near me for women/girls who have suffered this type of abuse.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for very encouraging words and specially you prayed for struggling and hurt. Its me. 19 years of marriage I never thought I’ll come to this point, I’m nothing, no value. I pray for God’s comfort and strength. So, I may comfort others! Thank you very!

    • Elizabeth, I pray that God reveals to you all the value and worth you have!! You are a precious daughter of the King. You are loved by God and all the women here on Proverbs 31. I pray that the circumstances that you find yourself in can be resolved and that if you need to find strength to leave an abusive situation that you find it! You are so worth fighting for. We love you!

      • Allen Radford says:

        Do not let anyone cause you to believe that lie from satan any longer…. Please read Esther… You too are a daughter of the most high God,bride of His Son… And only your doubt or faith controls who you are…. The storm on the boat only affected the disciples faith…It didn’t change who they were or who HE was… Except for the better…May your faith and confidence in Him grow in your storm…

  19. I have a little bit of a problem with the statement that “God doesn’t comfort us to make us comfortable…but to make us comfort-ABLE.” I don’t believe that to be true. That statement makes it seem that God is cold, just comforting us to use us later, and that’s not true of Him at all. God comforts us because He loves us. He sees our tears and pain and wants to make it better, much more so than an earthly parent would. Later on down the road after we’ve experienced Him in that manner, we want to offer that same comfort to someone else who is hurting similarly.

  20. We just recently found out that my 10 year old granddaughter had been molested by her grandfather (my ex son in laws father)
    I am so sick by this. The man is in prison
    Our family and my granddaughter needs your prayers please.

    • Allen Radford says:

      Nancy.. Please read my comments…I had to prosecute my own brother for my daughter…I completely understand your anger… But please understand the anger and hatred are only blankets of satan to crush any future ministry… The ministry out of pain brings healing to the minister… as we see on this site

  21. Deborah Pitts says:

    Oh how your ministry has blessed me! Thank you for sharing your gifts. This particular devotion required courage and faith. Like so many others, I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. One of the abusers was my father, who abused me for 16 years. I was a shattered girl who learned how to hide my damage behind masks. I tried to be what the people in my life wanted me to be. There came a time in my life when this strategy no longer worked. In my darkest days Jesus was there, helping me to pick up the shattered shards of my soul and reassemble them. It was a painful process. There were times I thought I would not survive it. But my Savior held me tightly and saw me through. He is still seeing me through. He has given me “The treasures of darkness; riches stored in secret places” (Isaiah 45). I would not change my journey for it exemplifies the power of our God. He shines through every crack,every scar. Because of Him,I have a storehouse of comfort to share with others. What a glorious privilege! Blessings to you.

  22. Briana Gongora says:

    I was sexually abused from the time I was 3 until I was 9. Some of my first memories are of things happening to me that were out of my control. At the age of 9, I had decided my life wasn’t worth anything and attempted to take my life…but that day my soul broke more than it ever had to the point where it cried out to the only One who could save it. So, although I had no idea who God was or anything about the power behind Him, I cried out for God to help me tell my mom…in that instance I dropped everything and ran to her and told her which is something I had never had the strength to do before. The years following were difficult to say the least. The man ran off to Mexico and was never prosecuted. I was angry and lost for years until I started wanting to know more about who saved me that day…that started this God driven journey of mine! I went from thinking my life had no purpose to knowing He always had a purpose for me. I’m 21 and about to start my journey of becoming a crime victims rights attorney and I cannot wait to see who The Lord puts in path! Thank you for all your ministry has done for me 💕

  23. Thank you for sharing this story! It touched my heart and gave me hope with tears.

  24. mary johnson says:

    Oh, my dear, What a sorrowful way for you or any child to have to live. I’ve heard of another lady who also had this in her life for years, and as you she suffered long after it was over. In writing of this, my mind has drifted to Joseph in scripture. and while the act of wrong are different, the sins commented by those involved are vast. As God used Joseph ordeal for good, you and others who have suffered at the hands of others are a blessing in helping others know who it is that is their life line to a new life.

  25. Thank you for sharing this message! But how do you get to the point where you can share your story. I feel like it isn’t safe to share yet because of repercussions that it would cause for others.

  26. Barb Lange says:

    Here’s my story of hope:

    Today my heart is breaking….

    My heart is breaking for some sweet friends. You are hurting….feeling so overwhelmed…feeling lonely….discouraged. You are facing some of the toughest things you have ever gone through.

    As I write this, faces come to mind. I am holding you up in prayer and wishing I could talk face to face to say, “You are stronger than you think you are….it’s gonna be OK because God has this!” Some of you are just too far away to say those things in person. But I can reach out to you this way and let you know that you are NOT alone.

    You never imagined you would be without your life companion. The death of your mate is not what makes you single. Death of a relationship is more like it. Your dreams of growing old together have disintegrated. Cause of death? Abuse…Affairs…Absence…

    I was talking recently to a friend about marriage. She tells brides-to-be, “There are two kinds of marriages… hard marriages and bad marriages.” All marriages are hard, but not all marriages are bad. Don’t get me wrong…. a good marriage is sooooo worth it when you have two good-willed people who are willing to communicate about the ‘hard’ things…willing to talk about the hurts and willing to forgive and be forgiven…..this is priceless and possible!

    But, I am talking to the woman right now who is facing a bad marriage….a sad marriage…a scary marriage. You have had to separate yourself from your mate so you can stay physically and emotionally safe. That is not always easy to explain to people close to you, especially to your Christian family and friends. After all, God hates divorce, right?

    You feel like this is your fault….you feel like you are drowning in sadness…in shame… ‘He’ makes it sound like it is your fault. ‘He’ twists your words and hurts your heart in only ways ‘he’ knows how. ‘He’ refuses to pay support so that ‘he’ continue controlling you. ‘He’ tells lies to your friends…. your family…your children and tries to strip you of any dignity. Before you left you may have heard ‘him’ even quote you scripture that wives must submit to their husbands and say it is for your own good that ‘he’ has taken complete control of the money. ‘He’ isolated you from your friends and family to have complete control over you …maybe even moving you to another town or even another state so you would be alone, without support.

    Now that you have left the marriage ‘he’ still attempts to control you through the legal system that you do not understand. Even though you know the truth, the way ‘he’ paints you makes you doubt yourself. Being in court is so intimidating and ‘he’ sounds so believable that you begin to think you deserve to be treated this way.

    You have lost your marriage….your children…your house….friends…and dignity. You may have even lost your job if you were in ministry. You certainly can’t serve God now because after all God hates divorce!

    One of the hardest thing you face during this time is how alone you feel. Who do you talk to now? Who can you trust? You have tried to talk to your friends and you notice the polite smile that some give you and you know they are biting their tongue to quote verses to you. You may hear, “a Christian wife should never leave her husband”…“for better or worse and this is the worse”…”he just had a bad day”…”conflict is normal.” Some of your friends even side with ‘him.’ ‘He’ is so good at convincing everyone that you are having a mental breakdown…. That you are falling apart and need help. It is easier to be silent than to be misjudged so you crawl into your shell even more, feeling lonely and empty. Shame just envelopes you.

    You hope you can find some help with your church. You find yourself sitting in your pastor’s office pouring your story at his feet, praying that he gets it. You are afraid for your life and your children’s lives. How can you fully describe to someone else that your emotional well being is hanging by a thread from the threats and mind games ‘he’ plays with you. Your pastor looks at you and suggests counseling. If only that would work. You have tried that many times over. What is the point of going one more time because all ‘he’ does is lie?!

    If you can identify with any of this, keep reading my friend! Many of you know that these are not empty words that I share from classes I have taken or books I have read. I can identify with everyone of these scenarios. I share them with you so you know that you are not alone.

    I can honestly say that I look back at the person that I was and I do not recognize her anymore. I was fearful and lonely. Shame enveloped me so much that I isolated myself from those who could have supported me. I listened to the whispers that everyone was pointing at the large capital “D” on my heart, judging me that I was divorced and would never serve God again.

    The biggest mistake that I made was to listen to the enemy’s lies rather than focusing on God’s truth. My friend, I share truth with you today!

    God hears and sees you! Genesis 16:11 tells the story of Hagar, Abram’s mistress who was chosen by Abram’s own wife! The angel of the Lord spoke to her, comforting her that God had a plan for her. Hagar was chosen by God to be the mother of Ishmael, whose name means “God hears!.” The angel assured her that God had heard her affliction. Hagar responds to the angel that God not only hears her, but, “You are a God who sees me!”

    God can still use you! There is only one perfect One and His name is Jesus. The one thread of truth about the rest of the people in the scriptures is that no one was perfectly perfect all of the time. David, a man after God’s own heart committed murder and adultery, Abram lied about his wife and did not always believe God’s promises. The first family, Adam and Eve, lost both of their sons when Cain murdered Abel. Talk about family dysfunction. Each of these people were greatly used by God and their story is there to encourage us.

    You are not alone! There is a community of people that long to care about you….friends and family and also women like myself who have and are walking this path. You may struggle to reach out because of rejection. So many of your friends want to help; they just don’t know what to do! This is why I created this page!

    God will redeem your story! We see the story of the redemption of Jesus being woven all throughout scripture. His humble beginnings in Bethlehem and his ridiculed ministry by the religious leaders are told to us for a reason. The Son of God chose to come that way to draw our attention to the truth of His life that culminates as His life is glorified in His death for us at Calvary and His resurrection three days later just as prophesied. Jesus offers redemption to us all….yes, even to us who feel too messed up. We just need to acknowledge our need for Him and allow Him to redeem our story. Just like He redeemed the stories of Adam and Eve, David, Hagar and many more!

    Some of you may not relate to this post at all, I actually hate that some of you will. Sweet friend, if you can relate, please don’t give into the lies today….or tomorrow! Oh…and by the way….yes, God hates divorce, but He hates a lot of other things, too… “a proud heart, a lying tongue, a heart that devises wicked plans….” It is not wrong to protect yourself or your children….that is NOT what God hates!

    I am sharing these thoughts because I can still remember being curled up in a ball just wanting to give up. The pain of loss was so deep I just could not imagine smiling again. Divorce was never in my plan, but God breathed courage into my faint heart…using His Word…HIs presence…and His people! It was not an overnight transformation. There were many sleepless nights, endless court dates and the never ending feeling of always having to look over your shoulder, but along the way I learned to press into the hand of my Heavenly Father….capturing verses to tuck into my heart. If He can encourage this faint heart, He can and promises to be there for you. The journey has been worth it if I can encourage one of you today!

    Isaiah 49:16a, “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands….”

  27. Merle Nursten says:

    As Lysa said, we all have our stories – and although I was molested as a child, I was abandoned within a seemingly normal funtnioning family. My story is not really about that, but having to look back into my childhood as an adult, with a lot of hlep and councelling – it has helped me make a little more sense of my choices today. I lost my first husband at the age of 26 to a pulminary embolism with a 19 month old baby. I then married again 9 years later and in 2015 my second husband passed away from a heart attack – I was widowed twice before the age of 40. My second marriage was filled with volatility, abuse, both very physical and emotional, ravaged by alcohol and drug abuse and the most painful thing of all, my son (now 17) witnesssed it all. Since the day he died, I have been on my knees, brought to my knees more like it and a completely broken, empty, scared little girl. Emotionally stunted, having no idea who I really was or what my future held. I had messed up so badly and I had no hope! I’ve grown up in the Church so I knew right from wrong, but the devil stole so much from me, stole years of my life and stole my joy. I left my home town and went into a ‘clinc’ for a few weeks as everyone feared a break down (a lot happened inbetween this time that influenced where I got to) but I was at a point where I had absolutely no emotional capacity and was incapable of feeling. As strange as that may sound, I felt nothing. Those around me could see how weird it was and I was at breaking point and going away and getting help was literally God saving my life. It has been a very very hard and long journey – but I discovered my God again. I felt condemned for very long time because I saw God as I saw my earthly father, military, dictator, manipulator and I always did everything wrong – so that is another huge part of my journey is having to learn that God is my loving father, he wants whats best for me. I could write a book like a lot of us – but only through a lot of love and prayer, and dare I say a lot of hard work from me, I am healing and I am mending.
    A lady earlier wrote about how she never hated the man who abused her, and neither did I. People also found it strange how I didn’t have anger to my second abusive husband (who nearly killed me more than once) and I can only say that was God.
    The point of this is that I often asked God why, but I have the most incredible heart to seek out people like me, to be able to do something with all I’ve been through, the death, the abuse, the bad choices, the shame I feel around my son, this journey that is my life really….and being able to connect with another human being, being able to gravitate toward someone in a room because you secretivly have something in common and can share and connect – is just beautiful and it makes my life a little more clear and God’s plan for me. I’m still seeking, but I’m sure a very different perosn than I was from 2015. Thank you Jesus for saving me, a wretch like me.

    • So beautifully shared! From “death” of a sort to fullness and life in Jesus! God bless you and use your story for His Kingdom and great Glory!

  28. Helpful

  29. Lysa, I’ve become friends with a wonderful lady through my cancer recovery. God placed her in my life for a reason, and that reason is to introduce her to Jesus. If anyone doubts the magnitude and power of prayer in life, let me tell them about my walk with Amanda! the latest miracle, is that she has discovered you, and embraced your teaching, sharing, authentic, messy, Jesus filled soul! she hasn’t made the decision to accept Christ, yet, but I wanted you to know how powerfully God uses you!! Your books are paving the way for her salvation, and I am so very grateful for you! Pray for me as I hold her close, and pray that her heart and eyes will be opened to the gift of salvation that Jesus wants her to accept. Love you!

  30. Alzira Mascarenhas says:

    Dearest Lysa,
    Thank you for sharing your traumatic experience. There are ‘voices in wilderness’ of so many women, often silent, stored deep within and it takes courage to come out of the ‘shell girl’ to voice out the pain and suffering.
    Our God is an all-powerful, forgiving, merciful and healing God. It is touching to know that He has given you that voice to share your story which touched the depths of my heart. God bless you.

  31. Sharon A Walk says:

    Once I too was like you. I promised the Lord 25 years ago I’d help others if he ever got me out of that mess. I spent 20 years serving the Lord and helping those who suffered the same trauma I did. I’m very grateful to the Lord for rescuing me from that mess my family and only God knows who all else because I surely don’t. I thank the good Lord that I don’t normally even think about it any more.

  32. Ginger Ketron says:

    I as so many others experienced child sexual abuse at the hands of 4 different men: a teacher, and elder in our church, an uncle as well as a man known as a lead pastor. I also experienced physical and emotional abuse by my bio-mother. I was also the oldest of 5 children. I was their mother, the housekeeper and a parent to my parents. This is the short version of my story. What got me through was God. I came to have a real relationship with him very young. All throughout my childhood and teenage years I believed that GOD would somehow use what I experienced to help others. It took me a while to be at the point I am. I am and have been working to help those who are suffering from childhood sexual trauma and children who are experiencing the trauma. You can see God helped me heal enough to be a mental health therapist. I do personally believe that healing from childhood trauma is a lifelong journey, but with God by your side, He is strong when we are weak.

    For parents remember you are your child’s voice. Treat them as the precious jewels they are and keep in mind part of that is setting and modeling proper boundaries.

    Thanks for reading. Lisa thanks for having the courage to tell your own story.

  33. Michelle Balenseifen says:

    To make a very long story short my daughter is 4 and has been being molested by her bio dad (who wasn’t even in her life until she was 2) for the last 2 years. The police and dhs have unsubstantiated her case even though she’s repeatedly disclosed to them, counselors, teachers, and family, and because I continued to seek help for her a judge took custody from me 6 months ago and gave it to her abuser. We go to court on Wednesday. Please pray that custody will be restored and that all lies will be seen through and she will not have to see her abuser again. Thank you.

  34. Jennifer Chapman says:

    I suffer from childhood trauma. I was sexually abused as a child by my car, uncle, and cousins

  35. Courtney Garner says:

    I needed this more than ever, thank you so much for sharing.❤

  36. Lysa,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I too have been a shell of a girl, teenager, young woman, and adult as a result of continual long-term childhood abuse.Through God’s love and mercy, As an adult, have been lead to a wonderful Christian counselor. She and many others have been brought into my life as the Lord has carried me through many years of darkness and self-loathing. I pray one day, I will be free of the horrors of my past. I cling to our precious Lord as I try to make it through one day at a time. Your story gives me hope.

  37. I’m so glad God uses everything we have been through to help others.
    Thanks for this!
    Bless you!

    • Joanne Lewis says:

      Once I was a shell of a girl, ravaged by evils done to me.

      But now I’m a girl who has hope bigger than the hurt. Light brighter than the darkness. And a life full of truth as God set me free from those death chains of hatred.

      How did I find that pathway to healing? Someone told me about God. He has loved and protected me throughout my life.

  38. Survivor says:

    Back in the 80s, I was trafficked in Hollywood between the ages of 15 and 21. The experience has ruined my ability to maintain relationships of any kind, as I feel unworthy and insecure. I have prayed so very hard over the years for healing in my mind, but have been conditioned and shaped to believe that my worth is tied to my sexuality. I do volunteer at streetlightUSA and work with teen girls who have been trafficked. My goal is to show them a love that is based on who they are as people, not objects to be used up and tossed aside. I enjoyed your article and encourage you to continue reaching out to survivors.

  39. Christina Reitz says:

    The difference between a wholehearted person and a broken or shamed person is their choice to love their self. Will you choose to love yourself and accept God’s love? This is actually not just a biblical truth it’s based on scientific research by Brene Brown. It took me a long time to believe I was worthy of love; to become rooted and established in Christ’s love. I think ministering to others is so powerful because it reminds US that God’s love is for all people- abused, abusers, healed, healing, angry, sad, all. You are brave to accept His love and start a healing journey. I pray for arms of comfort and strength to reach each person living in the darkness of abuse and pain.

  40. Lysa,

    I heard you speak at WOJ this year, had never heard you before. I was truly blessed.
    I began reading Uninvited today, and it has rattled me. In a good way.
    My question to you concerning abuse (I experienced it too) is this – as a woman in my thirties, what do I do with the shame and guilt that paralyzes me sometimes? Having gone through 5 years of counseling, most of the time I feel like I’m walking victoriously.
    The guilt and shame mostly come from a suicide attempt in my early 20s. I ask myself “what kind of person would do that?” “Would the people I love and respect want to even be around me if they knew?” I’m not to the point of wanting to freely talk about it yet. I’ve told only a few people my whole story. Some have not been a good experience.
    It’s just that some things open up the wound and it hurts so bad :(.

    Lysa, thanks for being so brave.

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