You were supposed to protect me

Many years ago while I was living back in California There was a child abuse case that had me enraged. I was not personally involved in it but as I read the newspaper article I could not believe who had been abusing these children. A C.P.S. worker whose job was to transport these children had been molesting children who were already victims of abuse during transport. This man who was supposed to be a protector had victims literally dropped into his lap. Though he was convicted he received a sentence that shocked me on how short it was and was being released to live in my neighborhood. As I read this article I remember my mother to telling me I needed to stop reading the news because it upset me too much.

The outrage was not mine alone neighbors were afraid of having a sex offender who victimized children in their neighborhood. This man was supposed to protect these already traumatized children. It was his job. He was a first responder to emergency situations where children had to be immediately removed from homes. In my eyes this man is a monster who preyed on the weak and injured. I could not believe that after being convicted this man was given such a light sentence which seemed to be not much more than a slap on the wrist.

So after all these years why write about it now? To be honest I do not know what brought this back to my mind. He was not the one who had abused me. Yet the memory of this incident is fresh in my mind today. There are so many children in the world today who are being abused in one way or another. Who is protecting them? Who is fighting for them? Thankfully there are some groups who are doing this but they are limited in what they can do. They can’t prevent what is being done and are not able to know about victims until it is too late fro some.

Those who are in the homes and lives of these children are the first line of defense.  Yet how many times is a blind eye turned. People do not want to get involved and even worse when one parent knows what is going on but does nothing. What are these children supposed to think? Who can they trust? What happens to them? How does this effect the person they grow up to be?

T.D. Jakes made a movie Woman Thou Art Loosed that was based on a woman who had been sexually abused as a child and how as an adult it was still effecting her life. Tyler Perry’s movie, Family Reunion included a story of one of the daughters who had not only been molested by her stepfather the mother even groomed her daughter for her husband. How unfortunate that even though these movies are fictional they are based on things that happen in real life. Real victims who have people in their lives who turn their backs on them. People who could stop the pain and suffering. Parents, family, friends, care takers, and neighbors to name those who are closest to these children. For what ever reason they do not get involved they do nothing to protect these children. Yet these same people turn and blame God not realizing that God wanted to work through them, to use them to protect and defend. In the movie, The Encounter, there is a scene that I remember vividly. In this scene a teenage girl who had been sexually abused by her stepfather was yelling at Jesus asking Him where was He? His response has stuck with me. He said, ‘I was there yelling into his ear to stop’ but because of free will, all He could do was plead with her stepfather. Yes God is powerful enough to stop us in our tracks but He does not because of the gift of free will. Something He won’t give to just one and deny another. We are His hands and feet. He wants us to take action to be watchmen and guards who protect.

Ephesians 6:4 ESV  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

John 17:15 ESV  I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.

I grew up believing my mother left me to my father who had abused her and then becoming the one he abused. Angry that she had left me behind only to save herself. Unfortunately it was only six years ago that I learned she had to make a sacrifice that she never spoke of. After one very horrifying act against my mother, he threatened her with me and my brother. Making it clear that if she did not leave us with him and give him custody I would not be alive today. There were relatives of his that knew what he was doing yet did nothing and even let me believe the terrible things he said to me about her. Even to this day they defend him. As I grew up my mother even let me speak any disrespectful words about him around her. She did not defend herself either. I am only sorry that we had only began to heal our relationship before she died suddenly of a massive stroke. I am still heartbroken that t took a tragedy inflected upon me by my stepmother and father to reveal what was done to her, how much of my life was wasted being angry at her and the guilt and shame she lived with so I could still be alive today. She couldn’t stop him from hurting me but she did keep me alive and for this I will be forever grateful. I know this is just a small piece of my life. At least I can say now I know she did her best to protect me. (I love and miss you Momma.)

 

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I Fell In Love!!!

I have fallen in love. I never knew that I could do this. Love seemed to be a fairy tale that only lived in the imagination. The funny thing is that the one who I have fallen in love with has been in my life all along and still loves me. They have definitely seen me at the worst parts of my life. They at times without my knowledge kept me from being harmed. They never even pointed out what they had done but was content in knowing that I was safe. They never demanded my time but sat quietly on the sidelines of my life watching me with loving eyes.

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I lived my life as a grew from a rebellious teenager into a strong willed adult. Yes life had not been fair to me I lived through abuse, physical, sexual and emotional most of my life. I was angry and bitter. I wanted love but all I knew was hate. I hated my self for being weak. I hated what was done to me. I looked for comfort in the arms of those who would never love me and who would eventually hurt me more than any comfort I thought I had found being with them. I tried to escape my mind through drugs and parties.

Yes many thought of me as kind and giving. A caring person. I believe this was true because I wanted to be loved so badly that I would give all that I had in hope of kindness to be returned. Unfortunately the more I gave the more I was used and the more bitter my heart became. Yet in the shadows f the dark world I lived in he silently waited for me to turn my attention to him.

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I even found religion and began changing my behavior to fit in with the rest that I went to church with. Though my outward appearance had changed and my speech was cleaned up it was only a play that I was performing in even if I had not realized that was all i was doing. I thought I was living a better life. My heart and mind were still filled with angry bitter and unforgiving thoughts. I would eventually get hurt by those I went to church with. I married a man he had come to my church. I thought he was perfect. It did not take long for my eyes to be opened to who he really was. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. When the abuse and the cheating happened I was then blamed. They told me it was my fault because if I had been a better Christian wife he would never have to do what he was doing.

Yet even while this was going on he was sending people to me to tell me about his love. I did n’t know it but he was there every time my husband had sent me to the ER. He had even listened to my prayer. I had been asking God for six month that if He knew my husbands heart would change and the abuse would stop, that I would forgive my husband and be the wife He wanted me to be. If however my husband was going to be the end of my life to free me as only God could. The answer came back in September 1996. My husband left me. I was free. I would like to say that this is when I found my true love but like I have said my love had always been there I just did not know he was there waiting for me.

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I went on with my life filled with bags of hate, regret, unforgiveness, blame,resentment, bitterness, and rage to name a few of the things I had kept packed away in my heart. In all of this he still loved me. Unbelievable I know. He never forced his will upon me, and never made any demands. I slowly traveled the road that would eventually take me to a place where I could unload some of this baggage. As my load got lighter my heart began to soften as he chiseled away at my hardened heart.

He was in my heart and I did not know it. He often spoke to me but I had not known it was him. Yet those gentle words had soaked deep into my heart and were waiting for me to break free. You see I had not realized that I had become a prisoner of my own making. There may not have been bars of a jail cell but I had built walls around me and had allowed my self to harden so that I could survive in this world.

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Yet know matter how far away from him that I tried to run he was always there. Yet when I looked around all I could see was the pain inflected upon me and the mess I was making of my own life. The guilt and shame I felt made me feel unworthy of being able to be loved. I was so foolish. Yet as I kept walking on my path through this life he had not only been walking with me. He was guiding me with unseen hands. When I wanted to end it all he lifted me up and gave me the strength to take another step. Then another. Then one day I turned around and I could see him there in all of his glory. He loved me! I was loved. No guilt or condemnation, just love at its’ best. Then I let myself fall into his arms and felt his arms wrap around me. He cleansed me and took my filthy clothes and gave me clean garments. He received me into his family and made me a daughter of the true King. I finally fell in love with the One who has loved me all along.

 

Runaway A Testimony

The first time I ran away from home I was 13 years old.  We were going to move so friend I went to school with wanted to spend one last day together having fun. So we ditched the last couple of classes. We didn’t do much, went to an arcade on Woodman Ave. Then we hung out a friend’s house. The next day we were all called into the principal’s office. I was terrified of my father and had asked to take the paddle instead of him calling my father. He called my father and I was too afraid to go home. I didn’t know where to go but I was too afraid to go home. My father was an angry man and he terrified me. I wandered around with a friend Wendy until she had to go home. Now a new fear took over where would I go? I had nowhere to go so I cried as I walked back home. It was not the home coming of the prodigal son, but I lived.

Life did not get much better after we moved. Oh we had all the physical comforts a nice home, plenty of food, but living in fear takes its toll on anyone. Never knowing when something you may do innocent or not is going to set off the volcanic anger of my father. I ran away again, and again. When I was close to turning 16 I had gotten into a fight with my father. I could not believe myself. Standing up to my father was something that you did not do. I was dragged and beaten into our home. I cussed at him for the first time in my life to his face. I tried to keep him from opening the closet where he kept a paddle He had made from a 1’x4′ and 2ft. long board that he used to spank me with. I failed. The board came out and I tried to hide behind my stepmother. He yelled at me and the board was used like a baseball bat and my head was the ball. I was down on my knees when he was about to swing again and I was literally saved by the bell. The phone rang and it stopped him. My step mother had done nothing, but what do you expect from a woman who has blamed you for all the problems of her marriage. Who said’ ‘If you didn’t exist I could be happy with your father.’ (Sorry I was a part of his life before she was.) After this incident I ran away again. This time I was not so quick to going back home. I bounced around from one friends couch to another. I even got my first job at Chuck E. Cheese, while still going to school. I managed to live like this for over a month until the school notified the authorities, No charges were brought against my father and thanks for a friend’s mother I did not have to return home for a while. Yet no matter how many times I left my father’s home and no matter the reason I kept returning.

So why I am I sharing a couple of my run away stories? They had come back to my mind and they made me think about people in the Bible who had run away and why. Hagar ran away when Sarah became jealous and hateful. David ran away when King Saul wanted to kill him. Elijah ran and hid in a cave when Jezebel was having God’s prophets killed. Jonah also tried to runaway when God had told him to go to Nineveh. All had their reasons to run. So this was one thing I had in common with these people. The other common ground I shared with them was we all returned.

Life is not easy for any of us. It is definitely harder for some than others. It can be even be terrifying. Of course life can be filled with joy and hope. I do not know what you may be running from and you may have a very good reason to do so but just like God met Hagar in the dessert and found Jonah in the sea. He can meet you where ever you are. Find hope in the One who will never hurt you, but who loves you unconditionally. Even if you run away from Him He will come to find you and He loves you unconditionally.

Look up scriptures on people who ran away in the Bible

Hagar – Genesis 16:6-9- (NKJV) So Abram said to Sarai, “Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.” And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence. 7 Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.” 9 The Angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.”  (Read Genesis chapter 16)

David – 1 Samuel 21:10 (NKJV)   Then David arose and fled that day from before Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath.

1 Samuel 22:1 (NKJV)  David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. So when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him.

Read 1 Samuel chapters 21-24

Elijah –  1 Kings 19:3-4 (NKJV) 3 And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” 5 Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel[a] touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 And the angel[b] of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” 8 So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” (Read  1Kings chapter 9)

Jonah –  Jonah 1:3 (NKJV) 3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. (Read the book of Jonah)

 

Questions

Can you name of others in the Bible who ran away?

 

Have you ever run away?

 

If you did, did you return to what or where you ran from?

 

Are you running away from anyone or anything?

Continuing to make changes in me (Words)

Proverbs 18:21 ESV Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
A few years back I had come to realize that my speech was ugly and hateful. I had so much anger and resentment over the abuse and wrong doings that had happened to me, I was allowing it to control my behavior. I always felt the need to protect myself and the slightest wrong would allow me to justify to myself, giving me a reason to retaliate. I did not have the physical ability to do harm but the words that came out of my mouth were as damaging as any physical damage a person could do. I had no intention of forgiving those who had hurt me. Then one day I heard the words spewing out of my mouth like lava from a volcano and realized that it did not matter how long ago I asked Jesus into my life, I had not learned to forgive as I had been forgiven. If I did not learn how to forgive all the hatred and bitterness of forgiveness would destroy me and anyone I cared about. I learned that forgiveness was not an emotion that I needed to feel, but an action I had to take, so that I might find peace. I started keeping a journal and decided that I had to change how I spoke. Going to church alone was not going to make the necessary changes I needed to make. So every day I had to make the decision to speak words of life, encouragement, healing, praise and thanksgiving. This was not an easy task, and I failed many times, but I wrote down my failures keeping myself accountable. When I blew it and let anger or any other negative emotion raise it’s ugly head and spoke harsh and hateful words, I confessed to Jesus, repenting and giving Him thanks for His grace. I also knew that I could not do this on my own, so I searched His Word and submitted myself to His will. I knew the days of demanding my own way had to come to an end. I am no where near perfect but I am thankful that He is transforming me into a woman that is pleasing to Him, and that it is His Word that gives me the direction that I need,
A few of the scriptures I have focused on are
Proverbs 18:21, Proverbs 15:4, Psalm 141:3, Psalm 34:13
1Peter 3:10, the book of James, but some specific verses are 1:26,
and 3:2-10. Search the scriptures for yourself, because there are so many more than these few. God can change you if you allow Him to.

Broken and Torn

Broken and torn
Never again to be worn
Black and blue
is not my best hue
Trust is broken
Empty words spoken
Eyes
Vacant
Empty
No cure
No longer pure
Damaged beyond repair
there is no hope here
No one can help
what is done is done
My life is gone
heart pumps
blood flows cold
never to grow old
broken and torn
Never again to be worn

© By sheppaja On 6/9/2009 3:37:09 PM

I had written this poem a while back while I was still dealing with the aftermath of an abusive marriage. The view I had of myself only mirrored how I had been treated. From childhood into becoming an adult I had been abused. I kept finding myself in bad relationships, only two had actually been physically abusive but the others still did their damage. I didn’t realize it at that time that I had for most of my life felt I deserved what happened to me. Abuse warps the way we think and how we look at ourselves. We live in in fear and doubt plagues our minds, we are prisoners in our own minds. What has helped me to stop this way of existing(I call it existing because you are not truly living when you live like that) was Jesus reaching out to me. Through His Word He told me who I am to Him, and who I am to Him. He taught me my life had purpose, and it wasn’t to be anyone’s punching bag(verbally or physically). He has a better life for me. Yes I still have troubles and face trials and temptation but I have Jesus to walk with me each day no matter what the day holds. When I look into the mirror using His eyes I see a better person than who I used to think I was. I have a lesson that is good for anyone who has doubt, unbelief in themselves, feels they deserve to be treated poorly,,this list can go on and on but the point of the lesson is to transform how you see yourself to how God sees you. I had titled the lesson self portraits. I will find it and post it and hope that it will help anyone who looks at themselves the way I used to look at myself. The freedom I found in letting the love of Jesus into my heart has definitely changed me for the better. Yes I still have bad days and get down on myself but now I don’t stay down because He is always there to lift me up. If you feel broken and torn turn to Jesus and let Him in. Look for my lesson, “Self Portraits”, hopefully it won’t take me too long to find.

His Words

My head is aching
and my vison is blurred
what was it that he said
that knocked me to my knees
The pain I feel
will it ever heal?
How could he be so cruel?
How could I be such a fool?
He could have struck me with his fist
and it would hurt much less than this
Not with a sword or with a knife
but with a word he cut deep
No blow has ever left me so low
Bruises fade and bones mend
but with his words
he hurt me without end

Julie Sheppard

The Bible tells us that the power of life and death are held in the tongue. You can speak words of life. These are words that give comfort, encouragement, hope, healing, and peace just to name a few. Then there are words that cut deeper than a knife, they stir up anger, cause pain,  are destructive to name the negative power words can have. Emotional and mental abuse can destroy a person and have lasting effects on the abused. A person doesn’t need to be hit and have bruises or broken bones to be abused. The abuse starts with words. Words however can heal those wounds. I have found healing in scripture. Reading God’s words has given me comfort and healing from the damage of abusive words, as both a person who was on the receiving and giving end. For I have been forgiven by Jesus for every hurtful and hateful word I had previously spoken before I learned this lesson. I am hoping other will learn before they have done damage that cannot be undone.

Damaged Goods

I have a collection of poetry that I wrote sometime back. These do not reflect my current situation or how I feel today. I feel that sharing these will hopefully help someone who is struggling with depression and low self worth due to abuse of any nature. The scars abuse leaves do not dictate where you are going but are a map that shows how far you have come. God will use what was done to me to help reach others and do good. He did not cause the pain, but He healed me through Jesus.

Damaged Goods written by Julie Sheppard

Damaged goods that is what I am
Broken beyond repair
But then again
Does anyone really care?
I see the stares
but they do not look at me
just what they want me to be
I am nothing to them
but someone to bed
To call when they need some
but then leave me lonesome
tears no longer flow
I am no longer whole
Just a complete disgrace
I see it in the looks upon their face
I just stare off into space
why should I care
I am not really here
Cold metal pressed against my neck
scars my arm with a small nick
Burns on my wrist
No true loves kiss
Just beaten and broken
Damaged goods
I am broken beyond repair
There is no hope for me here