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I would like to welcome you as we kick off our second series, Stories of Overcoming Adversity. Luisa Rodriguez has written the very first post in this series. Her topic is how to heal from abuse and she offers three strong solutions to healing. So please, let’s share her lots of love. You’ll catch her bio and website info at the end of the post. Without further ado, I present…Luisa!
When I look back at my life, in many ways, I should have been a statistic. Honestly, based on my circumstances, I don’t think people would have given me much of a chance to “succeed.” I had all the cards stacked up against me, except one. But that one card was the one that mattered. That one card gave me the tools to learn how to overcome adversity.
A Childhood Full of Pain
Much of the adversity that I have faced as an adult is a result from the struggles and suffering that I went through as a child. I am not going to go into every detail of the things I lived through. There is just too much to write. But here are a few “highlights”:
—I was sexually abused by a teenage boy before the age of three.
—I immigrated to the United States under very stressful circumstances when I was very young (my mom was running away from my grandmother and father.)
—My little sister was kidnapped by my mom’s second husband and I would not see her again for another 16 years.
—I was kidnapped by my biological father around the age of 5 or 6 and taken back to my native country. I was sent to live with my not-so-nice grandmother (I am being diplomatic).
—Around the age of 8 I went back to the US to live with my mom and her new husband.
—By the age of 13, I was depressed, suicidal, and self-cutting.
—Poverty, alcoholism, neglect, and rejection were all part of my “normal” life.
I will not say that my entire childhood was bad. I do have some sweet memories and in hindsight I can see how hard my parents tried. They themselves were victims of abuse and were dealing with their own pain. Their childhoods were much worse than mine and they both suffered under the hands of cruel parents. However, when I was in the midst of the suffering, all I could see was my own pain and I couldn’t see theirs nor have much compassion for them.
The Place Where Healing Began
My saving grace was Jesus. That was the turning point in my life. It was the first time I began to experience true love. But the process to overcome so much trauma and to heal from abuse would take years and in many ways, I am still fighting that fight. Without Jesus, however, I would have never begun to heal in the first place and only through Him was I able to find the mechanisms to slowly come out of it.
The trauma affected me well into my adult years even though by that time I was already a Christian. As I think through how exactly I came to be where I am today—happily married, financially stable, and part of a very loving family and extended family—there were three important things I learned to do. Confess. Forgive. Release.
Confession to heal from abuse
When adversity is mostly the result of pain inflicted on you by others, confession seems to be a weird thing to ask people to do. It certainly wasn’t my fault that I was abused at three years old. But the abuse awakened sexual desires in me that led to sexual sin later on (you can read my full story on overcoming sexual abuse here.) I had to confess that sexual sin. It wasn’t my fault that my parents neglected me as a child, but I later learned that my condescending views of them was wrong and I needed to confess that.
So regardless of what you are going through, confess, confess, confess. Self-evaluate and scrutinize your own heart and thoughts and confess it to a trust-worthy friend or group. It’s especially important to confess to the Lord, Jesus. I truly believe that confession is a spiritually powerful action that releases the Enemy’s stronghold on you and leads to inner-healing.
James 5:16 ESV “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
Forgiveness to heal from abuse
Forgiveness shatters the Enemy’s plans against you. Forgiving someone that hurt you is hard to do, but it is an incredibly powerful tool. I had to forgive my sexual abuser, my parents, step-parents, grandparents and every person that caused me pain. Forgiveness is not always a one time thing and you are done. Sometimes I continually have to forgive people daily as negative thoughts begin to want to take hold. The alternative, however, is bitterness.Confess, Forgive and Release are the 3 keys to healing from abuse. #overcomingchallenges #GodHeals Click To Tweet
Bitterness can wreak havoc in your life if you don’t nip it in the bud. It will make any bad situation worse and you will be in a constant state of turmoil. Forgiveness frees you from that and allows you to begin to see the positives in your life, even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Colossians 3:13 ESV ……… “as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Release to heal from abuse
Finally, there is release. Release your life and your circumstances into God’s hands through prayer. Yes, there is an element of blind faith here which goes against our nature to want to fix our own problems. But the truth is, there are problems out there that only God can fix. They are too impossible for us to deal with.
I had no money to go to college but I had to release that to God. Somehow I received over $120,000 in aid to go to one of the best colleges in the nation. It was quite a big miracle for an immigrant kid and a ticket out of poverty for me.
When we release, we give God the chance to do great things in our lives. Sometimes that will manifest itself in prayers being answered miraculously and sometimes it will just be the strength to endure. In my adult years, I have experienced both unanswered prayers where I received the strength to see me through and I also experienced miraculous answers that only an ever-powerful God could orchestrate. But in either case, peace only came after I released my problems to Him.
Philippians 4:6 ESV “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Overcoming Adversity Prepares You for the Next Season of Struggle
The continuous process of confessing, forgiving, releasing has led to healed relationships with people that at one point I thought I could never forgive. People that were the cause of my pain many years before, have now become strong anchors that help to encourage me when I go through new seasons of struggle. It is a beautiful thing. My life is much fuller now because of them.
Although I am currently in a welcomed break from adversity, I do know that in the Christian walk that can be very short-lived. You never know when the Enemy will attack or when God himself wants to refine you in the furnace of affliction to make you stronger. Either way, I walk forth confidently knowing that each and every struggle has equipped me to face the next one head on because He has taught me how to confess, forgive, and release to heal from abuse. He is always there with me and will always be there with you!
Luisa Rodriguez left a professional career in national security to be a full-time mom and wife. She now uses her research and writing skills to encourage and help empower women to live out their callings. You can read more of her work at FruitfullyLiving.
I hope you enjoyed the first of my series, Stories of Overcoming Adversity. For other stories in our series, check out my compilation post, Powerful and Inspiring Stories of Overcoming Adversity. Check back monthly for more additions to this series. In the meantime, please enjoy other posts with the overcoming challenges theme.