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When Cindy first mentioned to me about contributing to the writing room I didn't quite know where to start. I could start at the beginning of my life with Christ which only truly started 3 years ago or at the true beginning when I thought I was lost, alone, and very angry at God. So through a lot of soul searching I decided to start at the true beginning to fully describe the impact coming to Christ had on my once shattered, closed off, painful world as I struggled and almost lost the fight with Depression. Not many know the whole story and I hope by sharing, it will influence and uplift others in the process. So here goes.

 I didn't come from a religious family. My father was forced to attend a French Catholic church in St.Georges and was taught by nuns so as soon as he was old enough he stopped going all together and my mother comes from a broken home of violence, serial dating and alcohol abuse and has been on her own since she was 16, which I'm sure contributed to the way she is but no way excuses her behavior throughout my life. My early childhood is fuzzy at best, mostly images and certain memories remain, I believe in an attempt for my brain to save itself from the trauma. One of my earliest memories is from about 4 years old banging and screaming at the bedroom door until my throat and fists were sore one night pleading with my mother to let me out of my room I shared with my sister to go to the bathroom as I found it was locked from the outside. But apparently the abuse started long before that as my cousin later on admitted after I was an adult that once when over visiting for coffee and cards she witnessed my mother get very angry that 2 or 3 year old Jennifer was on the coffee table and proceeded to grab me off and throw me across the living room, luckily onto a couch. Most of my memories are of my father and very little of my mother other than her watching TV and trying to ignore us all together. My parents divorced when I was 10 due to infidelity on my mother's part and she moved out to start a new life with my father's best friend at the time. Through my mother's selfish actions two families were torn apart and from what I was told later I became very angry. I was angry at her for leaving and not being the mother I wanted and needed, I was angry at my father for his temper and the terrible women he chose to date afterwards, I was angry at school because I had no friends and was mercilessly bullied every day to the point of coming home in tears almost every day, and most of all I was angry at God for giving me such a life and wondered what I did to deserve the cards I had been dealt.

In my senior year of high school I finally had enough of my father's constant verbal and physical abuse and called child family services on him. They immediately took me to the police station for my statement and deemed my homelife unsafe and I stayed at a shelter for the night until I was placed with my Aunt and Uncle, Lucie and Ray. Lucie is one of my father's older sisters and both her and Ray are devout Catholics and I would accompany them to Sunday masses and that is where I got my first taste of Religion. I felt at peace singing the hymns and repeating the prayers but something was still missing. It felt like yet another chore and that too much had happened in my short life and was already tainted and "not good enough" to be a Catholic girl. Right before I graduated things improved with my father and I moved back home and everything was alright for a little while. I graduated Cum Laude with Honors despite my rocky background and was looking forward to attending College in the fall for Business Administration until my father dropped the bombshell that there was nothing saved for my education and that I would have to do it on my own. I got a job as a chambermaid at the Papertown Inn in Powerview to start saving for school because despite the torture and ridicule I endured daily from my classmates I enjoyed learning and still do to this day.

 I turned 18 on September 27, 2004 and shortly after that my life changed forever. I started going to the bar and met the father of my daughter Mia, Jason, one night. At first I didn't want to date him as there was a 9 year difference and something in my gut told me to stay away. But I didn't listen because he would show me the attention and compliments I had always longed for and got his friends to accept me into their group which was like a drug for an outsider like me. Plus my father and his girlfriend at the time hated him and that was even better yet. So we started dating and the day after Christmas of that year my father kicked me out of the house and sealed my fate. I was with him for a total of 4 years and it wasn't all bad at first. We both worked we got an apartment together and all seemed well. Then once Jason started having health and eventually mental issues causing him to drink and do drugs heavily things changed. It started off with little things like calling me stupid, lazy, no one would ever love me like he did and that I was too stupid to ever live on my own that I was trapped. He had me isolated from my family and believing any lie he told me. He controlled where I went, our bank account, who I talked to and any time I even hinted at leaving he would throw things and flip coffee tables and then start crying saying he wasn't good enough for me and lock himself in the bathroom threatening to kill himself. Then drugs and alcohol became so important to him that he pawned a lot of my belongings and his just to pay rent and I sometimes wouldn't be allowed to eat for 2-3 days at a time. I truly believe God sent that child into my womb as my redemption even when I couldn't see it at the time. The news of the little life growing inside me was a shock to both of us as I was on birth control at the time and severely malnourished weighing in at a mere 100 pounds on my 5 foot 9 frame. We moved in with his parents when I was 8 months pregnant as we were becoming homeless as a roommate we had screwed us over, my fault of course, and I gave birth to a healthy baby girl a month later on February 15th, 2008. After Mia was born I fell into a severe postpartum depression and I fell even further into despair and angry at God, but at the same time I thought I deserved it as I was a sinner and fell short to the perfectness of God and began to question if he ever truly existed to begin with since he allowed me to endure so much suffering.

When Mia was about 8 months old and we were living in housing outside of Lac du Bonnet something in me finally had enough and snapped. It all started one morning when Jason was up to his regular ranting only this time he had me by the upper arms and was shaking me so hard my teeth rattled, in my face talking about how I was a lazy, fat cow and all I wanted to do was sleep when I was up at night with our daughter for feedings while he slept soundly every night and I looked to the beautiful little angel asleep in her rocking chair and a voice I now know as God's whispered you can't let her grow up thinking this is normal, you have to get out before he hurts her or he kills you. I managed to kick him away from me and scooped up that little girl and told him to get away from me and call his parents to come get him because we were done and I was taking Mia to the bedroom to call my Dad and if he tried to kick down the door I would call the cops and I finally got away from him.

Up until this point my relationship with my mother was shaky and infrequent at best. She would pop in and out of my life for the rest of my school years and into my adult years. By the time Mia came along we were talking and she agreed to come up to see Mia after she was born but she never did. She didn’t actually meet her Grandchildren until after Kiera was born at around 9 months and Mia was already almost 5, she didn’t see a problem with this, even though she had no problem being there when her second husband’s children had their kids. Then everything came to a head after Father’s Day in 2009. The day after I got a messenger message from her saying I don’t know if you noticed or not but I unfriended you because of the nice things you said about your Dad making him seem perfect, to which I responded he was far from perfect but he was always there at least. We argued back and forth and I eventually stopped rising to the bait because I knew by now that the one thing my mother enjoyed more than anything was making someone else miserable so she was just trying to get a rise out of me. I finally had enough when she lashed out saying if I thought my father was so perfect that I should know that I was the product of rape, I knew this was false for at least three reasons, one I have a younger sister, two my mother cheated at least with three different men over the course of her marriage to my father and three even though my father had his faults he just isn’t that kind of person. While I was processing all this and she continued to lash at me even though I begged her to stop I heard that little voice again whispering forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to let the abuse continue, you can walk away. So I did, I put her on block on Facebook and have not spoken to her since. Forgiving her has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to overcome in my life but the anger and resentment that this woman couldn’t love me unconditionally like a mother was supposed to is something I’ve learned isn’t my fault, I’m not defective, I’m not unlovable, it has to do with her and whatever issues she has and I can’t change it no matter how angry I get or think about how wrong it is that I got the mother I was given instead of the mother I needed and she gave me the perfect example of what I choose not to be to my own children. I’ve learned with God’s help to put all the longings I’ve had for a real mother and what I thought one should look like over the years into the mother I am today to my two girls.

I've had some ups and downs in the years that followed and fell further and further into anxiety and depression, isolated and alone I felt I had no way out and no relief from the torment in my own mind and decided I wanted to end my own life as it was my only escape, or so I thought. Every time I started to plan my demise I would either chicken out or think of my girls growing up without their mother and decide not to. It was a tedious balancing act that I almost lost more than once on those nights that were the darkest but I always had that nagging little voice in the back of my skull that would prevent me from following through on the thoughts that plagued me. One day I would be fine and happy and full of energy the next I would be bed ridden and not wanting to exist anymore. Sometimes while driving I would sing at the top of my lungs other times invasive thoughts like just a jerk of the steering wheel at highway speeds and it could be all over or images of going off a bridge would plague my mind. I was a ticking time bomb getting closer and closer to detonation. When I wasn't suffering almost daily crippling panic attacks I would just go through the motions, a husk of a person. I trusted no one and kept myself isolated, I felt like I was just spinning my wheels in quicksand, sinking lower and lower with each passing day. The more I fought the more I would sink until I was all consumed in oppressive darkness.

Then by the grace of God a light cut through my dark world in the shape of a hand of friendship from an amazing, beautiful, wonderful soul that we all know as Melayni Schwab. We were working together at the school as lunch supervisors and she invited me to a group at the church called The Gathering with Kid's Club running at the same time for my girls. Soon as I walked over the threshold at Abundant Life Chapel I felt an inner peace I never experienced before, like a giant burden was lifted from my shoulders and I heard that whisper again at the back of my skull only louder say "Don't worry I got this" and I accepted Jesus into my heart that very night. I learned that night that life is our gift from God and what we do with that life is our gift to God.

 I've never felt more at peace or like I belong as much as when I was in that building and after many church services and other activities I've learned to keep that feeling going and take it everywhere I go through prayer, reading my bible and various books and studies to know God better. Especially now that I am sitting here in Mississippi writing this I look back on all I have learned over the past couple years and am very thankful for each one of you reading this that poured into mine and my girls' lives. Thanks to my "church family" I have learned what a true sense of community feels like and could never imagine going back. The devil tried many times throughout my life to overtake me,  but even when I couldn't see or feel Him, I know now that God was with me every step of the way and that He will continue to do so until I can finally come home to Him because I am a child of God and His love knows no bounds and will never stop. If I had to sum up my before and after Christ experience it would be 1 Corinthians 13:12-13, Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever - faith, hope and love - and the greatest of these is love.



Cindy Cindy almost 3 years ago

This is sadly beautiful. As I was reading of your suffering, an image came to me of coloured shards of glass. The broken, shattered pieces of your life, and how God can, and has, taken all the pieces and glued them together into a beautiful stained glass masterpiece. That is what you are, Jenn. Resilient, strong, courageous, creative, intelligent, encouraging, beautiful and the exact loving mother that God chose for your girls. A shining example of God's redemption, grace, mercy, forgiveness, hope and extravagant love. You have a powerful testimony, and I thank you for sharing it! Keep shining. Your light is getting brighter and brighter!!

Kristen almost 3 years ago

Jenny, thank you for sharing your story. I have been learning lately how to hold two separate things at the same time that seem to contradict each other since things don’t actually have to be one or the other. I thank God and rejoice with you for the love of God and the light, peace, and belonging you have received. At the same time, I am so sorry for all the things you have gone through in your life. That is so much pain and hurt. It’s awful and it is not lost on me. I am glad that you now have faith, hope, and love. I pray that by the grace of God these will remain strong in your life and that they will be strongly present in your household and kids’ lives and hearts as well.

Melayni almost 3 years ago

With tears in my eyes I rejoice!! I knew your story, but to read It in one sitting overwhelmed me again with what God has saved you from! Always keep living for Him knowing He has an amazing plan for your life!! I love and miss you and thank God he put you right in front of me!

Linette McLean almost 3 years ago

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was touched so deeply and thank God for being with you through all the ups and downs. It sure hasn’t been easy...and maybe at times you still experience some lows...but with God on your side you have peace, hope, and purpose to keep going! Such powerful truth :D

Julie Veilleux almost 3 years ago

Thank you for sharing Jenny! Forgiveness is indeed a hard thing to do with so much abuse and hurt from people who should have provided a safe and loving space. As a read your testimony/story, I had to think of the Christ's blood that was shed for the sins of the world. I prayed that many times over my childhood/past and found release in it. That was yesterday, and I know Who holds today and tomorrow! Blessings as you move forward and grow in the Love of Christ!

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