Through Jesus’ perfect love Amanda* finally found her true identity.
I grew up in Frankston in Melbourne’s south-east, in a non-Christian family. My mother fell pregnant with me when she was 14 and my father was 19. The relationship between my parents was very dysfunctional and my father was abusive. To cope, my mum turned to drugs to ease her pain. I knew that she loved me, but my father was abusive and controlling, and emotionally disconnected.
When I was eight my father left us for another woman. I was so desperate for a father/daughter relationship that I convinced my mum to let me live with Dad, which she agreed to, and I spent the next nine years with him. But I believe the pain of this decision caused my mum to seek the comfort of drugs even more than before and this greatly affected our relationship.
Even though I was now living with my father, he was absent emotionally and physically much of the time. When I reached adolescence, my craving for love and attention hit its height and I believed all sorts of lies about male attention and self-image. I believed that my self-worth was tied up in how I looked and that I would receive the love I craved if I dressed a certain way and made sure I was attractive physically. My passion for school dropped and I consumed alcohol with friends most weekends. As a result, I made many poor choices.
When I was 16 I descended into a prison of depression. All my childhood dreams dissolved and this downward spiral led to me being kicked out of home at 17.
My father harboured so much hatred for my mum that he threatened to never speak to me again if I moved back in with her. So I moved in with my pot-dependent boyfriend, which lasted 12 months before the darkness of drugs caused me to spiral into an even deeper depression.
At 18 I returned to Mum and began pursuing less than honourable ways to make money. I thought this was the key to happiness, love and acceptance by my dad, and would show the world that I was successful. I began to really despise men because I could never get the love and acceptance I so desperately wanted. I got to the point where I decided to give up, because I didn’t want to live any more.
Then I moved in with another boyfriend, but the ugliness of the past followed me. At 21 I fell pregnant with my daughter and out of desperation I found myself praying to a God I didn’t know or really believe in. I wanted my baby to have a better life than I had experienced so far and I was frightened for her. When she was born I experienced a love I had never known.
During that time some Christians walked into my life, and I saw something different in them that was attractive. They invited me to their church and spoke with me about Jesus. Shortly after, I radically encountered Jesus for the first time and I was forever changed. God completely transformed everything I thought about myself and who I was. He showed me my true identity and loved me with a perfect love that brought incredible healing to my life. I have since also had a beautiful little boy and my children are the joy of my life.
About three years ago I came into contact with The Salvation Army at Wyndham City through their Mainly Music program. I was looking for a new church home and the Army’s heart for the lost and broken, their practical, sleeves-rolled-up kind of Christianity really appealed.
I feel that God has called me into the Army to work with women like myself, women who need to know the truth about their real identity—not the false picture they have been given through dysfunctional relationships or circumstances.
*First name only, used upon request