Song on my mind: The Truth by Anthony Hamilton
Date: 11th April 2008
In July I will be 24. It’s pretty daunting because I always said I would be married with my first child by the time I reached this age. About a year ago I was practically on track but now I don’t see myself having babies anytime soon!
So I’m 23, have a relatively good job and a great boss, own my car, have a degree, lots of friends and the opportunity for a ridiculously active social life. I’m a Christ Couture Girl. I love God, anything Fashion related, eating out, parties, music, cars and driving.
I always say that on paper my life looks great; perfect in fact. But life never is is it? In Spring 2006 my mum said one day I would write a Testimony about my experience. I wasn’t really paying attention I mean I had just written one and I thought that was it. But as you probably know, mums are usually always right and so here I am trying to put pen to paper about my experiences trying to help somebody, release myself from the burden of my past without defaming anybody I know and/or care/d about.
If you’ve read my former testimony you’ll know that I was a bit of a wild child. Or just a typical product of a single parent (no father) home. So when I graduated and had to come and live back home I was a bit apprehensive about how I would cope. After all I had done everything I possibly could do wrong and had a set lifestyle pattern I wasn’t about to change.
In my last year of university my mother, brother and sister had begun to attend a new church. One of the members was newly ‘ordained’ and used to pray specifically for my sister who was struggling at the time. He paid special attention to my family so when he left to form his own church, my family went with him.
He was a youngish pastor in his early 30s and although he was nice and friendly I was a bit afraid of him! In my last year of university he would alert my mum to contact me on various occasions and invariably I would be ‘caught’ doing something ‘naughty’ at the time. It was really irritating to be honest i just wanted to get on with doing ‘me’! But then in May I had a really strong conviction that i had to stop so on Easter weekend I fasted and prayed and had no contact with anyone. I fully repented of all my sins and cried out to God for forgiveness. On the final night, I felt cleansed and I knew that God had been with me. I rang my mum all excited and told her what I’d done. She was pretty nonchalant about it and seemed uninterested. I know now that she had her own stuff going on but I immediately felt deflated and felt that if she didn’t know then maybe my experience hadn’t been real. At that point I was still living my Faith through my mother.
So I went back to being bad again and forgot about that experience. When I graduated and came home my mum asked me to come to church with them so I did. The services were long and intense and we had to travel to the other side of London several times a week. There were only about 10 of us and we met in a grotty little room in SE London which is so NOT my favourite area in the world. I know I can be a bit of a snob when it comes to cleanliness but I had to swallow my pride and sit there.
My mum has always instilled in me the importance and power of the Word of God and so I have a pretty good general knowledge of the Bible but I hadnt read it much in my 3 years away so I’d forgotten alot. Each service was like a very intensive Bible Study. I went back to memorising scriptures, learned new passages and new interpretations. I learned about the ministry of Deliverance and became passionate about singing for God again. It was great on the surface but my extremely grateful and generous mother was giving her whole salary to the church leaving us with hardly anything. My sister wasn’t working, my brother was at college and I hadn’t yet started my placement. We struggled to buy food and money to travel anywhere but we were still generally coping somehow.
My placement started in August and although I was excited, I didn’t feel able to really enjoy it as we had so much going on at church and at home. An African tradition requires you to give your first salary to your family and I gave mine to the Pastor at his indirect request. He said that I was giving it ‘to God’ and that He would reward me for it. At this point I had heard enough teachings to believe that I was really bad and that I needed as much help as possible to get closer to God so I did it. It felt good to be obedient for once and to have my mother happy with me. My brother was chosen to lead the worship and he emerged from his shell. He has a beautiful voice but had previously suffered from being intensely shy and withdrawn. My very spiritually sensitive sister had started to emerge from depression but had withdrawn from the church due to the heavy handed approach it had to Deliverance which mostly included shouting and ‘fire prayers’ from which I frequently lost my voice!
Anyway after giving my money away, I had none to get to work or put petrol in my car so I couldn’t go. I was so ashamed I called work and told them I was sick. It was only my 2nd or 3rd week so I knew it didn’t look good but I didn’t know what else to say; “I couldn’t get to work because I have no money, I gave it all to my church”, sounded crazy. Soon after the department I was meant to work in folded and I no longer had a role so I had to move on. My mum also stopped working because the Pastor said she was meant to be in full time ministry. It’s funny because any normal person would have seen all these rules and restrictions as crazy but because we all knew we had gone wrong somewhere and we were desperate to have our issues sorted out, we did and believed anything we were told by someone who seemed to have all the answers.
The Pastor displayed no evil towards us. Far from it. Only now do I see that what he did was create a situation where we were completely reliant on him so that we would always see the good in him no matter what he did or what other people said about him. We bought several people to the church but they always left and thought there was something funny about him/the church.
At this point my sister had moved out unable to take the pressure from us to come to church and the way she felt she was being treated there. We were now going about 5 times a week.
In church one day the Pastor announced someone in the church would give their car away to someone in need and I reacted like a bee had stung me and gave mine to my best friend who had just written hers off. She was ecstatic, my dad was confused.
We all sought the Pastor’s approval and did anything to please him. He talked to us as if we were important and special to him so all of us with needy temperaments reacted positively. He knew the Bible inside out and I learned a huge amount. I stopped talking to most of my friends and actually became a nicer person because I was concentrating on my character and moulding it to the likeness of God. It was hard but we all got on much better because we were trying to shake off our bad habits and attitudes. My mum had been ill but was healed of it in that church, my baby brother (20 now!) looked so hot in his church suit and became a wonderful and confident young man.
I stopped caring about my appearance and it was then that the Pastor said I would get married soon (!). A young Nigerian had just joined us and although I wasn’t attracted to him at all, when the Pastor said he would be my husband, I readily agreed! So he said I should relax my hair. My hair is very fine and I didn’t want to but when he said it I obeyed and relaxed it. As you will know if you’ve ever done it, when you relax your hair you need money to maintain and condition it. I didn’t have any so it started to fall out. I had bald patches and it broke across the back. I cried and cried and each time I went to church the Pastor would just pray that the 'evil spirits' that had taken my hair would give it back.
Church was scary and exhilarating at the same time. I hated all the talk of the dark side and their powers but I loved the hours we spent in complete worship and will never forget the day I was lying on the floor ('slain in the Spirit’?), and started speaking what sounded like nonsense and then I realised I was speaking in Tongues! I was so happy and the Pastor said God had given me the gift due to my obedience.
I had given away all my clothes and shoes, thrown away all my private possessions, pictures from uni and before, given my car away and was losing hair but somehow it seemed ok. Just then, everything was perfect. And although this wasn’t all good, know in my heart that when there are no other distractions this is the best place to be; with God.
Then came the children. Anyone who knows me will know that I have always LOVED children. I studied Child Development and worked in my previous church’s crèche from a young age. When I was pregnant at uni one thing I never worried about was my ability to look after her. When i terminated the pregnancy I was inconsolable but I still loved children. At this church, a woman attended with her four children all under the age of 5. She worked alongside the Pastor and they got engaged a few months after I started there. The Pastor wasn’t a big fan of them and I’m not sure whose idea it was, but my mum ended up taking them home! Not all of them, just the younger two girls. The boys were looked after by their uncle who was had also joined the church with his young wife (who also had a baby). We were like a family so no one really minded it was like our duty.
At first I felt a bit resentful of the interruption but one of the first times the 2 year old (let’s call her Glory), came to stay, she cried so much at being separated from her mum, I decided to love her like my own and became her mini mum. Her sister (let’s call her Shalom), wasn’t even a year old but such a happy baby she didn’t really mind who looked after her as long as she was entertained and fed! By this time I was signing on which I hated but at least it gave money while I wasn’t working. None of the bills were being paid so we struggled but somehow we got by. Thank you God.
Any money I got (the Pastor and his wife gave us some..ironically, I think it was mostly out of what we gave to them but it seemd like a gift!) went towards the children.
I would spend hours looking for little clothes and boots and always made an effort to make them look beautiful for church so their mum would know they were being well looked after. It was hard but I loved it. They slept in my room with me in my sister’s bed and would get up early and play until I arose. They gave me a reason to wake up and I fully understood how people can live through their children. I would play with them, bathe them, change their nappies, helped with the potty training process for Glory, dress them, do their hair, cook for them and feed them. I learnt how to travel around on public transport with a tired and whiny 2 year old and a screaming 1 year old in a pram. They were a joy to have in the house and quickly became my life. Glory would spend hours playing by herself and singing praise and worship songs and then occasionally she would tell you she felt the need to pray for you and put her small hot hand on my bowed head and solemnly speak to God. I fell for them deeply.
One time when their mum came round and I was out, I opened the front room door and Shalom clambered down from her mum’s lap and ran to me! It was the most joyous feeling, ever.
At this point the Pastor had become very controlling and angry quickly but we made excuses for him. He put me in charge of finding a flat for him that we would pay for. I found the whole process fun (Love house hunting!), but in the end he found his own place and used the offerings we were giving in hundreds to pay for it. We were encouraged to get loans to pay for our freedom from ancestral and inherited sins (in the thousands) and my mum was often in tears as we all struggled to find the money which would ‘set us free’. He changed all of our names too and mine was ‘Ruth’. I changed it legally and it was in this church and in this state that I started Christ Couture magazine. I believe that you really do need to spend time with God in order for Him to talk to you and give you ideas.
Also around this time, the Pastor said that I was an adulterous in nature and that I was going to wreck somebody’s’ marriage. I was devastated and spent hours crying like really crying and begging God to take away this ‘nature’ in me or kill me.
In May the Pastor got married and I was the elder flower girl assisting Glory down the aisle. I was close to her mother and she often advised and prayed with me. She bought me the most beautiful dress, shoes and jewellery and we all looked lovely but it was not a great wedding. One of the wedding cars didn’t turn up so we all had to squash into one, I took the boys to get their hair cut and it took forever, hardly anyone came to the wedding or reception, it was raining, Glory was temporarily lost when she let go of my hand and ran to someone else and the DJ was awful. But it was done and we were all happy for them.
That night we went home exhausted. The next few weeks were very tense for some reason. Summer was approaching and I think we were getting tired of seeing few or no changes. We were still poor, the church hadn’t grown and we were tired of spending 4 hours a day travelling to and from church in all weathers and spending 4 hours plus in church when we finally got there. One day for some reason I committed a cardinal sin and didn’t go to church. I told my mum I was tired and I was. I got my babies ready for church and went to sleep.
When they came home my mum told me that the Pastor had said that I lusted after him and that I would try and wreck his marriage. It was the last straw and I told my mum that I’d had enough. That if that was the case what was the point in me even going to church? She agreed to take a week off for us to pray as a family. Another sin. The Pastor was angry and called us to say what we were doing was wrong. A note here is that you should always maintain a prayer life outside of the church. Only a Pastor who is hiding something will not want you to have your own relationship with God. We spent a week praying and fasting about our future and abstained from church.
My babies left. That week was horrible. The Pastor’s wife called us crying saying that her husband had been beating her – again. She had run away. We went with a friend of my mothers who is a man of God to the Pastor's wife's old flat where her brother., sister in law and children were staying. The Pastor came blazing with anger and appeared mad demanding to know what we were doing in secret. He stormed around the room and then left in a fury. It was pretty scary. In that evening and consequent weeks we found out how we had been scammed in so many ways and his wife said that she believed he had lusted after me and had dreams about me. It made me feel sick.
My sister came back home and we had to try and rebuild our lives. We started at a new fellowship but I left; I couldn’t take it anymore. I pretty much ignored God, my friend gave my car back and I got a temping job.
My babies left for good and I haven’t seen them since :(....
Around this time (Summer 2006), I met someone I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with. I met him through trying to find Sponsors for my magazine. The first time I met him he was about 3 hours late but it was a wonderfully sunny and warm day so I spent the whole time wondering up and down the Station waiting for him! We had a great night and got on so well we met again a few days later. We started talking almost every day and he met my mum who loves him and I met his parents. Initially he said I was something extremely close to being The One for him. But weeks afterwards he said he wasn’t sure about the relationship and I told him to go away and think about it because I knew what I wanted.
He responded immediately and said he wanted me. We were together from that point and inseparable. He was everything I’ve ever wanted in a guy and more and I was everything he wanted – for the record those are his words not mine ;). He helped restored my faith in God and I felt able to tell him anything. We spent hours pouring out our hearts to each other and he always encouraged me to pray. I needed him like I need air to breathe and he responded in kind. He was the first guy I would be on the phone with until the early hours of the morning and my mum would just laugh about it!
I knew I had to put God first and that he wasn’t perfect but he was. For me anyway. We laughed so much in those months and planned our future together. His best friend whom I loved called me Mrs ......... (his name).
The only problem i had was that he was busy often. He’d told me this when I first met him but said he knew he’d have to try and he did. But then I got tired of feeling guilty for him making extra efforts to see me so I decided I’d make it easier and go to him. I followed him everywhere just to spend time with him. When I stopped, it was ok because we made a special date night for just us and we stuck to it week in week out. It was hard to maintain ‘pure’ but because we both strongly believed in no sex before marriage, we didn’t sleep together even though the urge was often there.
One time I hadn’t gone to church (was back at my old Pentecostal church by this time) and felt really sad and lonely. My love was so involved in his own church activities that I never expected to see him on Sundays and had gotten used to it. I got down on my knees and cried to God. I wanted Him to show me that He really loved me like the Bible said He did. I wanted physical confirmation of it. I wanted Him to hug me and show me His true love. I looked a mess and was in tears. The next thing i knew, my brother was knocking on my room door to tell me that my love was downstairs! I was stunned! But all of a sudden I felt God saying that this is the person He would use to show His love for me. I quickly washed my face and came down to him.
We came up to my room and I told my love how I was feeling. He held me in his arms for ages and then when I was calm he opened the Bible and made me read it and then write a letter to God. I did it with him beside me and when I had finished he kissed me gently and told me I was beautiful and that God and he had my back. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world..
In May I knew we were getting to the make or break time in our relationship. I could feel the distance between us as we were getting close to a turning point. I was travelling and felt my love hadn’t really spent any time with me and when he did he would always have to rush off afterwards so I felt like it wasnt really my time.
The night before I left he surprised me and took me to see a film and to dinner. We watched Spiderman and while watching it I took note of something the grandma told Spiderman. She told him that until he was ready to put someone else first in his life, he was not ready for marriage. I glanced across at my companion and knew that he couldn’t do it. But I ignored it. Ignored it when he said he couldn’t take me to the airport because he was at an event and then when I called him before my flight I found out he hadn’t gone to the event and was just at home with his friends. I was upset but didn’t say anything as I’d seen him the night before anyway.
To cut a long story short, while I was away I had no contact with him until I decided to call him one day. It was a stilted conversation until finally he said he didn’t think God intended us for marriage and was breaking up with me. I was stunned and petrified at the same time. This is someone I had planned my future with. We’d planned our honeymoon, had discussed where and how we would live. Had talked about children and discipline. Our parents knew of our intentions..I couldn’t say anything and then the phone cut off! I sat and cried in astonishment for about 2 hours.
I prolonged my stay so I could think about it and my friend who knew nothing of my situation texted me and sent me a scripture that told me not to worry about anything. I believe that was from God but it didn’t stop me worrying!
When I finally came back he came over and we talked. Well I talked really, about how much I loved him and was confused. But it was like nothing happened! We looked at my holiday pics and laughed and joked and he kissed me before he left. Then he sent me a text that I will probably remember for ever: “No matter what comes or goes I will continue to love you!” It confused me and gave me a false hope that we would still get back together. I had lost a lot of weight whilst I was away that I’m not sure I have regained but emotionally I have been up and down over the last year trying to sort my head out. How could something so beautiful have disappeared so suddenly? I knew we weren’t perfect but I wanted us to work at it. But because he had used God’s name it confused me because its not something I could really challenge and I wondered if maybe I had heard from God wrong?
Eventually last summer my elder male cousin asked if I mind if he went to speak to him about it. I said no I didn't mind. I wanted him to because I needed to know what was going on in his head. At this point it had mostly been me keeping contact although my now ex love had said he wanted us to be friends. I felt like I was chasing him and he just kept saying that he doesn’t understand why I’d want to know him after what he’d done to me. But he was still doing it. After my cousin spoke to him, he apologised to me and told me the real reason he’d broken up with me was because he wasn’t ready to commit!!! I wasn’t really surprised, I was relieved to know the truth finally and was glad that my cousin managed to help him admit it.
He had stopped telling me he loved me a long time ago but I told him that I would always love him and wished him no harm. I still missed him like crazy and cried and screamed when I was alone because there was a pain I felt that I didn’t know how to fill. When I asked God why (more like screamed), i just felt that I shouldn’t worry. If you’ve read any of my previous blogs you’ll know that this was a horrible period of pain for me and everyone around me knew it.
On Valentines Day this year he sent me a Happy Valentine’s Day text and I sent one back but it started me thinking. I needed to give him an ultimatum. When we had broken up he had said he didn’t know ‘what would happen in the future’ between us which I found confusing. Surely if God hadn’t intended us for marriage, it wouldn’t happen anyway?
So I asked him if he saw a future with me and if not could he please let me know so I could stop hanging on. I don’t know maybe I phrased it negatively. But his response cut me. He said he couldn’t see a future with me and that I should move on. By this time I think I was all cried out because I didn’t cry. I just told my close friends and started trying to live again.
I don’t speak to him now and I think he’s forgotten ‘us’ but I don’t think I ever will because I still believe we had something special. Maybe I met him at the wrong time; I was vulnerable and looking for something or someone to fill a void and he filled it. And he wasn’t ready for me to be in his life.
Last Autumn I started speaking to someone else. I have always enjoyed dating and this felt no different. He was fun, loved music andwas outgoing. Tall, dark and handsome I thought I’d struck gold! He wasn’t my ex but I felt this could lead somewhere...I didn’t take it too seriously though because I knew I was still tender and fresh from the pain of rejection.
But I recently found out something about him that has made me run a mile. Sooooooooo I’m back at square one! I know i can be a bit emotional but I’m a fighter I know I won’t die from heart ache. However, I do wonder sometimes why I keep meeting these people that don’t seem to be able to tell the truth. Then my friend reminded me that we’re all liars. So I guess I have to scrap that theory! I still miss my ex love especially when I see or hear something that he’d love or that we both loved. I can’t listen to John Legend for that reason which is a shame because, wow, what a GREAT artist!
But I’m generally doing Ok. I meet new people all the time and they keep me on my toes especially about Christ Couture. I’m planning holidays, planning a way to live and breathe my passion: Fashion and have generally been given a new lease of life which I plan to grab hold of with both hands.
People have hurt me and are still hurting me but somehow God has given me the grace and friends to help deal with it. To the point where I don’t wish harm on any of the men in this Testimony who have hurt me. Despite the lies. Even though they made promises they didn’t keep. I still believe that the only way to respond is with Love.
Spiritual abuse or not I learned alot in that church and the way I live now is evident of that. I feel that God needed me in that place of extreme discipline to make me sit up and pay attention and to be honest if it hd to happen I'd rather it happen while I was young. Sometimes it makes me sad that I 'lost' a year of my life and was slow to catch up with my peers in terms of work etc. and I wonder if it still affects me now. I look back and am sad to think that Idont have pictures or memories of the amazing time I had at university despite all the difficulties. A friend of mine agreed that it was both the best and worst time of our lives. But I live in hope that the best is yet to come.
Despite all my many, MANY flaws, I thank God that He has enabled me to have an abundant Love that has gotten me (and is still getting me), through all things. I just pray that it won’t be much longer before my Love is reciprocated and I will finally be shown The Truth.
Love and Blessings always,
CC Girl xx
"If you take a lil' walk with me...girl, i'll lead you to the truth
And if you never give up on me....girl, i'll share it all with you
Show directions when I've lost my way
I'll be around to stay, to show you the truth"
Thank you God for Anthony Hamilton and music....!