I decided to write up a post here and there and schedule it for when I am away. There is a lot about me you don’t know yet, I’d like to share… The stories of my life are those of redemption. Yes, there was much pain but nothing ends there. ‘Listen’ to this…
At the beginning of my life I grew up with my dad, mom and two sisters. I was the middle child. Our home wasn’t save, it wasn’t happy, it wasn’t warm and it wasn’t fun. Let me address just one topic here and let me do it very briefly (there will be lots to read but believe me, it IS still very brief). Maybe in the future I’ll share the ins and outs but for now, that is not what this post is about.
I was sexually abused by my father, from an early age on. When I was walking around in diapers there were people around listening to my dad talk about all that he loved to do with me (I heard of this reality much later). Of course I never shared any of what was happening with people who could do anything about it, so the abuse continued. My parents divorced when I was 8 years old and unfortunately it had nothing to do with the incest, so the abuse continued. I lived with my mom and sisters. I felt alone, I was always sad, and I felt I had to vent for myself, I didn’t feel loved. This is not to say that mom didn’t love me… our family was severely hurt, everyone dealt with it in her own way causing our family to be dysfunctional and broken. Around this time one of my sisters decided she no longer wanted to carry my dad’s name, she went through the whole legal system and had her name officially changed to my mom’s maiden name. I always thought about this but I just had no desire to do the same. For me, I knew I couldn’t wipe out my past, not even with something as drastic as changing my name. My dad is always going to be a part of my life whether I like it or not. He would come up in therapy, he would come up in my nightmares and changing my name wasn’t going to change that. It had no value to me. I left our home when I was around 18. And looking back this is where I feel blessed, I knew I needed to deal with my life. I knew I needed help and I knew I wanted to heal. My first attempt at counseling was at that age. ‘Funny’ enough I was placed in group therapy with a bunch of girls AND a bunch of boys. Of course I wasn’t going to speak about sex and what happened to me in that group. My therapy really started when I was 22 years old and lived in the States. I think I was far enough from home, I felt safe enough to open up the can of worms and I wanted it all out. I wanted my heart and body clean, I was ready to cry the tears that needed to be shed. I was ready to let out this deep painful darkness in me. I sought out creative therapy and I long journey started. Years and years of therapy followed. Somewhere in the middle of this process I met God and an entire book could be written about what happened when He came in the picture. Soon after I became a Christian God directed me back to Holland. That was something I didn’t expect and I certainly didn’t understand it. But I was so in love with Jesus that I could do nothing but trust and obey.
If only we could always look ahead and understand… because looking back it’s clear God had a plan and He was faithful throughout His plan. Being in Holland caused me to hurt all over. The memories, the pain, the places… but I knew I didn’t want to walk away. I wanted to go all the way. I wanted to confront every little detail I could, knowing God would see me through it. And so I went back to my childhood home, back into my childhood bedroom with the same light fixtures, the same shades and boy was it hard to be there. I cried. And then I took a deep breath for I realized I had overcome, I had survived, and God is faithful. In no way would my dad have the last say in this… He intended to harm, to destroy, to kill but he didn’t have the power to do so. I only realized those things by going back to those painful places. I walked out of that bedroom, closing behind me that door very consciously as to say… “I am alive! This is no longer! I am new! I have life and there is always hope. I just have to fight and continue this process of healing and then someday… there will be another side. I will reach the other side.”
My story of healing continues and writing it out here and now makes it sounds easy but I can tell you… if you read this and you are hurting yourself: choosing the path of healing is the most difficult path you can choose. However, it is the best path! God promises new life. Darkness will never win over light. Just think of it this way… think of yourself in a dark room. There are no windows, there are no lights. It’s just you and it is black. All of a sudden a candle is lit. What happens? There is no more darkness. The room is lit whether the darkness wants it or not. And that happened to me. In a long hard process, darkness made room for the light, or better said: the light makes the darkness disappear. It is truly possible. If you are a Christian you know it is Jesus who has the power to truly heal. It doesn’t happen overnight, it isn’t without pain. For me it took years and years of commitment, all different kinds of therapy, being in hell, breakdowns, living with others because I could no longer take care of myself. It was HARD.
And here it comes. Somewhere in there I started to think about changing my name. I realized I had done everything I could to heal. I had worked hard. There are times where you get to take a break and you rest and surrender and wonder if more will come at some point. But in that rest I really felt a pressure in my heart to change my name for I realized I wasn’t changing my name to wipe out my past. I wasn’t changing my name to pretend I am a different person, I am still and always will be my father’s child. But I am also now my Father’s child. Another, better Father, came into the picture and He wanted to change my name. I looked into it and it promised to be a long and expensive road with lots of rules. I hired a lawyer and together we worked for two years to get my name officially changed. I never contemplated changing my name to my mom’s name so the law in Holland predicted some things: 1. I wasn’t allowed to take a name that already excited in Holland for I wasn’t allowed to add myself to a family. This was sad because I had been living with a family who had taken me in and cared for me. I wanted their name. That one was out. 2. I had to take a name that was pronounceable in Dutch. A lot of people will make up names, ridiculous names if you ask me. My lawyer showed me examples of people just putting a whole bunch of flower names in a row and choosing that. Yeah, right… not for me. My first thought right away was Hope but I quickly dismissed it. Months of searching followed. At some point I found my way to the OM directly and every time I had a name I’d contact them and they’d tell me if the name existed or not. It was a trying process. How in the world does one choose a new last name that was obviously going to have so much meaning? I stumbled upon Abiel. I loved it’s meaning. Normally your name comes from your father and Abiel means: God is my Father. Unfortunately there were many “Abiels’ in Holland. I decided to get help from people I really had high. I contacted my pastor in Holland, my pastor in the States and two really good friends. I asked them what they thought would be a good name for me. They all came back with the same name: Hope. Then I called the OM about this name, before I could say anything, the person I always connected with said: “Now Maddy, I have seen your list. I don’t know why you wouldn’t just choose the name at the top of your list, Hope.” With all that, I knew I was to choose Hope. The OM did laugh a bit. After all Hope isn’t a Dutch word, but you can pronounce it in Dutch. I always wanted to pick an American (English) sounding name. I felt my good life really started in the States, that is where I was made new. It counted as a birth to me, I didn’t want a Dutch name. And so, because it was pronounceable in Dutch he gave it to me. After the choosing it took still about two years for it to become final. Did you know our queen has to sign off on it? I actually have our queens signature, pretty cool right?
The story doesn’t end here. Because in that two year of waiting I had a breakdown and I was back in therapy. More layers, more pain. And I was tired, tired of my life, tired of fighting. I simply didn’t want my life anymore if it meant always dealing with my past. And in that time, around the day of my actual birthday, came in the letter from the queen: my name was official! My response might surprise you because, I was angry, I cried, I screamed. I threw the letter across the table. I had no hope. I was hurting so much and awfully tired of life, I wasn’t worthy of the name Hope. I had no hope! But the name was official and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. The dear family I lived with at the time coached me through it and after some days I started to realize the true meaning of my new name. I didn’t have to FEEL hope, I had to HAVE hope. Hope in hopeless times is a gift from God. It is supernatural, and what I have recently learned, it is learned over time. The more you hang on to hope while in pain, the more you actually have hope and assurance.
As you can tell, healing continues and as a matter of fact, I had a lot of darkness a few weeks back. But as I cried and screamed it out… there was this Hope present. As I cried and screamed I knew God was doing a good thing. And that is what I hang onto, nothing has to end in pain… there is always the other side!
This was also shared at Holley’s Coffee For Your Heart. To read more personal stories or get encouraged, go HERE!
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