This is my story of a broken and fatherless person, to a daughter who knows she is fully loved by a perfect Father. It is my journey of restoration by the love and mercy of God.
I come from a dysfunctional family with an abusive father who often hit my mother and created much violence in our home. As a child, I would wake up to smashed furniture and broken glass strewn all over the living room, and hear terrifying threats of violence and suicide as I quivered in fear. Even in times of danger, my mother would lock herself with us children in the room. In spite of being punched on the face by my father, she never cried for help or left the house, nor resolved issues with him, and the next day life went on as though nothing happened. As a result, I never understood how to protect myself as a woman and accepted that being treated badly by men was normal.
As a child, I was constantly shamed by my mother for my weaknesses and never dared to be vulnerable like a little girl. She made me serve my older brother as a young child, because my parents favoured him as the boy. All these damaged my understanding of God’s design for men, women and family. To survive all this trauma, I developed a stoic front, faking that I was strong and independent yet feeling highly inferior inside. Deep down, I harboured a saviour mentality and strived to be perfect throughout my teenage years to gain their acceptance. I became over-responsible to hold the family together and instead of being a daughter, I unconsciously parented my parents. I didn’t dare to believe that I deserved to be loved and cherished unconditionally.
My life hit rock bottom when I started a relationship with a verbally abusive younger man who did not value me. I knew he was not the right one for me but he wanted to marry me from the start and a voice inside said this was the best I could have because no one else would want me. He would cut me down viciously, was not supportive of my ministry, and exerted power and control over me by playing mind games and emotional blackmail. In my eagerness to please him and gain the love I was so desperate for, I lost my sense of self and deceived myself and others. I was attracted to his brokenness because it connected with my own brokenness. The 3 years I was with him was the darkest time of my life. At times, I remember running away from him from fear that he would hit me in his rage. It took a toll on my health and I had to see specialists for 4 different ailments as my body started to break down from the stress of the relationship and heavy responsibilities of my ministry. On top of that, my father started venting his anger on me during that time, which tore me apart more because the 2 important men in my life were attacking me when what I needed was their love.
When this relationship ended, I soon discovered that my ex-boyfriend had found a new girlfriend and returned to his old ways. Due to my unstable emotional state and saviour mentality, I tried to intervene by reaching out to him and acting irrationally, making many mistakes and violating his boundaries. Inevitably, he reacted by hurting me - destroying my friendships and my reputation. With that, I had to walk away from the ministry that I had been building up for the past seven years - I lost everything I had worked for overnight because of my character failings. With no other option left, I ended up taking a sabbatical for 1.5 years.
During my long sabbatical, I faced the pain of my past head-on. I left the country and traveled to Europe to live in communities of healing and restoration. This was a season of being re-parented from scratch by my perfect Father, and I re-learnt what it means to be a child, and treated like a true daughter of God. God healed me of my rejection and showed me that even when I have nothing to give him in my weaknesses, He still loves me. I surrendered the abusive patterns and ungodly survival tactics I had cultivated, and forgave everyone who had hurt me.
He changed the way I see myself as a woman - that I am worthy to be loved like Christ loves the church, and that He created women not to be independent or controlling, but to be interdependent, receive protection, and to respect men. Jesus restored my hope in healthy relationships, delivering me from my folly of saving people to save myself. I had been trying to create the family that I never had, but I never found the true Father and lover I craved in God, instead looking to people and physical things to fill my void...
My perception of singleness changed drastically and I realized I had been assuming that singleness was lesser than marriage. I made the mistake that the only way I can be loved was through a husband and normal family - idolizing love, romance and marriage.
Up till today, nothing much has changed in my family. There is still a lot of anger at home, and it is still a struggle to live with them. But God has done an exchange with me at the Cross, replacing my depression for true joy, my shame for full acceptance, and hopelessness with new hope. I now know that I am not people’s saviour and I can rest in God instead of trying to change people out of my own strength. Most of all, I have found my true Father, companion, and family in Him and He meets all my needs. All praise and thanks be to our true Father!