I was the youngest of three children growing up in a small dairy town in Northern Wisconsin. As a child, I had observed how the root of bitterness had defiled my parent’s relationship. Their relationship was strained because of marital unfaithfulness and alcohol which both of them had used to escape from their own consciences. Seeing the emotional state my parents were in (due to burying their problems with each other) caused me to withdraw from them and escape into a pretend world in my mind. I was running and escaping from the reality of life just as they were. I was so tormented over the lack of love and not having their acceptance that I was starving myself in hopes that they might see me and give me attention. Being a recluse with them just carried over in all that I did. I had no confidence and believed that I was doomed to fail in everything that I did. My name is Shanon and I’d like to share my story with you.
Around the age of 17 I came and went as I pleased, usually trying to get away from my family. I began going to a church youth group with a good friend of mine. I thought I was saved but had no idea what I had need to be saved from. I had gotten filled with the Holy Spirit, water baptized and spoke in other tongues; I felt like I was on a high filled with joy. But, sin still had dominion over me and eventually I lost my emotion for that.
I was feeling that unfulfilled emptiness — that’s when I met David, the one that I thought would give me all I needed. We were both filled with emotions, not love, and I mistook lust for love. I spent all of my time at his house or anywhere else just to get away. We spent all of our emotion on one another and looked to take, not give. I thought that I was going to marry him, after all, he was a Christian. I was under the delusion that marriage and having a man was the magic cure for my emptiness — I didn’t believe that Jesus was the cure to the void in my soul.
I was like a glutton, an addict looking for men to fulfill me. I took as much as I could get both emotionally and physically. My condition was described in Proverbs 6…”So shall your poverty come and your want as an armed woman.” Jeremiah 17 says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes the arm of flesh his strength.” The curse that my mother was under had just become mine, the curse of whoredom and making man my God. I despised her and wanted nothing to do with her, and yet found myself continuing in her ways. What I had not forgiven her for became my own sin. My manipulative and seductive ways were like a robber, stealing, holding men at gunpoint to get affection…and it had only just begun.
I had been babysitting for a couple in the church I was attending and one night when the husband brought me home, he told me a valuable thing. He began to share with me about how he and his wife had slept together before they married, then married, only to divorce because the relationship was bad. When they became Christians they remarried but still the problems they had before had to be dealt with. His story was convicting because I had planned to move to another state with David after high school graduation. I knew that this man’s testimony was prophesy of my future that Jesus was trying to spare me from. Not only was this man sent into my life, but also my youth pastor came to me and told to wait on the Lord to bring me the right man. I never listened to the council before me; I hardened my heart. I closed my eyes so I couldn’t see, and deafened my ears so I couldn’t hear. That’s why the glorious light of the Gospel couldn’t begin to heal me. I wanted to do what I wanted. I didn’t believe that God had a good plan for my life — after all, my way “Looked” better than his.
So, after a year of wedding plans with David, I had an opportunity to date a man who was 10 years older than me. He was very attractive and had money. My real knight in shining armor! How deep was my “love” for David? This deep — I dropped him and on the same day went out on a date with that man. David was an absolute mess over our breakup but I was unmoved by his pain. In Proverbs it says that…”the whore wipes her mouth and says have I done no wrong?” That was me, hard and unmoved by another’s pain. I had gone far from listening to the voice of the Lord in the ones He had sent, so I had been sent to my own demise. The whore is a deep ditch and many men; yes, strong men are wounded by her! Had I listened I would have spared myself and the men that had come to sleep in my bed. The older man left me and on his way out said, “I thought that you were a good Christian girl.” I felt guilty at what I had shown this man about Christianity; what a hypocritical life I was living and what a wounded spirit I was — who could bear my wounded spirit? I was being held captive by the cords of my own sin and they weren’t tight enough yet for me to look up and cry out to God for salvation.
Not long after, a good friend of mine who was the daughter of a pastor was getting married. I couldn’t stand the thought of her having a man and not me. She had me stand up for her in her wedding and all the while jealousy was burning inside of me. That’s when I became reacquainted with her older brother, the pastor’s son. We played the lust and flirt game with each other at the wedding, which led into a relationship that later I was to regret. I was still trapped in a world of delusions and lies; because I had never really received the love of the truth. I had been friends of the family for a few years. He was another way out for me, a way to escape the hunger in my soul. Because he was religious, I thought he was a spiritual giant, a good man, and one that would take care of me. I thought that I was so unworthy to have him. Little did I know what was inside the package I was about to marry.
Again the pattern of my sin continued. I did exactly what I had done with the other men. I closed my ears to the still small voice in me that was telling me to leave this man alone. I wanted what I wanted. We had felt so guilty for using each other that we went to talk to his father who was a pastor at that time. Darrin had told his father that he didn’t love me nor want to be with me. He felt guilty for sleeping with me, but his father told him that he needed to marry me. Even after hearing that Darrin didn’t love me, there was no council to confess your sins and repent. His father was more concerned about the appearance of the family and was hiding his own sin of lust in the closet. Everything that we had done was a violation of our own souls; we were denying the Holy Ghost. I knew that I shouldn’t marry him, but in spite of all of his and my doubts, we went through with it. I had myself believing that once we were married, he would change his mind and love me.
The fantasy I was living in was short lived. Because we were in such a violation of our own consciences and rebelling against the Lord, Darrin suddenly became sick as he walked me to the alter to say “I Do” when he didn’t want to “Do.” He had gone to the doctors but they could not find what was wrong. Our relationship went from bad to worse. The religious bandaide of marriage (which was really a living lie) was not working. We just despised and hated one another for our guilt and usury and just took out our guilt on each other with cruel jokes and name-calling. We were still going to church attending a spirit-filled church, which was one of the largest in the area. We just happened to fit into the category of people who go to church but were filled with all kinds of unclean spirits. I had a hard time seeing that God was good considering all that had been going on. It’s always easier to blame God than look at the error of your ways. My times were not in God’s hands, but in my own, and I was deluded by my own sin thinking that God was the author of all my confusion. However, the Lord again proved His love, goodness, and longsuffering by sending me again His prophets, priests, and family! He says that He will send help from His sanctuary, and men for our lives, but I had to look to Him first. When I was content in my rebellion, I dwelled alone, but when I was ready to confess and forsake my sin, God in His mercy sent me help in His people, so sin would not have dominion over me.
Gene and Ceci Sullivan and their ministry team came to my community. They had been doing some meetings in the area churches. As I sat and listened, I was in awe of the direct personal words of people. I watched their interaction with one another and people in the church. I listened to the testimony of the power of Christ that changed so many lives and was overwhelmed for the first time with hope and joy! I truly wanted and believed that I could be an overcomer of sin and have a right relationship with Jesus. I had something come alive in me…like the disciples on the road to Emmaus. I knew that I wanted the revelation and witness of the Lord and His Spirit in me like I had encountered in these people.
In Revelations it says that the only way to overcome Satan is by the Blood of Jesus, the word of our testimony and not loving our own lives unto death. The thing that I saw was their fellowship continually about the things of the Lord, the Word and how to help one another to keep overcoming. I thought to myself, “Don’t they ever stop talking about the Lord?” This was what I had been longing for…fellowship with the Lord and between Christians, working and loving one another in the ministry. The Proverbs say that he that hears speaks continually; I was starving for Jesus, His people and good spiritual food just like my flesh was starving to be fed physical food. I’ll never forget a woman named Linda Erb on the ministry team. She had approached me and said, “I know exactly what you’re going through.” It was as if Jesus Christ broke down my walls and touched my hard heart. She saw through my facade of religion, the mask I had put on to cover my pain and sin. The Lord used her life’s testimony to give me a vision of hope and faith to become a woman of God one day. I felt great joy like the woman at the well who was personally confronted by Jesus.
Darrin and I had left that meeting and continued in the monotony and deception in our lives. When I came out of the old church one day, it was like I had a blanket removed from my eyes. It was as real as the blind man that was healed by Jesus seeing for the first time. I began to see…really see the emptiness of dead religion, the facade of my life, the lie that I had been believing in and I realized that I didn’t have Jesus. We lived like cars driving through the car wash once a week, but during the week, we continued in our sins.
I went home and cried out a prayer sincerely from my heart. I had never prayed to Him sincerely like that before that time (except to be delivered from smoking!). I prayed, “Lord, something is desperately wrong with me. I don’t know what it is. I know it will be hard for me to look at myself but I know that You have answers for me.” That was it, I was going to go where I could receive the help of God and nothing was going to stop me. Therefore, Darrin and I packed up, sold our things and moved to be with the ones that God had sent. In Revelations it says, “…whom the Lord loves He chastens…be zealous therefore and repent!” Well, that was a word that I had never heard of or thought was possible according to what I had done. My life was a continual beating and hardship, and confusion was the fruit of “my ways.” Nevertheless, when I received the love of Jesus, it caused my heart to turn and cry out to Him.
After Darrin and I were deathly honest about our motives for getting together, we annulled the relationship. Jesus said that what God has joined, let no one separate. We faced the reality that lust and selfish motives were our bond. I went and lived in an extended family despite how much Darrin would ask me to forgive him for what had happened, I reluctantly said I would. I had so much bitterness, unforgiveness and hatred against him. I thought that it was my right to be offended, to be the poor victim. I deserved pity, after all he was the one who used me. But I will never forget when my friend Ceci talked to me about holding Darrin’s sin against him, that I was really self-righteous thinking I had no sin and the reason I could be “used” by him was because I was a “user.” That was the very thing I needed to provoke me.
I opened the Bible and really read it and what I saw there was my own life as it was according to the Word. (The Word divides and cuts us to separate the precious from the vile). I read in Matt 6:15…”If you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will God forgive our trespasses.” I sat there considering that scripture…I sure wanted my sins to be forgiven. How much did I need the forgiveness of God? I needed His forgiveness greatly! Then how much should I forgive what had been done to me?
I also read in Heb 12:15…”If any man fail the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you and thereby many be defiled.” I thought I was such a sweet, quiet, good mannered Christian, but here the candle of the Lord searched out the inner secret of my heart and showed me what I really was like. I had no grace of the Lord in what I had done and because of that the root in me was bitter. I got to watch how that unforgiveness could not be contained to one or two people who had wronged me, but it was also spilling over onto people who were just trying to love me. My prayers came out of that pool, and at the bottom of it all, I was angry at God accusing Him of the source of my pain.
When I began to really look at what I had done to Darrin, I was in need of being forgiven. When I realized what my sin was…the manipulation, control, the seductive game I played to ensnare him, I realized I wasn’t a victim of Darrin’s sin, I was an active part of him falling into the tangled web of whoredom. Me, acknowledging my sin, owning up to it rather than denying and lying about what I really was, was the day that I felt free! How can you forsake sin you’re never willing to confess? I called up Darrin and truly and sincerely asked him to forgive me, and I was able to forgive him and let go of that hatred that was burning in my soul. (Anger rests in the bosom of a fool!) In Proverbs 28:13 it says, “He who covers a sin shall not prosper, but him who confesses and forsakes them shall find mercy!” Jesus said it’s what we let live in our hearts that defiles us and makes us unclean!
I also had terrible habits of picking on my fingers and starving myself. Again this was because of the unclean spirits that gnash in hell like the ones I was listening to. To whomever you submit yourselves servants to obey, his servant you are whether unto righteousness (right thinking, hearing and obeying the voice of Jesus) or unto sin. I said I was a Christian but Jesus says those who are His, follow His voice and the voice of a stranger they will not follow, but the voice of a stranger to me was Jesus. So living with Christians who had trained their ears to hear and obey was exactly the operation I needed — to train my ears to hear Jesus.
I remember how strange and unfamiliar it seemed to me watching and observing Christians actually praying to receive understanding from the Lord and from speaking the truth one to another. They really did see each other as members one of another and submitted to one another in the fear of the Lord. It was strange to me because I was a “Christian” who never read the bible nor prayed! How could I know what God’s thoughts or His ways were when I never would read to know about Him nor talked to Him? God says this about His children in Isaiah 55:8 — your thoughts and your ways are not my thoughts and my ways. (They knew His acts but not His ways).
The church body in Ephesians 4 was at work in my life so that I would not be like the child that is tossed by every wind of doctrine, but now growing up so I could be a good supplier, effectually working and making increase, not to be a decrease to the church. The doctrine I was blown about by was the philosophy and psychology of man saying that prosperity is in the pocket, not in the cleanness of your heart, nor did they teach the doctrines of Christ that says without holiness shall no man see God, the pure in heart see God and the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, loving your brother also.
When I finally let go of holding onto what various persons had done to me (accusing others and excusing myself), I was able to really let the Lord adopt me. I felt like the baby in Ezekiel 16 where the Lord says to her in her polluted blood…Live, then He entered into a covenant with her. I began to see the goodness of God in the land of the living, because I received the ones He had sent into my life! As we receive the ones sent…so we receive Jesus and the One who sent Him! Instead of not allowing people into my heart and life, I saw the operation of God and the work of His hands and His purpose for bringing people into my life! As iron sharpens iron, so does a friend sharpen the countenance of a friend…we are encompassed about with a great cloud of witnesses. I let myself be vulnerable enough so I could receive others’ love and mysteriously it helped set me free to give His love! Then let us lay aside every weight of sin that so easily besets us! (Hebrews 12:1)
One day I had been walking and praying. I realized something about the attitude I had and the lie I believed about God. In Jer. 29:11 it says that God’s thoughts toward me were thoughts of peace not of evil to give me an expected end. All along I thought God was out ot get me when really it was the other way around. I saw that the devil also had a plan for my life, thoughts of evil with an expected end…death. I had not begun to see what the Lord had planned for me…all that I had watched was the devil making his plans come about in my life. My prayers up to that point were accusing God for what He had done to me. In Rev. 16:11 it says they blasphemed God because of their pains and sores and repented not of their deeds. Finally I realized God’s great love for me was true in reading that scripture in Jeremiah and He also proved it to me by sending me His family! Jesus was and is that faithful man I had been searching for all along.
It’s been 12 years now that I’ve been single. In these 12 years I’ve seen marrieds who want to be single again, and singles who want to be married. When I talked to the Lord about what I was missing out of in life, thinking I was less than a woman because I didn’t have a man or children, He showed me the high calling and value of where I was at being single. Phil. 4:11…In whatever state I am in therewith to be content! My contentment came from losing my life to find true life, doing the will of God rather than fulfilling my own desires and needs…giving what I had to the Body of Christ. He showed me my place in the Body of Christ, where it says in Corinthians how the unmarried woman cares for the things of the Lord. That was exactly what He had given me to do.
I lived in an extended family to receive the Spirit of Adoption and the heart of a servant with duties in the home and with the children. It was exactly what I had needed to receive — The Spirit that I was void of…integrity, love, faithfulness, giving. In the bible there’s the story of Ruth who was in the home of Naomi to give and love — So I was put in Gene and Ceci’s home, to have a clean and right heart. All of my bad attitudes were very evident (those unclean spirits) — that was what the Lord was after, my own dirty house! I used to despise the virtue I read in the book of Ruth because Ruth’s character exposed all of my unfaithfulness, and lack of integrity with God and man. Especially the part where Boaz praises her saying that she was faithful and didn’t seek young men nor rich men (which was not my story at the time!)
Since I have allowed the Lord to “clean my closets” He has helped me fight the influence of unclean spirits. How shall a young woman cleanse her way? By taking heed to His Word! (His Word gives understanding to the simple.) Now I read Ruth and love it! I see what a great testimony she is to the single woman. That testimony is this…that in giving and loving others and obeying God, the Lord will reward the diligent and obedient.
So where I once was discontent and empty, I glory in my weakness that the Lord might rest upon me I give myself to things of the Lord…testimony, witnessing, exhorting, serving the needs of others both spiritually and carnally. I have found that truly it is more blessed to give to others than to receive, and to wash another’s feet. Where I once thought that I would die if I didn’t have a man, he has given me His abundant grace that keeps me! Now I see much clearer what I’ve truly been saved from! As Ceci, Linda and the other women gave me their testimonies, now I have a testimony to give others. Rather than using men, I look to God to use me for His kingdom! I have found life unspeakable through submitting my life, heart and thoughts, to find the Kingdom of God and the righteousness of His Son…becoming who He created me to be by the power of His Word! To God be all the glory! Amen!