Growing up in a broken family that appeared picture-perfect in church every Sunday, Jennifer MacLean endured an abusive father, all the while, her resentment for God grew deeper and deeper. After so many years of abuse, Jenn stopped feeling anything. When she was 14, she started using drugs. They were like a giant band-aid over her broken life, covering the abuse from her father and her past rape experiences. She began prostituting herself to get rides or drugs. After a few halfhearted attempts to get clean when she was 18, Jenn gave up and spiraled into the worst she’d ever been. She told me, “I really didn’t care if I lived or died then.”
Her family finally noticed the severity of her condition and got her into Christian rehab. Jenn fought against it and refused to open up to the people around her. Being clean was beyond difficult, and she described when she had to share a verse with everyone her first week in rehab. She angrily picked Romans 5:1-5 that talks about finding joy in the suffering. Jenn told everyone, “There is no way to find joy in your pain. And if God is real, I don’t want His love. The love I know hurts people.” Her scars from the abuse she suffered for years were open wider than ever as she faced a God who was supposed to love her like a father. She soon came to realize that it was a different kind of love, however.
After weeks, Jenn finally accepted Christ as her savior. Jenn laughed as she recalled how disappointed she was when everything wasn’t immediately better. She chuckled, “I thought when I got saved I would get my freakin’ joy!” Jenn’s healing was far from complete, though. She suffered from night terrors from her past rapes and continued to experience extreme paranoia and irrational fear.
Jenn slowly recognized the evident healing in her life. She began to hear God speak saying, “You don’t need to compare me to your dad. I’m so different from that.” She finally faced her rape experiences head-on and was able to have peace through it. God comforted her: “Now don’t look back. That’s not what defines you.” Jenn spoke of how she has continued to heal saying, “I had to realize that whatever man God has for me someday is not going to hurt me. I’m waiting on the Lord, but I’m not afraid. I’m actually kind of excited.”
I asked Jenn how she had managed to stay clean all this time, and she replied, “At first, giving up drugs was really hard. I felt trapped and like every day was a fight. I thought it would always be like that and drugs would forever feel like an easy out. But God delivered me from that, and I did NOT want to leave God. It’s not a battle anymore. I’m not gonna lie – some days I really want drugs, but that’s not my fight: it’s God’s. I give that back to Him.”
Rachel Adams is a contributor to the Daily Runner.