I describe her as a "victim to a victor". From an early childhood of abuse to a mighty woman of God, and a loving wife, her story is an inspiring example of "I know the plans I have for you." Today Lady LaWanda Engleman shares her story.
Can you share a little about the unfortunate incidents that happened early in your life?
When I was a child (around the age of 10) I began being molested by a couple of my male family members. This continued until I was 16 years old. At the age of 16 I was raped by a friend of my brother's that I was supposedly 'dating'. Mind you I was way too young to be calling myself dating. I had NO IDEA what I'd gotten myself into.I don't ever remember being threatened not to tell, but I never told anyone until I was 20 years old. I felt alone and ashamed that I 'allowed' myself to be touched without fighting back. I never had a close relationship with my mother (as I got older I realized that she was dealing with so much in her life that she really couldn't avail herself to help me) and my father passed away when I was 9.
How did that affect you as a woman and your relationship with God?
I felt that God had abandoned me. I have been saved since the age of 11. I ran to the church; so I thought; because I was being molested and I needed help. I thought that if I turned my life over to God that it would stop and he would protect me. When the molestation continued, I blamed God. I felt that He didn't love me and wanted me to be hurt, but on the flip side I had this 'wierd' longing to serve the Lord. I'd grown up seeing and hearing my mother pray and became a warrior in prayer. Through prayer I was introduced to worship and couldn't pull myself away from wanting to be in the presence of God as much as I could. It became my solace. I would go through 'seasons' of hurt where I'd feel far from God, but would never backslide because I so wanted to be pleasing in His sight.
Did it effect your relationship with men?
In the beginning I was very introverted. I was afraid of any type of relationship. I felt that everyone was just out to get something from me and I was so timid that normallly I'd give whatever they wanted whether it hurted or not. I would date guys just because they wanted to date me and although I never carried on a sexual relationship with these men, I was very subservient. I never wanted to go against anything they said or wanted for fear that they would leave me or wouldn't love me. These events caused me to have a distored sense of what love and relationship meant.~ Looking for Love in ALL the wrong places.
What steps did you take to overcome your past?
As I grew in the Lord I had a desire to be free. I grew up strict apostolic. We were never taught to talk about our fears, hurts, or failings...just to 'turn it over the Lord'. Although, this thinking did help me to create a prayer life and a relationship with the Lord, I was still hurting in so many other ways. I was in a prayer revival at my church and I began to cry out to the Lord because I wanted to be free from the memories and all that tied me to these memories. God began to open up to me what it meant to have strongholds and how the unfortunate events in my life tied me to these memories and hurts; until I released those things I would never be free. I'd learned how to supress the memories and live over the memories, but I didn't know how to release them and live through them! God revealed to me the enemies' design to have these issues to take root in me so that I could never be free! How, although I didn't ask for it or condone it, spirits had attached to me unaware and I NEEDED to seek guidance for deliverance. I went to pastors, friends and anyone that would listen until finally God lead me to a Christian Counselor that helped me sort through my issues enough to be delivered and set free! It took many deliverance sessions before I could say that I was finally free. I do still remember everything that happened to me vividly, but these memories are no longer tied to pain. I am now able to speak out without tears or feeling one ounce of bitterness - PRAISE GOD! Many people don't understand that ANY type of sex TIES you to the person that you've been with. Whatever issues and 'demons' they deal with become your issues and 'demons'. It is severly important that we as women understand this. Whever consentual or non-consentual, you are tied to them in oneness until GOD sets you free. YOU MUST SEEK FOR THIS FREEDOM!
How did you share your past with your husband?
Before my husband and I were married I'd noticed behaviors from myself. I was drawn to him sexually way before I ever should have been! As a matter of fact as I got older I'd notice that I was much more interested in anything sexual much more than I should have been. The seeds that were sown into me by the enemy had begun to take root and began to sprout! I had no idea where the feelings and emotions were coming from, but noticed that they were there. During our courtship I found myself in a season with the Lord where I'd began to feel far from Him. I'd started yielding to my own wants and desires more that the wants and desires of the Lord! But, Audrey...I had NO IDEA why! Being the man of God that my husband was, he could sense that there was something going on, but didn't know what. After we were married there were many nights I'd wake up afraid at the touches and advances from my husband. I was afraid to sleep around him becasue of the memory of my 'midnight troubles'. I didn't tell my husband right away. I just didn't know how to tell him. I was afraid of what he would think of me and if he would feel that I was 'spoiled' and wouldn't want me anymore. My husband 'loved' me into revealing to him my hurts and pains. He sowed into me the seeds of unconditional love until the point that I felt safe enough to reveal my past to him.
What would you say to someone reading this who's gone through what you went through and may think they aren't "worthy" of getting married?
What God has for YOU it IS for YOU! No man can ever take away a promise from the Lord! We aren't worthy of anything if you really want to know my opinion, but we are BLESSED that God sees fit to call us friend and grant to us his grace and mercy making us worthy or EVERY promise and desire of our heart! Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (Psalms 37:4) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matt. 6:33)
LaWanda will be sharing her story in her upcoming book Excerpts From the Heart: This is my story set to be released this month.
You can visit her blog at Lady Engleman