I’m a grateful believer in Jesus who has issues with anger, codependency, shame, blame, and fear. My name is Kenny. This is a testimony of the transformative power of Jesus Christ in the lives of my wife Karla and I.
I remember the day we met, but the icing on the cake was when, during a conversation, we discovered we were born in the VERY SAME HOSPITAL. We met in Los Angeles, but we were both born in Philadelphia at the University Hospital. Now that’s what I call a divine connection!
Our childhood traumas would lay the soil in which the enemy would plant seeds for our ultimate demise.
I was raised by a single parent. Blame was cultivated in my life after an incident with my little sister. She fell down the stairs while we were playing and broke her hip. For years I went through life thinking I must have pushed her accidentally. The truth of the event came out when I wrote it on my 4th Step Inventory. While working Step 9, the amends process, I was talking to my mother and mentioned the incident. In shock, she said, “YOU THOUGHT YOU MADE YOUR SISTER FALL? You had nothing to do with that! She was playing, missed the stairs, and fell.” It was a moment of freedom for me. I carried that burden of blame for 50 years.
More trauma took place when my mom took me, my sister, and my aunt to South Carolina to visit my uncle and his family. One dreadful morning, I woke up to find they left me there without saying goodbye. I was devastated and cried uncontrollably. Why did my mom leave me? She thought it would be better for me to be raised in a home with a male influence. Four months later, she realized what she had done and came back to take me home.
Molestation from an older child, abuse from my mother’s boyfriend who poured a bottle of hot sauce down my throat, to being homeless with my mother and sister would set the stage for suppressed feelings of anger that would lie dormant, just waiting to escape.
Karla: I am a grateful believer, working my Celebrate Recovery Program for anger and control issues. I experienced loss and abandonment at a very young age, too. When I was four years old, my mother told me and my 7-year-old sister that we were leaving. With no time to explain, we rushed into the cab that was waiting outside. Pulling up at the Amtrak station, we boarded a train to Los Angeles, leaving everything behind, including my father, who was at work and did not know he would come home to an empty house.
After my parents were separated for 4 years, they still communicated long distance. They were planning to reunite. My father planned to leave the woman he was with during their marriage (which is why my mother left) and move to Los Angeles to start a new life with his family.
On the day my father was scheduled to leave for Los Angeles, he was fatally stabbed by this woman. She was jealous and not willing to see him leave and be with his wife and children. This tragedy set me on a path of distrust towards men and God for years to come.
As I grew up, I experienced a series of poor relationships, lost my virginity, and had a child from a one-night stand. I was broken. One day, an old church friend invited me to a youth group. My friend’s brother and Kenny were leaders of this group. We were introduced and in no time, Kenny and I became good friends.
Kenny: The youth group was growing and because of issues we were having within the group, we decided to bring the fellowship under the leadership of our church. That action allowed the church to have an instant, thriving young adult group. Once under the leadership of their church, we would experience yet another set of issues. Control. The leaders of the church made decisions young adults should have made on their own, accompanied by godly counselors or mentors. Life decisions such as who one should marry, purchasing a car or home, changing jobs, going to college, and so on. Spiritual leaders with influential voices should have been very careful in this area. Instead, spiritual abuse was alive and well.
We remained at the church for almost 20 years. After getting wise spiritual counseling, we left and attended a healthy church which God used as a spiritual hospital for us. For the next 10 years, we had to untangle religious actions and inaccurate interpretations of God’s Word. We had to re-define the TRUE love of God.
Later in life, I developed kidney cancer and prostate cancer. This would be the start of me coming face-to-face with my issues. Our past also presented issues within our relationship. Karla’s inability to control the unfortunate things that occurred in her childhood created an unconscious pact with herself to control everything she could in order to maintain a sense of safety and to avoid pain. Our issues were affecting our marriage.
Karla: I was introduced to Celebrate Recovery through our church. I jumped right in, and can recall an incident in my step study when my mindset shifted. I had an AHA moment that changed me forever. The facilitator was reading out loud a pamphlet on CONTROL. As she read the explanation, I wept uncontrollably. This was ME!
Kenny: I reluctantly joined a step study, but after months of working the steps, I witnessed dramatic changes in me. My tendency to shut down emotionally became less frequent. I was learning how to process my feelings. Today, I am a better father and husband.
Almost 7 years later, I’m now the Ministry Leader with Karla as my assistant. We also oversee Step Studies in Celebrate Recovery Cultural Communities. Cultural Communities is an outreach to our brothers and sisters of color (Black, Indigenous, Latino/Latina, Asian, Pacific Islanders and other people of color) with the recovery message of Jesus Christ. We believe if you change a life; you change a family; you change a generation. We are glad we came out of denial, faced the fact we had problems, and allowed Jesus to heal and put us on a course to true peace and serenity.
Thank you for letting us share.