Testimony of Faith

Linda – Age 17
Linda – Age 17

I’m Linda M Carleton an abuse survivor rescued out of darkness by God’s grace. I grew up in a dysfunctional family in Lake Luzerne, New York.

As children, we endured and witnessed child abuse and child sexual abuse, and acquired a dysfunctional mindset.

I lacked the moral and biblical guidance necessary for an abundant life. I lived in darkness with fear most of my adult life.

As a young mother, I endured domestic violence for three and one-half years. I lost custody of two children and ran in fear of my life.

At a battered woman shelter, several months later, I repeated the dysfunctional patterns of childhood once again. I left behind a new an apartment, counseling help and getting a GED to move in with a new boyfriend.

Now in my early twenties and still wandering in darkness, I flew to San Francisco California with my boyfriend and our two-year-old son. We were searching for an abundant life.

We ran out of money after a few months and began eating at soup kitchens and city missions.

One evening, at a city mission in Oakland, California we listened to a sermon before the meal.

I was at my lowest point in life.

I was in a strange state with little money and lacked the job skills to earn an income. I had a broken heart from losing two children. My spirit was downtrodden and mind oppressed by physical, mental and verbal abuse.

I paid close attention to what the Minister said that night. As the service ended, the Minister invited everyone to come forward. He asked us to receive Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.

I needed that Lord Jesus Christ the Minister was talking about during his sermon. I chose to walk forward and confess my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The next morning, I looked out the window of our 7th story apartment with new eyes as everything appeared different. On the inside, I felt peace deep inside, love inside my heart and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

My life changed forever!

I enrolled in a six-month Certified Nurses and Home Health Aid training class. Afterward, I found work at St Josephs Convalescent Hospital in Castro Valley, California.

We attended the Salvation Army Church in Berkeley, California for more than a year. The pastors Harold and Jeanne Stromberg taught us the Word of God and guided us on the right path in life.

Linda with son in California
Linda with son in California

One day while waiting for a public bus with our 4-year-old son. An older man started talking about raising him on the streets.

He said; “when you raise a child on the streets; they learn from their environment and turn out like the cement on the sidewalk. And like the cement on the sidewalk, you can’t separate the two again.”

This encounter encouraged me not to raise him in Oakland, California. Within a few months, we traveled for a month across the country back to New York.

I continued learning the Word of God by attending a weekly Bible study with family members. Over the years, I learned to place my faith in the Lord and trusted Him to provide for my needs. However, I was not obedient to the Word of God or following Jesus Christ on a continuous basis.

I was walking in the world of darkness with sinful conditions. All while grabbing onto the word of God. I was a part-time Christian, living in the “partial” light of Christ and still bound by the chains of sin.

I continued making unhealthy choices and decisions in life. I kept on living in fear of an abusive husband and carrying the burdens of guilt and shame.

After living in an unhealthy relationship for twenty years, I decided to resolve the relationship and move on my own. I wanted a man who respected and loved me.

I was still searching for an abundant life.

Shortly after, I became involved with another man. I acted in haste even though the Lord’s small voice clearly said “fool.”  Once again, I didn’t listen and chose to do things my way; to follow my feelings.

My actions brought about devastating consequences. I suffered once again because I didn’t listen to and trust His word “fool.”

It was the biggest mistake and pivotal turning point in my life. Praise God; I finally learned to “listen” to and “trust” in Lord.

ALWAYS!

Within a few months after, I joined a dating website to search for a good man to date. Shortly after signing up with the username “PinkMusic” and making my photo visible to the public.

I received a short message “Is that u Linda?”  in my inbox. Confused, I clicked on the profile name “oJoEo” to view his photos. I quickly clicked the logoff button to leave the website.

His message, “Is that u Linda?” now held meaning. And put extreme fear in me. The past twenty-four years came rushing back like a violent tidal wave.

conversation

 

I wanted to run again. I wanted to hide in the darkness and thought about deleting my account on the dating website. However, I had a chance to face the fear.

I decided to step out by faith, knowing God is always with and will always protect me.

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10 KJV

I sent a reply saying,

“Why must you ask when you know it’s your wife? I have forgiven you in my heart that is all I have to say.”

He responded back saying,

“Just wanted to say I am VERY sorry for all I had done. I am not that person anymore, not by far. Only some punk ass kid would do the shit I did. I was devastated by Anthony’s illness, made me very angry. I had a lot of issues, period, but, my life has changed. I am not trying to be a friend, to get back or none of that. I just wanted to say sorry and hope life sheds a ton of happiness upon you and yours.”

the next morning.

My only response was,

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 KJV

I chose this passage of scripture because I couldn’t understand why he abused me or how he could do such awful things.

His words “I am not that person anymore, not by far” stood out the most. I knew he was telling the truth. He wasn’t that same punk ass kid anymore. In one of his photos, his entire back was tattooed with a depiction of Jesus head wearing the crown of thorns. It was beautiful!

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 KJV

Carrying the secrets of abuse, I lived in the darkness with fear, guilt, and shame for over twenty years until we sent those messages.

I never disclosed these secrets in detail to anyone out of shame.

By the grace of God, I walked out of the darkness into the light of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ set me free from the bondage of sin.

 

 

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