you're real God, why did you leave me?" the terrified
little girl sobbed, as she lay hidden behind the closet
door. "Why did you leave us behind, Daddy?"
Cheryl (not her real name) had suffered constant fear and
torment since her father abandoned her mother and two sisters
three years before. Her abusive mother, afflicted with mental
illness, couldn't handle the pressures of bringing her daughters
up on her own, and abused Cheryl and her sisters.
remember hiding in the closet with my sister to get away
from my mom and her moods," Cheryl says. Often, her
mother's manic-depression would come on suddenly in the
middle of the night. "If she saw that the floor was
not washed, she would wake us up in the middle of the night
to beat us."
night, Cheryl woke up to see her mother beating her sister
with an extension cord. Fear gripped Cheryl as she heard
her mother say that "God was out to get her" for
all the things she and her sisters had done. On the other
hand, Cheryl had heard that this same God loved them. How
could this be? In a young child's mind, these conflicting
messages brought confusion and pain, and only served to
drive Cheryl further into tormenting fear.
was afraid of absolutely everything and everyone - especially
those in authority," Cheryl says. "The same fear
that gripped me drove me to become violent so I could protect
would take out her anguish on her school classmates. If
someone so much as made a loud noise it would ignite her
fear, and Cheryl responded with violence. By the time she
was eight years old, Cheryl was prescribed pills to calm
her down and even advised to start smoking to help her relax.
time she was 13, Cheryl and her sisters were back and forth
out of a psychiatric hospital, and in and out of various
relatives' homes because of their mother's problems. The
instability increased Cheryl's fear of being alone, yet
she was also determined to leave her mother's home for good.
Cheryl received an invitation to move in with a family whose
children she babysat, she gladly accepted, only to become
pregnant by the man in the house some months later. Feeling
abandoned again, Cheryl went back to her mother's home to
have her child.
afterwards, a man came along who wanted to marry her. "He
wanted to marry me so he could stay out of jail and I wanted
to marry him to get away from my mother," Cheryl says.
her marriage, Cheryl continued to be plagued with a gripping
fear. Two more children followed, and Cheryl would often
stand over their beds at night to watch them sleep, terrified
something would happen to them. "Fear ruled my life
- everything I did was because of it," Cheryl recalls.
her marriage ended seven years later, Cheryl was in and
out of relationships simply because she never wanted to
be alone. She became alcohol dependent in an attempt to
drown the hurt and torment she battled day after day. Then
one day, years later, a man came knocking on Cheryl's door.
"He wanted to introduce me to God," Cheryl recalls,
"but I didn't want to hear him - I thought I could
do just fine on my own!"
she had heard so many mixed messages about God, Cheryl had
become hardened to the idea that she needed someone stronger
than herself. After all, where was God when she was growing
the seeds of truth were planted in Cheryl's heart and eighteen
months later, while walking from her home on the way to
the bar, Cheryl heard some music coming from a building
she had never noticed before. It was a local church having
a worship service, and out of curiosity, Cheryl walked through
walked in and looked around and saw the people worshipping
God," Cheryl says. "I didn't understand it and
thought they all must be drunk!" Cheryl recalls talking
with the pastor's wife and then staying to listen for the
remainder of the service. She never made it to the bar that
night. Week after week, Cheryl found herself drawn back
to this same church and six months later, she prayed and
asked Jesus Christ to become her personal Savior.
"When I gave my life to the Lord, I felt such a burden
lift from me," Cheryl says. "For the first time
in my life, I knew there was someone there for me - God
was there and would be my help!"
at last! Never before had Cheryl known what it was like
to have something "sure" that she could count
on. Now, with Jesus, she had the assurance that He would
never leave her.
newfound relationship with the Lord, Cheryl did indeed find
someone she could trust. The fears didn't go away instantly.
But over time they weakened their hold as Cheryl grew in
her relationship with her heavenly Father. "Even though
I knew God was with me, I still had to learn how to trust
Him. It was through building my relationship with God that
I learned I had nothing to fear".
the scriptures was life changing for Cheryl. Being filled
with His Holy Spirit helped her to experience His presence
in powerful ways. "I know that not only is He with
me, He's living inside of me! I don't have to live in fear
anymore - I can feel His presence."
discovered that the more she spoke with God
in prayer, turning every concern over to Him,
the more freedom she experienced. Every day,
the love of God became more real to her and
each day she found greater strength. Today,
the fears that gripped her for so many years
no longer have a hold on her. Cheryl is free
Beaucage is a freelance writer and ordained
minister. She and her husband, Leonard, pastor
a church in Saskatchewan, Canada.
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