‘I gave the entire wreck of myself to God’

Lavinia’s story | No more running

“I started running away from home at the age of four. My father was a very abusive man. At the time I was born, he was set on having a boy (and they already had an older girl), so from that moment, he rejected me. There was a lot of physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. He would try to drown me. He gave my sister a pellet gun and told her to aim at me. It was the 70’s, and whenever I ran away from home, the authorities would find me and bring me back.

But when I was nine, my grandparents realised something was wrong and they took me to the police. I was made a ward of the state, and after that, I was in and out of institutional care. It was just survival. I became an angry, bitter teenager, without fear or any sense of consequences. I started shoplifting. One time I stole a car. I was only 16 and had no licence. Why would I care? I had no emotional attachment to anything. I wanted love, though, and I was promiscuous, which took me down a line of abusive relationships. I ended up living with a young man, who was divorced, with a young child. I was still under age. We became engaged, but it ended badly. I ran away again, desperately looking for some kind of answer.

When I was 17, my sister had already made a few attempts at suicide. I decided I would do it properly. Unless I could find meaning and purpose, I would take my life. But at the same time, I was living with a couple who had become Christians. Maybe I was a little softened, or open. The woman asked me if I would come and listen to a couple of singers who were performing at school.

I said, “Are they Christians?”

She said, “Yes.”

Instead of going to the school, I decided I would go and see what the church was like. People laugh when I say that now. Why did I do that? I think I was at my lowest point. And I was curious. I remember the Gospel story being told at the service. Hearing about Jesus – this man who walked the earth, who suffered as we do, who was crucified, and who died for our sins! I was so hurt and broken and angry.  I hated myself, and in that moment, something shifted. The preacher was speaking, and I wanted that love of God. I wanted that forgiveness. At the end of the service, I went to the altar and I prayed. I didn’t really know how to pray, but in my heart I gave the entire wreck of myself to God. I cried and cried. I asked Jesus into my heart. And God heard the cry of my heart.

It was a powerful encounter with God… and yet, the journey of knowing God, and forgiveness, was very long. It wasn’t an instant conversion. Even though people at church were welcoming, I felt like a misfit. They were a polished, happy family, and I didn’t really belong. But some years later, I discovered YWAM. Their motto was to know God and make him known. That’s what I wanted! So I went and stayed at their training centre in Brisbane. I told them I was a mess but they still took me in! And I finally understood what it meant to have a personal faith in God. It was spiritual heart surgery. I allowed my walls to come down. I had been forgiven in Christ, so I could forgive myself and others. It was still a long journey of healing! But I know that God can bring healing. I know how the story ends, and that one day, I will see my Creator, face to face! Somehow, through this messy journey, I have found Jesus. God has truly wiped the slate clean, and I don’t need to run anymore.”

“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of your life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

To read more of Lavinia’s story, or purchase her book, please go to www.laviniawilson.com.au.

Lavinia’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.