My Life With God: Going Into the Pit
(Photo by Jérôme Prax on Unsplash)
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
In my last post, I told you the most difficult years of my life were coming. But they didn't start right away. I got married the summer after college, in 1982, and my first prayer was answered. It was the happiest day of my life. I was marrying the man I loved and my best friend.
We soon joined a Navigators 2:7 Bible Study, and it became even more clear that I didn't have a personal relationship with God. Growing up and at college, I didn't think most people read their Bible or prayed regularly. I thought it was just something believers said you should do, but no one really did it. The people in the 2:7 study seemed to take their faith seriously though, and I began to question if I had been wrong before. Maybe believers really could have a relationship with God. I now had a new prayer: God, I want a relationship with you whatever it takes. But I still didn't get it. I prayed the prayer, but nothing changed. I guess I expected God to make Himself real to me without me having to do anything different. It didn't occur to me that God wanted me to spend time with Him.
During our first year of marriage, my dad was asked to step down from being a pastor. I took it harder than anyone, and my dad told me I should stay at the church until I had forgiven the head pastor. But I was angry and resentful, and I couldn't forgive him. I began praying a third prayer: God, don't let anyone be saved when this pastor preaches. It's hard to admit, even to myself, that I would pray this way, and I believe I opened myself up to the demonic at this time. I had an anger deep inside, but again, I didn't let anyone see it.
In 1985, our first child was born, and things seemed relatively good. A year and a half later, I was pregnant again. I wanted four children, and we were halfway there. My second prayer was being answered. At first, I was happy, but two months into the pregnancy, something changed. I lost interest in life and found myself sleeping too much. One day I opened my Bible and read, "I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity" (Jer 29:11-14). I had never heard these verses before and was astonished to read them. Was God speaking these verses to me? I soon forgot about it though. When our second son was born, things got worse. Two innocent little boys had a mom who had little interest in them or in anything. I tried to maintain a semblance of life, and no one really knew what was happening. I started abusing them...mainly neglect, and outbursts of anger, but sometimes I would hit my two-year-old. I was convinced he was out to get me. When he wanted a hug and would tell me he loved me, I would push him away and tell him he didn't love me. It still makes me cry when I think about what I did.
My husband started building our house and was home even less than before. I was barely hanging on, but still, no one knew. Since I was a stay at home mom, I had a lot of time alone with the kids. And most the time I slept or watched TV. But I could see what I was doing and felt powerless to change it. One day I was talking on the phone to a girl who told me about a Christian day hospital I could go to. The thought gave me hope, and after a month or so, I was accepted.
I spent six weeks at the hospital in August/September 1989, where I was able to face what I was doing to the kids. I learned that I was unaware of my feelings, so time was spent exploring how I felt at any given time. I was put on medication and given a prescription for a year in which time I had to find a doctor. I had to get a part-time job before I could go home for good. Mainly two good things came out of my time there: I learned new ways to deal with my anger, and the medication let me function. Unfortunately, I still didn't understand what God had to do with any of this.
The physical abuse stopped, and I began to feel better. I found a Christian counselor and lived for the sessions where I could talk. Someone was listening, and I liked that. I got a job as a cashier, and it was okay for a while, but some days were hard. I would start crying in the middle of the shift and not be able to stop. At the same time, I began fantasizing about one of my co-workers and imagined him wanting to have an affair with me. I did the same thing with a guy at church. I honestly believed I was seeing things correctly, and when I was wrong about both of them, I didn't understand.
When my year's subscription was up, I thought I was well enough to go off my medication. I didn't even finish my pills that last month. Within two weeks, I was obsessed with dying. I didn't think it would be fair to my family to kill myself and leave them behind, so I continuously thought about putting a bomb in the car and killing us all. But I didn't have the energy to figure out what I would need to do. One Saturday evening, I got upset with my husband about something to do with our dog and spent the night in the basement on the concrete floor. I decided I would end it the next day. I told my husband I didn't feel well enough to go to church and it would be a nice break if he would take the kids and go without me. After they left, I took the rest of my meds, called a girl I had worked with (because in my mind that's what one did before ending their life), and then I laid down to die. Instead, within a short time, I was being pulled from my bed and given something to make me throw up. I was taken to the hospital and put on suicide watch.
After a couple of days, I was put in a room with another girl. We talked about our families, and I learned she wanted to go to church. By the time I left the hospital, my husband had agreed to try another church and take her with us. In the meantime, I found out her family was dealing in the occult, and she told me stories that sounded like movies I had only heard about. On top of that, another girl in the hospital asked me if I was a Christian. When I told her Yes and asked how she knew, she said she could just tell. We became friends even after I left the hospital. But while we were in the hospital, she sometimes sat on my bed with me and hugged me for long periods of time. It was uncomfortable, but I thought it was what she needed. She also wanted to come to church with me.
From there began an obsession with the dark side. I convinced myself Satan was more powerful than God. But for whatever reason (I know it was God), I couldn't give up my faith. I questioned it all the time and believed if God existed, He was cruel, but I kept going to church. I cried every week and hoped somebody would notice, but when no one did, I knew it was because I was still invisible. I was reading books by Neil Anderson and could only see how powerful demons were. In a fit of despair, I gave myself to Satan. Soon I was having demonic nightmares that were sexual in nature. They were awful, and I began to regret what I had done. All this time, I still wanted to die but had made a vow to God that I would never attempt suicide again. So I figured I had to live with it. And I did.
During this time, I joined a small group, but don't remember talking to anyone about what I was going through. Since everyone saw me as quiet, no one pried. It was exhausting! Finally, I reached out to the leader and asked if she would mentor me. She agreed. This was the beginning of coming out of the pit, but it would be a long road. In my next post, I will share some thoughts and insights into what I gained later about these dark days, and then I will continue my story in a later post.
Let me end this time by telling you God was always there even though I didn't recognize Him. I may have got banged up a bit when I passed through the rivers of difficulty, but I did not drown. The fire was unable to burn me up no matter how hot it got. That was because God was with me, and He was protecting me. He is my Savior!