Each hurt we go through can build walls in our lives; some can turn into good boundaries, others build walls of protection surrounding us and we think ugliness cannot break though to get to us. Hi, I’m a grateful believer in Jesus– I have victory over co-dependency, isolation, fear of abandonment, and shame. I struggle with food addiction and the effects of past abuse, and my name is Tiffani.
I grew up in an alcoholic home where both my father and stepfather drank heavily. My mom used shame, fear and withdrawal to parent us. I remember the night my dad left. A police officer woke me and my two sisters and helped us get dressed, they took us to a friend’s house to spend the night. I had so many questions but even at that young age I knew better than to ask. In my mind it was better to be as quiet and invisible as possible. My walls began to form. I had quite a few life-changing events all happening at the age of 6: my parents separated, I moved from a middle-class suburb area to a more inner-city location, I was introduced to pornographic magazines by a neighbor, and my uncle sexually assaulted me. These events changed that little girl to the core. I became someone God didn’t have in mind for me. But God always prevails!
By 6th grade, my dad stopped trying to have visitation with us. The house I was living in was volatile. Every aspect of my life felt out of control. However, I realized I could control whether I would eat. At the age of 11, I began my lifelong battle of an eating disorder.
December 5th 1985 was another normal school day of seventh grade. I saw my best friend in the hallway and she passed me a note and said we would meet up after school. Within 10 minutes she died in the hallway of an unknown heart condition. I found out through the intercom system at the end of the day. I never felt such pain, anger or grief before. My family never spoke of her again and my mom’s way of helping was to get me a prescription for sleeping pills. The next few years were a blur. I was in so many fights I can’t count them. The cold medication and cutting I was secretly doing wasn’t doing anything to ease the pain. I started using marijuana and drinking, which I stole from my stepfather.
To top it off I was again sexually assaulted by a much older man and again told no one because I believed I was completely alone and somehow it was all my fault. In this crazy life I thought I now figured out what all men want and I would never feel that out of control again. My warped way of thinking said if I am choosing to give myself away, then no one would ever take that from me again. I started being promiscuous and really didn’t care about anyone or anything– especially myself.
I dabbled in different drugs and started dating a steady guy. At 16, I found out I was pregnant. I got married when I turned 18 and a senior in high school. Being a mother changed my life for the better. I stopped all the drugs and drinking but had no clue how to deal with any of the other hurts, hang-ups, or habits I was facing. We bought a house and had our second son. On the outside we looked like a normal family with a white picket fence, but on the inside my husband could never fill or fix the voids or hurts I had. We divorced. I proceeded after this with many abusive and dysfunctional relationships each one getting worse and worse.
God wanted me to turn and look at this awful big wall of hurts he wanted me to overcome, but I still wasn’t able to. How could I ever be forgiven? I just continued to push my way forward, dragging that heavy wall and my children with me. At this point, I was 37 and I was introduced by a counselor to a program called Celebrate Recovery. I began to go and I did find some healing but mainly blamed others for causing me hurt and not really looking at my own behavior. I stopped going after a year and entered into yet another abusive relationship. This relationship ended with a gun to my head– I don’t know why he didn’t pull the trigger other than God had other plans for my life. This day was the day of my true surrender to Christ.
The very next day I was back at Celebrate Recovery. I realized after a discussion with one of the leaders that although I was in CR for a year, I was stuck on principle 2…I believed God exists, I believe he has the power to heal me…but the part about that I matter to him…no way. This leader and friend told me this, “God already knew all you were going to do and knows everything you will do and he still choose to create you. You have purpose and he loves you.” I finally got it. I understood and from this point I started to allow myself to accept his forgiveness, love and grace. It’s a slow process and a lot of hard work, but God has healed me tremendously. He is erasing my hurts, habits and hang-ups. I have learned what real friendships are, how to have healthy boundaries, how to communicate, how to love without expectations, how to be humble and that I am worthy just because He says I am. I am no longer bogged down by the fear of what others think of me because I know that Jesus knows my heart. For 6 years I have been a leader at CR and have lead many ladies through step studies. Myself and three other ladies teach Celebration Place– a safe place were elementary aged children can build friendships, find inner joy, learn to trust and have hope for their future as they learn to rely on Jesus. A year ago I was asked to be the North East Regional Rep for Celebration Place. I am truly sold out on this program. We can help these children early on and they will not have to endure many years of hardship. I am in awe of how God has completely turned my life around.
Acts 20:24 says, “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 grace of God.” I believe my purpose here on earth is to give others hope that their lives can be better and help them understand how to become alive in Christ. How freeing it is and how full of joy this life can be even through the trails we face that you too can be an overcomer. I strive to please God each and every day because on the day he calls me home I want to be kneeling in front of him and have him say to me…Job well done good and faithful servant.
Thanks for letting me share.
If you would like to learn how to start your own Celebrate Recovery ministry, to contact your Celebrate Recovery Rep, please visit: https://crgroups.info/. To get involved in an already existing Celebrate Recovery ministry near you, please visit: https://locator.crgroups.info/.