Living My Truth ~ My Testimony
As Shared by The 61 Exchange on November 22, 2017

I sat on this testimony for 4 months writing, rewriting, delaying, questioning, worrying & praying. I have a Big and Mighty God who has done Big and Mighty things in my life. I should not be afraid to tell my story. He knows I am scared but I hear Him calling me to testify anyway because the glory He has done in my life needs to be shared with others. The Summer I turned 5 I was sexually molested repeatedly by a distant relative. Abuse of any kind is a nasty, deviant thing. My innocence was marred. Devastation, despair, confusion, guilt, shame, you name it, Satan put it on me. That abuse kept me in shackles for decades. I would be 31 years old before I had a revelation about myself and just how much my God really does love me. Adolescent years were a nightmare for me. On the outside I mastered being a “normal” kid. I played sports, went to Church, stayed out of trouble for the most part, made good grades, sang in Church choir, played the handbells and had lots of friends. But inside I was dying every single day. I had constant panic attacks, mostly in secret. I was anxious, fearful, had trouble sleeping, cried a lot, had stomach pains, learned to use food for comfort then diet pills to counteract my binge eating and I began to hate men. I secretly felt that evil lied at the cored of every man. I was a man-hater. I felt dirty, guilty, shameful, damaged, used and unworthy. And it kills me to say that because I have an amazing Daddy. He did everything he could to help me and he pointed me to the Bible as much as possible. And my Mother kept me in Church. Their efforts are worth more than gold now even though at the time I know they felt just as lost as I did about how to help me. When I was a senior in HS my parents divorced. Their divorce shattered my sister and me. The next 7 years would see a string of bad relationships for me. One of which ended up as a verbally abusive marriage that I wondered how in the world I was going to get myself out of before it turned physically abusive. I found the courage to leave just before we were to celebrate our 1 year anniversary. I was really good at picking unhealthy relationships because my most important relationship of all, that with Christ, was suffering. I didn’t love myself and I didn’t see God’s love for me. I wanted desperately to believe I was going to have a life worth living but I was letting the devil get so close to the truth and whisper lie after lie in my ear that I couldn’t grasp the Truth. All I saw as the sum of me was abuse, divorced parents, myself now divorced, no plan, no future. BUT the real truth was that God did have a plan for me. He was using all the bad to make a perfect story of redemption, grace, glory, mercy and love. At 31 years old, God called me with a fierceness I’ll not soon forget. I was remarried, now to the man that no doubt God had made just for me. And I had an 18 month old son. And the devil was still trying to close the deal. I was depressed, anxiety-ridden and unraveling at the seams. My marriage was failing and I was not the mother I was meant to be. My loving husband dragged me to counseling and there in that room, that Christian counselor said something to me so profound. We discussed my hatred for men and the root problem of the abuse I suffered as a child. Then he asked me if I really thought that the same God who created Heaven, Earth and all mankind would create men to be pure evil. “Well, no I don’t really believe that. I mean my Daddy is a great man. My Grandaddy was a great man.” The counselor just stared at me. Waiting. My head swirled. Then it cleared. The truth was one man didn't represent them all. One man had made a horrible decision to hurt me as a child but he didn't represent all of them. And by God's grace, I was raised by a Daddy who WAS a loving example. God had stepped in all along and provided me with what I needed. He never left me. And not everyone was bad. I burst into tears. Full blown ugly crying. Decades of hate, tension, anxiety, burdens, chains, guilt, shame and just plain ugliness fell to the floor. Decades of hating myself fell to the floor too. And I was finally left with enough room inside to let God’s love come back in. I heard God whisper to me “Welcome home daughter. I love you and I am so glad you are returning to me.” I left that counselor’s office that day declaring a new purpose for myself , my life, my marriage and my young son. I understood what it meant to be truly loved by the King and from that day forward I declared I was going to start acting like the kingdom child that I was. Since that time several years have passed. My husband and I have welcomed a daughter of our own into the world. She’s now 3 and our son is 6. We’ve been married for 7 beautiful years and together a total of 10. I am forever grateful for the God-fearing man that my husband is. He held on strong to his faith in God when I was losing mine. And he had enough love for the both of us when I was coming apart and trying to face down demons. My husband will always be a daily, tangible reminder of God’s love for me. I am also eternally thankfully to Jesus for providing me with such a loving Daddy. God knew I would need a strong, level-headed, loving, caring, dependable father to raise me. A man that would be my first and most important example of how men should treat women. Now I'm finally pursuing my passion of music. I am a Christian Contemporary Artist and I absolutely love writing and singing songs about the hope, love, redemption, courage, mercy and grace we find in our loving Father. I can write these songs because I have been in some of the darkest places of despair and came out only because of the hope Jesus gives me. My life is richer and fuller than it ever has been because I know I am loved. I know I am a child of God. I know I am of the Kingdom, not of this world. Being able to truly know His love for me and the purpose He has over my life and given me so much strength and courage. I hope my story and my music help someone who desperately needs to know their own worth. You are a child of God. Don’t ever forget that. And God will use your ashes to reveal His Mightiness and His Glory in a way that only He can because He Loves YOU.

I wrap this up with my favorite quote by Bethel Music, "The sooner we realize that life is about surrender, the longer we have to make a real eternal impact here on Earth."  Surrender TO God and make an impact THRU God!

God Bless,     Marissa