My Journey

Path in the woods

Happily Ever After
By Karen P. Simpson

Hello! My name is Karen.   I have sinned and fall short of the glory of God  (Romans 3:23). This is my journey to the cross and to an eternity. An eternity, I haven’t always embraced.

I was born the youngest of six children in a Catholic middle-class family.  I went to church every Sunday; was baptized, communed and confirmed. My family seemed liked a typical “nice” family. But like other families we had our secrets.

We couldn’t admit to having problems-we couldn’t air our dirty laundry. We never talked about our problems.  We didn’t get help.  And if the neighbors knew, they were “good” neighbors who minded their own business.

The greatest blessing my parents bestowed upon me was my baptism.  God was my constant companion.  I prayed for God to change my family, to just make them nice.

I prayed earnestly for God to wave His magic wand or sprinkle fairy dust or whatever it took to fix my family.  I believed if I prayed hard enough, became super involved in the church; knew the Bible well enough; obeyed God’s commandments and did everything “right”-I’d be worthy enough, I’d be good enough for God to finally answer my prayers according to my plan.

After the death of the only family members to ever show me an ounce of kindness, I lost all hope that God cared about me or would ever answer any of my prayers.  My closest brother committed suicide and my oldest brother died a year later.

God didn’t love me. God abandoned me or worse, there was no God.  I was just crazy! No one was ever going to rescue me.  But I was too angry to let God go.  I couldn’t let Him off that easy. I didn’t want God to hold me.  I didn’t want God to wipe my tears.  I wanted God to raise my brothers from the dead; not later-NOW!  I wanted to be rescued!

God tried to rescue me but I’m difficult to save. My life was like the faith joke titled “God Will Save Me.”  Most have heard a version of it; there’s a flood and a guy praying to God to be saved.  God answers with a truck, a boat and even a helicopter but each time the guy says, “No thanks God will save me” until the guy drowns. When he gets to heaven he says to God “I’ve been your faithful servant ever! Why didn’t you save me?”  God tells him, “I tried. What more do you want from me!!??”

My rescue plan never included abandoning the flooding house or my family.  When I prayed I told God the best way to save me such as stopping the flood of abuse while allowing me to keep my family and all of our secrets.  This was my plan; not God’s plan.  I realize now that God led me to a therapist who labeled the abuse, told me to get self sufficient, run and don’t ever look back! But I answered, “No thanks God will save me.”

God never gave up on me.  God led many people into my life to save me from the cycles of abuse.

My first husband tried to kill me.  I’m here today because God sent the police.  God led us to a Lutheran pastor who refused to marry us, but my parents said, “Marry him, the invitations have already been sent…God will protect you.”  God got the limo driver lost on the way to pick me up but my mother drove me to the church- I was married!

God didn’t give up.  God provided me with a compassionate doctor who wanted to save me from my abusive husband and family, but I assured him I’d be ok.  God didn’t give up.  God kept sending the police to save my son and me from the violence but I had too much pride to go to a shelter.  I was able to leave my abusive husband but I wasn’t safe. My family was just as abusive. And I couldn’t protect my son during his visits with his abusive father.

God led me back to church.  God led me to bible studies to learn to respect the delicate balance between law and grace.  God’s word made me strong in my faith and the Holy Spirit gave me the courage to insist my future husband, David attend church if he wanted to date me.

God tried to rescue us through his Word in our wedding vows but I wasn’t listening. God inspired David to adopt Philip to keep him safe.

However, the flood of dysfunction continued to climb because the people who hurt me were still in our life; and I couldn’t communicate. I was still keeping my family secrets. I had my own children and by denying the abuse, I was teaching them to pretend everything was okay.  We weren’t safe.

Easter Sunday (2003) was a day of awakening for me.  The pastor asked the congregation to raise their hands if they wanted to live forever.  David quickly raised his hand.  I didn’t. I did not want to live forever.  Come to think of it, I never wanted to live forever.  I always prayed for God to take my soul in my sleep. I accepted the reality that I would live forever but I couldn’t lie and pretend I wanted to live forever.  I couldn’t say I would ask for another hour, minute or moment to serve my sentence.

I struggled that Lenten season with defining a “scripturally” correct relationship with my family.  God calls us to honor our father and mother, but my mother deliberately hurt me, she hurt my children.

Christ calls us to turn the other cheek, but what if the other cheek belongs to my son or daughter?  How do I protect my children and remain faithful to God’s Word?

I prayed earnestly to be saved and with each prayer, God reminded me of all of my rescuers…my former therapist, the pastor, the doctor, the police…and the scriptures…every time I prayed, the message was the same-a voice was telling me to run; screaming over the waves threatening to drown us that we needed help- we needed to escape.

I finally began to listen on that Easter Sunday.  I finally began to consider a different plan. God had brought David into my life.  I allowed God to remind me of all the promises I made during my vows to David.  I promised like Ruth, “Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live.  Your people are my people, your God is my God; where you die; I’ll die…so help me God!” (Ruth 1:17)  Verse 16 actually says “Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home.”

God called Abraham, Joseph, Moses, many prophets, his disciples and so many others to leave their families and follow Him…so why was I clinging to mine???

Finally more than nine years after my wedding vows I put God’s safety plan into action. I said good-bye to my abusive relationships and made a commitment to keeping my children safe and learning to live in truth.  In one single moment I went from hoping for a short life to praying for a long life.  My children and I were finally able to enjoy the unique gift of safety.

Psalm 4:8 says it best-

In peace I will lie down and sleep,

for you alone, Lord

make me dwell in safety.

God enabled me to give my life over to His plan, to follow His path, to forgive and love my abusers from a safe distance, to accept a new family, my church family. I never imagined that God’s plan would make me a pastor’s wife, nor that God would ever give me the courage and the honor of sharing my story in the hope of inspiring some else.

My children and I are safe. We are living a happily and safely ever after in Christ’s peace. Amen

22 thoughts on “My Journey

  1. Thank you God for saving Karen! May she continue to be an inspiration to other Sisters of Christ as she is for me. Please provide protection, strength and wisdom for the abused. In Jesus’ name we pray.

  2. I am very touched by your story. I’m glad you were able to get away from those who were hurting you. I was also in an abusive marriage. It wasnt physical but emotional and verbal abuse. I didnt want to leave and uproot my daughter so I hung on for seven years. Finally I prayed for God to give me a clear answer as to what He wanted me to do. A couple weeks later, my ex threatened me. Something came over me and I decided that was the moment to leave. I could feel God’s hand on my back pushing me…pack your things and run. I heard Him saying it was okay. I never had the courage before but that day He walked with me and led me out. I now have a wonderful man who has never uttered one negative comment to me. We attend church together and he is a great support for me and my daughter. Thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to reading your posts : )

  3. Tammy-Thank you for sharing your story, it is so important to know we’re not alone. I know when I was in that situation, I felt alone. I felt like the stupidest person on earth; like everyone else had happy, loving relationships, no one else would allow themselves to be hit or abuse- just me. And I had no idea what the RIGHT decision was.

    Thank you Lord for leading Tammy and her daughter out of danger; and for giving her a new life. Lord, I especially praise you for her incredible gift of photography and for inspiring her to sharing her talent for photography on her blog. As you know, I love to paint -her picture of the trees is awesome. Thank you Lord for crossing our paths. I look forward to seeing your creation through her lens. Amen!

  4. Karen- You brought tears to my eyes. Your words were so kind. It’s amazing how God can bring strangers into our lives to lift us up when we need it most. There are so many people in the world with stories to share and its great that blogs are able to help us relate to things that we feel so alone in. Thank you again and have a blessed day!

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  9. God never gives up, my heart is singing because your story has a happy ending. I hope you will write your memoir as I am. I have just started my blog as I complete my memoir, my story is also one of pain and of rescue by our loving God.

    • Amen Lily! I wish you God’s peace and speed as you prepare your memoir. I also pray for our Lord to prepare the hearts and minds of everyone who reads your story. May they find they are not alone.

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  13. “God enabled me to give my life over to His plan, to follow His path, to forgive and love my abusers from a safe distance, to accept a new family, my church family.” – Thank you so much for sharing, this particular section really spoke to me. I have been struggling with this very thing and wondering, have I truly forgiven if I do not continue a relationship with those that have hurt me. Recently, I have been praying for God to give me peace about this very thing and He brought me that peace through you and this message. Thank you again.

    • Dear Know My Heart Girl,

      Thank you for being the beautiful woman God crafted you to be. I am thankful my journey spoke to you and hopefully will shine a path for you and continue to reaffirm you are moving in the right direction when you are running as fast as you can away from abuse.

      Lord continue to light the way for my sister. Embrace her in healthy relationships and shield her from the venom of toxic people.

      Let her feel the warmth of your Grace. Amen

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