My name is Vanessa. I’m 23 years old and I love Jesus. Who would have ever known I’d write this in a sentence.
I was born to young and violent parents, both with drug and alcohol addictions. I remember thinking my mother must have loved drugs more than me. My mother was sent to prison when I was four.
So I lived with my dad. He wasn’t the protective loving type. He sexually abused my siblings and I.
When I was seven we moved in with my mom. She wasn’t the kind and caring type. Her abuse was physical and verbal.
At the age of nine I was placed into the foster care system, for the lack of school attendance. My mother could have got us back but like I said I felt she loved drugs more than me.
My first foster mom was a Christian woman who took in my two brothers, my sister and I. For a year she took us to church every Sunday where we sang in children’s choir and learned Bible stories. After a year we were sent to separate foster homes.
I was now ten and even though my family was far from perfect I remember asking God every night with tears in my eyes to reunite my broken family.
Half a year into living in this particular home my foster dad began to sexually abuse me. I remember thinking it must be my fault. I didn’t understand why older men did these things to me. He was a former church preacher. The abuse ended within the same year.
I was now eleven and despite many set backs in my life I was happy. I did good in school and I excelled in sports. By age thirteen my friends and attitude began to change. I became hateful, angry, rebellious, and very lustful.
I no longer did well in school. My usual respectful behavior was gone. My anger and frustration grew. I didn’t understand myself, and I didn’t feel anyone understood me. I began cutting.
At the age of fourteen my inner problems began bubbling over. I ran away from “home.” I lived on the run for over half a year sometimes with friends, other times in abandoned houses, parks, cars . . . sometimes I just walked. Walking became a big part of my life — walking having no destination.
Day after day I found comfort in parties, and I found safety in other runaways.
After about six months of living a wild life the police caught up with me. It was back to the foster care system. I was sixteen by then and I had absolutely no respect for authority. I was my authority. I lived in so many different homes because I kept running away. I became a runner. I thought it made me free.
After seven years living away from my family my social workers thought it was time to reunite me with my family. I lived with my mother again. It only lasted about a year. During that year my anger grew; my bad habits became addictions and the streets were somehow my freedom. My mom hardly ever knew where I was. The problems became too much for her so she decided to send me back to foster care. I had nobody.
At seventeen and a half my social worker emancipated me, probably to get me out of her hair. I moved in with my boyfriend. He was the one person who ever told me “I want to take care of you.”
We lived with his parents. His father was an alcoholic and his mother a Christian. My boyfriend and I smoked and drank and came home when we felt like it. His mother occasionally gave us the ugly eye. If it wasn’t that it was an invitation to church. But we had our own gods to follow.
After a year of living with my boyfriend his little brother died in a car crash along with another close friend. I had seen many tears. It wasn’t until then that I started to take notice of my life, past and present. The many cold nights I walked alone or nights sleeping in abandoned houses. Never was I kidnapped or raped or killed. I was nineteen by this time; my boyfriend’s brother was only seventeen.
Shortly after I was invited to a church retreat to the mountains for three days. How I ended up agreeing I can never tell you. I was there but I didn’t expect anything. I was simply there and once it was over I’d be the same. But I wasn’t. I met the God who died for all my sins, which were many. The God whose forgiveness gave me strength to forgive. The God whose LOVE left me speechless. I cried and cried and cried. God’s glory was so strong and real it filled the room. I knew He had always been there. I wasn’t the same broken girl I had been just three days earlier. By His love and embrace I had become a new creature. To my surprise my heart of stone had become one of flesh.
Today I am saved, so is my boyfriend who I now call husband. I have two children who are growing up in the path they should go. I’ve been a teacher to the youth and young children. I reach out to others hoping they see Jesus in me.
The devil tried to destroy me but there is One name above every name. Those who call on Him will be saved.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.