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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Breaking Point

Losing weight is hard. Not just in the fact that you have to lose it but mentally and emotionally as well.

Tonight I broke down. I am so tired all the time from working out. I am not at the stage where I can eat bad foods in moderation and it still be ok; I have to avoid them pretty much all together to get to a healthy weight. I work all day and then come home to work out and then cook dinner and stay awake for a couple of hours and then crash only to wake up at 6am and do it all again without any energy to do it with.

And tonight I can't take it any more.

I want to not have to worry about what I eat or the impact it will have on my health.

I don't want to have to work out every day.

I want to be happy with my body without also working towards changing it.

I want the support of a community without feeling like I am letting everyone down if I don't push myself to breaking point.

I want to be able to lose 40kgs without it being a struggle, without having to battle my own head, without missing burger fuel and starbucks frappes.

I want a quick fix that doesn't take two weeks and only get rid of 500gs.

I want to cry with them seemingly hopelessness of it and the fact that I have no one to blame expect myself for putting me in the position of having to lose weight.

Tonight I understand why people give up and return to old lifestyles.

Tonight I understand why people hate their personal trainers.

Tonight I feel desperate for the motivation to keep going.

Tonight I realise how alone one is when battling the bulge. No one can do it for me.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but tonight I am at breaking point.

No one ever talks about this stage and I wonder if it is just me. I also wonder if I have hit it quicker than anyone else and what that says about me. I am angry with myself for feeling like this and even wanting to give up and yet I am trying to be nice to myself so I can convince myself to do it.

How do you love your body when you know it HAS to change? How do you accept yourself when your weight is unacceptable?

I don't know if I should post this, if people really want to hear this cry of my heart, but maybe you are reading this and are glad to know someone else out there feels it too.

The world sets out to sell you fatty food and then tells you you have to lose weight. Seriously God, haven't I got through enough already!!?

Tonight life just seems a bit unfair and I am feeling more than a little sorry for myself.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

First Hurdle

By now most people I know are aware of the fact that I am trying desperately to lose weight. I have a goal weight and time frame and I am making the lifestyle changes to match.

Before I go on to tell you how I am doing on this front, I thought I would give you a little insight into how I got to the place where my weight was an issue at all. Perhaps talking about it will overcome some of the insecurities I (and others) feel about losing weight.

(me as a bubba..awwwwwww....)

Weight for me has been an issue in my mind for as long as I can remember. As I child I LOVED sweet foods (still do as a matter of fact) and my parents became concerned about it and so stopped giving any of us children dessert. Talk about guilt! It was my fault that my siblings were missing out too.

(me age 2)

My first day of school started by me, a very happy and outgoing child, walking up to a young boy and saying hello. He looked at me and said "you're fat". I found out many years later he was new in the country and they were only two of the handful of words he knew, but for my sensitive wee heart they cut like a knife.

It got worse at school. Confusion over an incident with a friend's sandwich ended up with me being branded a food thief. And then at age 12 my late grandmother told me that I was fat because my parents didn't love me enough and would  put me in the highchair as a baby with bread to eat to make me shut up. My mother cried when she heard that I had been told this and swears it wasn't true.

At age 16 I was sexually violated by a young man and was called all sorts of names at school because of it. My life was spinning out of control so I began to control the only thing I could. Namely, my food. I would binge of food and then force myself to vomit it all up again. In one week I dropped two dresses sizes and my father was so proud that I was getting skinny. I learnt that it was better to be skinny than to be healthy and I continued to binge and purge for years.

(me age 16)

At around the same age I went for a trip to England (where the photo above was taken) and discovered over there my first stretch marks. I was mortified and believed that I was hideously fat. My parents responded by saying that I had put on weight and so they bought me a gym pass so I could work it off. I became addicted to exercise and worked myself into the ground. By the end of the 7th form year I looked like this:

(me age 17/18)

A couple of years later I was married to a man who kept me locked in the house with nothing to do all day except eat and smoke. I ballooned from 65kg to near 200kg in three years. I knew my ex wouldn't come near me if I was fat and unattractive and so I didn't try to lose the weight. When he cheated my father told him (and me) that it was understandable because I was an embarrasment to take out. 

The lowest point in my life was when I was left outside I movie theatre where my ex was watching a movie because I didn't fit in the seats.

(me age 23)

Ever since then I have been battling the bulge. Part of me didn't want to lose it because it kept me safe from leering men. And yet I have always wanted to regain a body that I could be proud of. It is hard to do when the only memories you have of being skinny are dark and depressing.
I have been going strong for three weeks and encountered my first hurdle. I felt so discouraged that all my effort to eat healthy and exercise hadn't shown immediate results. Call me naieve if you wish but I kinda expected it to fall off me. And it's not. But the love and support I have received from people has been overwhelming and I want to take this moment to say thank you. It is because of you that this journey is free of pain and depression. You are forming good memories for me and you are making this something I want to do and am enjoying doing.
Words cannot express how much it means to me. Each small comment of support has helped heal my heart around this issue and I love you for it.

I want to say to anyone who has weight issues and has faced any of the stuff that I have that you are not in this alone. You do not have to do this alone. Even if you tell one or two trusted people who will love you it is so good for your heart to have them support you. YOU CAN do this!!

And for anyone who has stories that would like to share of weight loss and/or overcoming obstacles in their life, please share, it helps more than you know.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Why can't we all just get along???

I started a new job this week and one of the blessings (and burdens) of this particular position is that I get to spend 90% of my time with this one particular woman.

She is lovely and caring but she also talks an awful lot and doesn't like to think about things too much. And before I get any funny comments about how we should get along perfectly then (you can't make them, I have preempted you!) I actually find this way of looking at the world quite a challenge.

For example:

This lady found out that I had studied theology and exclaimed that all she wanted was for all the religions of the world to realise that they all worship one 'Supreme Being' and then we could all get along.

I have to say that this stumped me for quite a while. Though I knew some people in the world thought like this I have never encountered one myself and wasn't entirely sure how to engage in this conversation. Half of me wanted to laugh, the other half wanted to cry.

Why do I find this such a difficult subject to talk about you ask?

It is because there is no answer apart from agreeing with the statement that is not going to offend or anger. Unless I say 'yes, of course we all worship the same God' then I am going to tell her that something she believes in is simply wrong.

And no one likes hearing that.

Because the truth is, no one who takes their religion seriously agrees with this statement.

We would fight, argue and die for our beliefs because we believe them to be true.

We are making a truth statement every time we say 'Jesus is the only way to God' that immediately rules out, disagrees with, and calls every other  religion, in short, a liar.

And that is why religions will never get along.

Every religion on the planet believes that the others are heresy. We want to save and convert and enlighten all those that do not believe our faith because we believe it to be true.

If what you believe in, what shapes and guides your life, is challenged and called heresy by someone else you aren't going to take to kindly to them are you?

I eventually did answer this lady. I told her that I didn't believe in violence and I did believe in respecting all people as made in the image of God and loved by him, but there was no way that I could agree with the statement that we all worship the same God.

She laughed and went on to teach me about my star sign....

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Not everything makes you stronger.

Today I was flicking through FB updates, as I am sure all of you have been doing, and I saw some (supposedly) inspirational 'Christian' messages that, frankly, pissed me off.

Now this may seem like an extreme reaction but it just so happens that at this very point in time I am working my way through the book of Job and it really has a lot to say to these well meaning but very off putting posts.

To summarise, both of these posts said things along the lines of "Are you struggling? Don't worry about it, it is just God making you stronger".

Now on the surface this seems like a harmless thing to say and might raise the spirits of those who are struggling. I know many people who would believe it too.

But is it Gospel? 

Is this the way we want to portray God in our struggles?

What about a child that has been repeatedly sexually abused by her uncle? Is she being made stronger by the struggles she is going through?

Or the mother who has just lost her son to suicide. Is this going to make her stronger? Is God using this situation to teach her something?

Or the families in countries like Uganda. Maybe the mother has AIDS, the children are starving and the father has no work. Is God going to use watching his family die to make him a stronger man?


God is not like this!

God is not some cruel sadist who uses the situations to teach us something. He is with us in those struggles yes, but as a teacher? No.

Job was a man who loved God and honoured him with all he did. In a matter of days he watched all his children die, his house and belongings be destroyed, and he ended up with a skin condition that left him with welts all over his body.

His friends came to see him and sit with him in his struggle. Some of them told him it was his fault, he was being punished by God. Others told him it was a test and he needed to prove his worth before God.

Both of these views are summed up in the idea that God uses our struggles to make us stronger. He is testing us or punishing us in order to teach us something.

Both of these ideas are ultimately refuted by God in the end of Job's story.

So where is God in the midst of our suffering if he is not using it to makes us better?

I need to use some of my own experiences to explain this.

My experiences in life nearly destroyed me. I was a burnt out, obese mental case with a drinking and smoking problem by the time God stepped in (see my blog "My Story").

It wasn't my experiences that made me stronger. No amount of sexual abuse, alcohol abuse or depression can teach you to be stronger. And God didn't use them that way.

Rather it was my experience of GOD that made me stronger. It was his love, his healing hand, his peace, and the fact that I knew he was as angry and upset at what had been done to me as I was that grew me into the person I am.

He never asked me to look at my experiences as anything other than the awful, soul destroying, upsetting events that they were. There is NOTHING good about them, nothing redeeming, nothing uplifting that can be taken from some of the things I have been through. But there is redemption in the name of Jesus. And it was that, not the crap, that helped me grow.

The same can be said of Job. After his friends talk he cries out to the Lord seeking answers for the pain and grief that he is experiencing. And it is the power and strength and majesty of God that gives him peace, NOT the death of his children, not the loss of his possessions and not the illness that plagues him. Yes, he gets more children in the end, but do you think he forgets the sadness and pain of the death of the first lot?

God isn't using our crap to teach us stuff. Sh*t happens, it's life and the nature of a fallen world that awaits the return of Christ. BUT he is in these times with us, crying with us and bringing us peace and strength to move forward.

To say otherwise makes God a monster and trivializes people's pain and suffering.

We live moments of pain and can carry that pain and sadness with us for the rest of our lives.

I am just grateful that I believe in a God who conquered death and that one day, not in this life time, I will know no more pain, cry no more tears and see no more death.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Prostitution Anyone?


The act of selling one's body for profit.

Now, fortunately or unfortunately depending on which side of the fence you are standing, a legal and perfectly legitimate job choice.

Did you know that prostitutes can get ACC to cover RSI (repetitive stress injury) in their jaw?? For real.

Just saying.

This has never been a profession that I have shortlisted as something I would be interested in. But I seem to have this uncanny, and slightly worrying, knack of being able to associate everyday normal things with the not so 'normal'.

Like job interviews and prostitution.

Call me crazy but selling myself has never appealed to me, and so I have been recently shocked to discover that this is exactly what was required of me!

First I have to write up a resume explaining how amazing I am. This is accompanied by a letter telling the employer that I am waaaaaaay better for them than any of my competition. This is then (hopefully) followed by an interview where my entire person has to be summed up and put on display for 15 minutes while someone decides whether or not they want to pay me for my time.

I feel like a prostitute.

Perhaps not in body (though some jobs do specifically ask for people who 'look' a 'certain way' to fit the company 'branding'. Don't believe me? Try and get a job at Supre when you are a woman of my size and they sell things that wouldn't fit around one of my thighs!) but I am still trying to present my self in order to get paid.

There is something very wrong with this!!

As a Christian I believe in the fundamental worth of all human beings. I do not believe in pitting one against the other in order to see who comes out the winner. Nor do I like taking such a one dimensional view of people like the workforce does.

For example, say Fred and George are applying for the same job as a social worker. Fred has graduated with a degree in the appropriate field because he needed to get a degree with some kind of job security at the end of it. He actually doesn't like people very much but he is good a putting on the face to get through the day and his CV is immaculate.

George on the other hand didn't get a degree because he was staying at home to look after his younger siblings while his single mother worked two jobs. He has spent years working with at risk teenagers, spending time with the elderly, and looking after children at an after school programme. He has also worked extensively with his church youth group and pastoral care teams. He loves people and would put his heart and soul into the job even if it would require a little more training on behalf of the company.

Who would you hire?

Who would the company hire?

You may think this is a situation that would never happen. Unfortunately you would be wrong. 

If it isn't a degree you won't get a show in.

Because the interview process is all about selling your credentials, employers look for specific things and don't look at a person holistically. People who may deserve a fighting chance are passed over without a second look. Those that can fake it may very well make it on the backs of those who would work hard and with passion.

There has to be a better way. There must be.

What would you suggest?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bbile Dxleisya

I have a illness. 

It seems to be quite a common illness among those I talked to.

Can it be cured? No one knows.

It's official title is Bbile Dxleisya (or Bible Dyslexia).

I am telling you that this is a major problem.

Its symptoms include getting confused by Paul's ramblings, never remembering the books of the Bible, watching the words all blur together when trying to read it, and quoting passages from the Bible always starting with "I think it goes something like..."

I don't know why this is happening to me. Maybe I was born with the problem.

Is there a solution?

 Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am an avid reader. I can read through 400+ pages of a book in one sitting and forget to have meals. 

My study looks like this:

And this:

And this:

because I don't have enough room for all my books to put them on shelves.

They are like my children. I would try and save them first from a fire disregarding most of my other possessions.

I read Shakespeare and Aristotle and not only understand them, I enjoy them.

Yet as soon as I pick up the Bible my first instinct is to sleep.

My second is to squint my eyes and try to understand Paul's circular arguments.

My third is to try for 5 mins and then move on to another book.

And I'm a THEOLOGY student!!!!

Does anyone else have this problem???? Tell me I am not alone in this, just to make me feel or good, or even if you actually struggle with this too :-)

It Is Well With My Soul

Since my last blog ("OK I'm TERRIFIED"), which was less than 24 hours ago (!!!), I have had such an overwhelming response that I need to say a few things about it.

First of all THANK YOU to the amazing people who have made me feel more supported than I ever have in my entire life. I need to thank these people in name but please READ what has happened coz some of it is mind blowing.

Lucy Darymple: On Sunday (before I posted my blog) Lucy was at church and felt God telling her to give me a gym membership. Lucy was like "oh hells no, how do you tell a big person that they have to get their arse to the gym coz God said so and NOT offend them in the process?"

The next day I blogged.

Today she offered me a gym membership which I totally couldn't afford. I am so blessed by this that I am tearing up as I write. Thank you Lucy, you're amazingly epic.

Kent Hartmann, Fiona Sherwin, and Sam Tanner: for messaging such lovely comments to support and encourage me. I loved it!!

Shinai Goodwin: for ALWAYS being a rock for me and encouraging me. You are an amazingly beautiful woman.

Nick and Melissa Kalavati: for being the fittest people I know and never making me feel fat and lazy when I am with them. But immediately stepping up to the plate to help me out when I needed it.

With all this love and support there is no way I can fail!!

I would also like to mention the number of people who have said that my last post motivated them to get healthy.

Knowing that other people struggle (even the skinny ones) to be healthy and stay that way is so much help!

I don't feel alone in this at all any more and I just needed you to know how much love I feel from you all.

Blessings xxxx


Something major is happening in my life.

Something that is huge (or will be).

Something that is potentially gonna be awesome.

Something that terrifies the holy bejeezus outta me.

I, Christine Welten, am going to try and lose weight.

Now, before you stop reading, I know this may not seem like that big of a deal. But trust me it is. Lemme explain.

First of all, when I last got weighted at the doctor I cried because I realised how bad things were really getting. The idea of health issues etc when I am older scares me (and Luke) far more than anything else so I decided, no I DECIDED (capital letters are a must for this) that enough was enough, it was time to pull myself up by the bootstraps and get this under control once and for all.

But this is harder than it sounds.

The amount I will have to lose seems so monstrous that I am scared to even begin! 

I am scared I will fail and that I will just get depressed about it.

But most of all (for those who have read my last blog "My Story") my weight served as a mental 'protection' barrier from any unwanted attention from the opposite sex. Let's face it, no one checks out the fat girl and I actually like it that way.

So I am finding myself feeling sick at the thought of doing this.

But I am DETERMINED so do it I will. 

People don't call me pig-headed for nothing.

I guess the thing that is most daunting is the idea of a 'lifestyle' change. It is such an all encompassing thing that it seems a bit too...well....harsh is the best word I have.

I don't want to give up yummy tasting food, even if people try and convince me that my taste for it will change.

I don't want to get all sweaty and icky going to the gym everyday.

I don't want to have to think about my weight when I go out for dinner.

But let's face it, I don't really want to die of a heartache or diabetes related illnesses either. And that is by far the bigger issue (and motivator here).

The awesome thing about all this is I happen to have a qualified personal trainer as a friend and neighbour who heard that I was serious about this and has offered his services (good thing to because I couldn't afford one of those. Youtube would've been good but in person is much better).

Another awesome thing is having a husband who is going to sacrifice his own diet for my benefit to support me.

Poor Luke, he'll probably turn into a rabbit with all the veges.

It is time.

Feel the fear and do it anyway has always been my motto (that and "God has not given you a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and a soundness of mind" 2 Tim 1:7).

I have got through worse and survived. I have quit smoking, drinking and a bad marriage and survived. I CAN DO THIS!!

(Please God help me do this)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My story

I have been asked to tell my testimony a few times to various people and each time I have been humbled by the response to it, but I have always been to scared to say it on a blog because people might judge it or think I was making it up.

Today I am feeling brave.

Today I want to share my story with anyone who wants to read it.

I hope it brings hope to those who need it. It is all true and it is from my heart. Please feel free to share with anyone you think may need to hear it.

*Big breath in* and here we go:

I grew up in a Christian family. I went to church every Sunday, was baptized at age 10, and generally loved God. I was, in essence, the typical child you find at church. I appeared happy, sung the songs loudly, and got upset with anyone who swore.

Unfortunately things at school were a little different.

At school I was bullied relentlessly. I was called fat, ugly, cry baby. I was accused of stealing someone's lunch and was told off in front of the class. I was bullied for being a Christian and found myself alone most lunch times. Eventually I was labelled 'the loner" and would spend breaks alone in the library, reading, knitting, or playing with the younger kids. After discovering that people would get annoyed if I read the bible at school, I did it all the time. I was proud of my faith but I was miserable. I would cry at night and pray that God would send me a friend. I would daydream about a young girl coming to school and wanting to hang out with me. I found solace in my day dreams and fostered a healthy inner life that would keep me entertained while I was alone.

Unfortunately, my life was also affected by sexual assault - twice, once by a young male friend (age 5) and once by a strange old man (age 7 or 8). These events really shook my faith in people, and had the adverse affect of sending me into a guilt spiral. I believed that these events were my fault. This feeling was compounded by the fact that my parents did not talk to me about this - an action I misunderstood as them being angry at me but was in fact them trying to protect me from reliving a situation that I appeared not to be affected by. I began to hide my feelings from people, believing that they were disappointed in me, and guilt, helplessness, and fear got a stranglehold on my life.

At age 12 two things happened that had a major impact on who I was, what I believed, and how I developed. First, my eldest sister fell off a cliff while drunk at a party that she wasn't meant to be at. I was woken up at 2 am by repeated banging on the front door. As my bedroom was closest to the front door and, believing it to be my sister coming home and wanting to save her from getting in trouble, I answered the door and, consequently, I was the one who first saw the policemen on a front step. I had to wake up my parents and stood in the hallway as I listened to what happened. Though it was in no way my fault, I took on responsibility for this event, believing that I could have stopped it if I had tried, and the guilt of having failed my sister, my family, consumed me. I read in her every action afterwards disgust and anger, and in turn I began to hate her for the fear and guilt I carried with me.

Second, my home church, where my only friends were, fell apart due to some inconsistencies in the pastor's lifestyle. My parents were part of the group that brought it to light and as a result I was told that people I loved, who I had called 'aunty' and 'uncle', were no longer part of our lives. I didn't get to say goodbye to people I had grown up with. The worst part was that I watched my parents crumble and the passion that they had for church fade. No matter what church we went to after that, I never felt at home in a church again, or that I could trust church people again.

As I started high school I was desperate to be popular and I would have done anything to achieve it. Age 13 I started to smoke and hang out with girls that were influential and harmful. By age 14 I was sneaking out of home to get drunk with my friends and boys. I would sneak out, walk down our street in the middle of the night and then stay the night at boys houses. There were times that I was so drunk I have no idea what actually happened with the guy I was with, and I look back in horror at the people who I knew that passed out when drunk and were then left unattended to "sleep it off". At age 15 I was forcing myself to throw up in a vain attempt to control something in a world that made no sense to me. I was lying at school and to my parents about friends dying, being pregnant, and having sex with older boys.

Yet at the church we now attended I was a youth leader! I lived this crazy double life of trying to be 'cool' on one hand and on the other trying to be the perfect Christian, the perfect daughter and the perfect student. I lost weight and was praised by my father. I studied and was praised by my teachers. I lead youth group and was praised by my youth leader. I got drunk at parties and was praised by my peers. I felt like such a fraud and the guilt became overwhelming. Depression overtook me and I numbed my feelings anyway I could. I drank in secret, binged ate in secret, self harmed in secret...anything that would justify the pain I was feeling.

At age 16 I was sexually assaulted again, this time by a youth group boy. I was on a youth group camp as a leader and he was friends with my ex-boyfriend. I remember the fear I felt when it happened. I had been kissing him privately earlier in the day, and then later, in a fairly public manner, he decided to take more. He then spread it round school that I was a 'slut', and that I had given him what I had refused my ex - namely sex. I was pushed down stairs at school and into the mud as a result. I said nothing to anyone about how I hadn't willingly participated in the event until years later. I was ashamed and felt like I was to blame. I even told my sister that it was consensual - though I think at the time she found it suspicious. It also triggered a struggle with my own sexuality and all that meant, an issue that even now can raise it's ugly little head when I am not paying attention.

In my last year of high school I was determined to 'act right' and to leave behind all the people who had hurt me. So I began to study hard, all hours of the day, and I went to the gym for hours at a time, but my drinking had become a private, secret thing and I would perform sexual favours to guys at the gym who would buy me alcohol and keep it for me. Even writing those words makes me grimace with shame, but this was the sad reality of my life.

At age 18 I left school and went to Bible College in order to 'find' God. My teachers told me not to, told me I should pursue a different career, but I felt my life had gone so far off track that I didn't know who God was, didn't know who I was, and needed to find that again. Instead I found a husband. We were going out within the first week of the school year and engaged only 3 months later. My depression, instead of decreasing with joy, became worse and worse and I began to self harm and hear voices telling me to do things that I won't even begin to describe. I would see things that weren't real and I ballooned from a size 10 to a size 26 in three years. I argued that I didn't have an eating disorder if I wasn't vomiting it all back up again, but the binging increased and so did my weight.

I am ashamed of how my relationship started. It was mainly physical, with many elements of mental and emotional manipulation on both sides. We were both young and broken and unable to see that we were mutually destructive. My parents, perhaps seeing something we couldn't, begged us not to get married, but unfortunately we believed that they were saying that was that I wasn't good enough for him, which just made us even more determined.

He thought he could handle my mental illness. He was wrong. Soon after our marriage began, it fell apart. I won't go into details because it is unfair for me to talk about him without him being able to give a defense. Let's just say that we both couldn't deal with what was happening to me in appropriate ways, and we couldn't deal with the baggage each of us had, and our marriage became destructive.

During our short three years together I was in and out of psych wards as well as intensive care for suicide attempts. My medication dose went up to 12 pills a day, I smoked two packs a day, drank copiously, and I spent most of my time in my own little world talking to figments of my imagination. I was eventually diagnosed with early onset schizophrenia; an illness with no cure and no hope of recovery.

After three years I walked out of the hell we were both living in. I can only say that God gave me the strength to leave as there was no conceivable way that I could have done it by myself. It was one of the most harrowing times of my life, and yet also the most freeing. I ended up back at my parents, suicidal, depressed, schizophrenic, divorced. My mum chose to quit her job to look after me full time, a sacrifice that I am still humbled by. I was told later by someone that they were considering changing their wills so that I would be able to go into a home if they died because I was unable to look after myself.

8 months went by as my parents cajoled, argued and forced me out of bed each day. My mum made me go walking with her every morning and I began to lose weight, I just didn't care that I was. I was waiting to die. All I wanted was an opportunity to be alone so I could kill myself. They never gave it to me. I owe them my life. Finally my mum reached out to the church asking them to do something, anything, for the daughter she was watching self destruct.

Enter the little old ladies of the prayer team.

The funny thing was they didn't pray for healing, they prayed only for the peace of God to still my mind.

I wanted them to shut up and go away.

They kept praying.

And in less time than it takes to write this, I was healed.

I can't really explain how. All I can say is that one minute I felt like I was drowning and the next I knew with absolute certainty that I was going to be ok. It was like a really heavy wool blanket, one soaked in water, had been on me so long that I didn't realise it was there until it was lifted off. I knew in that moment that I was loved, I was healed, I was cherished by God! I knew I was forgiven and that he had cried for me and with me. I knew what it was to be free. My whole life changed in that second and I began to laugh. I was sane! I was healed! The little old ladies were shocked to say the least, and my mother wasn't sure what to make of it. I guess laughing and telling people you are healed when you have had issues like mine is more worrying to them than anything.

The next day I went to the psychiatrist and was met by the line "what's wrong with you, you're smiling!" I told her I was healed and that I was happy. She was skeptical to say the least! But by the end of that session she was crying to me about her worries for her cousin, even apologising and telling me that she never did this. I ended up counselling my counsellor! After several more sessions and one mental health class over the period of a month, I was taken off all drugs and was in full time work for the first time in my life. Three months after that I was living by myself in Wellington and working. Four months after that prayer I was an independent, clinically sane, employed women.

But God wasn't done with me yet.

I still had a lot of anger and hate towards the people that had hurt me so badly in my past. I was angry at God despite what he had done for me and I was still drinking heavily. I was messed up in my head and heart  and I tried to find love in all the wrong places, sleeping with men and drinking away the nights. I became so dependent on alcohol that if I slept longer than four hours I would wake with the shakes, so I slept with a bottle under my bed.

I was so angry at God that when my boyfriend of the time became a Christian and started going to church, I dumped him because I didn't want to have all that 'crap' in my life anymore. And yet God STILL wasn't done with me.

I moved back up to Auckland to be with my boyfriend (a different one this time) and was dumped by him the day I arrived (welcome home!). In my despair I went on a bender only to have a very good mate of mine, a youth pastor no less, confront me about my drinking. While he was talking to me I realised that I didn't need alcohol any more. All my reasons for drinking, all the anger and guilt and pain, had slowly been being healed over the last year. It was a crutch I no longer wanted and so I decided to sober up that night on his couch. A week of withdrawal left me shaken and weak but I haven't touched a drop since.

This same friend then invited me to his church to met his vicar, and I went, but only in order to applying for a job working with the music group. God had other plans. As soon as I saw the minister I felt the overwhelming desire to rip his throat out with my teeth and watch him die. I felt like a wolf. Little did I know that this man had a ministry in setting people free from demon possession. Before this moment I didn't even realise I had an issue in this area, but it became apparent as I physically reacted in ways that I had no control over. Three weeks, four prayer sessions and 7 deliverance's later I finally felt free. I was washed clean by God and he had given me my life back completely.

It was 3 months after getting sober and being delivered God told me to go back to Bible College to finish my degree. I was terrified. All the old professors were still there, people who knew me and my ex-husband, who had been at our wedding! I felt the old shame and guilt well up inside me again, but this time I did not let it conquer me. I went, kicking a screaming all the way, but I still went. On my first day, in my first lecture, my professor was asked what the worldview of a person with schizophrenia was like. He responded that no one knew because all the people who knew what happened in a schizophrenic's mind were in no shape to explain it. In the break I went up to him and told him that I was a healed schizophrenic and that I could tell him what the worldview was. He said "great, tell the class after the break is over." So on my first day I stood in front of a class of 200 people and told them about my struggle with mental illness. I discovered my love of teaching and preaching that day and also discovered a passion for God's word and for ministry that I never knew I had.

3 years went by with many highs and lows (mostly highs) and then I met Luke. After all the men who had used and abused me I finally met someone who loved me completely, who was funny and kind, and who would listen to me cry about all these memories I have that still haunt me. He was, and still is, the most Christlike man I have ever met. He always loves others, cares for me unconditionally, and  always puts God before everything else. I am so blessed to know him and to have him in my life and he is a constant reminder to me of the blessing and love that God has poured out on my life.

After a rough start I have found joy through suffering. I have been changed. I am a new person. I can love and know love. I have been forgiven and have learnt to forgive. And all because of Jesus. He met me where I was at; he didn't expect me to reach a certain standard of character before he loved me. He met me as a drunk, demon possessed, angry, hurting woman and turned me into a loving, caring, happy woman.

And the cool thing is is that he is just waiting to do it for you too.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

For Any Woman That Has Been Abused

I am working through a book at the moment and wanted to share something with any woman who has ever been the victim of sexual abuse (please share this with anyone you think would find it helpful):

"I now know that I was used and abused, and it was not my fault. Nor was it the fault of being an attractive and healthy woman.

It is not bad or disgusting or dirty to be thin, vibrant and alive.

I have to stop judging myself.


I am worthy of dignity, respect and love.

I am here for myself, and I accept the qualities that make me beautiful and special."

You are not alone. God bless.