Today I’m thankful to welcome Bethany Looyenga, sharing her beautiful story of redemption.
My recovery from abuse has taught me many things about God. I have learned that He was there in the beginning, and I know that He will be there in the end.
I grew up in an abusive legalistic home with my mother and three older brothers. Throughout my life one of those brothers was a constant assailant to my third brother and me. I knew from a young age that I was shame. With each touch of my mother’s hand and the heaviness of my brother’s leg, the shame only grew.
I developed ways to deal with abuse, memory loss, depression, isolation, dissociation, eating disorders.
My mother slept her days away with the help of prescription drugs—yet still insisted that I keep her company at night.
My soul was numb and dead. I longed to be loved. I rebelled at God, and I did not believe He loved me.
I continued my downward spiral of isolation, self-destruction, and disassociation, and at the age of 19 I married. Two years later we had our first child, triggering my rapid descent into a world of uncontrollable fears, rebellions, and emotional despair.
One day, out of utter desperation I asked God to intervene. I asked Him to take away the voices in my head. For as long as I could remember there had been noise and torment in my head. Dark, destructive voices told me to cut myself, to run.That night I went to bed, and I had a dream.
I was walking in a dark forest, alone. I stumbled along, tripping on the thick roots that poked through the forest floor. As I approached the center of the woods, a bright light shone through the trees, and two large, strong hands came down and picked me up out of the darkness into the light.
When I awoke, my head was quiet.
One day, God finally convicted me that I was still not trusting either Him or His body.
I tried to rationalize away these convictions, but God began to reveal to me how He is a God of mercy and grace. I needed to find someone besides my husband to start trusting. I was not to run, not to go “numb”—just tell my story to someone who would listen with a godly heart while I stayed emotionally present.God brought a woman into my life that was willing to listen to my story.My battle was learning to look at what happened to me and not to disappear. God has continually challenged me to draw back the curtains of my past and to speak about as much as I could remember—trusting that as I brought those things into the light, they would lose their power over me as He assured me that He was redeeming me and not condemning me.
God has forgiven me and leads me to His mercy seat every day. When the enemy comes against me, I will remain clothed in Jesus Christ my Armor of Light. He has won the battle! The truth has set me free!