Posts Tagged ‘abandoned’


under Secret Stories, Written on February 26, 2011

I have been studying your secret name with my woman’s group at church. At the start of our time together our leader asked us to think “Where does god meet you?” This really got the ball moving for me. In prayer at home one night I asked myself this question and what follows are the thoughts that came to my mind.

The Lord has always reached me thru music. I am not a very talented musician or vocalist but there is something about musical composition that moves me.  All the different instruments come together, each with their unique part. Blended together they make something, to me, which is truly magical. But as a musician I know that not all the instruments get to play the melody.

Even within specific instrument sections you separate the most talented players by given them 1st chair.  Some parts in a musical score are down right boring and repetitious. When played by themselves it doesn’t even sound like a song.
My life sometimes feels this way. I am the 4th chair trumpet, playing with all her might the most uninteresting part.

Although I love being a stay at home mom, my days consist of potty training and laundry. It is repetitious and feels unimportant. Yet I know my part might change. God could call me to play the melody someday. There may even be hope for a solo.

So when my life is over and I get to look back on what I have done with the Lord, I know it will be a divinely orchestrated masterpiece. Not only will my own life be a sweet song, but my little part is going to blend and harmonize with the other little parts of people’s life and together we will create a masterpiece for God.

With these thoughts  in my mind I heard, rather distinctly in my ear:

You are my symphony

I felt a quickening in my spirit and I knew this was my new name. I have felt such enormous peace and freedom since then. I know who I truly am now and I am far more precious than I ever gave myself credit for.


under Secret Stories, Written on February 22, 2011

I just wanted to share a bit of the transformation that I have been experiencing over the course of these last few months. As part of working through my journey my pastor recommended that I read your book. It was really helpful for me as it helped me to wrestle with and make sense of my identity in Christ.

My pastor helped me work through a series of “exercises” as I read through your book which allowed me to take your ideas and make them real for me. I labelled myself with names both good and bad, grouped those names together, worked through the process of rooting out those names and finally with replacing the names that I put on myself with the Secret Name that God has for me.

Many of the names that I initially gave to myself were connected to my family. I grew up in a home with an alcoholic mother, a father who was oriented around maintaining control and preserving pride and a sister who became hardened by the chaos that was our household.

I kept my head above water by trying to fix everyone’s problems and focusing all of my energy on never allowing anyone outside of my family know our secret. To the world we looked pretty average, but on the inside our family was in turmoil.

About four years ago my Mom left and since then I have not had any type of a real relationship with her. I  have wanted to get in touch with her, but truthfully I have been afraid. Afraid that she would be in the same state that she was in when I last saw her. For reasons that I can only attribute to self-preservation, I have not been able to reach out to her.

Truthfully, I have allowed her addiction to define me over these past few years. I am not trusting of people, I am not open about this part of my life and I am fearful of becoming close to people because I think that they might hurt me in the same way that she did. I have allowed her problem cast a shadow across my otherwise ordinary life, it is the skeleton in my closet, the secret that I feel like I need to hide from the world.

While I was not actively contacting my Mom, she was also not contacting me and for me that is what hurt the most. And so I told myself lies: If my own mother didn’t want a relationship with me, then why would anyone else. If my own mother doesn’t love me enough to make a change, then I must not be worth it. If my own mother doesn’t love me, then I must not be lovable.

I felt: broken and above all worthless.

Despite all of this I had I grown up in the church. It’s funny because I never felt like I had a testimony. I always heard people talk about their testimony but I never felt like I “had that”.

I believe that in my past God has most definitely been at work in my life, present, faithful, loving, but in my own suffering and my own quest for self-identity I couldn’t see Him. God however, was patient with me, He continued to bless me, specifically by putting the right people along my path to ensure that I could be reminded that He was never far. After a period of trying to make life go on my own, facing challenges, being unfulfilled, scared, broken and alone.

I came to my church for about 8 months before I talked to anyone. I came and listened and worshiped and was quiet before God. I heard the message about community, to support to be supported, to encourage to be encouraged, and saw that happening but at that time I was on the fringe.

I remember having conversation with a member of the pastoral staff here about how this church has a big set of front doors. This is a church that is different, people want to come and see what is happening here. The discussion progressed to acknowledge that for young adults especially this is a church that often has a big set of back doors too a space where people can sometimes can pass through without being noticed.

Truthfully, I was on my way to the back door… after 8 months of being here I was still feeling disconnected, feeling that God wasn’t hearing my prayers, feeling maybe like it was time to check out.

I love that my church is a huge church and here is why. You have to be intentional about connecting, deliberate about buying in, purposeful about becoming engaged. It doesn’t just happen. Everyone will remain nameless and faceless if that is what you choose. Community happens not as an accident but as a choice.

So then, literally one day, I offered up a simple prayer to God in my prayer journal “God please motivate me to take chances”. Not the most articulate of prayers, not the most deeply spiritual words, no one will be rushing to embroider that on a pillow anytime soon, but that prayer represented a deep yearning within me,  a last ditch attempt for the courage necessary to lurch forward.

And here’s the thing: God provided. Every time, every opportunity, every risk that I took in the name of getting connected God was present, sometimes giving me the words to say in conversation, or the words to write on a volunteer form or the plain and simple courage to just show up.

And God didn’t just give me courage to take chances because when I spoke, people answered back, and my words became part of a conversation, relationships formed, they shared, I shared and now, I get to serve along side of them in the Body of Christ.

In my world everything changed.

My faith, my relationship with Jesus, I was changed.  Because suddenly I wasn’t in this alone. My relationship with Jesus was able to be manifested in my relationship with others. 

It would seem that God had another plan for me on my way to the back door. 

These past few months have been amazing for me with Jesus at the center of my life I have reexamined everything, my identity, my job, my salvation through grace, my experiences with suffering, my understanding and relationship with joy, and then a deep and profound calling to respond to learn to live compassionately.

I do not have to conform any longer to the patterns of this world, I am renewed. Jesus died for me – and now I get to live differently.

I love this story and for me the best part is that it it is still happening. And am I part of God’s story. We are God’s stories, these stories are still being written, the plots thickening, God is revealing Himself in our lives and above all He is showing us His love and faithfulness.

I have actually has been transformed from the inside. I believe that the best way to live is the way of Jesus, submitting myself to Jesus allowing Him to live in me and through me because the old has passed away and the new has come.

And now I know that I am worthy, whole and that I am truly and deeply loved by God.


under Secret Stories, Video on November 24, 2010
YouTube Preview Image


under Secret Stories, Video on November 22, 2010
YouTube Preview Image


under Secret Stories, Video on November 17, 2010
YouTube Preview Image

abandoned by mother

under Secret Stories, Written on October 15, 2010

Wow!  What a powerful book.  I want to thank you for sharing your journey, thoughts & what God has taught you.  I am blown away at the hope and encouragement I’ve received!

One of the most prevelant names I have taken on in my life is “ABANDONED“.  My Mom left our family when I was 8 years old and the pain of that and what followed shapes who I am a great deal.  My journey of healing began 13 years ago and still continues. 

At 40, after reading your book, I realize how I continue to hold onto that name at times.  As I read Isaiah 49:15, I cried: 

Though she may forget, I will not forget you.

El Roi.  The God who sees me.

There is much to process.  I am currently battling through some anxieties and the timing of my reading this is God’s.  I can’t thank you enough.  Your vulnerability throughout the book will touch many lives.  We have been doing this book as a study here in Dublin.  It’s been a blessing to many of the women.

May God continue to bless you through your ministry!  Thank-you for blessing me.

Molested and Suicidal

under Secret Stories, Written on October 7, 2010

There were many times I found myself standing on the side of the road, closing my eyes as the downdraft of passing trucks rippled through my hair, thinking that just a few steps into that busy street would make everything better.

It wasn’t some singular event that brought me to the darkest point of my life, but an accumulation of sadness that left me feeling buried alive. I was already in a coffin, why not make it official; this wasn’t living. My mother and stepfather couldn’t see the sadness that haunted me, but my grandmother, a strong Christian woman whom I saw maybe once a month somehow knew.

I never spoke about it while it was happening, but in hindsight I know the signs were there if anyone had bothered to look: the lack of friends, the fear of men, the fact that I cried myself to sleep every night. It wasn’t until 8th grade that I called my mom from my father’s house in North Carolina and begged her to come get me. I don’t remember why she didn’t, but I do remember having to suffer through the rest of the week before my father drove my brother and I home.

For every other holiday and 5 weeks every summer my father came to collect my brother and I from our humble Ohio home and take us away to his three story mansion in another state. He was wealthy. He only wanted my brother, but I came with the package. I was lucky he remembered my name; he couldn’t remember my birthday or how old I was, and he had no qualms about reminding how I was a burden. He had demanded that my mother abort me, but I thank God to this day that she said no to him, if only just that once.

When I was two, he left my mom for another woman. My father had a lot of women, and a lot of girls. For years I stayed silent while he molested my cousin and I, while he groped other women who were not his wife, and while he tried to brainwash us all into believing some theology taught by him. We weren’t allowed to leave the house without him, we weren’t allowed to watch tv or listen to music, we weren’t allowed to go to church or celebrate Holidays, we weren’t allowed to wear certain clothes to bed.

He held gatherings in his house and would invite certain people over to listen to him teach. His theology was based on the bible, but only the parts about sex, rape, and punishment. His choice of punishment was a beating from a wire hanger twisted into a rod…and some reference to sparing the rod and spoiling the child.

He made me feel dead inside for so long, so that all I could do was cry and never feel relieved. When I was seventeen, I couldn’t take it anymore. Knowing that he still had my little sister and I couldn’t save her, that he hadn’t been punished for what he’d done to me or my cousin, and that I would always be afraid and never be able to love a man made me feel hopeless. I was tired of crying and feeling empty.

I was raised a “Christian”, but after my father’s insane cult-like teachings, I was afraid to trust in God. There’s an amount of subservience, fear and humility required in Christianity, and I didn’t want to love someone else who was going to make me feel small and worthless without him. I didn’t want to feel insignificant or afraid. I just wanted to feel whole, and I didn’t want to hurt anymore.

I decided not to step in front of that truck. It was in my living room, far from the road or coffins that I found peace. I gave up and I broke down, and I cried like I had never cried before. I asked God to save me and fill me with his love, and I was shocked at how immediately I felt fulfilled and at peace. Whenever I find myself questioning or doubting God, I remember that day when I decided I would rather live than die and He was there to help me do it.

Every day I pray for my father. I pray that God will save him, because in doing so, so many other innocent lives will be saved. I know there is nothing God can’t do, and even though my father seems like a monster, he’s not beyond help. I don’t know if I can ever truly forgive him, but God can, and I try to every day.

With God I know, I am not Abandoned, I am Remembered. I am not Broken, I am Whole. I am not Suicidal and Depressed, there is Hope. And I am not Fearful, because God is always with me.


under Written on August 13, 2010

God has been after me, trying to give me my name for so long, but I’ve been too stubborn. Instead I’ve clung to unsatisfying  names that others bestow upon me or that I grasp at on my own. I’ve tried to run from those names, but without my TRUE name to replace them, I always return.

These names are the faults, shortcomings, and failures that others see in me and the failure, inadequacies, and struggles that I try to hide and cover. Complaining, self-loathing, depressed, afraid, angry, mean, failure, trash. All of these, and so many more that I’m not yet brave enough to share here. It’s better to have a horrible identity, than no identity at all. But these names don’t offer healing.

Through a question in the middle of the night, a postcard in a bookstore, a facebook connection, and a gracious gesture from a person that I have never met, but I am honored to know even the least bit now, I am seeing how God has been pursuing me with this for so long. I have a name, my TRUE name.

I am hesitant to say I know it, although I believe I do. It is beautiful, but if I try to look at it from the perspective of what I am capable of doing on my own, it is daunting. Only through God’s gracious gift of His Son and His continuing work and strength in a person so fallen, will I ever truly be able to embody this beautiful name: REDEEMED.

Did you ever look at all of the meanings of the word redeem? To buy or pay off; to buy back; to recover by payment; to exchange for money or goods; to discharge or fulfill (a promise); make amends for, offset; to obtain the release or restoration of, as from captivity, by paying a ransom.

Do you know what the opposite of REDEEMED is?


If any of you know me, truly know me, you know that I have felt abandoned and have been abandoned in various ways. I have felt the weight of that abandonment. For a long time it led me to question whether or not God really cared for me at all. I truly believed that God existed. I believed wholeheartedly that God loved other people. But, somehow, that God simply couldn’t love me, not if He really knew me the way everyone insisted He did.

If He knew my facade, maybe He could love me, but not if He truly knew all of the dirt. Then during my first semester of sophomore year, while in my Exploring the Bible class, God allowed me to hear. I didn’t learn His name for me that day, but I did find my name for Him.

Genesis 16:13- “You are the God who sees me.”

In the desert, alone, running away after being mistreated by her master for bragging up the fact that she was pregnant, God met Hagar. He saw her. He knew what she had done, He knew what Sarai had done, He knew that she was pregnant and not with the child He had promised Abram. But He SAW her. He comforted her and promised that her son would also become a father of a nation.

He saw her. He knew her. He comforted her. EL ROI- the God who sees me.This name impacted me so much that I now wear this reminder permanently in black ink on my wrist.

I have my name for God. I have His name for me. It is a large name to live up to. In fact, there is no way to embody that name on my own. God is the only one capable of getting me there and I know it’s going to be a long and hard journey.

Thank you, to everyone that God has been using in my life, and continues to use in my life, to bring me to the place of knowing my SECRET NAME.

Some of this might be confusing to some of you. I had never thought of such a thing as a secret name before, even though it’s mentioned in the Bible. Not to mention the fact that I’ve been trying to carve out a name for myself for years, not knowing the whole time I was merely seeking something to fill the gap that was meant for true name.

Anyway, this might clear a little bit up and maybe, if you don’t already know God’s name for you, begin the journey of finding it. 🙂

Mistake and Unwanted

under Written on July 18, 2010

My name before I came to Christ was mistake and unwanted

Most of my life has been marked with abandonment, mistreatment, and disowning, first from my parents and then from many others who were supposed to love me. Most of my life I have felt there was something wrong with me, that I did not fit in.

From the time I was a baby I was abandoned, pawned off on others. Once my parent went looking for a new place to live and left me with a baby sister for nearly 6 months.  Events such as this have followed me through out my young life and I learned early my name was mistake and unwanted. Hurt and pain followed me and fear was my constant companion.

When I was 14 I came to live with people who introduced me to the name of Jesus. The told me about going to hell, and I did not want that. So alone in a room I bowed my head and asked Jesus to save me. Nothing special happened, time passed and I forgot about the whole event.

When I was in my late 30’s a minister came to our home looking for my husband–intending to instruct him about salvation. My husband was not home. The minister and I talked. In our conversation he asked me if I ever read the bible. I said no. After a few more questions, he learned I was saved. From that moment, my journey with God began again.

My journey has not been an easy on. Today I have learned my name is no longer mistake or unwanted. Today I learned that my name is WONDERFULLY MADE. The Lord says he knew me in the inner secret places where he created me. He made me with His purpose in mind. He used my mother as a place to form me and whether she wanted me that was not important to the Lord. God knew He wanted me.

Today I am learning what it means to be WONDERFULY MADE. I praise God for His mercy.

Before I close my story I would like to share to dream the Lord gave over 40 years ago. This dream is a real today as it was then. When I dreamed this dream I did not know what it meant, but it made me feel so loved, I would like to share with you.

I must have been 13 years old. My dream was about being in a group of girls, none of which liked me. They where making fun of me and left me all alone. I was so frightened I started to cry. All of a sudden a large hand came down around me and gently scooped me up. At first I was frightened. The giant attached to the hand seemed so friendly, but He never said a thing. He gently lifted me into a castle with many rooms.

He set me down gracefully. There in the middle of the floor was a big fire and food to eat and place to sleep. I heard the gentle giant say, “Don’t be afraid I will protect you, this is your new home.”

I felt the safest I had ever felt. I felt the warm love of someone who thought me to be important. I was then awakened by my father. It was time to get up for school. I was very upset and wanted to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t. Many years later when I came to Christ, the words of Christ came to me. “I go away and make a place for you, a place that has many rooms.” I knew then that my dream was God showing me that He loves me. God said, “I will care for you, fear not, you are WONDERFULLY MADE. You are my daughter.”


-O Ronning