Over the course of my life I’ve faced many challenges. Child abuse, a dysfunctional home, and an overly sensitive nature stacked the deck against me during my early years. But none of those difficulties affected me more than my ongoing struggle to discover who I truly am in Christ.
I was a shy child. Too eager to please, and awkward, I somehow swallowed the lie that I wasn’t worth much.
My early exposure to Christianity only exacerbated my inclination to believe that I had to prove myself to everybody, including God.
Early memories of Sunday School include endless sessions of trying and failing to measure up. I could never memorize enough scripture verses, or bring enough friends to class, or attend enough weeks in a row to receive the best prizes.
Outside of church the results were the same. Success and failure were determined by high expectations of myself. Everything had to be perfect; the way I looked and how I performed at home and at school. Inevitably, no matter how hard I tried… I failed.
I felt that I had failed every time…
- I looked in the mirror and saw my thin, wispy hair, and crooked teeth.
- Someone told me that I was too skinny or too tall.
- I got into trouble at home.
- I got less than 100 percent on my school work.
- I couldn’t accomplish something I set out to do.
When the abuse by my father began at age nine, I tried to hide, first under my blankets and when that didn’t work… in my mind. But no matter how I hid… evil found me.
The effects of abuse on my impressionable mind were unendurable. So, I stuffed them. I didn’t think about the nightmares of the night during the day. Somehow, I managed to continue believing that I was fine.
But the feelings of being unworthy followed me everywhere… All. The. Time.
Two pivotal events occurred when I was twelve. I re-dedicated my life to Jesus and I told my Mom what my father was doing to me. I don’t remember which came first, but I suspect it was my giving my heart to my Savior.
Either way, I believe that it was Jesus that opened my shuttered mind long enough for me to cry out for help by telling someone what was happening. The abuse then ended, for which I am forever grateful.
But by age fifteen, I had become consumed with hatred towards my father. While it was understandable, as he had never sought my forgiveness, the only one affected by my rage was myself.
Jesus spoke to my heart and told me that I need to repent of my hate and forgive my dad. By His grace I was able to do so. Jesus set me free from the power of an emotion I believe that, unchecked, would have destroyed me.
I went on to finish high school and marry my sweetheart. My husband is the man that God has used to help me heal in many ways. However, I didn’t realize that I still had deeply imbedded wounds that negatively affected my sense of worth.
In many ways I was still a broken, driven woman… who thought she was fine.
Because isn’t that what a good Christian should be? Always fine? Isn’t the point of being a believer to show the world how great your life is because you are saved? I thought it was.
I was convinced that it was my job to live a victorious, overcoming, always-joyous, Christian life, and that anything less than that brought dishonor to the name of Jesus. So I spent decades performing… always trying to be what I thought I was supposed to be.
When trying to be perfect becomes your default for living… you’re not really living.
At some point I began to believe in the performance. I became the actor with a part to play and forgot who I was… until Jesus confronted me again.
This time I was a tired, depressed woman in her forties. Life’s circumstances had beaten me down and I couldn’t keep the everything’s-fine-because-I’m-a-Christian banner flying high anymore.
My smile had collapsed, my hopes were destroyed, and I was weary of faking a peace I didn’t have.
Realizing that scared me, and eventually… made me angry. I didn’t want to admit that I was mad because deep down, I knew that the person I was furious with… was God.
I thought that He had pushed me too far. I felt boxed in and helpless. And to this day I am grateful that He brought me to a place where I could finally see the truth..
Jesus had pushed me out of my comfort zone to face the fact that my way wasn’t working.
Since then, Jesus has shown me that there are many places in my heart that still cause me to view my world through the faulty reasonings of a hurting child. And when I am in pain I often resort to my old habit of hiding.
But I am learning that there is joy to be found in embracing the light of my Savior’s gaze. And as I do so, more and more I am realizing that my true worth is immense… because it comes from Him.
More About Wendy:
Wendy has been married to her high-school sweetheart, Patrick, for 39 amazing years. They have seven children and 19 grandchildren! Wendy home-schooled their kids, although that job is coming to an end soon as her youngest child, Mallory, is now a senior in high-school.
God has taken this formerly uptight, wounded, people-pleaser and set her free through the love and mercy of His son, Jesus Christ. As a result, Wendy writes to encourage others at her blog, Blessed Unravelling, where she has been writing since June of 2015.
In 2016, Wendy was diagnosed with breast cancer. This experience has added to burden she feels for those who have been wounded emotionally and spiritually. It is her hope that her testimony of God’s grace towards her will encourage others.
She can also be reached on, , and .