Broken to Brave

Hi, my name is Cara and this is my story. 
I was not raised in a religious home, but I somehow still slowly began to find my way towards the Lord in my mid-twenties. It was a long and windy road, that I was led astray from many times. Thankfully, I always had a voice deep inside that kept leading me back. This voice, which I now know as the Holy Spirit, got louder and harder to ignore as time passed. It wasn’t until I was 30 years old that I fully believed in the Lord and began my attempt to follow Him completely. Surrendering my life to the Lord was not easy for me, because I had so much anger and pain in my heart.  
On Easter Sunday 2014, I was lying in my bed so broken, depressed and hopeless that I was begging for the Lord to take my life. It seemed that every person I had ever cared for had hurt me, and I could not explain or justify any of it. God heard me crying out to Him but instead of taking my life, that was the day He began to walk me through the fire to transform it.  
The first place I experienced healing was in my relationship with my mother. I was so full of anger toward her that I hadn’t spoken to her in 9 months. A friend of mine contacted her and let her know the condition I was in and she immediately got onto a plane to come and stay with me. That week, a great weight was lifted off my shoulders. The anger in my heart left and I was able to forgive her for things I’d carried with me since I was a child.  
The months that followed were full of trials and lessons that slowly began to mold me into the woman that God is helping me become. By December, I had come to the realization that I was extremely co-dependent and I finally began to understand why my life had been so painful and out of control for the previous 15 years. I started seeing a Christian therapist to find out why, and how to stop these unhealthy patterns. I read the book Co-dependent No More and for the first time in my life, I felt normal.  
Through therapy, prayer and reading I realized that my childhood lacked the nurturing, compassion and safety that I deserved. Both my parents came from households that were full of anger, abuse and lacked love. They did the best they could with my younger brother and I, and I know that we had it much better than they did. My mother was a housewife and stayed home to raise my brother and me, she was the only safety and love I remember as a young child. My father was physically abusive and was unable to show love. I grew up in constant fear of him. My parents divorced when I was in 6th grade and my brother and I were left with our father until our mother was able to get on her feet. I felt very scared, confused and abandoned.  
During my teenage years, my mother and I rarely got along. I always felt as if she didn’t like me because I was so different than her. I remember her pointing that out to me many times and telling me I was just like my father. This led to an extreme lack of self-worth and I began to look to anyone I could to fill that void in my heart. I used my looks and popularity in an attempt to obtain validation from others. I was surrounded by people, but constantly felt alone with an internal conflict I couldn’t explain at the time. I was miserable.  
Throughout my twenties, I was drawn to anyone who needed me. I would give emotionally, physically, and monetarily to others hoping that if I gave enough they would love me and never leave. In therapy, I learned that I was drawn to the “wounded bird”, because I felt in control of those relationships and that made me feel safe. If you were jobless, going through a break-up, broken or needing a place to live, you were my new best friend. I would give everything to these people and try to fix them, until I got frustrated and ended the relationship. It was 15 years of constant heartbreak and broken relationships.  
By the beginning of 2015, I had completed the challenging task of getting honest with myself. I knew why I did what I did and how I did it, but now I needed to focus on how to heal and stop these unhealthy patterns. I realized that the voids in my heart that I had been trying to fill with other people could only be filled with the love of Jesus. I finally began to develop a REAL relationship with the Lord and hear His voice. I knew the Lord was calling me to surrender every part of my life and seek him with my whole heart. I knew that I wasn’t going to change or be healed if I continued living the way I was and surrounding myself with the people, places and things I had been. So, I surrendered everything to The Lord: what I watched, what I listened to, who I surrounded myself, how I spent my free time, how I dressed, my finances, my dating life, how I spoke. I dove in and sought the Lord with everything I had. This was one of the most challenging, but rewarding periods of my life.  
The first month was a season of grieving. I grieved the pain and shame from my past, the broken relationships, the wasted years, and much more. This was the hardest season for me because I knew I was being called to be alone, and being alone was not easy for me. I had many friends in my life that I knew I would have to distance myself from until I was stronger and more secure in the woman I wanted to be. I know that if they are truly my friends, they will understand and we will still have things in common when I have completed this journey. It was a very lonely time because I didn’t have close relationships with anyone who was walking with the Lord. I went to church every Sunday, but I didn’t really talk to anyone because I didn’t think I was good enough or that I could relate to them. I had to have faith that the Lord would provide when I was ready. And He did.  
I attended a Freedom Movement event at my church and I knew I was being called to attend their workshop. I thank God for this workshop because it truly gave me the tools I needed to get through the next season of my life. I learned that grieving was important, how to forgive and how to open up from my isolation.  
Since completing the workshop I have experienced miraculous healing and changes in my heart. I have been able to forgive many people, including my father. My self-worth is getting stronger every day, and I now know I deserve and will only accept equal friendships. My relationship with my mother is better than ever. I am beginning to make wiser decisions and truly allow the Holy Spirit to guide me in every area of my life. I have joined a women’s bible study at my church and am helping The Freedom Movement with administration. I am now surrounded and supported by women that inspire me, hold me accountable and encourage me to keep becoming the woman I want to be. I know this journey is never ending, but I am excited about the woman I am becoming. The labels & pain from my past no longer define me. I have peace, joy & hope for my future. I am free.  
I hope my story gives hope to all women who are hurting. You can attend as much therapy as you want, go to church every Sunday, read every self-help book in the library, and run away from or mask your pain, but freedom did not come until I truly knew and accepted the unconditional, unfailing, unexplainable love of Jesus. I used to roll my eyes when people would tell me that, but until you know this feeling you cannot understand, and trust me– you WANT to know this feeling!  
Be brave, be courageous and never give up!