I'm pleased to welcome my friend and fellow blogger, Jelise Ballon, to our Lenten focus on faithfulness. On her blog at neitherheightnordepth.com, Jelise bares her soul as she beholds God's love. As I read her words, I encounter His love too. Thank you Jelise for sharing your story on finding faithful in the wounds of your past.
When I was 13 years old I was molested by a family member. To make matters worse, many members of my immediate family did not believe me. I ended up moving from my home to go live with my dad and step-mom. Not only was it a new home, in a new state but it required changing schools and leaving behind all of my friends.
I was hurt, scared, overwhelmed, and often felt very alone. I felt abandoned and rejected by the family that did not believe me. I wondered what was wrong with me and why I was not worthy of trust and love.
1. How would you describe your faith walk or view of God before your pain appeared?
Before all of this happened I knew who God was, and had grown-up going to church, but I didn’t really know what it was like to completely depend on God or have an active relationship with him.
2. Who or what did God use to teach you about (or remind you of) His faithfulness and love?
Right after I moved in with my dad and step-mom, I started going to a local Lutheran church so I could finish my second year of Confirmation class.
From the moment I walked through those doors, I felt welcomed and wanted.
I was invited to join the youth group and the church became my home-away-from-home. My youth group friends my second family.
It was also right around this time that a dear friend gave me my first Michael W. Smith cassette tape called “Go West Young Man.” I must have listened to that tape a million times (I actually listened until it broke) feeling like every word had been written just for me.
Between the friendship and love I received from the church youth group and the way those songs connected to my pain, I began to feel God’s presence in my life. I believed that He was there for me and was going to get me through the hurt.
Where I had felt rejected and abandoned, I began to now feel loved and accepted. And a small part of me knew, even then, that one day He would completely heal my heart and use my pain to help others.
3. How does God use your story to encourage others?
I have written about my experience several times on my blog and spoken about it at women’s retreats. I also started a support group and book study for women healing from childhood sexual abuse.
Unfortunately, sexual abuse and trauma is one of those things that has a lot of shame and embarrassment tied to it. Therefore, many women struggle to open up and share what has happened to them.
I am always amazed how every single time I have publicly written or spoken about my past, I have been privately contacted by women saying “me, too.” Many of them tell me only one or two other people know, it’s something they don’t talk about, something they have not fully healed from. But they always thank me for sharing my story, letting them know they are not alone, and that there is hope for healing.
4. How do you desire to demonstrate faithfulness in your walk with God?
It is my most fervent prayer to be faithful to God and His plan for me. I’ve learned, as I’ve gotten older, to be more patient in waiting on God’s timing.
I’ve also learned that He will use me in ways I could never have dreamed. Each day I try to get up, read the Word, and pray for God to show me how I can be a part of His work. There are lots of days I get it wrong, and let my selfish desires, or fear get in the way.
But on the days I am able to truly be open to His leading, I am reminded what a compassionate and loving God we have.
Jelise is an educator, writer, and speaker. She has a Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing and Communication from West Virginia University, and a Bachelor’s in Communications from Appalachian State University.
Jelise has been leading Bible and small group studies for youth and adults for over 15 years and serves as the head of Women’s Ministry at Compass Community Church in Winchester, VA.
But the two roles she is most passionate about are those of wife and mother. She has been married to her husband for 16 years and they have three children, ages 14, 11, and 11.
You can learn more at her website: www.neitherheightnordepth.com