*Disclaimer: I would rate this version of my testimony as PG and encourage any young people who read this to discuss it, as you feel led to, with a parent or trusted adult. I have forgiven those who hurt me in my past and consider them equal to me in falling victim to Satan. Despite Satan, I have matured toward Christ through each of the following situations. I have denied God the use of my testimony for too many years, now. Any comments calling out names or demeaning anyone’s character for their past actions will not be approved.
No one can serve two masters at the same time. You will hate one of them and love the other. Or you will be faithful to one and dislike the other. You can’t serve God and money at the same time.
Matthew 6:24 NIrV
I hate Satan. My hate for him has grown with my understanding of who he is. Satan has been after me my whole life. My existence came from sin. The beauty of that is that I know God was after me my whole life, first. God took a situation, a sinful act between two people, and brought a blessing from it. I’m not saying I’m special or putting myself on any kind of pedestal. All I know is that my mother was in the middle of an intense battle of spiritual warfare when God created me. In the midst of confusion, guilt, pain, and a series of sinful relationships, my mother discovered, simultaneously, that she had miscarried one child but still carried another: me. As a child, I never could have imagined the impact that Larz’s (my twin) brief existence would have on my life. Mostly, it’s the realization of how different my life would have been had he survived. Though I miss him and find myself longing for the kind of relationship I missed out on, the kind I see in my own children, I thank God for sparing my brother from this world: from a world of spiritual warfare, where a great majority of people are in complete denial of the God who created and loves us and of the armor He has given us to rise above the enemy.
I hate Satan. Like I said, he’s been after me my whole life. I love God. He’s been after me my whole life. From my first breath, I’ve had a choice to make. When I became of age to make that choice, I was afraid to. Satan makes his way of life look so alluring. But the fact is, his “way of life” ends in death; not sleeping-peacefully-in-a-coffin-covered-with-pretty-flowers death, but burning-eternally-in-the-pits-of-hell-finally-knowing-all-the-things-you-wished-to-know-and-regretting-every-moment-of-your-God-given-life death. The facts were lain before me, and God sent the invitation. The details of that glorious day lie in another blog which I’ve yet to publish, but when I was 9 years old, I vowed to serve God. No longer was Satan the master of my life. So why did/do I continue to live my life in constant spiritual warfare?
I hate Satan. He was there when my mother made the incredibly difficult decision to lie to me about where the other half of my DNA came from (even though she was unsure, herself). He knew just the perfect time to introduce me to my dad (the one who adopted and financially supported me; the one who encouraged the “lie” of my life) when my little brain was just starting to form memories. Satan was there when my older cousin sexually abused me; and he filled my little toddler brain with a secret fascination with sex, as well as a constant sense of shame for feeling that way. He was there when a male schoolmate pretended to commit sexual acts with me in the classroom; he was with the teacher who never questioned what was going on behind those desks; he was there when another male schoolmate became obsessed with slapping my butt. When God gave me the courage to request a classroom change, Satan reminded me of my shameful past and convinced me that I had to lie to my mom and principal in order to keep my secret. So, all I told them was that a boy in my class hit me. Again, Satan was there at all the sleep-overs filled with sexual games and porn; and, he was there when I lied to my mother about it. God’s power is greater, still.
I love God. Remember the courage He gave me to request a class change? The request was granted. In my new class, I made a new friend. She invited me to church for a Wednesday night service. It was a Baptist church. There was food. When I got home, I told my mom we HAD to go back because someone had made the most amazing Mexican Bean Casserole. We did. And we continued to go. This church sent their children and youth to camp every summer. I went one week, and God had certainly captured my attention. This encampment offered two other camps that I could go to, so I spent nearly half my summer there. My timeline may not be exactly correct, but I believe it was two years later that I had my “walking on water” experience (spiritually speaking). I felt that infamous “tugging” feeling; the things I had been learning over the past few years were sinking in and making sense. “Lord, is it you? [LaRaye] asked. “If it is, tell me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14: 28 NIrV) Jesus personally invited me, in the midst of my sexual immorality, lies, guilt, confusion, and pain. Love wins. I chose my master. I chose to put on the yoke of Jesus. So why did/do I continue to live my life in constant spiritual warfare?
I hate Satan. He knew he lost the battle of my soul. But, he still did not give up on trying to use me against God’s mission. He wants to give Christians a bad reputation, to pin us as bigots or hypocrites. Satan continued to tempt me with sexual thoughts. He brought novels into my life which held explicit sexual scenes within their pages, leaving my pre-adolescent mind to wander where I knew it ought not to. With puberty, naturally, came stronger curiosity and desire. My home-life, lacking a strong spiritual leader, was a warzone (spiritually speaking) rather than a safe-haven. In the meantime, Satan entered my first home-church wearing lambs clothing and broke it to pieces. My family was among the ones who left. For a couple years, I tried to run/hide from God. I remember purposely sleeping late on Sundays to ensure that I had escaped any possibility of going to church. Every Sunday, God called. Every Sunday, I hid. As far as I can remember, we did not attend church for about three years. Not ironically, my parents moved my brother and I to private school for the duration of my “running.” It was a Catholic school. Though I did not accept the Catholic faith, God sneakily placed me there to surround me with His Word. I didn’t lose my faith when I quit attending church, but Satan surely tried to convince me that I did. An outcast amongst my Catholic peers, I could not wait to return to public school for my high school career.
Satan was there, too. But, he was not my master. I struggled with depression throughout my first half of 9th grade. I am a major introvert. I had no friends, at first. I could make perfect grades on tests, but barely scrape by with a C due to absences and incomplete homework assignments. My teachers showed great concern for me, but could I tell them that Satan was trying to ruin my life and, therefore, my testimony? No. I couldn’t tell them that Satan was trying to make a mockery out of my belief in Jesus. First of all, at that point, I didn’t understand what was going on with me. Secondly, I was still running. I find it so amazing, though, how God can take what Satan intends for evil and use it for His glory. I had many crushes throughout my junior high days, but they were all fleeting, including that one week-long relationship. I had this neighbor who would frequently ask me to church. Of course, I always “accidently” overslept. Lo and behold, my hormones would direct my attention to another individual who attended that same church. So, one Sunday, I heeded God’s urgency and took my neighbor-friend up on his invitation. Though I first attended the church for the attention of my crush (who would later become my first boyfriend), I was captured by God’s presence in that place, as well as the measures He went through to get me there.
I hate Satan. Have I mentioned that? With all my (hidden) exposure to dirty novels and television, daddy issues (the extent of which, I was still clueless of), and deep desire to be loved by another human being, Satan was all too eager to get in the middle of my first dating relationship. What started out friendly and fun and mostly church-based quickly received a driver’s license and a car which led to finding ourselves unsupervised in movie theaters and empty parking lots. The first time I told him no (not the BIG no, but for another reason), I was struck with fear that he might end the relationship, even though he clearly stated that he admired a girl with boundaries. When Satan convinced me that I had to give up the boundaries or say goodbye to my first boyfriend, God graciously placed my brother at home to block Satan’s big plan. And, my first boyfriend, the gentleman that he was, ended the relationship before Satan could present another opportunity. I continued to attend that church and the youth functions; it was my home, at that point.
I hate Satan. He had a solution for my first heartbreak. In the midst of trying to focus on growing closer to God and finding fulfillment in Him instead of the male species, I somehow managed to catch the eye of a “college guy”. He asked me out while we were at one of those youth functions. I said, “maybe.” Later that night, he tried to kiss me. It was mid-fall, but I was twitterpated. Of course, I did what any 15-year-old Christian girl would do: I went home and asked my parents’ permission. When my dad gave me a firm, “No,” I cried and kicked and screamed like a toddler. Either my mom is a hopeless romantic or a firm believer in letting a child learn from their own mistakes, but she supported me. After all, I had met him at church. He came from a nice family. While those things were true, he and I were both being fed steady lies from our arch-nemesis. By Spring, those boundaries I once had were a thing of the past. I was in love, and according to society, this is what you do when you’re in love, right? The day after my 16th birthday, 6 months into the relationship, I was wearing an engagement ring. The two of us served side-by-side in our church-home for nearly two years, lying to everyone’s faces. We lied to our parents, who trusted and believed in us. We truly did believe we were in love and destined to be together forever, and that was the grounds Satan gave us to justify our actions. The further along we got into our relationship, the more angry-tension seemed to grow between us. In the midst of my sin, I continued to mature in the Lord, and my conviction grew all the more. But, it was too late to turn back, right? Girls and guys, Satan will tell you that you can’t turn back once you’ve crossed that line. That’s a lie. Hindsight, I’m sure that my “fiancé” was dealing with his own convictions. He knew we weren’t wholeheartedly seeking God’s Will together. At a winter-retreat at the very encampment where I came to know God, I ended that relationship. He seemed not to care at all. If I thought I had experienced heartbreak before, I was clueless. I had planned my entire future around this guy who did not seem slightly pained at the idea of a future without me.
I hate Satan. All of a sudden, I was “on the market,” and older guys started coming out of the woodworks trying to talk to me. How gross is that? And the guilt that Satan surrounded me in was next to unbearable. But, God was there. My mom rocked her 17-year-old daughter to sleep several nights. My friends reached out to me and loved on me and encouraged me. I started taking care of me. I made healthy decisions. I was focused on God and seeking His true will for my life. I had my eyes on a young pastor, God-willing. I literally have written in a journal somewhere, “I believe I am going to be married to a pastor someday.” God has a sense of humor, and He works things out for the good of those who love Him. A few weeks after I journaled about my dreams of being a minister’s wife, I met the town-rebel. I made the same mistakes with this new boyfriend, but God won a new soul and servant in him. The obstacles that Satan placed in each of our lives prior to meeting each other continue to try our marriage. On God, the solid rock, we stand; all other ground is sinking sand.
I hate Satan. I hate seeing my son raise his hand to an adult when he doesn’t get his way. I hate seeing my daughter inflict pain on her siblings when she thinks no one is watching. I hate knowing that Satan is already studying my younger daughters and waiting for my younger sons to be born so that he can study them, too. Don’t deny the fact that spiritual warfare exists for these little ones. I’ve displayed my entire testimony of the devil’s snares that God saved me from. Satan didn’t wait for me to become an adult. He didn’t even wait for me to be born before he started attacking me. This is my story. This is my song.
I love God. I want my children to love God. That’s the reason God gave us children in the first place. We don’t take God’s blessings lightly. My children are not my own, but God’s. Be bold in acknowledging the spiritual warfare in your life and the lives of your children. To ignore it only gives Satan an advantage. Suit up. Jesus is calling.
But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus–the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
Acts 20:24 NLT