When I was five and one-half-years old, my father was committed to a psychiatric hospital 50 miles away from my home. Mom was left alone to care for five little children; my oldest brother was 7, I was the oldest girl, and the youngest three were in diapers (3, 2 and 8 months old).

The doctors had little hope that Dad would ever come home. They diagnosed him with Paranoid Schizophrenia. No doubt, two and a half years on the battle fields of World War II and PTSD also contributed to his state.

A day came when Mom took my older brother and me to see a “really cool place.” There were lots of toys, food, and even our own beds. The promise of not having to share beds with little kids who peed the bed every night sounded pretty good.

In spite of all that, my older brother Mel was crying. When I asked him what was wrong he said, “This is an orphanage! Mom’s going to give us away!”

Another option for Mom was to “farm the kids out” to relatives. We had kind aunts and uncles who were willing to take one or the other of us to raise. All were farmers and could use the “extra help.” Thankfully, for some reason, Mom was determined to keep us together and make it work.

From then on I believed that my survival was dependent upon becoming INDESPENSIBLE so I wouldn’t be given away. Therefore, I pushed myself to be the “perfect child.” I took care of the little kids, and did a lot of cleaning and dishwashing. I hid my hurts and kept quiet about the sexual abuse I was experiencing. I knew Mom could not handle it. I felt my main job was to keep people laughing and happy, especially after Dad was released from the hospital after one and a half years. His sadness would last for days unless I could do or say something really funny to pull him out of it. We were all “walking on eggshells” so we wouldn’t upset Dad. We didn’t want to do anything to cause him to go back to the hospital.

As a result of my young, fearful foundation I developed some protective coping skills that were not healthy or right. I continued to believe I needed to please people in order to earn their love. I still felt the need to be indispensable to the point that if things went wrong, I reasoned that somehow I must have caused it. I put pleasing people above pleasing God which resulted in being cowardly, deceitful and in making being the most popular in school my goal.

One of my most painful hurts was realizing I had been “groomed for sexual abuse” by a religious leader. He took me places and did things for me that my parents could never afford to do. He made me feel special until the day I was taken to a back room of the church where his actions made his intentions very clear. With burning tears in my eyes I ran. My CONCLUSION: I can’t trust anyone who shows me love and attention, not even a religious person.

With new understanding of the nature of God I began to see that I had been seeking his love on “my terms.” In my relationship with God I was trying to earn his love by being good enough, charming enough, nice enough and hardworking enough so he would of course have to save me. I had earned it!

It took time to break down my faulty foundational thinking to believe God loved me unconditionally. Most important of all, I came to truly believe that only Jesus’ shedding his blood on the cross and his resurrection was what forgave me and saved me. So I resigned control of my life, made Jesus my Lord and Savior and was baptized.

Thankfully, God gave me THE MOST TRUSTWORTHY MAN I know to marry. (Yet, because of my lack of faith and trust, I did not trust him either until I let God do his work to heal and renew my heart.)

My enemy, Satan, made sure I had plenty of evidence to pull me back into my faithless, fearful old self. Daily the “father of lies” works hard to attack my faith and convince me to go back to doubting and unbelief. I used to think that unbelief was no big deal. It was one of the “fluffy sins.” I no longer believe that. In my life unbelief is disgusting and dangerous!

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” — Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)

The irony of Satan’s attacks and life’s circumstances is that God can also use them to teach me to unconditionally trust him. Satan kept trying to hand me my old tools and faulty beliefs, but those tools are useless when big life challenges happen. Here are just few areas that have challenged my growing faith AND my old need to feel indispensable.

Years of Chronic Pain – Am I no longer able to be productive?

Cancer – Facing death raised questions of God’s love.

Mental challenges – I want to feel capable, but my ADD brain causes me frustration and shame.

Emotional challenges – Years of Clinical depression & anxiety; interrupt my efforts to bring joy and humor.

Neurological challenges – My physical appearance is affected by Essential Tremors. I fear what people think.

Plenty of Suffering and Sorrows

Two sons with leukemia Adult daughter with chronic illnesses and pain Death of our youngest son, David 36

God had to carry me through this.

Through my life I have had more than enough sorrows and suffering yet I cannot use these challenges to excuse my faithlessness when I look at the cross. The cross has taught me to trust that God loves me in spite of my circumstances and personal lack of ability. His love is unconditional, and his love endures forever.

It helps me to see that on the cross, Jesus faced every excuse that I use when I don’t trust God. (taken from Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12)

People were appalled at his appearance

He was despised, rejected by men

Man of sorrows, familiar with suffering

He took our infirmities and sorrows

We thought God caused him to suffer

Jesus was literally nailed to the cross where he was physically limited. He let the nails hold him there. From the cross he submitted to doing nothing except total faith, trust and love. Yet, what he accomplished because of his trust in God, his love and his faith saved me! Jesus learned obedience from the things he had suffered, and I can too!

“Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.” — Hebrews 5:8 (NLT)

“For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.” — Galatians 5:6 (NLT)

God has not fixed everything or healed every disease in our family nor given us an easy life financially, but he has given us faith to see HIM and know his LOVE. He has also given us a ministry of salvation and hope to others.

BY THE WAY:I learned at my mother’s funeral (10 years ago) what happened to change her mind about giving my older brother and me up for adoption. An elder’s wife told me of a conversation she had with my mother after church on a Sunday night (A rare occasion with 5 little kids). She was crying as she told Wanita that she was giving us up for adoption. Wanita talked and prayed with Mom. From that conversation, she decided to trust God with our future. Praise God she did!