Tricia's Story

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My earliest memories were of my mother grabbing a butcher knife, and then hacking up a chair that my dad was holding. I was three years old. My mom was fed up with my dad’s drinking, lies, and drugs. A year later they divorced.

Divorce at that time brought relief to my family. Now it was just mom, my two sisters, and me. No longer was our home a place for alcohol and loud fights when my dad would come home. The courts ordered my two sisters and me to visit my Dad every second weekend. My Dad had some real anger issues so it was hard to be away from the protection of Mom.

My mom remarried when I was seven. Even in this new marriage, my mom would often resort to her old patterns of fighting and arguing with her husband. But this time was different. My step-dad loved Jesus. When Mom would try to fight and argue, he would just love her through it.

Here was a husband who never hit back or harmed his wife. For the first time, I saw a man that truly loved my mom and was not going to leave her. Soon, my step-dad just became “Dad,” and he brought love into our home that had never been there before. Going to church every Sunday became a very encouraging experience.

By high school, I was carrying many wounds and scars. One of these wounds was a hidden secret that no one knew. I had gone through repeated sexual abuse, that began when I was four, and happened for several years. I would swear at people and make sure that no one would get close. This was my way of protecting myself to make sure sexual abuse would never happen again.

My attitude towards life was a big turn-off to just about everybody I knew. People would call me many names, some of which were pretty nasty. My biological dad told me he did not need to love me because I had my mom to love me. I felt completely alone.

My junior year of high school I got a call from my cousin Kim. She told me about a Native mission team called On Eagles Wings’, and thought I might want to get involved. She explained that this group would hold a conference, and then travel around visiting other Native reservations. Although I had never left home for more than two weeks, I somehow felt that I needed to go and see if God could love me.

At the Warrior Leadership Summit conference, I saw my hurts with an entirely new perspective. The speaker, Ron Hutchcraft, asked us to put our biggest hurt or sin on a piece of paper and put it in the wooden cross at the front. For thirteen years, I had never spoken to anybody about the sexual abuse I had experienced. That hot summer day, I have never cried so much. I wrote down my secret -- a nightmare that I could not wake up from no matter how hard I tried. As I walked to the front, my cousin Kim came beside me.

For the first time, I told someone what had happened. I immediately experienced a freedom I had never known before.

That summer, I started my journey of healing. I met with an older mentor on the team who was a counselor and helped me talk through the guilt and shame from the sexual abuse. On the third week of the team, I was still confused how so many of my new friends could have so much joy. It seemed that just about every other team member had experienced some form of drugs, alcohol, and brokenness that seemed far worse than what I had been through! And yet they had joy, and I didn’t.

I had been to Sunday school most of my life, and I even sang in the church choir. But I was still so empty and alone. One of my friends from the team challenged me to completely surrender my life to Jesus. I realized I had never given Jesus all of me. That night, in front of the entire team, I declared that I had surrendered my life to Jesus. I felt the Holy Spirit come into my heart and fill that empty little girl that I once was.

After high school, I decided to attend a one-year Bible college in Alaska. This year was hard, but I needed a year to face many of my old wounds. I regularly met with two professional counselors, who helped me hack through my pain every week. I still had so much anger, with constant triggers of the memories from my abuse. Through this experience, I realized I wanted to invest my life in helping people with deep wounds. I have learned how to be a leader that I never dreamed I could be for my people.

I am no longer a victim, but a warrior.

I never thought that I would find COMPLETE healing from sexual abuse, divorce in my family, and anger. I have not only confronted my abuser, but have completely forgiven this person. I never thought that I would see my family changed because of Jesus. I never thought that I would go to college or graduate. Jesus truly loves me more than anyone possible could. I now see that this is just the beginning of a great adventure with God.

“I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘not my people. You are my people.’ And they will say, ‘You are my God.” Hosea 2:23