My name is Rhonda and I was born in 1958 on the twenty-sixth day after my mother turned sixteen. She says that she loved me then and that she loves me still. I believe her now, but our relationship had its humble beginnings as a love-hate relationship. Some of my first memories are of loving her but also of wishing that my grandmother (mom’s mother) was my mother.
By the time I was three my mother was pregnant with my first sister (I have three sisters) and my biological father had abandoned us. I have come to believe that very shortly after I was born that my mother became so unhappy with who she was that every time she looked at me she saw the things about herself that she hated. She was very abusive towards me when I was growing up and I can’t say that I remember even one thing that she ever said to me that positively lifted me up. My safe refuge was my grandparents and I am so thankful that God provided me with their sanity. I know that I would not be who I am today without their involvement in my life. I have to say that I would not be who I am today without my mother either.
Now there is the subject of God in my life. He was always there. He was always with me. I was not really aware of Him though. Church was stuffed down my throat. The legalistic need to try to escape hell was stuffed down my throat. The lie that I would, personally, never escape hell was stuffed down my throat. So much so that by the time I was seventeen years old when I moved out of my childhood home I had decided that for me God did not exist and that if there was even a vague possibility that He did, I did not want anything to do with Him because He would be just as mean as my mother.
I believed the lie that I would find fulfillment in life when I found a boyfriend/husband replacement for the father who had abandoned me. My desperate search always brought men to me who abandoned me like my biological father had done and who were even more vicious than my mother had been.
I had started thinking about suicide when I was about twelve and thought of it often for many years. When I was twenty two I tried to commit suicide one night by taking a bottle full of prescription tranquilizers when I was drunk. I ended up in a psyche ward for 2 weeks and was released in no better condition than I had been before I had swallowed the pills and still believing even stronger that there was no God. I have to say retrospectively that God was pursuing me and He was holding me up, that He was watching over and protecting me even then. He had created me and knew that I was worth saving. He knew that I had been created for better things than I had even imagined. He started revealing things to me of a prophetic nature. He started allowing me to see the spirit world and through a series of miraculous events my eyes were opened to His existence and obvious love for me on June 1, 1985. On that day my life changed because I could no longer deny His existence. He saved me shortly after that day and I began a pursuit of Him and His Son Jesus Christ.
The road has not been an easy one but it is the only road that does not lead to self-destruction. There were many destructive ways of thinking that the Lord had to work out of me. I have experienced much deliverance in my life through Him. I have forgiven my mother and father for their sins against me. I have forgiven myself. The Lord eventually brought a wonderful, godly husband into my life who had none of the negative attributes of my mother or father.
I became so hungry for the Lord that I have never been able to get enough of Him. I still cannot get enough of Him. It is like the peeling away of an onion skin for me. He peels one layer for me to go deeper with Him and I think I have reached the ultimate place. I start desiring more of him and a deeper relationship with Him and He peels off another layer. Each time a new layer is peeled away I am taken by Him to a deeper place that is even more satisfying than the last place. No matter how satisfying the places are where He takes me there always comes that need in me for something deeper and he complies with my desires again. The Bible tells me that “His compassions are new every morning” and they constantly are for me.
In the beginning there was a honeymoon period that I experienced with Him and then I started questioning Him about my childhood and the suicidal tendencies that I had been subject to for so many years. I have, like so many, struggled with body image issues. I wasted many, many years of my life wishing that I was a different person than who I was and waiting on becoming that different person who people told me that I should be. I have struggled with very heavy loads of self-condemnation but He is so good, He walked me through each struggle I experienced and answered every question that I had.
There are many parts of the Bible that speak to me profoundly but I want to mention one verse that ministered to me so much at a time when I was experiencing a lot of rejection: “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:25
I had read that verse many times but the day that He opened my eyes to what it actually was saying about me is a day that I remember as a milestone because I still had that death wish hiding inside of me. It was like He was reading my mind and had designed that verse thousands of years ago just for me. He had written that promise just for me because I hated my life more so than anyone else I knew and nobody understood it as much as He did.
Another verse that really started speaking to me about my negative self-image and all of the self-condemnation that I went through was this one: “For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7b
I beat myself up for many years because I could not conform myself to fit into man’s world in the visual way that I thought I needed to fit. I could not make myself fit into so many aspects of the Christian world either because so many of those aspects are manmade, not God inspired. I had “marched to the beat of a different drummer” all of my life and I still do.
Big crowds always intimidated me to the point of me wanting to leave as soon as I arrived at a large social gathering. He was always with me though and when I started asking Him in uncomfortable situations what it was that He had for me in those situations is when He started taking me over that “hump” of initially wanting to run away and I would start feeling like I belonged.
Lastly, His word says: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2
He is renewing my mind by changing my ways of thinking about me and how I apply it to the world around me. I am still the same person that I always was but I am also different. I am at peace when there was a time when I was not at peace in any way.
I am satisfied now that He made me just exactly the way I am because I am who He wanted me to be. I am now a woman who is comfortable in my own skin no matter what someone may think about what they see on the outside. I can now say wholeheartedly… I am Rhonda and I am beautiful. (You see, He made me so!)
This post is also on a website called Who is Beautiful?, hosted by Anna Bowman.