I was sitting at the dining room table in front of my computer, pretending to work. Boxes and furniture were all over the place, as the house was in the middle of being repainted and redecorated.

The disarray mirrored the state of my heart and soul. While I seemed to be working, I was Googling ways of committing suicide so that my family wouldn’t find me. No one knew how desperate I was feeling—and I didn’t even know how to express it.

I was determined to end my life. I just couldn’t take the pain anymore.

The Reason Why

I grew up on a farm in a rural community, the youngest of four sisters, three foster sisters and one brother.

It was a Christian home and my parents tried to make sure we knew about Jesus. But the relationship with Him was often missing, instead becoming something more legalistic and rules-oriented. The message I accidentally received was that I was bad at my core.

While we lived below the poverty line, my parents did their best to provide for us children. We had clothes to wear and food to eat, and we knew that our parents were always there for us.

However, because it was a large family, there were moments in time when we were left with people my parents trusted, but didn’t know they couldn’t. As an adult, I have learned that the word precious means “not to be treated carelessly.” Unfortunately, as a child there were those who chose to treat me carelessly, and I experienced sexual abuse at the age of three, at five and again at 11 with other incidences in between and following.

I suppressed those memories for a long time.

The abuse, combined with poverty, childhood bullying and feeling isolated and alone, caused me to leave home at 16. My leaving had nothing to do with my mother and father. Looking back, I realize I was emotionally wounded but didn’t grasp its impact.

Promise Kept

Moving away to nearby Kingston, Ont., I tried completing my high school education, but dropped out and started working. I returned to school when I was 20 and, by the age of 23, I was getting married.

By this time, I had stopped attending church, and I had no interest in God. My father, knowing this, agreed to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day—but only if, in return, I would promise to go to church for a year after I was married. (That was the legalistic, rules-oriented part of my upbringing.) As any daughter might, all I wanted was to have my father walk me down the aisle. So, I agreed.

I kept my promise. Right after the honeymoon, I started going to church.

Thankfully, God has a way of working things out for the best. Despite my father’s misguided pressure, I encountered God’s love.

“I Need Christ”

When my daughter was three month's old, I was feeling overwhelmed.

I’d started to attend a women’s Bible study on Thursday mornings. One day, I found myself alone with my pastor’s wife and their daughter, whom I had known since I was a youth.

As we were praying and I held my own daughter, something stirred me to ask them if I could pray for myself. They both immediately responded, “Of course.”

“I don’t think I can take care of my daughter on my own,” I prayed aloud. “I need Christ.”

In that moment, we bowed our heads, and I gave my heart to Him.

Moment of Crisis

A year later, as I was working on my behavioural science diploma and was driving home from school one evening, all of the abuses I had suffered as a child surfaced, like a videotape playing in my vision. I had to pull over. In a searing moment, all the pain that had taken place in my life flashed before my eyes.

While I had come to God, I hadn’t met the Holy Spirit yet. I still didn’t really know how to lean on Him to receive healing and, despite my best attempts, the next year brought me to that crisis moment in front of the computer.

“Get Me Out”

As I looked for ways to end my own life, I knew that whatever I was going to do, it would be done the next day.

At that moment, my daughter, who was then two years old, came up and put both of her little hands on my leg. She looked up into my eyes and I looked down at hers.

It was then that I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit say, “Rachel, God would never want you to do that.”

It was as if the two of us were having a private conversation in the dining room.

“God,” I responded, “if You would never want me to do that, that means there must be a way out. You have got to get me out of where I am.”

Journey of Healing

The next morning when I woke up, I was still in the same situation I had been in the night before, in the same circumstances, with the same feelings—but there suddenly was hope. Hope dispels darkness, and it brought new vision to my eyes.

At that moment, I started to understand the Bible, to really grasp what it was saying to me. It was as if the Bible was suddenly speaking to me and bringing healing.

And so began a journey of understanding and a relationship with the Holy Spirit. I finally realized how much Jesus loved me, how He had gotten rid of all those rules and regulations and traditions that had negatively affected me in my childhood and youth.

“I need Christ.” RACHEL QUIRT

With the support of some family, friends and my church family, God began to heal and restore.

I’ve never been the same since. It’s been a constant, transformational journey. I would never say that it has been easy, but it has been filled with God’s love, joy and peace.

Life isn’t always easy. Are you worried about yourself or someone else? Contact The Salvation Army’s Crisis/Hope Line at 905-522-1477 or 1-855-294-4673, or visit hopesalive.ca.

Rachel “Rae” Quirt is the director of discipleship and care with The Salvation Army’s Encounter Church in Lower Sackville, N.S., as well as a therapist working with Archway Counselling in Truro, N.S. Her greatest joy is to minister God’s love, bringing healing and restoration to those she encounters.

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On Thursday, November 24, 2022, Charlene Bechard said:

Rachel: Your story really reached out to me. It's like I was reading something I would have written. It's not a mirror image of my life, but fairly close. I was raised in a "Catholic" home. I put that in quotations because I went to Catholic schools, I was raised Catholic, Catholic rules, etc., but meanwhile my parents didn't step inside a church unless it was for a wedding or funeral, were both alcoholics, swore like crazy, broke almost every Commandment (except to kill thy neighbour), used the Lord's name in vain. We were very poor... Let me rephrase that. As an adult I came to the realization that we were "raised" poor but in reality we were actually middle class. Both my parents worked at a time when most mothers did not worked (early 60's) so my parents combined income was as much if not more than most of the friends' fathers made. So we could have had a nice home, nice clothes, nice things, but my parents chose to spent one of their salaries and probably part of the second salary on alcohol, so we were raised quite poor. We lived in a shack, started as a 2 room cabin, as my biological mother would have children (my half-siblings) my step-father would build onto this cabin using material he would get from the dump. We didn't have any running water (I had to carry water from the well into the house as a very young child right up until I left home at 18), no swear system. We had an outhouse so we had a pail inside the house and I had to dump that pail into the outhouse from the time I was a young child, big enough to carry the pail, until I was 18. When I moved out to get married, they didn't want my half-sister, who was 13, to do that kind of work so they brought the water into the house and brought the septic system into the house. But it was quite fine for me to do, just not for their daughter or sons to do it. I was sexually, and physically, psychologically and mentally abused by my step-father... sexually from age 10 onwards. The rest from the day he married my so called mother. As far as my mother, there was no love whatsoever shown by her towards me whatsoever. She didn't sexually abuse me but she was aware of the sexual abuse and didn't do anything to stop it except to tell me that it was my place to stop it. I was to tell him to stop. Even though I was very petite and absolutely terrified of the man. I had thought that I was over everything in my late teens but in my mid 40's everything just came rushing back and affecting my life. It was affecting my job, my marriage, my whole life... I had to tell my doctor who recommended counselling, who suggesting I tell my husband and children so they would understand what was going on with me. They've all been so supportive but I did have to cut my parents out of my life for a while. Unfortunately they felt it necessary to involve their other children....but not by telling them the truth, but by making up some other lie, which I'm sure what it was, but some lie so they'd turn against me so that if I decided to tell them that their father abused me, they wouldn't listen to me. An offensive approach for them I guess. Make sure they're talking to me so I can't tell them what their father did. I had to intention of telling them anyway, but that's how my parents are, always have been. Self-protection, even if it means through their innocent child under the bus. It's not like they haven't already hurt and damaged me enough1 I'm trying very hard not to be bitter. I know the Lord wants to me to forgive them. And I am or at least I'm trying very very hard to forgive them. I know Satan doesn't want me to forgive them. I know he wants me to hold onto the anger and the bitterness, and the hurt and pain. I know the Lord wants me to love them as he loves me. He wants me to pray for them. And I do but it's so hard sometimes when the memories keep coming back to me in my dreams. I feel so alone and abandoned some times. I would like to be able to talk to my sister. I only had the one sister (half sister) but she's all I had and we weren't closed growing up but we were getting closer as we got older and now she won't talk to me and it hurts. It hurts a lot. Her husband is dying of cancer and I want to be there for her but she's so much like father. She holds a grudge. She won't talk to me. Won't take my calls. I've tried reaching out to her. Whatever they've told her, she's believing it. My heart breaks for her and for me. Anyway thank you for sharing your story. It means a lot to me. Charlene

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