under Secret Stories, Written on January 25, 2013

I’m 16 years-old. I just finished your book, and I felt the urge to let you know how greatly it impacted me and how wonderful God’s timing is. Here’s is my shortened story:

I grew up in a home where my parent’s fought all the time. My Dad had a horrible temper and would tip the table over, throw things, and it escalated to physical abuse to my Mom. To a point, he did physically abuse my brothers and I, but largely emotionally abused us. My Dad reinforced Christianity into us, when I was little I recited Scripture, praised God in church, and prayed.

September 2011, my Dad began acting very strange, and this strange behavior led to my family forcing him to go to the hospital. He was very angry at my Mom, and she feared for her life, so we gathered our things in ten minutes and left our home. God provided and we stayed with friends for a month and a half until my Dad agreed to move out of the house so we could come back in. During that time we found out my Dad was taking under the counter medication, and the time he had begun acting strangely he had overdosed. He was never the same again.

Up until this point, I had a very wonderful relationship with my Dad. I was a Daddy’s girl, I really loved him so much. So it crushed me to find out he had kept secrets from me. I began to deal with trust issues, all the while trying to help my Dad. He was pre-diagnosed schizophrenia and depression. He refused to go a counselor, he refused medication, even when I begged him to get help. But he refused, saying that he had done nothing wrong, he was fine, he just needed his children.

My Mom tried to reconcile with him, but because he wouldn’t receive help and he would frequently have temper tantrums that scared all of us, she filed for separation. This of course ripped my heart out. It got to the point that I couldn’t stand to be around my Dad anymore, it hurt me too much to see him like that, so I refused to see him.

While I thought this was a wise decision, I started to numb myself to emotions. I also started to self-harm because the pain inside was beginning to burst. I began to seek perfection, striving to become control my emotions as that was the only thing I felt I could control. I remember crying out to God, asking Him to please just take me away. He didn’t.

Then one night, I opened up to a friend who was also struggling and I decided to stop self-harming. I have not self-harmed since February of 2012. All the while my Dad was not getting better. I would not hear from him for weeks then I would get a Facebook message from him saying he loved me. I began to slip into a deep depression, and with self-harming taken away I could do nothing but cry and write.

One night I took out a bottle of pills and cried. I didn’t have an escape, I didn’t have anything. There was nothing left, I was empty. I felt like God was far away, I couldn’t feel Him. But then, in the very depths of my soul, I heard Him say “Live, if only for me.” I threw away the pills and promised Him I would.

My Dad began to blame me for him not getting better, he told me that if I had been with him he might be getting better. But I was starting to get better and I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t pour myself out anymore. My Mom divorced him, and we didn’t hear from him for a while.

I began seeking freedom in Christ persistently, I was obsessed with freedom. I loved God, I called him my Abba. He was my Father, He would protect me.

But then, December 1st of 2012, my Mom told me that my Dad had committed suicide. This was a heartbreaking experience, one that I never want to experience again. I remember burying my Daddy, surrounded by family members that blamed me in their hearts for his death, and I wanted to die. I couldn’t feel for a long time, and nobody seemed to understand the immense and incomparable pain. Then one day, not long after my Dad committed suicide, I was folding laundry and God whispered to my soul one word. Potential. I understood God was saying I had the potential to turn this horrible experience into something amazing, something only He could turn into something good.

I still cried at night, pleading with God to take me home. The self-harm thoughts came back full-force, but I had now promised God and my dead Dad that I wouldn’t commit suicide. I began doubting God, I mean how could a just and good God allow another human’s actions to so greatly ruin another’s life? He began to feel so far away, I didn’t feel like He cared anymore.

A friend gave me your book for Christmas, and I began to read it with half-hearted interested. But then I was captured by how inspiring your story is. God has risen above the ashes of your circumstances, He has given you a new life and a new name. I want a new name, but I am entirely and utterly lost on how to discover it. I feel like I am holding on by the tendrils of hope, I don’t know how much longer I can last.

But I want to thank you for writing this book, because just today I told God I couldn’t do it anymore. But then I picked up your book and read it, and I was filled with hope. God is going to give me a Secret Name, and with that Name hope.

Thank you so much, you have inspired me to keep going.