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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.
Who – For youth worldwide
What – An international event to fight against the darkness of bullying, self-injury, and low self-esteem in our youth.
When – December 5th, 2012, 8-10 PM Eastern
Where – Mainly online (virtually). Youth can also host a physical 5 Candle Gathering with parents/guardians permission.
Why – We are daily reminded of the darkness overtaking our youth through bullying, self-injury, and low self-esteem. Rather than curse the darkness we have decided to light candles of hope.
How – Every youth can invite at least 4 other friends to be lights in their world and agents of change to start a revolution against the darkness. The 5 Candle event will provide free follow-up tools and resources (digitally) which will equip and empower the youth to start a revolution against the darkness. Our youth need their voices to be heard.
This event is sponsored by YourSecretName and YouthMax. Find out more information at http://5candles.eventbrite.com The online event will include a free prayer/support hotline for those youth in pain.
Free Downloads to promote the event:
Your Secret Name Conference came to Acts church last saturday and I was only able to stay for the first three hours. This included worship and the first two sessions.
OH MY GOODNESS.
I was not expecting what I encountered that morning. Holy Spirit was moving so gently, so sweetly upon everyone’s heart… it was amazing! I realized my fear to go deep with the Lord, to really view my emotions and heart and be real with God about some things.
I always think:
“We’ve talked about this before; why would He want to hear it again?”
But I am wrong every single time. He started a deep work that morning, and I was sad to go, but also excited to venture even deeper with my God, who hates my strive to perfection without Him. I pray this conference reaches the nation. Although I know the name he has for me, the message is still necessary in my life; how much more in the man or woman who has never heard Jesus call his or her name?
From Hope (found here)
Names are in can be a powerful force in our lives. So are the labels that others assign to us or we embrace ourselves.
For instance my name is Hope Harris; however Hope is not my given name. Several years ago I chose to rename myself. I no longer wanted to be associated with the name given to me by my parents. Attached to it were only memories of pain and torment. It was my way of disassociating from the pain and disowning my parents.
One of the other points of impact for me at the Exodus Freedom conference was hearing Pastor, author, and motivational speaker Kary Oberbrunner (to find out more about him click here). When I read the write up on Kary’s keynote address I was skeptical about discovering your secret name, based on a Bible verse in Revelations 2:17 “To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” However, my reservations were put to rest quickly as Kary began his address and had a huge impact on my life.
Kary has overcome a lot of pain in his own life and is a recovering from self-injury. Some of his opening statements were, “every name has a story and every story has a wound” and “healing comes when we let go of what has defined us in the past and God redefines us into who he created us to be.” As you might recall just a day earlier I had completely surrendered my sexuality to Jesus. So the later statement hit me deep within and grabbed my attention for the remainder of the address.
Towards the end of the message he had us all draw a picture of our pain that we wear like a label or in a way we identify ourselves. I outlined my hand because our finger prints and are unique unto us. On each finger I wrote the following words. Pointer finger nobody’s daughter, middle finger gay, and ring finger not a woman. On the palm I wrote abandoned and rejected. Kary then gave us each a florescent dot to place in the most painful part of the pain. I placed mine in the middle of the palm. We were then asked to wait in silence to see if God revealed a new name to us.
He then instructed us to invite Jesus into the pain and then take some time to listen and see what God might say about our new names. Here is what leapt from somewhere deep within me. First, god confirmed to me that He had placed the name Hope many years ago even though I was separated from Him. Secondly, I felt lead to write I’m not gay on the back of the paper. Oh yeah you know that went over like a ton of bricks and there were several minutes of internal struggle. Was this the point of ultimate betrayal or complete obedience to the one I have been surrendering my life to piece by piece over the last three and half years.
As my friend Executive director of Living Hope Ministries (click here to find out more) Ricky Chelette says “Life is not about what you feel, what you decide.” This was a point of blind trust and choice and with that I wrote the words “I am not gay” on the back of the paper. We were asked to bring our art forward and tape them to the walls of the auditorium. The wall for the remainder of the week was referred to as the Wall of Pain or the Wailing Wall. Both equally applied.
From that point forward I have walked in obedience to not take back the label gay or lesbian as part of my identity. In terms of sexuality no I still am not attracted to the opposite sex and I still struggle with many things surrounding my sexuality. What has changed is attitudinal; I am at peace with completely surrendering my sexuality to Jesus. I am living this out one day at a time and am not going to project what the future holds in terms of my sexuality or sexual attractions.
With this post, I know my friends who are pro-gay will feel as though I betrayed not only my own identity and them as well. I can’t say I completely understand all that has transpired in the last three and half years. One thing I am absolutely convinced of Jesus Christ and my heavenly Father are absolutely trustworthy and I can entrust every aspect of my life into their capable hands. My friends I still care deeply for you and hold no ill will or hatred towards you. Again this has been my personal journey to resolve my faith and sexuality.
If you would like more information on how to surrender your life to Jesus,(click here Surrender).
Your comments and questions are a welcomed addition to my blog.
The Journey continues,
When I first saw the short clip; a beautiful blond girl in white trying to find her way- her identity, through the maze of mud-caked “names” reaching for her something about it gripped at my heart pulling me in. Shortly after that you announced you’d be doing the “Secret Name” study with the youth and I knew it was something I wanted in on even if my age was a bit over the top of the “youth” definition.
I asked and when you heartily welcomed me, I ordered the book. When the book arrived I began to read. The “secret name” idea was new to me & I wasn’t sure if I was ready to buy into the whole thing. I remember getting to the part about Jacob wrestling with God and receiving his new name and I figured if God has a secret name for me than I’d like to know it and so I asked. Growing up I’d known my birth name meant things like strong, womanly, song of joy and while I understood my “secret name” was different I somehow thought something like that might be it. Yet as I asked, there was almost immediately one word, one name that I heard but it definitely wasn’t one on my “possibility list” and well, hadn’t Jacob “wrestled” for his name. I had simply asked and received.
It seemed almost too easy. I figured I’d think on it awhile. As the word appeared in church services, in verses I read, I became increasingly assured… I knew my name. At the final class you began by asking if anyone knew their name… I kept my hand down & promptly wished I hadn’t. By then I knew that I knew my name. It was simply up to me if I was going to Claim it. I had asked and my Father had answered. I didn’t have to understand all the significance of it or how this name linked with my past, or how it would define my future. I simply had to claim it, walk in it, rejoice in having heard my name.
My Father had called me by name because He loves me–I’m his daughter. He’s not going to give me a “bad” name or suddenly jerk it back from me but neither is He going to change it just because my brain didn’t necessarily think it was the “perfect” one. I had asked, He had given, now it was simply a matter if I would receive and be blessed. And with that assurance I picked up my pen and wrote four letters on my white stone….PURE.
My name is _____________.
I was downloading some audio files after 01.00am which was taking forever from christianaudio.com when I thought let me browse through their spiritual growth section and see what I can find.
First my eyes were attracted to Kasey Van Norman’s book Named by God, which had just loving the Holy Spirit within me because I see Him as My Beautifier….
Then I thought, let me explore further and then I came across your book title, Your Secret Name which got me curious. So I googled your name which revealed your website and which got me even more curios because I say a link to yoursecretname.com…then I SAW THE TEST!
I cautiously took the test wondering what would unfold. Who did I find I encountered God in different ways. As I clicked what I had believed was my given name and received God given name for me plus my secret name for God, I cannot tell how my face broke into the BIGGEST SMILE!!! I cannot express how with each discover, God made my smile GET BIGGER and BIGGER. Your website is the BEST GIFT GOD HAS GIVEN ME THIS YEAR!!!!
You see I have been looking for my ID but God knew EXACTLY what I needed…You don’t know my story, Kary. It is too long to write here. I just want to thank you for yoursecretname.com. I will spread the word, buy the book etc so that people can be set free…
Just thought to let you know….
Many thanks and blessings!
An on going battle with myself; a life filled of regret and depression. From the pills to the razor blades; from the untrust to the hatred. This or that. Here or there.
My life is never good enough; my life is never worth it. But I have a victory; I have a Savior.
My battle may not be over, but the battle has already been won.
This past year and a half has been an interesting journey for me. From the outside I appeared very normal, dependable, calm, and easy going but inside my head I was battling a full out war……exhausting. I finally couldn’t keep it together any more and I got ‘found out’ but to my dismay, the most devastating day in my life came and went and I was still standing.
I was filled with feelings of shame, grief and self loathing, but still standing none the less. I am able to look back now and only be disgusted by how much time and energy I wasted and laugh at how much power and control I thought I had possessed. God was there all the time with a gentle smile just waiting for me to cry uncle.
Through a series of events He place me where I would be surrounded by safe, loving and caring people to help guide my recovery and my discovery of how wonderful Gods grace is. I have a magnet on my refrigerator that I love that shows a little girl standing in a wet dress with wet hair after a rain,looking upwards with her hands raised. The caption says “just when you think you will never smile again….life comes back”.
I can’t give an inspirational prayer and I don’t speak church language very well, but I am safe and loving and filled with courage, perseverance and joy.