Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Leslie Basham: From a young age, Paulina Torres knew what it was to feel hurt.

Paulina Torres: The person that my mom married was an alcoholic. Every time he would drink, something would happen. When I was seven, he molested me for the first time.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for January 24, 2019.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Before we get started today, just a word to parents of little ones. Today’s Revive Our Hearts program is going to cover some topics that you might want to shield from young ears.

Now, we live in a day when we hear more and more about sexual abuse. Sadly, there’s nothing new about any kind of abuse. It’s been around for thousands of years. But recently we’ve been made more aware of the scope of the problem in our day.

Perhaps you know firsthand the confusion and hurt that results when someone else takes advantage of you or steals your innocence.

Here at Revive Our Hearts, we care about your story and your journey. We want to do everything we can to help you think it through from a biblical perspective. So today and tomorrow, we’re going to hear the story of a woman named Paulina. We’ll hear about the pain she experienced for years. And even more importantly, we’ll hear about the hope and healing that she has experienced through coming to know Jesus.

Paulina: I was born in Mexico City, and my parents were divorced when I was two. So very early in my life I grew up without my father.

Nancy: Paulina experienced very little stability in her childhood. Her mother was constantly on the move and emotionally needy.

Paulina: She was always very dependent on men. Ever since she separated from my father, divorced my father, she always had a man in her life. She always felt the need of having a man. I guess she was always just wanting to run away from her life.

Nancy: That desire to escape brought Paulina and her mom and siblings out of Mexico.

Paulina: When we were in Florida, we lived with my aunt. She ended up kicking us out, and we were in a different country. My mom didn’t have any money, and she called this American guy that she had flirted with a little bit where we were living. He said, “Hey, you can move in.” A couple of months later they got married.

Nancy: On the surface, everything looked good.

Paulina: He was a nice guy. He was friendly. We knew nothing about him, but I guess . . . I think my mom just wanted some security, some safe place to live and stay.

Nancy: It didn’t take long, though, for this man’s true colors to show through.

Paulina: The person that my mom married was an alcoholic. And when I was seven, he molested me for the first time. And when it happened, instead of keeping it from my mom, I told my mom, “Hey, Mom, is it normal that this happens at night?”

And she’s, like, “No!”

And I said, “Well, this is what happened to me when you went on a trip.”

Nancy: Paulina’s hurt and confusion were compounded by her mother’s response. There was a confrontation of sorts, an apology on his part, and (quote) “forgiveness” on the part of Paulina’s mom, but she didn’t leave this abusive relationship. She didn’t call the police to report the crime, and there were no serious consequences. So, not surprisingly, the abuse continued.

Paulina: For eight years more, it happened differently, in different ways. But maybe it took a couple of years where I started growing up, and I started to develop more. He was a very sick man. Today, in the eyes of a Christian woman, I see his need he had for Jesus and for truth, but at that time, it was just sad being around him. Every time he would drink something would happen.

I guess the saddest part about it is that I would tell my mom every single time he did something—every single time. I’d say, “Mom, he wanted to show me his private part.”

“Hey, you’re drunk, you’re drunk. Go to bed, you sick person,” or whatever. That would end the story.

And then, again, “Mom, he did this while I was doing that,” or “Mom, he came and kissed me on my neck.” Things like that. I would tell my mom, but nothing would happen.

Sometimes I would wake up at night and just feel somebody was watching me, and it was him at the door watching me. So that did not help with me sleeping. My mom would sometimes sleep with me to protect me, but then I would wake up sometimes with him holding my hand. It was just a scary thing to live as a little girl.

Nancy: So a fearful, needy mom who looked to her relationship with this man as her source of security actually deprived her own daughter of physical and emotional safety. From Paulina’s perspective, there was no logical explanation.

Paulina: I did not understand why nothing happened. When I was older, I would just say, “Why did you permit all that? Were you just, like, waiting for him to rape me in order for you to do something?”

So it was very confusing. I really wanted my mom’s love and protection, and I did not have it at all.

Nancy: In retrospect, Paulina sees that her relationship with her mom wasn’t entirely healthy.

Paulina: It’s funny because I loved her a lot, but in a sick love that I was her best friend, and she was my best friend. It wasn’t much of a mother/daughter relationship. We were both dependent on each other. I desperately needed her, and, in a way, she did not protect me. So it would be very confusing for me because I wanted to experience this real love, and I wouldn’t understand how she would let it happen and continue to happen.

Nancy: There was a separation for a while.

Paulina: She did finally say, “Okay, it’s over. We’re going to go and move back to Mexico.” But after a year, she said, “Well, let’s go back to the U.S., and let’s go back with him.”

I was, like, “What?! I was finally free from this man, and we’re going back? I don’t get it.”

They have a daughter together, my sister. She’s ten years younger than I am.

Nancy: Through this time, Paulina’s family had the appearance of godliness. Paulina and her mother and siblings attended church.

Paulina: That’s where we heard about God for the first time. It was nice to start going to church. It was something different, but it was also very confusing because nothing changed in our home.

He wouldn’t go to church with us, but violence . . . My mom would have many fights with my brother and with my step-dad. There would be pushing around. There would be yelling. So, yes, we go to church, and now we read the Bible sometimes, but nothing has changed in our hearts. It’s like the truth was there, but we still didn’t believe it.

Nancy: On top of the hypocrisy at home, she was immersed in a religious mindset that told her she had to earn God’s approval.

Paulina: I was in a high school, a fundamentalist school, and that was so hard for me. It was really legalistic. If I was wearing pants, I was a sinner. If I was showing a little bit of my arms, I was a sinner. My voice . . . I was too loud; I was too perky. I was just a sinner. Everything I did was wrong. So I’m, like, “I cannot fulfill this. I cannot meet the standard of this God.”

What I thought about God then was He’s there, but He’s not really close. And somewhere in there I knew that wasn’t really how God was, but it was something that I said, “I can’t do this.”

Nancy: The abuse, the unhealthy model from her mother, and Paulina’s own sinful nature all combined to continue the cycle.

Paulina: When you are sexually molested, it triggers something in your body, and it can go in so many different ways. For me, it was just . . . I wanted men in my life. I was all into boys. I lived that all my life with my mother. There were always guys around. So for me, I wanted their attention. I was very promiscuous. I would kiss around with some guys. So my teenage years had a lot to do with boys.

Nancy: As a teenager who moved in church circles, it wasn’t long before Paulina was exposed to concepts related to sexual purity and abstinence before marriage.

Paulina: Well, we were in another church—because we moved a lot. My mom was very unstable, so she would just look for happiness in a different place. When I was eighteen, we had already moved twenty-eight times. Every time we moved, we would look for a church.

And this time, when I was a teenager, there was a youth group, and I started going to that youth group. Of course, I wanted to date the guys already. But I heard about this “True Love Waits” ring. So I got one. And I said, “Okay, I want to do it. I want to wait until I’m married.”

So it was something I wanted to do—not necessarily for the glory of God. It was something maybe I wanted to do for myself, and I wanted to wait for my husband.

Nancy: Well, in Paulina’s case, as in so many other young women, good intentions weren’t enough.

Paulina: When I was fifteen, I met a guy, and we already lived in Tijuana, Mexico. I met this guy—a very nice guy—and we fell in love, and we dated for eight years. But when I was eighteen, I said, “I think I’m going to marry this guy. I’m so in love with this guy. He’s the love of my life.” I gave him my “True Love Waits” ring as a sign that I’m his.

Nancy: After eight years, the relationship hit some bumps.

First, Paulina was diagnosed with a rare condition.

Paulina: I found out I had diaphragmatic endometriosis.

Nancy: Which resulted in severe pain for Paulina. It often leads to infertility, too.

Paulina: So the doctor said, “If you want to have kids, go have kids now.”

Nancy: Now, keep in mind, Paulina and her boyfriend weren’t married.

Paulina: So we started planning on having a family and buying things for our home, and I found out he was smoking pot. And for me, that was, like, “Oh, no.” I did not want any addictions. I’m done with the alcoholics and addictions in my home. I do not want any of that in my home. So when I found out he was smoking pot, that broke my heart because it’s, like, that’s really bad if we’re trying to have a baby. So I broke up with him after eight years.

Nancy: She says it was difficult.

Paulina: It was very sad for me, but I knew I wanted to start going to church. I made just so many mistakes after that. I saw how I was believing all these lies of, just, all these distractions of the world were keeping me from the truth. It was blinding me from the truth. I was suffering. I was toxic to myself, but I was still believing all these lies.

Nancy: Paulina knew that the answers she needed had to come from outside herself.

Paulina: I finally started going to church, after so many other heartbreaks, but it was God that . . . I could hear that whisper of, “You need to go to church. You need Me.” So I started to go to church, and I met this other guy, and we started dating. And we started sleeping together and going to church, and then sleeping together.

That was a mess because then my life started to be a double life. It’s very sad to say that I was a part-time Christian. And that’s a big lie. You cannot be a part-time Christian.

But God just started putting in my heart, “You have to decide: Who are you going to serve? Who are you going to live for?”

I started going to every discipleship in the church. I started serving. And then this sin was just keeping me and blinding me from just surrendering all my life to Him. I was still doing things according to my needs, my desires. Yes, I’m going to church here, but I still want to do my own thing—until God said, “You have to decide: Who are you going to serve?”

Nancy: Jesus said in John chapter 12, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also” (vv. 25–26).

Well, that kind of surrender made Paulina nervous.

Paulina: I knew God was real. I knew He existed. I knew He wanted more of me. Since I didn’t have very trustworthy people in my life, by this time I didn’t know what this trusting thing was about. I was just scared of trusting Him and just putting all my past, my present, and my future in His hands.

Nancy: Still, she knew she couldn’t stay where she was.

Paulina: So God took me to this point of desperation, my sin was painful and was shameful. I just felt I was drowning, and I felt I was just enslaved. I was a slave to sin.

Sin enslaves you. Sin blinds you from seeing the truth. And sin keeps you from living the life that God has for you.

Nancy: What followed for Paulina was a period of sorrow for her sin.

Paulina: I remember just going to church and crying and crying my eyes out. I would just go to my apartment, and I would just get on my knees and just cry out to God. “God, help me. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t do this. I feel like my body is burning. I feel like everything I do is wrong. I decide things that are bad for me. I need Your help.”

It was just my soul screaming for truth and for liberty and for freedom. I think I was just desperate for Him without knowing really what that meant. But my soul was just aching for Him.

Nancy: She had a growing realization: Was she going to continue living for herself? Or was she going to surrender everything to God?

Paulina: God took me to this time in my life where I needed to decide. I couldn’t be playing around with sin anymore. You can’t play around with sin in front of a holy God.

So, by His grace, He gave me the strength. I broke up with this guy.

Nancy: Now, for someone whose root sin was finding fulfillment in having a relationship with a guy, this was huge. Paulina knew she needed to find her satisfaction in God alone.

Paulina: I said, “I want to be alone with You, God. I want to hear Your voice. I want to know You more. And I’m scared. I don’t know what this life is going to look like. I’m twenty-five years old, so I don’t know who I’m going to marry. I don’t know how to be alone. I have never been alone in my life.”

And God did something amazing because He put in my heart, “Come to Me. For everything that you need, come to Me. You’re now My daughter. I respond as a Father to you.”

(I have this written down because this was in 2008.) I would just say, “God, I’m afraid. I’m afraid of the future. I’m afraid of being alone.”

He would say, “Come to Me.”

“I’m desperate. I feel like I need to be intimate with somebody. My body is burning.”

He would say, “Come to Me.”

And miraculously He would just calm my body.

I would be anxious for something—my job, or whatever. He showed me how He would be now my heavenly Father. He would guide me. He would strengthen me. He would give to me and fulfill all my needs. I wouldn’t have to be searching for somebody else’s love. He has the love I desperately needed.

Nancy: The most beautiful expression of God’s love for us is seeing the death of Jesus on the cross. Paulina understood that her sin had been placed on Christ and then, in exchange, His righteousness, His goodness, His purity was placed on her. And she now had the Holy Spirit living in her and giving her the power to change.

Paulina: It was a new life. God did a miracle in my life. He started changing the way I would think, the way I would dress, the way I would talk to other guys. He exposed my sins so well that I didn’t even want to look up. I was just, like, “I don’t want to see a guy in the wrong way anymore.”

He started transforming me in a beautiful way. There was this thirst for His Word, thirst for more of Him. I started feeling this calling from Him, like, “I want all your life. I want all your heart.” So that’s where the transformation started and started healing and started teaching me what His Word said.

Nancy: Paulina now offers the hope that she’s found to others.

Paulina: Sexual abuse is very hard, and it happens. It does things to the body. It does things to the mind and to the soul that really hurts it. But in Christ, He comes and heals all your wounds, and He gives you the grace to be able to forgive and to be able to have a new life in Christ. It’s amazing what Christ can do.

Nancy: She understands some of the competing desires that the victims of sexual abuse often experience.

Paulina: Sometimes, when we have been sexually abused, we tend to go for more sin. Instead of just stopping it there, we go for what is. It’s hurting us, so we want to kind of bandage that with more sin, and it makes it worse.

And then there’s the sexual sin that we decide to commit, and that’s also very hurting because we’re not created for many partners. We are created for just one.

But if it’s your case of having multiple partners, there is also hope for girls that have lived that life. God can do something amazing. He can give you . . . well, in Christ, all things are new—your mind, your body, everything is new.

So there is hope in learning the truth and just letting the truth transform you. And meditating on it constantly because it’s not just reading the Bible. It’s really letting the Bible transform you.

And meditating constantly in the Word and believing it. I know sometimes it’s a hard thing to believe it, but once you start seeing God promise you something and then it happens, it’s just amazing. It’s, like, “Okay, I can trust You, God.”

When you read the Bible, you look throughout the Bible, all these people that just wanted God to do things. God would just say, “I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this,” and He would do it. So He’s a God that we can trust with all our hearts and with all our lives. So there is hope in Jesus Christ.

Nancy: Now, there’s more to Paulina’s story, and we’re going to hear the rest of it tomorrow. But don’t you just love hearing how God can help a broken, messed up person like Paulina or you or me?

He’s so good to bring us to a point of desperation about your sin, and then He gloriously provides the solution for us in the person and the work of Jesus Christ. I never ever get tired of hearing about the transforming power of the gospel. In fact, here’s how Paulina put it.

Paulina: There is hope for those who have the “True Love Waits” ring and failed to wait.

There is hope for those that thought sex would satisfy their bodies, but it just made it worse.

There is hope for those that maybe thought an older man would give her what she thought she needed, and it just made it worse as well.

The reason why I’m telling you that there is hope because all of those things were me. And I can tell you today that in Christ there is hope for all that choose to believe and surrender their lives to Christ.

Jesus is the only one that can give life and freedom. He’s the only one that can transform our pain into joy. And He’s the only one that can still guide us and transform us through His Word.

Nancy: Maybe you’re at a point of desperation about your own sin right now. If that’s the case, I want to encourage you to do the same thing Paulina did:

  • Cry out to the Lord.
  • Acknowledge your sin to Him.
  • Admit that you can’t fix things in your own strength.
  • Ask for His mercy and forgiveness.
  • Ask Him for the power to turn away from whatever it is you’re prone to turn to for satisfaction and fulfillment. And ask Him for grace to toward Him in faith.
  • Then begin to live your life as an offering of thanks to Him and look for opportunities to tell others about the hope and the joy and the healing that you have found in Jesus.

In fact, while you’re telling others, would you let us know, too?

When you contact our team and let them know about your new faith in Christ, we’d like to send you some free information about what it means to know Jesus personally and to walk with Him day by day.

You can ask for that free resource by calling us at 1–800–569–5959.

Now, the reason we can bring you stories like Paulina’s and to provide free material to new believers is thanks to friends like you who listen to this program and then who give and support the ministry financially.

When you donate any amount this week, we’re saying “thanks” by sending you a brand new Bible study we’ve produced called, Elizabeth: Dealing with Disappointment. It’s on Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist.

She faced the disappointment of infertility for years and years. As you walk through the six sessions of this study, you’re going to find practical principles from God’s Word that will help you deal with whatever disappointments you may be facing in your life.

You can get more details by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959 with your gift, and be sure to ask for the Elizabeth study.

Well, it would be overly simplistic and untrue to say, “Paulina Torres had a hard life, then she found Jesus, then everything was fine after that.” You see, after coming to Christ, we still have indwelling sin, and life circumstances don’t necessarily get any easier.

Tomorrow we’ll hear more of Paulina’s story and how she learned to include others in the Body of Christ to help her grow. Be sure to join us again tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is pointing women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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