let the prophets speak

My Testimony...Revelation 12:11

"And they overcame him by the Blood of the Lamb and by the Word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death"...

I was born on February 21st, 1955 in Detroit, Michigan, and I had three brothers and five sisters. Three years after my birth, my parents moved to Queens, New York where I was raised, that was also the year my father died.

My father was raised as a Baptist, and my mother, in various religions including the Muslim beliefs and the Jehovah Witnesses beliefs, because of the many different things she was taught; she became an agnostic. She didn't encourage her children to go to the church, but we were taught that we could go IF we felt like it, and we could go to whatever faith we felt like getting involved in. I vaguely remember attending a couple of services with my cousins as a child, and going to Catholic mass on a few Easter holidays.

My memories of my childhood were very dark. My mom was an excellent provider, and we always had nice clothes, and a nice home, in fact we were the only ones in our neighborhood with a swimming pool in the backyard. She also possessed a lot of wisdom at times, and I still remember some of her sayings, and even tell them to my children, and grandchildren.

Her desires for her children was always on point, stay safe, get a good education, a good job, live a good life, be respectable, etc. and she was very protective of her children, so one could hurt us, except her. She was severely abusive to several of her children, including me.

I believe this started a few years after my father died because I remember being a very shy, weak, and sickly child that cried very easily. Childhood illnesses that my brothers and sisters would get over quickly always stayed with me longer. I was always afraid, and of everything. I always felt ugly, I remember always trying to hide from people because I felt ugly, and this attributed to my shyness, (when I became a teenager I still hid, but now it was because every time I would get a compliment, one of my friends would want to fight me, so in order to keep my friends I would hide so they would feel comfortable around me).

When I started school, the first thing I remember is drawing a string painting. We were to dip the strings into the paint and place them on the paper to make a design. I dipped my strings into the red, blue, purple and black paints and smeared them all over the paper. When the teacher came and tried to correct me, I laid my face in the picture and cried until I fell asleep. I stayed that way all day until the end of the day, even though they called my mom.

Then I remember being sick all the time, and almost dying once. I remember staying with my grandmother in California, when my father first died. I caught my brother and my cousin smoking cigarettes, and threaten to tell. My brother beat with one of my aunt's high heel shoes, which left round circular bruises on my arms and legs. I hid under the table until my aunt came home, but was afraid to tell her what had happen.

The first whipping I remember from my mom was because I didn't want to eat dinner, and I locked myself in the bathroom. She told me she was going to call the fire department, so I came out and she beat me. After that things intensified and by the time I was 12 years old, I had a series of concussions, bruises, whelps, cuts, etc. on my body at various times.

On many occasions I had to wear tights and a turtleneck to school to keep people from seeing what she had did to me. Our family doctor, Dr. Cahill, once asked my mother to leave the room while he talked to me. When she left he asked how I was having so many accidents, but I would never tell.

Let me stop here to say this, I am not trying to say we were perfect children, but there was nothing we did that warranted the treatment we received, and a great deal of the things we did were a direct reaction to the abuse in our home.

There are several other situations with my mom that stand out in my mind:

1-On several occasions, when I was getting out the tub, my mom beat me with an extension cord.
2-My mom hit me in the head with a coat hanger and the hook part got caught in my head, putting a hole in my head and blood began to stream down my face. My mom took me to the sink to rinse the blood out, and then began to bang my head against the sink saying I made her hit me with the coat hanger. And how did I do that? By cooking some beans for my brothers and sisters to eat.
3-My mom pushing me down a flight of stairs when I was 10 years old because I tried to commit suicide to escape the abuse, (this was my first attempt).
4-Being chased by her with an old-fashioned shovel handle for not coming back from the store fast enough, (this was the first time my sister and I ran away).
5-My mom hitting my face against the windowsill because I didn't do a chore fast enough. This required stitches, but the doctor used butterfly bandages so as not to scar my face.
6-My mom threw a cast iron skillet at me during one of her episodes.
7-Trying to lock myself in the bathroom to avoid a beating, and her spraying mace in my face to get me out, then my jumping out the window onto the roof to escape.
8- Being punched, bit, scratched, being beat like an animal on a regular basis for any offense real, or imagined.

But the worst incident I remember involved my sister. My mom had taken the black cord off the washing machine to beat her, (I was probably next because that was usually how it went).

I was standing against the wall behind my mom as my sister was being beat, and my younger sisters and brother was huddled on the bed, crying. I can still hear the sound of the cord with each hit she gave my sister, and the sounds my sister was making.

At one point the cord whipped around my sisters head and hit her behind the ear. A huge bump the size of an egg rose up behind my sister's ear and she began to scream at the top of her lungs that she could not hear, and my mom continued to beat her. I remember thinking why don't the neighbors help us, why doesn't someone help us.

Something snapped in me, and I just couldn't take anymore. When my mom swung the cord back to hit my sister again, I grabbed it, and wrapped it around my arm and held on with all my might. I just kept saying, "I can't take anymore, I can't take anymore".

My mom turned around and began to punch me, knocking me back, but I still held on to the cord. Somehow we ended up in the hall bathroom, and my mom punched me, knocking me in the tub. She then took the toilet bowl plunger and put it across my throat, choking me. My sisters and brother were crying that she was going to kill me. I said, "Kill me, I don't care anymore". Then I said, "I wished you had died instead of my dad", this must have shocked her because she stopped, and walked away. In spite of my pain, I felt good because I still had the cord wrapped around my arm.

My mom didn't beat us anymore after that time, but her abuse continued, taking on other forms, which continue to include the verbal and emotional abuse. I cannot tell you how many times my sister and I were called a whore and slut, (although I remained a virgin longer than all of my friends and relatives), the word for a "female dog", cussed out, put down, and accused, and how often she lied about us to others, in order to protect herself from exposure. Then there were the times she favored our younger sisters and brother over us, (and they grew up to do worst offenses, but she never once beat them, (her abuse toward them was mostly verbal).

But I can tell you the number of times my mom hugged me, ONCE when I was 19 years old. Also, the number of times she kissed me, NONE. And the number of times she said she loved me, ONCE when I was an adult. (This has changed, but I will share that later).

My mom didn't allow us to socialize much, not even with our father's side of the family because of our dirty little secret. This made her seem overly protective, but it wasn't us she was really protecting, but the secret that she didn't want any family member to find out what was really going on in our home. As I said in the beginning, she was a good provider and from appearances, we LOOKED like a great family.

She began a long term relationship, (which produced three children), with a man that would only provide for "his" children and not my sister and I, (by then my older siblings had moved out). He would buy small packages of food for "his children" only, and although my mom argued about it, it still continued.

They would take us to visit HIS family, who let us know in no uncertain terms that we were not REALLY related to HIS children by our mother, or them. I thought this was the craziest thing that I had ever heard because my sisters and brother had the same blood in their veins from my mom as we did, and I loved them with a passion, but this split our family, and there is still a division today.

It seemed that my mom took everyone who loved us, and cared about us from us, and replaced them with people who had no connection with us, wanted to use us, (I was almost molested several times), or who didn't know us so they would believe anything she told them about us...total devastation.

I had tried to commit suicide several times because of the abuse, and I thank the Lord now that I was not successful. I had also become very protective of ME when I wasn't at home; determine never to let anyone else beat me. I felt I would die before I let another person beat on me. I was small, and weak, and I got into a lot of fights with bullies, but because of the rage going on inside of me, I always won those fights.

Somehow my sister and I ended up in a Big Sisters program, and I will never forget the lady who took on our case, Mrs. Sample, I believe she was a Christian although I don't ever remember her talking to us about the Lord, there was just something about her. I believe she loved us, and felt sorry for us, also.

She took us to plays and events, and I remember appointments in her office where we gradually began to talk about what went on in my home. I don't think they really knew how to deal with abused children back then, and they did the best they could for us.

I was also a gifted student, and my grades were most often excellent which landed me in the G.A.T.E. program, (Gifted And Talented Education Program). I was gifted in art and had a dream of going to college on art scholarship. Because of these things, I was recommended for many other programs.

At one point, I was in the Upward Bound Program at Queens College, where I received many awards. On career day, the first editor of Essence magazine, (I believe her name was Ida or something like that), came to our program. She wanted to sponsor me in the Miss Teenage Black America Pageant, all expenses paid. My mother refused to sign the papers, although I begged and cried, she refused saying, "Models were nothing but whores". I asked the lady was there another way I could still participate, but there wasn't. She seemed very sad for me that day, but no one was as sorry as I was, it seemed that everything good was always blocked from me.

No one, but another abused person, can fully understand the pain, the horror, and confusion of a situation where the person who is suppose to love you, is the one doing you the most harm. When the safest place you could ever be is AWAY from home. You want to get away from the abuser, but you are somehow dependent upon them, too. You feel that if you could just PLEASE them, the abuse would stop, not knowing there is NOTHING you can do to please them because the issue is not YOU, but inside of them. You are afraid to stay, but even more afraid to leave because you are uncertain if there is anything better out there.

By the time I was 18 years old, I thought I had a way out. My mother had introduced me to a gentleman, and he wanted to marry me. She liked him very much, so I thought I could "kill two birds with one stone so to speak", please my mom, and get away from her abuse at the same time, so I married him.

It was a horrible mistake because he turned out to be worst than my mom in his treatment of me. We fought often, (because this time I wasn't going to just take it), and two months after we were married, his parents called the police on him because he had taken his sister's dog and placed him in a hot oven, then pulled a hatchet on his father. When he went to jail, I divorced him, and moved where he couldn't locate me. What I didn't know was that my upbringing had already started me on a path toward several dysfunctional and abusive relationships.

At the age of 22, I tried to kill myself for the last time, and the events surrounding this is what lead me to Jesus Christ. I had just gotten out of an abusive relationship that almost cost me my life, and went back home to my mom.

I had a daughter that was almost two, and I needed a place to stay so I could get my life back together. I went to the Dept. of Social Services because I had no money, and no job. While I waiting for them to process my paperwork, my daughter took sick with the chicken pox, and high fever. For some reason, it was at this time that my mom decided she wanted me to get out of her home.

I had no place to go, so I went back over to the DSS office with my sick baby. She had a temperature of 102 degrees, and someone at the DSS office called my mom, asking her what kind of grandmother was she to turn out a sick baby? They told her she could at least allow her grandbaby to stay at the house, even if she didn't want me there, I was so ashamed, and my mom must have been also because she said I could come back to the house.

When I arrived, my mom told me she would give me a week to find a place, and she left out. I was sick with worry knowing I couldn't find a place in a week, my paperwork wasn't even processed yet, and I had no apartment prospects on the horizons. I held my daughter and cried until I felt sick, then I had a thought. If I weren't around then my mom would have to let my daughter stay, and at least my baby would have a roof over her head.

Then I couldn't bear the thought of living without my daughter, and felt I was a lousy mother anyway, so I decided to kill myself. I knew my mother had all kinds of tranquilizers in her room, so I went and found them. I took every pill she had, (about 25-30 pills), and then I went and held my daughter until I felt sleepy, which didn't take long.

When I felt myself feeling sleepy, I gave my daughter to my youngest sister and told her to take care of her until mom came home. All I remember next is walking down the steps and outside on the porch.

The next thing I remember is being in a dark place. It was so pitch black dark that I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. I kept wondering where was I, and walking around in nothing but darkness. Then I heard someone crying, they were crying so hard, and I felt so sorry for them. They were saying something but at first I couldn't understand them. Then I began to recognize the voice, it was my sister, Mary.

I thought, but why is she crying, I had never seen her cry. I began to walk toward the voice, she was saying my name and asking me to please smile, please laugh for her just once. I was walking toward her voice and saying, Mary, don't cry, please don't cry. As I began to get closer to her voice, I began to choke and my throat hurt. It was getting lighter where I was and I was struggling to speak, but now my throat really hurting, and I was coughing. Then I opened my eyes, and I was in the hospital with a tube down my throat. They were pumping my stomach, and Mary was next to me, crying for me to come back, to smile for her once again. I tried to comfort her but there was too much going on around me.

I found out later that some children had found me in front of my old apartment, foaming at the mouth, in some kind of seizure. One was a sister to Mary's boyfriend, whose mom worked for the police department. She immediately got an ambulance and rushed me to the hospital. The police were perplexed because they said it was no way that I should have lived.

By the time they found me, if the pills didn't kill me, then the traffic should have. The only way I could have gotten from my mom's house to my old apartment complex was to have crossed a freeway. They kept asking me did someone help me, or take me there; did I remember getting a ride? I didn't remember anything.

I was restrained in a bed, and over the next few days several religious leaders came to see me, a priest, several preachers, and even a rabbi. They all looked so perplexed,(wondering how I got pass the freeway), and sad. I told them all that I won't try to take my life anymore, that for some reason the Lord has spared me and I had to find out why.

I lay there for several days thinking about this incident, thinking about the Lord. When I got out of the hospital, I found out that my mom had lied about the events leading up to my attempted suicide, and although it hurt, I had other things on my mind. I was curious about God, and didn't know where to begin to look. For some reason going to church never entered my mind, and it would be 3 more years before I actually received Christ.

Over the next 2 years, there were many changes, and I will condense them. I calmed down a bit, had a really good job working at the county nursing home, and my daughter was in private school. I was settled and from appearances, everything was going well, but on the inside I was still unhappy.

My relationship with my mother was still abusive, and although she could no longer strike me physically, she did much damage emotionally and verbally every time I would visit her, but I couldn't stay away, after all she was my mom, right?

When I was at work, I used to go off by myself to think, and ponder about God. One day a lady walked pass and said, Jesus is the answer for you, and kept walking. I couldn't stop thinking about her words. At my job, there were three chapels, a Catholic one, a Jewish one, and a Protestant one. I went to the Jewish one, but their book was in Hebrew and I couldn't read it. I went to the Catholic one, but their book was in Latin, and I couldn't read that one either. Finally, I went to the Protestant one and began to read the Bible.

I got a Bible for myself from somewhere and began to read it daily. I had lived in America all my life, a country that profess to be a Christian nation, a country with churches on every corner and I did not know who Jesus really was, or why He had died. Sure, I saw the Christmas stories and the Easter movies at holiday times, but I always though Jesus was a good man, and they killed Him for no reason. I did not know the real deal until I began to read the Bible. You know, we Christians in America think that people just don't want Jesus when in actuality there are many living right here in America that don't even know who Jesus really is.

As I was reading the Bible one day, I got to the part where Jesus was crucified, and I actually saw it. I saw Jesus on the cross and He turned to me and said, "It was for you I died". I started crying, and cried for about 2 hours. I was asking Him to forgive me for every wrong thing I had ever did in my life, then I asked Him to forgive me for the wrong I did unknowingly. At the end of my prayer I kept saying, it won't be in vain, at least not for me, it won't be in vain.

My whole life began to change then, I still was not in church, but I began to drop things from my life. I no longer wanted to party, I stopped smoking marijuana, stopped doing cocaine, and stopped the drinking, all of these things I did socially, (but I was never big on liquor, or cursing). Gradually my life began to clean up, and I didn't know that it was the Holy Ghost at work. I just kept reading the Bible periodically.

Previously, I had met someone that I really loved and we had lived together for two years, but had broke it off. During this time I was taking birth control pills which was having an adverse effect on my system, and I had also developed an intestinal virus that I failed to get treated because I wanted to wait until after I moved into my new 2 bedroom apartment.

We reconciled a week before I was due to move, and on the day that I moved into my apartment, everything came to a head. That night I woke up with such severe pain that I couldn't get up off the floor. I couldn't reach my boyfriend, and it was so intense, that I had to crawl to a neighbor's apartment to get her to take me to the hospital and watch my daughter.

When the doctor went to give me an internal examination, she said, oh, my God! For some reason my fallopian tubes were infected and badly damaged, and this infection had spread throughout my female area. She said with or without an operation, I would be sterile the rest of my life, and they needed to do an emergency operation because of the infection.

I asked her to put the operation off until the next day, so I could make arrangements for someone to care for my daughter, and to give me something for the pain. Reluctantly, she did as I requested, and I went home, but I was highly medicated, and very devastated. I had always wanted a son, and a brother for my daughter, but now this would never be.

By this time my boyfriend had come to bring me a refrigerator, and I told him what had happen. After he left to go to work, I cried and prayed to the Lord, saying,"if You will heal me and give me a son, I will truly live for you but I need you to show me how".

Suddenly I felt sick and I vomited, after I finished vomiting, I was no longer medicated, nor did I feel any pain. My boyfriend was shocked when he came home, and I called the doctor the next day to cancel the operation. With much argument, I got her to make me an appointment for me to see a specialist instead, but I wanted to wait a week before going.

When I went to the doctor a week later, he kept looking at my chart and telling me that I healed miraculously and he couldn't believe the chart because there was no evidence of the infection described, I was perfectly healthy. He then made an appointment for me to see him in 2 months for re-evaluation, unless I had a re-occurrence before then. When I came back to see him, he said he knew I was healed because I was 6 weeks pregnant. I knew this was my son, my covenant with the Lord. My boyfriend and I got married during that pregnancy, (and had two more sons after that).

After this, at first, the Lord still would not give me a church home. When I would pray asking Him where should I go because there are so many churches, and all of them SAY they are the right way, He would just tell me to stay in His Word. I STUDIED the Bible for a full year before the Lord led me to a church home, (I thought this starngs until I read Galatians 1:15-17), and then He told me to always gauge what I heard by His Word. After this, I joined my first church, and publicly accepted Jesus as my Savior before man.

I have been on a continuous Bible study since that day, and the Spirit of the Lord has done massive deliverances in my life, (and He still has more to do). My children's father and I did not last; he never gave his life to the Lord but began to take more drugs, eventually he became abusive, also, because of his drug usage, so we divorced.

(I refuse to allow abuse of any kind into the lives of my children, and Glory to God; He saved me so that I didn't abuse them myself. I acknowledged to the Lord that I did not have the skills to raise my children, asking Him to help me and He taught me how to raise my children. Now, my children bring their friends to me for counsel, and all their friends call me "mom").

My mom did more hateful things until the Lord separated me from her. He said to me, "Come out from among them and be separate...for I can do nothing as long as you are there". He also stated that, at the time, my spirit was not strong enough to deal with the spirit that was operating in my mom. That she knew just what buttons to push because she had created the buttons, but He was removing me until He could get rid of the buttons she had created.

I was separated from her for over 5 years, with absolutely no contact, and when we saw each other again, things were different. She was different, but more than that, I was different. She could not affect me like she used to, and I didn't respond the way I used to.

Also, I had forgiven her because the Lord had revealed my mom to me and help me to understand her. Not to excuse her behavior, which will forever be wrong, but to understand the pain that was driving her. She has also gotten closer to the Lord, and although she has never repented for her actions to me, and seems to be in denial, I believe she has repented to the Lord and she is more loving toward my sister and toward me. She even told my sister that she recalls one thing about us and that is that we never disrespected her.

I had went through therapy regarding my proclivity to choosing abusive men, and in those sessions we had to deal with my abusive childhood because that has a lot to do with it. She was an excellent MFCC, (Marriage and Family Christian Counselor), and she told me that my mother would never validate me because if she does, then she would have to admit that she abused me, and she could not live with that. Maybe this is so, I don't know, but I leave it to the Lord to correct because I have made my peace about it, and the Lord has promised me that my mom will be saved before she dies. I would like for us to have that mother-daughter relationship before then, but if not, then we will have a better relationship in Glory for all eternity. Amen!

There are several things I have learned from this and so I can rejoice even to having been an abused child. You know, what ever is in you is all you have to give to others. If there is nothing in you but ugliness, then all you give to others is ugliness. If there is nothing in you but bitterness, then all you will give is bitterness. My mother had nothing in her but pain, and that is what she passed down to us. This is why I thank the Lord for "forgiveness". He helped me to forgive my mom, so love was free to flow through me to my children, and the children of others.

I had a friend in ministry that went through a bitter divorce, and wanted to continue ministering in the midst of it. After an observation, I told her that I felt she needed to sit down a season because she was in a great deal of pain, and all she was doing was ministering that pain to other people. You can only pour out what you are full of.

I have been through a lot, (abuse, homelessness, shelters, death of a loved one, abandonment, rejection), especially with my ex-husband when he was on drugs, and I learned a lot through my afflictions.

Sometimes people don't understand the "intensity" of my stance, because they don't fully understand that He saved my life, and in saving my life, He saved my children's lives. I have had people say to me, "it doesn't take all that", or "you'll calm down after while". Well, it has been 21 years, and I am still looking for more, and it is not legalistic, just gratitude. I can never thank Him enough, so I give Him the life He saved, and not just when it is comfortable, but especially when it is not.

Now, I know my testimony is unusual and religious people would want me to say it differently, (don't tell people the Lord didn't lead you to go to church, or that the Lord healed you in fornication), but I can only say what is true.

The Lord is a merciful God, and He will find you, and bring you out by His OWN means, if you seek Him. This is not to say He will do it for you the way He did it for me, He is creative, and will give you your own testimony.

Although I am not "into" pain and suffering, I don't think I would have learned some of the things I did if I had went any other way, because if I could have, the Lord would have chose another way.

I used to wish I had gotten saved at 12 years of age and possibly skipped some of the drama that I had in my life, and that has even carried over into my salvation. But I know now that it's working for my good, and helps me to minister to the audience He has ordained for me.

I understand why Paul said that he would rather glory in his afflictions, and I leave you with this scripture...

"that I may KNOW Him and the POWER of His resurrection, and the FELLOWSHIP of His SUFFERINGS, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead"...Philippians 3: 10-11

God Bless you is my prayer...Ashanti3

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