As a young lady growing up I had a my life mapped out. I would get married to the man of my dreams, have children, be a teacher and live happily ever after.
I never imagined the detours to come in my life.
After all, what did I really know about life? I was a teenager. At the age of 16 I was living on my own and married by the age of 17. My first child was born when I was 18. However, this was not the picture perfect fairy tale I imagined. In fact it was the complete opposite. In addition to all of the other challenges we faced as a young couple, this man would pound on me every chance he could. Before long our children became targets as well. I would cry every night and write in my journal asking “Lord what did I do that was so wrong that you would allow this to happen to me?" After all I was a Church Girl who made a few mistakes but wow this punishment was extreme.
I remember telling people and I didn't believe in God anymore, nor did I believe in love. I did not realize I was speaking from the pain at the time. This went on for nine years until finally enough was enough and God had to do something about this. After three attempts on my life, at my wits end I decided to pray to the God I gave up. I quickly realized even though I gave up on God he never gave up on me. Two weeks later I was on the train to Pittsburgh.
Although I could see the light at the end of the tunnel because the abusive relationship was coming to an end, I also had to face the reality of becoming a single mom. This reality was more frightening than being beat on. The thought of being a single mom weighed on me so heavy on that long train ride. When my train got to Philadelphia I contemplated turning around and going back. I started to believe all the lies I'd been told. I could not take care of three children on my own. How was I going to raise three children on my own?
It wasn’t easy because I had to learn what true love was while learning to love myself and my babies. At first I thought the answer was to dig a hole and bury everything of the past in it. Then God begin to show me I wasn’t the only one hurting but my babies felt the hurt as well They refused to talk about it. With the Lord’s help my babies learned how to love again. I prayed and prayed every night Lord fix us we’re so broken. Today I know God uses broken things for His glory.
After living with my mom for six months we got our first apartment. I'll never forget picking the kids up from school and taking them to our new home for the first time. The joy on their faces was unforgettable. We had nothing to sleep on or to sit one but we were so happy. It was not perfect but it was ours.
From that moment on life began for us. I would cry every morning after dropping them off to school but these were happy tears of joy. I, Josie Dennison had the privilege of waking up early making breakfast and taking my babies to school. Prior to this, I wasn’t allowed to drive or do things on my own. The Lord put so many awesome people in my path. People like my Pastor and little brother who looked over my son and his needs as a little boy, my mom and little sister. My boss who would allow me to bring the kids to work on snow days.
Throughout the years we moved a lot because I wanted them to stay in the good schools but I was struggling to make ends meet, robbing Peter to pay Paul. I worked full-time and went to school full-time. It was hard but what a privilege it was. My babies and I built an unshakable bond and love for each other and we operate as a unit. Most importantly we learned what true love and unity is by the grace God.
After five years of being a single mom the Lord sent my now husband also known as dad to join our team. He quickly recognized the bond between us and never did he try to break it instead he protects it. When I was in a bad place in my life I invited God to step in and when he did he turned everything around. In the midst of my brokenness he was working things out. As my relationship with him grew so did my relationship with my babies. I had to learn to embrace the trials, embrace the struggle and appreciate the little things I once took for granted. Little things like dropping my baby’s off to school, making them breakfast, telling them I love them, falling asleep in the bed together doing homework. I had to learn what love was and how to love hands on.
Josie Dennison is Founder of The New Me Outreach Ministry. The New Me provides encouragement, uplifting testimonies and support for our community, victims of domestic violence, those striving to overcome hurts, habits and hang-ups. You can learn more at Thenewme2015.org .