Forgiveness sets the prisoner free.
I grew up in a Buddhist home, but I didn’t know why. I assumed that it had to be right because my parents were Buddhist. I couldn’t imagine accepting a faith different than my family’s tradition. Growing up, my parents had such high expectations of me but nothing seemed good enough for them. Even so, at 18 years old I thought I knew it all. I dated a guy my family did not like, so I was labeled the 'rebellious one.' Eventually my parents made me choose between my boyfriend and them, so I left their home. In the midst of all my problems, a good friend from high school shared 1 Corinthians 13 with me. “Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude. It is not self seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres.” After reading those words, I knew my relationship with this guy did not reflect love and I hungered for it. Because I was Buddhist, I thought those words were not meant for me. But that high school friend gave me a Bible that I kept. When my younger sister caught me with the Bible, she yelled at me for having the Bible so I tucked it away and never saw it again. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the scriptures and encouragement we might have hope.” Romans 15:4.
Within a few years of finishing high school, I was completely broken, desperate, and close to death. In August of 2001, I was 22 years old and my life was pure darkness – my life was falling apart. I was in a destructive relationship with that same boyfriend. We were 4 years into our relationship, so it was very difficult for me to walk away. We were engaged, but in my heart I knew he was not someone I wanted to spend my life with. He took everything from me. Through those years with him, I honestly feel that I lost my own identity. I got too dependent on someone who was tearing me completely apart. That same year, I found myself pregnant. When the news broke to my family that I was pregnant, it was pivotal because I hit rock bottom. My mother told me, “Don’t come home until you get an abortion.” I had nowhere to go, but even so I wanted to keep my baby. My heart was struggling, and I didn’t know what to do. When I went to the clinic they reassured me that after the procedure my life would go back to normal, but it was nowhere near being back to normal. I found myself in the deepest, darkest hole that seemed inescapable. I was empty without a desire to live anymore. Being born with heart problems, I took ecstasy one night and woke up in the emergency room. When I woke up, the doctor told me I could have died that night after having a seizure. I couldn’t help but wish I didn’t wake up. I didn’t want to face the reality of my life and the decisions I made. After being discharged from the hospital, I left Houston a few days later. I remembered telling myself that if I ever came back to Houston, I would come back a different person. I packed up my things and moved to Minnesota and never looked back. People may have seen me physically put together, but inside I was broken and in pieces.
My heart was previously full of hate, bitterness, and anger. I hated my family. I hated my mother who pressured me to abort my baby. I hated the guy who destroyed my life. Ultimately, I hated myself. I lived my life condemning myself for what I did to my baby. I deserved it. I believed that I didn’t deserve anything good.
Soon after moving to Minnesota, my younger sister called to share that she became a Christian. I recall the joy she had in her voice, and I wanted what she had. She sent me a Bible and helped me read scriptures. She even told me that her church in Waco was praying for my salvation. I spent many hours seeking after God’s heart. On Sept 25, 2001, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. My sister led me to Christ, and it was the happiest moment in my life. Although my life still felt the same outwardly, there was joy in my heart and I could finally see light at the end of a very dark tunnel. I spent 3 years pursing God and this new heavenly love in my life. I am sure that because of Christ in my heart, I became a changed person. From that moment, my journey towards forgiveness began.
As I sought after Christ in my life, God started speaking to me in my dreams. He gave me a vision of Him holding my baby and saying, “I forgive you.” My heart struggled for several years because God’s light exposed the darkness of my heart. I surrounded myself with believers and got actively involved with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship at my college campus. I chased after God because I was thirsty to KNOW Him. I fell in love with Jesus. Through Christ, I learned that no one will save you but Him. When I felt like I lost everything, He told me that the only true thing I had was my value found in Him. He transformed my heart and led me to true forgiveness towards myself and to all those who have hurt me most. During my search for the Lord, He provided a strong, godly woman who led a bible study for post-abortive women through Healing Hearts Ministry. She walked, prayed, and counseled me through this time of healing.
I can assure you that I am the prime example of how God can change a broken heart. Times get hard, but I know that He saved me and with Him, there is hope. God has blessed me with so many great things, including my changed life, a godly husband who loves and accepts me as I am, and my precious daughters.
I pray that you will lean on God because even if you seek Him when you are as broken as I was, you will find Him. I truly believe God gave me a purpose to live and to share how He can transform a life.