Lisa HildenbrandI grew up in a Christian home, with both parents who were really active in our church. We were a so called “normal” family. My life at home was full of secrets. I was told to keep to myself and keep quiet. I kept those secrets for the first 21 years of my life. One of those secrets I feel free to share is that I was molested daily by my father for the first 7 years of my life. I never told anyone because I was bribed with toys and expensive gifts to keep me quiet. As a child I didn’t know it was wrong because that had always been part of my life. When I was 7 my parents separated, so the molestation only occurred every other week when I visited my father. It wasn’t until middle school that I learned that what my father was doing was wrong. I felt dirty, embarrassed, guilty, and ashamed. I stopped seeing my father and locked those secrets away. I became very angry with men, especially God.

In middle school my mother met my step father and we moved to Texas to live with him. I could not control my childhood or moving in with a new step father but I could control what I ate. I became an anorexic for the next 10 years. I tolerated my step-dad but never allowed myself to get close to him. High school rolled around and I met my first boyfriend. I wasn’t taught any appropriate boundaries with boys so when I was 14 I lost my virginity. I knew it was wrong because I grew up in a Christian home but I craved the attention boys gave me. My father never showed me love so I sought it in the boys I dated. When I was 15 I found myself pregnant. I miscarried that baby not long after I found out. I kept that secret buried away for years as well. While in high school I found myself drinking a lot, attending parties and hanging out with the wrong crowd. Because of my past I was very flirtatious with boys. I was raped 3 times during my high school years. I never told anyone about my rapes. While in high school I attended youth group at my church but never felt a connection to God. I was mad at him for my childhood, my miscarriage and my rapes. When I was 18 I started fighting a lot with my parents. I decided to move to Indiana with my boyfriend and attend college. I was living in sin with him but we both were really involved in a church college group. I began to hear stories of how God changed people’s lives. I thought there is no way God could change me I’m too big of a sinner.

A year after moving to Indiana I met Joe, the man who would become my husband. We were best friends for about 2 years before we started dating. We started getting serious and in July of 2001 we found out I was pregnant. I thought, “Oh no, Lord please don’t take this baby too!” Every time I started to get close to God something bad would happen and push me farther away from Him. I went to my college pastor to seek counsel about my pregnancy and he told me to leave the youth group because I’d be a bad influence on the other girls. Joe and I didn’t attend church for a long time because of that. I was so angry with God, but yet He never left me. Because I was still struggling with anorexia I was told that I was going to loose my baby if I didn’t start eating again. On March 1, 2002 God blessed us with a 7lb14oz baby girl. I knew that I wanted to raise my daughter in a Christian family but I knew that would be difficult because my husband was Catholic and I was Baptist. Joe and I church hopped for a few years but never realized our need for God. We had a son in 2005, but were struggling in our marriage. We lived life but were not happy.

In May of 2006 I lost my mom to cancer. My mom was one of my best friends. Once again another reason to be angry at God. In 2007 a friend invited us to Church for vacation bible school. We attended and never left. There was just something about this church that I couldn’t explain. I started to hear and feel God pulling at my heart. Joe and I started to get more involved in church. Joe realized his need for a relationship with God and he gave his life to Christ. I was happy for him at first. I had said a litter prayer when I was 9 years old so I wouldn’t go to hell so I believed that was enough. Not long after Joe’s salvation I started to resent his happiness. I became angry and bitter. I wanted to feel the same way about God but I couldn’t get passed the anger to accept Him.

In 2011 Joe and I were asked to go to youth camp as chaperones. I immediately said no, because I thought I’m not a good enough Christian. We went to camp and it was definitely an eye opener. I felt the presence of God for the first time. I was scared, I started to feel like I wasn’t good enough for God. A friend could see that I was struggling that week at camp so she asked me if I was struggling with my salvation. I told her no because I said that prayer when I was a child. After camp I just couldn’t get God out of my head. I became angry and scared of actually committing to Him that I stopped attending church for a few weeks. One night I attended youth group because I had become a youth group leader and was trying to get back into church. Another leader was sharing their testimony on how God changed their lives and I wanted that so bad but just didn’t want to let Him in. I couldn’t get that thought out of my head that night so after getting home from church I shared my feelings with Joe. For the first time ever in my life I shared to him that I needed God and wanted a relationship with Him. So on March 21,2012 I gave my life to Christ. Since then I’ve been working on developing that close relationship with God. It hasn’t been easy, but He’s never left my side. Because I have that relationship with God I know what real love is. I am able to love my husband, my children and love the ones who hurt me most. Not too long ago my father called me and asked for forgiveness. Because I have the love of Christ now I was able to forgive him and let go of all that anger. My father passed away in December of 2012. I am so glad I was able to forgive him so I could move on. My walk with Christ will always be a journey because where He leads me I will follow.

Lisa Hildenbrand
Evansville, IN

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