“Hey, where is the restroom?”
“The kiosk to register to testify is around the corner.”
“Huh? I said where is the restroom?”
The two ladies laughed but the truth is, when God puts something on your heart to do, you hear it everywhere, even voiced over a request to go to the bathroom.
A few minutes later Charlotte made her way to the feared table, submitting her name to give testimony at a hearing in Austin, Texas on behalf of girls rescued from sex trafficking. Refuge of Light, a safe home for these girls, was requesting mercy from Texas lawmakers to be registered as a safe home to qualify for state funding. Charlotte and her friend were there to support this organization thinking their job was merely to fill a seat.
Little did she know God was about to knock on her heart to not just fill a seat but also share her testimony to those in attendance.
This testimony had been tightly locked away for years. Like a dog on a leash, Charlotte only let her story out to whom she wanted to and when she wanted to. She thought as long as she was living in the force field of control she wouldn’t be hurt again.
The trip to Austin proved to shatter Charlotte’s force field as the Lord said to her, “Charlotte, this story isn’t yours to hold onto. It’s really mine. Go. It’s time for you to tell your story.”
Charlotte will tell you she argued with God before making her way to the registration table. She called her husband, hoping he would see things her way and give her a reason to back out. As good husbands do, he encouraged her, and agreed with God that it was time. Time to let go of control and share her story, for maybe, it could help these girls.
So she did. And she’s taken another step of faith, sharing her story here with hopes it may benefit those who read.
Charlotte’s story began back in March of 1971. Her parents were married, but separated and so she was conceived with another man. Her mom, upon discovering she was pregnant returned to her husband. However because the husband knew he wasn’t the biological father, Charlotte became “enemy number one,” as she calls it.
At less than six months of age the abuse began. First it started as bumps and bruises, her dad saying she “fell out of the crib” although there was no crib in the house. Then the physical abuse turned sexual, resulting in her being taken from her home and placed in foster care.
The State believes the best place for the child is back with the biological family, so while Charlotte was in foster care her dad attended therapy with the hope of maintaining custody. For two and a half years, Charlotte was in and out of foster care, her dad in and out of therapy and her life in and out of abuse. At two and a half, her dad’s rights were terminated and she was adopted by a loving family.
This couple had two boys and could not have any more children. They had been praying for years for God to give them a little girl. And He had answered.
In fact, the month Charlotte was born, her adopted mom had received Jesus Christ to be her Savior. Charlotte said, “God prepared them from the day I was born. He knew. He just knew.”
Growing up Charlotte always knew she had been adopted. It was talked about openly. But she didn’t know about the abuse until she was in her twenties. One day she visited the county clerk’s office and retrieved all her records. There, like a story, she read her file. Every doctor visit, every social worker note, everything was right in front of her. She said it didn’t really bother her at that time, because she knew who God intended her parents to be.
It wasn’t until Charlotte’s first baby was six months old that the realization of what had happened to her really hit home. Looking at her perfect, six month old baby girl she wondered, “How could someone do that to a precious baby?”
Her heart broke. And in response she gripped tighter to the things she thought she had control over.
For years she didn’t think her abuse had negatively affected her. She would tell people, “If you looked at me you’d never know.” But deep down the evidence was there.
It’s been over the last four years that God has been stripping back the layers, exposing the shame and scars to His healing light.
She sees now that in reality what she was doing was trying to take that control from God. She says, “All that time I thought I was in control and it didn’t affect me, I was allowing fear to manipulate and drive my situation.”
One thing God led Charlotte to do was forgive her biological parents. Specifically, forgive her dad for the abuse. For her, someone who’s hurt a child was unforgivable, but as she served on a Day with Dads prison ministry team, she watched father after father have a chance to play with his son or daughter and something pricked her heart. She saw these men – inmates – as people who have made mistakes yet deserve forgiveness. And the man who had abused her deserved forgiveness too. As a result she made a conscious choice to forgive that man for the things he had done.
“The thread woven through my entire story is He knew and He never left. Before I was born, He knew. God knew who my parents would be. He didn’t leave me where I was and He never left. Nothing is a surprise to Him.”
She said, “I didn’t feel like I was worthy of forgiveness and grace but then as I’ve gone back and looked, I’ve seen He’s considered me worthy all this time even when I didn’t feel worthy. He saw that little blond haired girl, and like a Daddy holding out an umbrella to His daughter in the rain, He waited all these years for me to come running to Him so He could embrace me and shield off the rain. What a gift!”
What a gift indeed! Thank you Charlotte for sharing how God wove His redemption through your story!
The Thread of Redemption exists to point out the fingerprints of God in the brokenness of life. Through people’s stories we highlight the thread of redemption weaved through-out the fabric of our lives. Have a story to share? Check out Share your Story for submission details.