Loved

Paul was "convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love. Death can't, and life can't. The angels can't, and the demons can't. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away" (Romans, 8:38, NLT).

My story is a narration of this truth. A story about an unlikely little girl who grew up to be a loved woman.

I was born in the early seventies to a young couple in Norman, Oklahoma. Before my first birthday this unlikely pair split and went their separate ways in ideology and lifestyle. They even choose to live two hours apart in two different cities.

This experience marks my first real memory of vulnerability and abandonment. But looking back, I am confident that a voice I would hear most of my life was softly speaking in a lullaby, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

My mom remarried shortly after my biological dad to a man who owned his own business. He provided nice things. He also provided my mom with a scar she wears on her arm from his intense anger. For me, his best gift came in the form of his three sons – my brothers. This era only lasted a short time. They divorced by the time I was three and his death from a massive heart attack came shortly after.

My world was turned upside down after this divorce. I spent over six months in another state without my mom or dad. My understanding of security was vague and my lack of trust took root. At this small age, I become well-aware that you can hurt so deeply that it just stops hurting altogether. My vaulted off heart emerges, yet God, in His lovingkindness does not stop loving me.

I started kindergarten with a new stepdad, a new home, and my first memories of a church family. I was surrounded by my mom’s loving extended family and a neighborhood with plenty of friends to play with when I got home from school. Throughout this era of my life, my biological parents’ initial divorce became a medieval torture device that pulled me in two different directions. In one city I was a privileged little girl attending an upper middle class school, church, and a country club member learning to play golf. Yet, only two hours away, every other weekend – I was a quick-witted, resourceful child depending on her own intellect to navigate through a world of creative darkness. My real dad and his new wife were both musicians. By age seven, I had already been sexually abused by two different men that I knew of, witnessed drug use, rampant alcohol abuse, and a party scene that far exceeded anything I would later see in college.

My two very different worlds only overlapped for a few years. It abruptly came to a halt when my real dad’s wife left us. My dad fell into a deep depression and I did not see him for years. Even though the pain I harbored in my heart was so unbearable it stayed vaulted, God still pursued me and showed up multiple times as a loving Creator to me.

At that time, my family of four was still intact and I was enjoying a stepdad who kindly coached my basketball team and a baby sister that I felt like belonged to me. Our family enjoyed Sunday dinners, friends and social events, and holidays together. To me, this was a time of restoration and I hoped desperately that it would last, but it didn't.

By age twelve that dream was shattered, too. My stepdad moved on and my sister would go every other weekend with him and I would sit in my room missing him. I gave up basketball and vaulted off another place in my heart; but still always had hope of a better tomorrow.

By age thirteen, I had a new stepdad, number four. This man was a church deacon and a child psychologist. According to the world’s eyes, a great choice for parenting two girls scarred by a divorce. But sadly his titles did not reflect his heart; he was a predator – a sexual predator. I found myself fighting him off and by high school his motives were revealed and yet another divorce took place.

Now, a high school junior, I am forced to assume that good things happen to incredible people and that people like me were meant to walk in a harsh world. I combatted this harshness with perfectionism and service. Leadership positions seemed to come naturally to me and reading people to be able to please them became a way of life.

My first year of college I attended a Christian retreat because of a boy that I was dating that seemed to be in-love with serving God. At the retreat I memorized my life verse, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6, NIV).

For years I hung on that verse, not fully understanding what it meant, but understanding that I needed to seek God with faith. Faith is really hard for someone who has had the rug pulled out from them as many times as I have in life. Faith is also hard for a heart that is so vaulted that it is hard to feel emotions of dependence or trust.

I lived over a decade with this haunting of my own lack of faith. My heart had to be so crushed with the weight of the world to finally even attempt to seek Him earnestly. But by age 30, with a two-year-old and a husband standing by the water I was in, I died with Christ (my vaulted, unloved heart submerged) and was raised to walk in faith with Him.

“For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Col. 1:13-14, NIV).

I wear a bracelet that my husband gave to me that reads, "I love you" and this unlikely woman not only believes it, but walks in it. Nothing can separate me from a God who unconditionally moves mountains for us to be together.

God is love.

I believe Him.
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About Me

Monica Epperson
United States
I write books for children dealing with divorce related issues and am a co-founder of a non.profit for children of divorce.

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Inspired by Max Lucado's book, God's Story, Your Story.

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