The Lost Years: Overcoming My Past of Abuse


And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

We’ve all read the stories of the lost years, when the Israelites wandered for forty years in the wilderness desperately searching for their way back to God. How about the 400 lost years (silent years) of the intertestamental period, the time between the Old and New Testaments? Based on historical records, life did not go well for the Jewish people, who were under political oppression and acting in ways that were not honoring to God. Our faith assures us, even during these times, that God was always present and preparing for the birth of his Son, Jesus Christ, to save His people (Matthew 1:21-23).

Now, fast-forward 2,000 years.

Raised in a loving Christian home, in the suburbs of New Jersey, I have loved the Lord for as long as I can remember. I went to church, prayed before each meal, and I proudly wore Jesus around my neck. Looking back, however, I can say with great certainty: loving and believing in God is one thing; accepting His invitation to walk with Him daily is another that yields life-changing results.

While we all face simple, complicated, complex, or chaotic seasons in life, how we approach these times determines the outcome. Even during difficult times, our reaction has the potential to bring about the greatest reward. I often complicate simple situations... I can also make a mess out of an already complex issue. Unfortunately, the combination of wanting to retain control of all things and making emotional decisions, rather than logical ones, affects my choices.

Though there is no guarantee that wisdom comes with age, I know that I am a work in progress, continuing to focus on rewiring my brain and change the way I think.

I was a teenager about to embark on the journey of freedom, and experience the privilege, growth, and independence the high school experience had to offer. Like many young girls, I had dreams, goals, and plans for the next four years of my life.

It started out picture-perfect.

A popular older brother in the senior class to watch over me, a circle of friends, and an active social life. I was a cheerleader, a member of the yearbook committee, and voted Freshman Class President. I will admit, attracting a boyfriend was definitely on my mind at that time too; however, I always managed to let the “nice guys” go. Superficial, yes! I was thinking I knew what was best for me and wishing for Mr. Handsome…Mr. Popular…Mr. Athletic (with a bit of a bad-boy on the side).

Wishing for love and looking for someone to love me became more important than being certain of something I was working towards...I just didn’t know it at the time!

Already folding into the routine of high school, I got my wish that January of freshman year, when my Mr. Bad Boy arrived as a new student from another area high school. I had heard of him before, as he was a popular athlete and known for his edgy side. In fact, I noticed him for the first time a month or so earlier while I was perched high up on the wooden bleachers watching a basketball game in our gymnasium. He had a pretty girl on his arm and swarms of people wanting his attention.

It wasn’t long before his relationship with the pretty girl fizzled as this big fish had a new pond to swim in. Rumors circulated that a popular athlete was interested in asking me to be his girlfriend. I thought, with great excitement, “Could it be him? Gosh no, could it?” My understanding was that there was locker room talk and a boy with similar initials, as Mr. Bad Boy, wanted to ask me out. From what I gathered, Mr. Bad Boy, nicknamed Psycho (from the guys on the team), dominated the conversation and claimed me for himself first. The boy that was truly interested conceded.

Within a month or so we were a couple.

Like any new relationship, the beginning was a blast. What started out as romance, soon turned to horror stemming from fits of anger, rage, and jealousy. Before long, I was in the throws of an abusive relationship, weathering storms of physical, verbal, emotional, spiritual, and drug abuse that would continue for the next four years. Often people outside of these situations wonder why individuals stay committed to such a violent and unhealthy relationship. For me, I can say it was because I allowed my emotions to get the better of me and permitted fear, insecurity, pressure, embarrassment, and what I thought was love navigate my life.

Behind the scenes, my prayer warrior parents saw signs early on and were extremely concerned but I concealed what was going on with great effort in order to protect Mr. Bad Boy. Eventually, I was forbidden to continue in the relationship, but managed to lie well enough to keep it going.

My reckless decision led to great loss.

My body had endured physical pain and damage, my friendships were compromised, my grades were slipping and I spent most of my senior year playing catch up in order to graduate with my class. Plans for attending a good university were on the back burner and I found myself lost...completely lost!

It wasn’t until after high school that I began to recognize the severity of the situation. The last four years had been such a period of darkness; I could bare it no longer. I felt hopeless...trapped! At a time when I should have been excited about going away to college and the adventure that season would bring, I spent the next two years seeking a way out of this relationship. I honestly believed that he would never let me go willingly and the only way out was if I were dead. If he can’t have me no one can!

I believe by the great power prayer, God had commanded His angels to protect me (Psalm 91:11).

I honestly don’t have any other logical reason to explain why my life was spared when so many lose theirs in abusive relationships. Still not leaning into God and seeking Him, as I should have, I remember wishing for a man that would treat me the way I deserved.

“Hello, Angele...

God has given you that man...His name is Jesus Christ.” <<Click to Tweet

By the age of 21, after several rounds of “on again off again” with Mr. Bad Boy, I managed to distance myself enough to meet Mr. Right. We trained at the same fitness club and were introduced by a mutual friend. Those early months were not easy as Mr. Bad Boy still attempted to claim me as his own—but I didn’t give in. Eventually, true love would prevail and by age 25, I married Mr. Right, a patient and loving man who stood by me and handled me with care.

I wish I could say I had an epiphany after that ordeal and absorbed what it meant to have a personal relationship with my Heavenly Father as He so intimately desires. But like those of the Old Testament, that would come later after making a few more mistakes based on emotions.

Though my husband loved me, he did not love the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. I had this obscure belief that “where there is love, there is God.” I didn’t realize the dangers that were lurking, which would later wreak havoc in my marriage and challenge every wedding vow promised…but that is for another chapter! I couldn’t bear the thought of going through life in another damaged relationship.Thankfully, I didn’t have to.

God was there preparing my husband’s heart (and mine) to receive the greatest love of all. I accepted His invitation to walk with Him daily. And,six years later, my husband accepted the Lord Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!

I know for sure that God was always there pursuing me and showing me just how much I needed the most important relationship of relationship with Jesus Christ. Eventually, I surrendered to Him, accepted His amazing grace and declared: I am done doing it my way! I was washed clean through the blood of Jesus Christ.

I realize, that in this this fallen world, I cannot do anything apart from Him. The storms will come, but He is my anchor and I choose to navigate this ship based on His precious living Word.

I was lost...I was blind...but now I see, oh how I see!

Are you ready to take the blinders off and live a life of victory by claiming your identity in Jesus Christ?

Several years later, I was told that Mr. Bad Boy was injured as a result of a gunshot wound. A connection was made and we had an opportunity to chat face to face. The time gave us a chance to make peace with our past mistakes and a sincere apology was made. On some level, I suppose this gave me some closure. Though I cannot have those formative years back, I believe because of the adversity I faced then, a desire was birthed in me to help others and minister to hearts the love of Jesus.

I forgive you...because I have been forgiven! {Colossians 3:13}


If you have friends or family members who are in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, be as supportive as you can. Don’t judge and take time to listen. The decision to leave an unhealthy relationship is never easy. Research options like or contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

Angele is an American Expat living in Europe with her husband and their three lively boys. In a house full of males, she enjoys retail therapy and everything girlie! Angele is an imperfect woman living in an imperfect world. She loves the Lord, but fails Him daily. She welcomes the good news that His love never fails. She never saw herself as a writer, but believes everyone has a story to share and is grateful that God has given her the courage to bless through her mess(ages). After giving into His unmatched voice, Angele created Angel Dancing as a place to spread her spiritual wings and sprinkle seeds of faith around the world. He is the Creator, she is only His messenger. Angele hopes your steps of faith will be the dance of your life!

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