{Chapter 5} Living in the Light

Fearful. Betrayed. Abandoned. Unloved. Unworthy. Unwanted.

These are a few words that defined Donna and cast shadows over her. Here’s Donna’s story…


Fearful. Betrayed. Abandoned. Unloved. Unworthy. Unwanted.

These were shadows from a past that would haunt me for years. A past that would hold me hostage and keep me from fully living in the light of God’s love. 

Fearful as I watched a hot plate of spaghetti thrown across the kitchen.  Fearful as I watched furniture crash against  walls. Fearful as my dad fell to the ground a few feet from my mom after he’d swung at her and lost his balance.

Betrayed after my intoxicated father sat me on the back of a horse without a saddle or reins to hold, and then swiped the horse’s rear end. Betrayed as he laughed with his friends while I went sailing through the air and landed on a barb wired fence.

Abandoned and unwanted when my dad filed divorce papers and when I discovered he failed to even get my name and birthday correct on them.  Abandoned each time my dad refused to pay child support. Unwanted as years went by without visits, phone calls, hugs, birthday gifts.

Unloved and unworthy when my dad broke promise after promise… to visit, to call, to show up for my high school graduation, to pay for college.

Fearful, betrayed, abandoned, unloved, unworthy, and unwanted. Words and emotions that I let define me and cast shadows over me … until July 2011.

Through several of my Pastor’s sermons and through a friend’s father passing away, I sensed God asking: “How would you feel and what would you do if your Dad were to die this very day?”

I had no answer.  I didn’t even know or really even think I liked my dad, much less loved him.  Fifteen years had gone by since I’d seen him.

Around that same time, God challenged me with two words: ACCEPT and CHOICE

I had a choice and I made it. Following God’s nudging, on July 1, 2011 I went to see my father and accepted him for who he is.

In doing so, for the first time ever, I was able to ACCEPT my past. God made it perfectly clear to me that I could not change my dad nor my past. My only job was to pray for my Dad. I cannot tell you the burden that lifted from my entire being on July 1st.

God took my acceptance one step further. He told me I had a CHOICE!

A choice to believe that He is who He says He is.  A choice to believe His promises; a choice to believe I was worth dying for; a choice to be filled with His joy; a choice to let Him be my Father, my Abba Daddy; a choice to live with a confident heart.

And it’s up to me to make those choices 24/7. Not just on Sunday. Not just at 9am when my day starts – but constantly make those choices.  So I get up every morning and choose to believe that God is a Promise Keeper. I make the choice – to believe He loves me like no other can nor will,  to pray for my Dad, to let go of the anger. I choose to live in the Light of Jesus so I can have a the freedom and security of a confident heart.

There are days, even minutes, that I don’t make the right choices. But the good thing is as I get better and better at making those choices my rebound time gets shorter and shorter. I get quicker at turning back to the Light.

I’m praying for you today – that together we can turn towards and live in the Light of God’s love. That He’ll give us courage to make the choices He’s asking us to make and accept what He’s calling us to accept so that we can keep turning and growing.

Lord, thank You for Your promises. I thank You that You have called me out of the darkness and into Your light. Thank You for transforming my heart into a heart like Yours. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Donna, sweet friend, thank you for boldly believing Jesus and walking in obedient trust of His calling on your life. Your story and  your faith challenge and encourage me to listen for His voice and do the hard thing of believing Him when my feelings are demanding their way. I”m so grateful for the Light and the way you walk in Him!

Connecting in Community:
What is God speaking to your heart as you read Donna’s story ? Or is there something in chapter 5 that resonated with a change, a choice or a place of acceptance God’s inviting you to? Let’s share here and/or some of the answers to our end of chapter questions this week. Whatever is on your heart. 

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About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.


  1. Wow, what a beautiful, powerful post, Donna. Thank you for sharing your story!

  2. Oh Sweet Donna what you have gone through and yet you show God’s love and forgiveness. Reading your story brought tears to my eyes. All we want as little girls growing up is our daddy to love us. Thank you for being so vulnerable in sharing your story with us. God bless you with many blessing for helping others who have gone through what you have and that they see how you came out victorious in the Lord and they can too. Thank you for listening to God’s voice and showing us it can be done no matter how painful it might be.
    {HUGZ} to you!! ♥

    • Thank you for the {HUGZ}. I can always use one of those! And it was ALL Him! He did the work on my heart ~ especially the forgiveness heart. It was in His power that He took this hard heart and soften it for His purposes. Thanks for your words of encouragement.

  3. Donna has shared a very powerful story. My heart breaks for her as this is what she has had to live through. However, the rejection and hurt from those close to us in childhood tend to stay with us and keep us from fully living in the light. It’s wonderful to see God’s healing in her story and helping her to come to a place of acceptance, and choosing to turn to God for fulfillment.

    I experienced my fair share of rejection, mostly from my peers, as I was growing up. As an only child, I didn’t really know how to relate other kids my age. My parents didn’t really know how to teach me. At one point, my mother found humor in how socially awkward I was. Nowadays, even a gentle snub from one my peers can still bring back the pain. But I’m learning to let it go to God. I know that He is in control, He knows my weaknesses, as well as the weaknesses of others. Like Donna, I need to accept that other people will behave how they choose, and a lot of times, it has more to do with them than with me. And I can choose to listen to what God says about me instead of what others have said.

    Now I cheated…I’ve already read ahead to chapter 6 and it is a terrific followup to chapter 5! Can’t wait to discuss it later this week.

    • Praying for you Julie. Rejection is hard ….. but we must always remember God’s promise that HE will never leave nor forsake us! So thankful and blessed by Renee and how God filled Renee with His courage and boldness to share her story with me. So thankful that you are on this journey with us.

  4. Thank you Donna for sharing your story!
    What a beautiful picture of God’s infinite faithfulness and love. You have blessed me.
    Blessings to all of you my Sisters.

    • Vickie,

      Thank you for your words of encouragement. It is ALL God and am so thankful that He can use my story to bless others. More of Him, less of me. So thankful you are walking through this study with us. Blessings to you.

  5. Wow, What a powerful story Donna! Thank you for opening your heart to us and sharing.
    People don’t realize the effect they have on you at a young age. In which, holds you capitve. Then realizing as you get older it was not about you at all. Only that you suffered for it because you were there and were the target at the time.
    I am so glad God has healed your wounds and has lead you to help others
    God Bless

  6. I am thankful I signed up for this. I accepted the Lord at age 13. I want to go from knowing in my head to walking with my heart. I am having a difficult time with past ghosts of my childhood,early adult hood- reactions, forgiveness. Some days its hard to feel like I can love myself, much less be someone God can love. I am praying and reading to gain understanding . Please pray for me.

    • Father God, I thank for the boldness that you have filled Sharon with in order for Sharon to share her fears and how hard it is for her to love herself. Thank you that courage. Please continue to work in Sharon’s heart as she moves forward with the study of A Confident Heart. Fill her with your promises found in Chapter 12 and then move those promises from her head to her heart. in Jesus’ name. Amen.

    • I am thankful that somehow, someway I have felt Gods presence in my life since I was little. I had and alcoholic mother and I believe she had bipolar but was not diagnosed as such. I accepted as a child that my mother was ill.My dad took custody of me at 9. I had many wonderful family members…some with their own problems but they showed me love. I have had a hard life , not unlike many but.. Now I am getting older and am more troubled now….my adult children are living such a hard life with the choices they make….I have and continue to turn this over to my Lord, but I slip and let those neg. talks in. Thank you for this study, Renee,as I am searching for piece. God Bless all who are searching too.

      • Bonnie,

        Praying for you as you seek Him with your whole heart. Keep turning those pages as they are filled with amazing nuggets of God’s promises that will help you with those negative thoughts. Praying for God to reveal Himself to you as your PEACE.

        Donna B.

  7. Thank you Donna! I too have gone through some of the same rejection only it was from my mother. I was very angry at her for many years. I few years ago I decided to let it all go. There was nothing I could do to change her. I do reach out to her from time to time but I don’t think she and I will ever have a “normal” mother daughter relationship. One positive thing that came from this is that I know I never want to be like her and I strive to be a great mother to my kids. I make sure to not only tell them I love them as much as I can but to show them too.

    • Mayra,

      Praying for you and your Mom. Anger was a hard thing for me to let go too until I realized that it’s a choice I have to make 24/7. Just like the choice was to forgive my Dad. I still have my moments especially when circumstances bring him to mind. I just have to forgive again and again as His words tells us, we are to forgive 70 times 7 times which in my book means forgive as needed and some days it is a continous thing. But that’s okay because it’s in our obedience that God brings healing.

      Blessings and prayers.

    • Mayra,
      Thank you for sharing a bit if your story. I’m in a similar situation with my mother. I believe she has Borderline Personality Disorder. As a kid, I lived in terror most of the time just wondering what I would do next to set her off. I now know it wasn’t me really, I was just the easy target. Six years ago I severed most of the relational ties in response to some things she did/said. I know my mom’s presence in my life is toxic to me. She has never taken responsibility for ger actions, either in my growing up years or recent years. She still needs to blame me and others. I know it’s a protective mechanism she developed long ago. I did have an hinest conversation with my dad about 3 years ago and he seemed to understand, then went home and betrayed my confidences to her. Now they live in FL and only call my husband occasionally to try to get him to fix me. When that doesn’t work, they vent their anger on him.
      I know I still carry baggage. I guess I thought I would heal quickly once they were out of our lives, but I spent many years living under her manipulation and control and it’s taking lots of time. One thing I did learn from her was how not to be a wife or mom.
      I know God has a plan to use my experiences for good in my life and I’ve accepted I will never have a normal relationship with my parents, possibly never one again, and I’ve accepted that. Sometimes I just don’t know what my next step is in healing. So I’m learning to wait and enjoy the blessings He’s given me now. The rest, whatever it is, will come in time if it’s His will.
      Blessings to you and thanks again!

  8. Thank you Donna for displaying such courage as you shared your powerful story. It reminded me not only of some of the hurtful things from my past that I have been working through, but also to rejoice in those moments when we come to the realization that those things do not define us. We are all daughters of the Most High, Princesses of the King of Kings, and I try to continuously picture myself as the beautiful woman my Father created me to be. The opinions and actions of others may sting, but we cannot let them hold us back. Thank you again for your amazing story.

  9. The question, “How would you feel and what would you do if your Dad were to die this very day?” stuck out for me. I have had that same question asked of me.

    It is a hard question to answer, because as Renee stated, “my feelings are demanding their way.” I read Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst this winter. It showed me that my feelings are indicators not dictators.

    Sometimes my flesh screams at me to stop trying, to leave him alone and stop caring. I don’t feel like he cares about me.

    But like Donna, I have accepted God as My Father. I get acceptance, love, even constant attention from Him.

    I have worked with a christian counselor to surrender my right to have a relationship with my earthly dad, but through that I feel like my heart has simply given up. I don’t feel much of anything, except a quietly simmering anger and hurt at times when I reflect on him not trying.

    • Britney,

      Thanks for sharing and I’m praying for your flesh. Praying that God will supply the strength that it takes to obey Him. Remember the promise …. “I have strength for all things in Christ, who empowers me.” (Phil 4:13 AMP). Let Him do the empowering and lean into Him for His strength. Blessings!

    • Britney, I can relate to your post. I have asked myself that question about my parents dying numerous times. I am at the stop trying stage once again. It just seems like an unending battle. And when I put myself out there and put the past and all those feelings behind me and try again I only get hurt again. He has made it clear he isn’t going to change and I am not a priority in his life. Nor are my kids and grandchild. I have told him over and over how I feel or how I felt all those years and it doesn’t matter to him. I have reached the point where I know he is not going to change and there is nothing I can do or say to make him want to be a consistent part of our lives. And at this point, I feel I am finally okay with that. I have reached the same thought with my mother. I do speak to her and see her regularly but I know because of things that happened in the past we will not have the mother/daughter relationship I thought we would. She can never admit to any of her part in the hurtful things people said to me and how they incorrectly judged me. And I am ok with that as well because I know how she is. She just blames others for the things that happened.

      Thank you for sharing!

      • I ask myself how I wof feel if my dad died and I think it would be a burdenifted. My father was an alcoholic who molested me and made my mother and sisters lives horrible and scary.he is in prison now and with that I don’t have to see him but undortunatkey he still occupies my mind. I try to forgive hi
        But how do u when he doesn’t even care enough to apologize? I’m lost on that but I am trying to work through all this hurt to be the daughter of our King.

  10. Thank you for sharing part of your story. My stomach felt sick as I read it and my eyes welled with tears wanting to pick you up after flying off of the horse. I thank God that He is there to pick you up every moment you call on Him. He is your true loving Father. God bless.

  11. Stephanie Rudash says:

    WOW. God has really spoke to me this morning and I’ve only been awake a couple of hours! Praise Him!

    I was first touched by Proverbs 31’s devotional today about spending more time with my Mamaw (the devotional is about Mom, but I’m a bit younger than others :)) My Mamaw is 90, and I don’t want to miss one possible minute with her.

    Then, this story about making a choice makes me realize that sometimes when I’m at my Mamaw’s house, I am in a hurry to leave because I have something “more important” to do (oh the shame). I am making the choice right now to visit my Mamaw more often, to spend hours at her house with her, not minuets. To love her, and hug her, and serve her as much as I can. I love my Mamaw more than my own life and I want to make sure she knows that.

    • Stephanie,

      Thank you for sharing your Mamaw story. I’m thinking that your Mamaw knows that you love her. Praying for you as you serve, hug and love her. Praying God provides lots of quality time for the both of you. Blessings.

  12. The Holy Spirit used this to help accept my current situation and choose a way that is honoring to Him. I can do this not in my own strength, but because of what Christ did for me on the cross. Today I choose to leave my expectations at the foot of the cross and see and love the people in my life the way Jesus does. I am thankful the Lord has promised to be a Father to the fatherless.

    • Amy,

      Praying for you. Praying for God to fill you will His courage that will cause you to not only leave your expectations at the foot of the cross but for the courage to leave them there never to pick them up again. Praying that Jesus will give you His eyes to see yourself and to see others through. I too am thankful for His promise that He will be my Father! Blessings to you. Donna B

  13. Wow, what a powerful story! Thank you for sharing from your heart with us today!

  14. Thank you Donna for sharing your story. We don’t get to choose our earthly father, but our heavenly father chose us before we were even born to be his most precious child.

  15. thanks for reminding thru your story (and encouraging once again) to pray for my father too…and to remember always that our God is the best Father we can ever dream of.

  16. Madeline says:

    I am so amazed by Donna’s courage to share her story. I, too, came to a place where I had the choice to accept my mother for who she was. I was getting to that point and then she suddenly passed away and I was never able to say to her “I accept you just the way you are, the good and the bad”. My mom suffered severe manic depression and when my dad left I no longer had his protection from her extreme moods. For years after being able to be on my own I had extreme anger towards her. It wasn’t until I began my relationship with God that was I able to start choosing to accept my mom. I know my mom isn’t with me now but I am comforted knowing that I now choose to accept her and God has shown me she loved me the best way she could.

    • Madeline,

      Praying for you and praising God for the work that He is doing in your heart. And so thankful that God has shown you that she loved you the best that she could. Thankful that He is comforting you. Blessings, Donna B

  17. Thank you Donna for sharing your story. My heart broke for you as I was reading it. I didn’t go through anything like that but I don’t have a lot of confidence in myself and I am working towards having a Confident Heart in Christ. I used to tell myself I am dumb and not very smart but I am learning to turn those negative thoughts into positive ones. God showed me too that comparing myself to others is a sin since HE made me fearfully and wonderful. Trying to hear HIS voice and follow it instead of satan.

    Thank you for sharing.
    God bless

    • Bonnie,

      Praying for you. And yes, you are fearfully and wonderfully made by the God who loves us like no other!

      Also take a look at Philippians 4:8 “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

      Praying that you t ake those negative thoughts and throw them out and fill yourself up with His thoughts. I as also challenged to read Psalm 139 each and every day for 30 days. It was one of those turning points for me when I took His truths in that passage and moved them from my head to my heart.


  18. Donna
    Your story is mine only the details are different. I am working through this same pain at this moment. I have not spoken to my dad since before Christmas because of a fresh wound he made as I was trying to come to a place of loving him again. Please everyone please pray for me. I want to get to the place where Donna is. I am typing this through my tears and a searing pain in my heart. I know in my head the truth of God’s love for me but when it comes to this ugly place in my past I just haven’t been able to find a way to forgive. I want the beauty for ashes and the oil of joy instead of a spirit of dispair. Again I beg you please pray for me. Like Britney I too feel like my heart has given up when I think of my earthly dad.He has let me down so many times.
    Bless you Donna for sharing and to all my sisters in Christ.

    • I pray for you and I both to make the same choice Donna made to forgive them. That doesn’t mean we have to approve, but stop poisoning ourselves with the unforgiveness and expecting them to change.

    • Father God,

      Go before Michelle, soften her heart towards her Dad. Lead her into forgiving her Dad. If it takes 700 times, go before her 700 times. If it takes 7 times, go with her 7 times. Hold her hand and walk her through the process. Fill her with your courage and boldness and love to forgive. Focus her thoughts and her eyes on the desire of your heart. Heal her heart and cause her to lean into you for your strength as she walks this journey of forgiveness and love with her Dad. Give her the courage to continue forward with this journey that you have placed her on. Fill her heart with your love. Allow her to see her Dad through your eyes. Comfort her and show her how to grieve. Restore the joy of heart. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

    • Precious Lord, please hold Michelle in your loving arms and help her to see that her dad, though doing many hurtful, unloving things in regard to her life, is doing the best that he can, without the help of a loving Father in Heaven – not because he’s a bad human being, but because he hasn’t learned about the good in this life. My life was so blessed, yet I was disappointed in my earthly dad for what he didn’t do – that I thought he should do. With Jesus, there is no tally sheet of “good” and “bad”. We all -every single one of us-have un-ending lists of “good” & “bad” that we regret – but, like we know our Lord does – and what He wants of us – is to focus on the good – in ourselves, in those we love, and those we hate – because there is good in everyone. Many, many years ago I went through a “poison pen year” – when I wrote back & forth to my dad, who lived in the same town – but who I couldn’t bring myself to talk to in person. In that time, I told him about every hurt I had due to his actions or words to me. I needed to get it out. He pretty much did the same, telling me how ungrateful I was. I shed many tears that year – and tried to make him see my side. In the end, I sent him a book, “Parents Who Love Too Much” – so he could understand how his enabling of my brother all his life would lead him to feel incompetent all his life, after his parents were gone. We met, and I think I gave him another book, having to do with faith, so that he would also understand that I know he was doing the best he could. We could agree to disagree about everything. I know that he loved me – but mainly showed me through others – not speaking his love to us directly.

      About a year & a half ago, my husband died suddenly, after more than 30 years of a wonderful marriage that we worked hard to keep together over the ups & downs. He didn’t share my faith, but respected that I followed mine. In a way, I think he held it against me, when I couldn’t ever get apologies out the way he wanted me to – or when things could go really well with us for a while, until I faultered again. For a long time I had a deep feeling of sorrow – that I never could consistently treat him as the wonderful, loving, forgiving, providing, and accepting man that he was. It is only bible studies, and constant, daily reminders , while clinging as close to my Lord, that I can feel acceptable, good, and worthy.

      The bottom line is that we all fall short of perfection – every day – and Jesus forgives us every time. We must do the same, along with praying for those who don’t know Him. I “came back” to church & my faith, when I saw how others dealt with a great loss – surrounded by the love of a group of Believers. I am sad when I see people go through hard times alone. My dad & my husband would not have felt so alone if they had the Lord by their side. In my heart, I believe that when they died, Jesus was standing there, with his hand on his hip, waiting for them – and said, “Well, do you believe Me now?”

      God knows our Heart. We need to use it to share Love & Joy – only He knows how far that Light of His will go. Let go of the hurts, and let God lead you to the unending Joy his path has in store for you.

      In His Precious Name,

      • Linda,

        Thank you for your prayer for Michelle. I love how God calls us to live in community with each other and with Him. So sorry for the hardships with your Dad and your husband. Praying for God to wrap His loving arms around you and fill you with His peace and love as you keep your eyes focused on Him. Blessings, Donna B.

      • Linda, your story made me ball even more than I was 🙂 . I struggle with sharing my faith cuz my husband doesn’t believe. I need healing so I can share the Light, because I am not consistent. I tend to be seen as a nag yet I do not mean to. I’ve been working on that, but my question is how much of your faith did you share or how did you handle unbelieving family members. Its like I know how Jesus was yet I tend to get frustrated and then I look no different or set apart and well that doesn’t lead people to the Light. And the cycle of guilt come on of my bad performance and wow I can be so mean or great what are they thinking now….and then The Cross and it being about Jesus is out the window and I get tired. I feel so wishy washy sometimes. Thank you for sharing, fear tends to lurk around me and sometimes I can’t get past it and the fear of our future marriage, etc makes me struggle. I get frustrated cuz it seems to be about performance and I have doubts I don’t measure up and I want to be the woman of his dreams but I want it to be real if that makes sense. I am realizing some of you have great faith and I have to cling that at least I have faith of a mustard seed and to not give up and continue to pray for growth, though sometimes I don’twant to do the hard stuff

        • Christy,
          I wish I could tell you how I shared my faith with my family – but I really didn’t. And I know, like all non-believers, they wondered why I wasn’t “practicing” all those good qualities Christians are “supposed to have” – because I messed up time & time again. I was lucky. About 3 years into our marriage, I found out about National Marriage Encounter. I got a brochure with info – and asked if he would go. He said “no” several times before agreeing to go. This ME is not the one connected with the Catholic Church – it’s non-denominational – and even though God is the subject of many of the couples’ sharings, it was good for us that many of the choices we had in our communications that first weekend did not include anything about our faith. I think that’s what hooked my husband. There were always topics that related to us – and ME is not a place where sharing is necessary. In fact, the couples leading later told us that they didn’t think they’d see us again – didn’t think it worked for us – but it did. We became involved in the monthly gatherings, and did present a couple times. I am still amazed that he agreed to do all that. He also was willing to go to a psychologist when we needed help again through the years. I was lucky to marry a man who was willing to do whatever it took to stay together. (Though on our 1st anniversary I would’ve bet we’d be divorced soon!) Our second ME weekend was about 4 years into the marriage – when we started talking about maybe adding children to our love. We decided to. I think I may have been pregnant on the 3rd one. We struggled from time to time, and he never “came to Jesus” as I had hoped. In fact, about a year before he died he got tongue cancer – and found a prayer request I had sent out to a prayer chain at my church. He was furious! He told me I had no right – that this was NOT about me – it was about him. I was crushed – but I had comfort in the fact that everyone was praying for him – and that his belief was not required for God to heal him. We had about a year more together – and it was a good one, in my mind. Did I have regrets? Of course. I was never good enough, in his eyes – but he forgave me again & again, and we had over 30 years of good memories. My two boys are no longer connected to the church – but they know how devoted I am to it. Every Sunday I am filled with joy, and surrounded by others who do good all around them, as I do. If others associate that good with God – great! I try to be a good example most of the time. But our pastor reminds us that we all fail – all the time – but because we are forgiven by our Lord & Savior, we, too, should be more forgiving of others’ faults, too. I’m getting better at that part all the time. WE should not try to control others – God is in control. When I remember that, my days go more smoothly!

  19. What a powerful and uplifting testimony you have, Donna. You have encouraged me to go forward in Christ. I feel that my life is held hostage by my past. I hide behind my pride for fear of the “ugliness” of my past being known, and the sense of never being good enough. I struggle with the confidence that my past does not define who I am. I know that I have not totally given my past over to the Lord. Today, I am ready to begin that journey of turning it all over to HIM. Thank you for your vulnerability. I appreciate your prayers. I want to live in His light. I want the confidence that only comes from Jesus Christ.

    • Praising God that He has prompted you to let go and be FREE in Him!

      Father God, thank YOU for the work that you are doing in Donna’s heart. Thank you for prompting Donna to move from the dark to the LIGHT. Go before her. Fill her with your boldness and your courage to continue to stay in the LIGHT. Fill her with the confidence that you would like for her to have. Cause her to lean into you for your power and your strength. IN Jesus’ name. Amen.

  20. This is definitely something that I’ve been wrestling with for a while, especially now in my marriage. Trying to “get over” past hurts and recognizing that those hurts became expectations, which would ultimately lead to frustrations. That’s something that I’ve been challenged by in the past few chapters digging into my past and looking at how much the actions of my parents, HS peers and even in my career have had a major impact on my life.

    • I agree with you. I have realized how past hurts have become expectations. It’s almost like, if this person does this then it will make up for what was done before. Someone has to pay the piper. But we know that does not happen, even if we force it to. It is not enough, it never feels good enough to forget the past hurts. That is the trap and the lie told to us by satan. The living frustrated instead of living free. I know it it my head, but sometimes I forget it in my heart.

      • I am really beginning to understand the cycle of past hurts setting up unreasonable expectations creating disappointments dredging up past hurts which starts the cycle over. God is the only one who can heal my past hurts and can make me whole. My husband cannot; my children cannot; my hard work cannot; my attempts to meet the needs of my family perfectly cannot. Only the repeated decisions to ACCEPT the past for what it was and to CHOOSE to believe God moment by moment, let Him deal with the past hurts, let Him fulfill my expectations, and let Him comfort my disappointments will stop the cycle. I choose, again, today to turn to God moment by moment with my hurts, pain, unfulfilled dreams, unmet expectations, and to live in the light of His perfect love and will for me.

        • Becky,

          Praising Him for His understanding that He is filling you with. Praising Him that you are turniing to God and letting go of your past, your pain, your unfilled dreams, and unmet expectation. Praying you sense Him filling you up with his grace and his love. Blessings, Donna B.

    • D. Davis,

      So thankful for the work that God is doing in your life. It’s amazing what happens when we set ourselves aside to hear what He wants. Praying for you as you wrestle with your past. Praying for God to fill you with His strength and power to overcome the darkness of your past in order to live in the LIGHT of Jesus. Blessings, Donna B.

  21. My heart aches for the pain & rejection you went through, then rejoices that you listened to the still, small voice of our Father & chose to walk in forgiveness, extend forgiveness, and step into freedom! May God richly bless as He heals the brokenness of your heart as He uses your story to offer hope to others!

    • Thanks Deb! I am rejoicing in the fact that He is my hope and my future. (Jer 29:11). What man meant to harm me, God is using to bring Himself honor and glory! So blessed that He loves me like crazy. Blessings, Donna B.

  22. PRAISE GOD for HE is good!! Wow – Thanks for sharing your story, Donna!! You are an encourager to many!!

    • Yep, God is good ALL the time! And ALL the time, God is good! He blesses me beyond my understanding and am so blessed that God uses the story that He has given me to bring others closer to His heart. Blessings, Donna B

  23. Hi everyone.
    Thank you so much, Renee for writing this book. It has helped me to see my self-doubts totally different. I wanted God to take it away and heal it. Now I see that I have to turn to God every time self-doubt is telling me a lie. I want to live in his promises. 1. Peter 2:9 is a big promise for me today.
    But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9 NLT)

    • A Confident Heart was a life and heart changer for me. Thanking god with you for Renee and the story that God gave Renee to share with all of us. Love her obedience to Him! Blessings. Donna B

  24. Thank you so much for sharing, Donna. I was rejected many times by so-called friends when I was a teen and young adult. I was never quite good enough, and as a result, it has made me more choosy now when considering someone a friend. I am very thankful that I have Jesus in my life, He’s my Ultimate Friend!

    • Karen,

      He is our ultimate friend. And so trustworthy! Praying for you Karen and praying for God to reveal Himself to you in new and exciting ways. I love to go to Isaiah 43:4 and fill myself with this promise from Him when those feelings of rejection rear their ugly heads, “You, (Karen) are precious and honored in my sight, and …. I (God) love you (Karen). Take that promise and claim it for yourself. Blessings. Donna

  25. The past always tries to sneak up and tap you on the shoulder, I acknowledge it with a tilt of the head then a prayer. My family is gone now so it helps a little to not live in the past just accept and move on. My mom used to say she hated me and I was the cause of all her problems, nut I will always love her and was there for her when she passed.

    • Chris,

      The past does has this way of sneaking up on us. But love now matter when or how it sneaks up, God fills us with His power to deflate and ignore it. And I am so sorry that mom used and said such harsh things to you. But always know that nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus. There is nothing we can do or not do that will cause Him to love us less. What an amazing promise from Him! Blessings, Donna

  26. Donna, thank you for sharing your life and your message from our Lord. I am struggling now with that choice as these issues resurface more and more lately. So, your message to accept and choose, daily and even moment by moment, is just what I need to hear today. My childhood was different from yours in detail, similar in the rejection, abandonment, abuse, hurt, shame and pain. When I became a believer 24 or so years ago, God did a miraculous work in my life. He took me out of a life of sin and hurt, and I was blessed with a truly godly husband, and now 4 healthy, lovely daughters, each of whom has come to know the Lord. Our life has been wonderful these past 23 years of marriage, not perfect, but objectively I can see that it has been truly good, and my husband and I work hard to cooperate with God to make it so, and I am blessed!

    But the fears and pain of the past have robbed me of so much inner peace and joy, and have made it very difficult to trust. After 23 years of faithful, committed, loving marriage, I still fear abandonment and rejection. As I have been seeking the Lord about this the past year, much more the past 4 months, He has shown me how I need to trust Him, let Him heal my hurts and be my Abba Father, let Him take the hurts of my childhood and comfort me; and that I need to release my husband of the unreasonable expectation of doing this for me. I am finding it so hard to break old emotional habits, but this study, and the sharing of so many who are struggling with me, and who have struggled and are living victoriously in Christ, is helping me to see that it is possible. I think on thing that is really coming home to me is what you said, and I know Renee has said it, Beth Moore says it, Proverbs 31 says it, and you all say it because God’s own Word says it: living victorious in Jesus is not a one time event; it is not a weekly on Sunday event; it is not even a 9:00 in the morning every day event; it is a moment by moment choice to believe God that He is who He says He is, and that I am His and therefore of immeasurable worth!

    Thank you, Donna, for sharing your journey with Jesus, with me.

    Learning to trust Him for more than my salvation,

    • Thanks for sharing, Becky. As you and some of the other ladies have pointed out, past pains and hurts can lead us to create unreasonable expectations for our present and future. I’ve never really thought about it this way before, but it makes perfect sense! Because I don’t want to re-experience pain from the past, I take measures to prevent those scenarios from replaying. However, that means I would have to exert an incredible amount of control over my circumstances, as well as those around me. God is teaching me that the only person I can really control is myself, and He is the one who is ultimately in control. I don’t need to work so hard to prevent past hurts from replaying, I do need to surrender my fears and goals to Him. History is notorious for repeating itself, and God knows that better than anyone. I just need to trust Him.

      • You are so “right on” Julie. I too have tried to control my circumstances to “protect” myself from hurts of the past repeating, but I need to let go and let God take full control. Trusting in His care for me. I am still struggling with that timeline. There are more things than I had realized from the past that need to be walked through and healed. But I am so thankful for ALL the women here who are opening up and being so transparent. Goes right along with what I got from the Women of Faith conference I just went to. God ties it all together 🙂
        God bless you all! †

        • Julie and Cheryl,
          Thanks for speaking up. Attempts to control have certainly played into my life, and have failed. Learning to trust God and allow His Spirit to control me, and to trust Him with the hearts of my husband and children and friends is hard, but it is what He calls me to. I, too, am so grateful for the transparency of all of the women on this site. I never expected to share my heart and struggles as I have done so far here, and am truly blessed to feel the safety and acceptance and love here.
          Lots of lessons to learn, and I am thankful that God will stick with me until He has accomplished His work in me!
          God’s strength and comfort to you

      • Julie, thanks for sharing. I find that not only do I sometimes avoid situations that could repeat the past, I sometimes put up barriers that keep me from being vulnerable even to those I love and who love me, to avoid the possibility of rejection. Not good! It has robbed me of much joy and peace. It is time to take back the strongholds that Satan has been holding in and never give him a foothold again.

        I am in this for the long haul, and learning to lean on God, walk with Jesus and let the Holy Spirit work in and through me. I sometimes feel that I am not a very apt student, but I do have the best Teacher! I guess that would make Renee His Teacher’s Assistant 🙂 Thanks, Renee!

    • Becky,

      Thank you for your “realness” with your struggles and your past. I read this quote from Max Lucado just this morning …. “God does not see the mark of your past. Instead, He sees this: “See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.” (Isaiah 49:16).

      Not only are our names inscribed on the palms of His hands, but our past is the past and He is our hope and future. (Jer. 29:11).

      Praying for God to fill you with His power and His strength and that you will lean into HIs power as you release your past and grab onto your future and your hope! Blessings, Donna B

      • Thank you, Donna. My husband has been reminding me that not one thing has ever happened to me with out God’s knowledge and He is not ashamed of me, He is not overwhelmed by me, and He is in the processes of using it all to make me more like His Son, and to bring glory to Himself. What a joy to know that God can use the most broken to bring glory to Himself! I am inscribed on the palms of His hands, and He is my hope and my future.

  27. Wow! That was powerful. We really do have a choice everyday…. Faced with so many choices and to hear from so many voices…. But if we choose to hear Gods voice… His promises…. And accept the things we cannot change, but rather lay them at his feet. Wow…. What a difference……

    • Jules,

      Thank you for your encouragement. I love how God makes it so simple when He could have made it so hard for us. Thankful that because of Jesus, I have that choice to believe … that choice to accept … that choice to obey …. that choice to forgive. All because of the love of Jesus!! Blessings, Donna B.

  28. Debra K Yarbrough says:

    I also have had to make choices and to learn to accept my loved ones as they are. I was the scapegoat in my family. I grew up abused in everyway. God was always with me. I was very blessed to have had the opportunity to see God move in my fathers heart and change him. God granted both of us a wonderful gift
    the gift of forgiveness and reconciliation before my dad went home to heaven. I have been forever grateful for this gift.
    I have learned to forgive my mother, to accept her as she is, and to love her. I also have had to forgive my husband for being unfaithful the entire 22 years of our marriage. I accepted him as he was and forgave him. God intervened into my husbands life and he re dedicated his life to Jesus and is in Celebrate Recovery for sexual addiction. God helped me through all this pain and was always with me. I have learned to accept His love, mercy and kindness and now I am working on being confidant In Christ.
    Thank you for this book, it came at the right time. I have been working for 3 long hard years through Celebrate Recovery to help me recovery from all the hurts and the habits I developed to survive. This book came right when I needed to go deeper with God.

    • Thank you for sharing! I’m so grateful for the powerful way that God has moved in your life, in spite of so many difficulties. May you seek Him today and find tremendous blessing!

    • Debra,

      Praising God for you and your story of walking in His light! Praying for you too as you walk through the recovery process and the forgiveness process. Thank you for being so brave by sharing your story. May God use you and your story to bring others closer to Him as He draws you closer to Him. Blessings. Donna B.

  29. My dad has been an alcoholic for as long as I can remember. He is better now, but when I was a child he was a very angry drunk. He would go on rampages through the house putting his fist through the microwave,
    ripping the phone off the wall, and then punching holes in the wall all the way down the hallway. I hovered over my brother in his bedroom to protect him.
    He never seemed to have time for me. Didn’t show up for my softball games, and really was not much of a dad to me. He was present but absent if that makes sense. In college The Lord helped me forgive him, and to accept him as my dad, and I was able to actually start loving him.
    I still only talk to him when we go to visit which is usually once a year, and if he happens to answer when I call home. I usually try to call him on his birthday which is the day after mine, but he’s usually golfing and doesn’t answer.
    Now I’m 31 and have 4 girls of my own, I find myself really grieving that relationship with my dad. Understanding more deeply the unconditional love of my Heavenly Father has been life changing for me! But I find I am really missing that relationship with my daddy with skin on.

    • Dawn,

      Sounds like our childhoods had a lot in common. My Dad was an angry drunk and very angry man. And still is angry. He’s currently in a nursing home and has been thrown out several times for his behavior. Praying for your broken heart and for your Dad to find Jesus. I feel your pain. My Dad was a no show for my high school graduation and for so much more. So I get it and am praying for God to fill you with His love. Even though I had an earthly Dad and I love God’s promise to us of being a father to the fatherless. I love that about God. I also love that no matter what, He will never leave nor forsake us. I love that God is a promise keeper. He can’t go against the promises that He makes to us in His word. Hold onto His promises. Check out Chapter 12 of Renee’s book and claim each of God’s promises for yourself. Blessings, Donna

      • Dawn and Donna: My dad was an alcoholic, too. He was violent when he was drunk. I did not find out,,until I was older, that some of his drinking and anger might very well have been from the fact that he was blamed, by some, for his mother’s death – who died giving birth to him. How horrible! I am sorry I didn’t know earlier. I spent most of my life loving him, but afraid of him at the same time – afraid of the unknown – when there would be a violent outbreak. I would sit with him at the dining room table, wanting to talk with him, but not knowing what to say. My parents were glad for my “faith,” but we agreed to disagree. 🙁 They took us five siblings to church when we were little, but I do not remember it. I became a Christian at the age of 14, and let my parents know of my concern for their salvation. My mom once put a note on a book I received in the mail entitled “Praying Your Family into God’s Family.” The note said, in essence, don’t worry about it. Following my dad’s death (at the young age of 61), I was able to share with mom how I was feeling, and ultimately she said, “It must be horrible thinking your family is going to hell.” It didn’t change things. I believe my life was/is a witness to my family. My mother and one brother are now deceased. I have an older sister who is out west somewhere – she is mentally challenged at the age of 61, a younger sister, not in the Lord, and one other brother ( 57) who once professed Jesus as Savior, but to my knowledge, is not in church now. He had a series of bad events and became disillusioned with the church. We are estranged. The only sibling with whom I have contact is the younger sister (54 years young). I continue to pray for them all. I am not sure why I shared all of this, but, again, we must accept folks where they are and love them and pray for them. I am praying for more boldness to verbally witness to loved ones, lost ones, and just folks God puts in my path. May we all be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and His nudges. God bless you all!

        • Cindy, praying for you. Praying for God to provide a way for restoration for your relationships with your family. Praying that God will draw your family to Himself. Praying for God to fill you with the boldness and courage to share His love with those that he puts in your path. Praying for your heart that God will restore His joy to you. I am so sorry that you have had to do through this and praying that God will use your story and your life to bring honor and glory to Him. Praising Him for the work that He is doing in your life – step by step – day by day and choice by choice. Thank you for being so honest and real with us in this safe area that God has created for us. Blessings, Donna B.

        • May I add, too, that I knew (and do know) that my dad loved me. He was there for us. My mother was what I like to call a pillar for us all through those rough years. My dad quit drinking some years before his death and he and mom were able to travel together a good bit. . He had emphysema and his breathing troubles worsened in the last years. My husband, older daughter and I were overseas for four years. I had a greater longing to see him toward the end of those four years. I believe God warned me that something bad was going to happen to my dad. Three months after our return, dad had his first heart attack. He had another about a month later. About one month after that he got pneumonia and that along with the emphysema took his life. I had asked him prior to the first heart attack if I could talk with him about Jesus and he said no. 🙁 God has seen me though all these years and will continue to see me though, along with healing of past hurts – or being able to let it all go! I am so thankful for my Father’s unconditional, unrelenting love!

  30. Wow! I should not be surprised by God and how He works. This post was exactly what I needed to hear this morning. I haven’t even started reading chapter 5 but am excited to now. Last night I went to bed talking to God about two struggles I have in my life right now. God has been using them to draw me closer to Him. I am single and was led to believe that one of my guy friends was interested in me because of some of his actions. In January I confronted him about this at which point he said he was not interested in me. This surprised me. A while later I sent him a message telling him that he had hurt me and put some boundaries in our relationship. My struggle last night was over the fact that he has not even acknowledged receiving the message nor has he apologized for the wrong he has done me. God gave me peace over the situation last night. This post has made it even more clear that I need to accept that is the past and that I can’t change him nor his reactions to me.

    God has used this situation to bring me closer to Him. The song by Matt Redmond “Never Once” has really spoken to me. It says I am never alone because never once has God allowed me to go anywhere/ face anything without Him being right there. God is so great, so amazing.

    Thank you Renee for facilitating this study and letting God use you through your written words. Thank you Donna for sharing your story and for the encouragement you give us through it.

    God bless!

    • Edith,

      Gotta love God and His timing! He knows what we need right when we need it! Not one minute early or one minute late. He knows when we will be ready to listen! Love how he works. Praying for you as walk this journey with your friend. Praying for you to fix your eyes on God and the promise that He will never leave nor forsake you – no matter what. Blessings, Donna

  31. Donna, thank you so much for sharing your story. I pray that God will bless you and your family. I’m so thankful that we are children of a Heavenly Father and nothing or noone can take us out of HIS hand. I am learning to lean on HIM and desire more of HIM and less of me in my heart. I want to be a shining light for my Saviour.

  32. Wow.
    What an amazing story!
    Thank you for sharing that message of hope with all of us.

  33. Donna – Thank you for sharing your story! It allows us to see that no matter your beginning, God can make beauty for ashes! You are strong and courageous! What an inspiration!

  34. I really need this study. Chapter 5 made me cry many times. Over the years, I have realized how much I constantly compare myself with others. I used to always say “I’m not good enough.” “I’m not a good enough mom, wife, friend, etc.” I am always thinking that others are better than me. I thought that I had gotten through that until a few years ago. I started realizing that I wasn’t happy in church, and what I was doing AGAIN was comparing myself to everyone I knew there. It got so bad, that I had to leave that church and almost turned away from God. Since then, I’m trying to find who I am in God, and see the good qualities in myself. I have a long way to go. I feel like I don’t have any friends, because I think I push them away. I need to choose to turn to God during those insecure moments instead of trying to do it all on my own. Thank you so much for this study.

    • Gina,

      God loves you like no other! Thank you for being so real and so honest with how you feel. I’ve been where you are and it’s a painful journey from that place to light. And yes, comparison is not good. Renee shares further in the book about how we compare our insides with the outsides of others. When in fact, the only one we need to be comparing ourselves to is – Jesus. Praying for you as you turn each page of A Confident Heart. Praying that God will not only reveail Himself to you but that you will begin to see yourself as God sees you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image – the image of the King of Kings and are beautiful. I would recommend that you read Psalm 139 every day for the next 30 days. And add your name to the verses like I, Gina am fearfully and wonderfully made. I did this about 10 years or so ago and loved how God not only revealed Himself to me, but He revealed how much he loves me…so much that He sent Jesus to die for me! What an amazing love. Praying for you. Donna B.

    • Gina, thanks for sharing. I’m doing the same thing too at my church. I believe I have bought into the lie that am unworthy and can be treated anyway anyone wants to treat me. I’ve been very unhappy with my church and have pushed away everyone. I believe that if I am friends with someone at church they eventually will leave which feeds into my believe that I will be abandoned. Walking in God’s light and love is the only way. I’ll be praying for you- please keep in touch

      • Tammy,

        Praying that God will show you how to take those lies that you have been fed and exchange them for His promises. Check out Chapter 12 in A Confident Heart! Renee fills the pages with God’s promises. Take them and claim them for yourself. Chapter 12 is an amazing resource and I know that Renee won’t mind if you look ahead. Blessings, Donna B

  35. Thank you Donna, for sharing your story. I hope I can learn from your example, and dispel those feelings that I have of being alone. Knowing others have also walked through the shadows i have makes me more hopeful that i will make there yet!

    • Shannon,

      Just keep turning those pages to A Confident Heart and to your Bible. And praying .. always praying! Praying for God to fill you up with Himself and with his confidence so that you may grown closer to Him. He has an amazing plan for your life! Blessings, Donna

  36. Donna, thank you so much for sharing your story! God bless you! Listening to how you are freed from this really touched my heart and my mind. I too have “daddy issues”. My father and mother separated when I was 6 weeks old. I never really saw him growing up because he was too busy with his other family. Of the 18 years my parents were married, he had a girlfriend 15 of those. My mother passed away when I was 11 and I moved in with my dad and his parents. It wasn’t a huge transition because I spent the weekends with my grandparents, even though my father was absent. During this time he had a child with his girlfriend. He spent all his time being the perfect mate to this other woman and the perfect father to this child when he neglected his four kids and wife. I’m now 30 and married with my own life, but I still crave that daddy/ daughter relationship. We sort of have a relationship. I mean, we talk on the phone maybe twice a month and I will see him a few hours when I visit my hometown. Whenever we talk he always want to talk about his problems with the outside child’s mother and the child. I want to say, “serves you just right!”, but I know what’s isn’t godly. I thought I had forgiven him until I read your story. That little girl who wonder does daddy love me and why he doesn’t want to be with my mommy returned. Your story made me realize that I truly need to pray about this, accept the past, and make a choice to move forward.

    I am actually returning to my hometown this week and I want to really talk to my dad. I want him to know that I forgive him and no apology needed. My dad is 73 and I don’t know how much time neither one of us have. It’s time I let go of these feelings.

    Thank you so much Donna for being a blessing and inspiration to close this chapter of my life.
    God bless you, and I’m praying for you!

    • Courtney,

      I will be praying for you as you return home. Praying for God to fill you with his courage and boldness and that He will remove the fear that will be there as you approach and talk with your Dad. Praying for God to fill you with His strength and with His desire as you forgive your Dad. God wants us to live in a state of forgiveness and grace. Jesus died so that we might live in His love and in His forgiveness. Praying that God will direct your speech and your thoughts as you meet and talk with your Dad. Blessings, Donna B

  37. TABITHA JONES says:

    Thanks for sharing Donna’s story. I had tears in my eyes as I read her story. My home life was not the best there was all kinds of abuse present and I could relate to her story. I thank God that he helped me forgive before my Dad passed away. This chapter has really hit home with me. I realize that my past has affected everything I have done through the years.

    • Tabitha,

      Praising God for the gift of forgiveness with you! A friend shared the following verses with me this week.

      “10 You are great and you do miracles.
      Only you are God.
      11 Lord, teach me what you want me to do,
      and I will live by your truth.
      Teach me to respect you completely.
      12 Lord, my God, I will praise you with all my heart,
      and I will honor your name forever.” (Psalm 86:10-12)

      Praying for God to work one of His miracles as you move into the present and leave the past behind you. Blessings, Donna

  38. Nancy Kimball says:

    A beautiful story. I have been rejected so many times in my life — I know the feelings you have dealt with. I was never accepted as a child as being good enough in the eyes of my father. I was always blamed for everything that was never my fault. I know what you have been through and I can understand how you felt. It is hard to deal with pain and hurt and you are stronger for having had to deal with you. Praise the Lord you have come through the pain and the hurt that you have been through and you will be a stronger person for it. No one can take us out of his hand and he will lift you up and carry you through all the pain you have been through.

    • Nancy,

      So blessed and thankful for His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. I hold onto His promise in Jer 29:11 every day …. He is my hope and my future while also knowing that He requires action from me – that I will seek Him with my whole heart. Jer. 29:13. Praying for you and thank you for sharing your “me too” moment. Blessings, Donna B

  39. Thank you so much for sharing. I read all these posts and think how much we all have in common. Its all because we live in a fallen world, filled with fallen people who until they get translated by the Light of God keep falling down and pulling their next generation with them. I have been listening (and singing) a song called Restoration by David Brymer. God led me to that song a few months back when he started uprooting roots of bitterness that were growing in my heart. Then not long afterwards “A confident heart” bible study came along. He truly is Restoring my heart, soul and mind. There are still some things that come into my mind that I don’t want to dwell on. I want to have complete peace about some situations and people when their names are brought up. But I come to Daddy God naked and unashamed and say Daddy God, I see another little root trying to grow, take care of it now before it gets too deep. And He does and will. I love Him so much. All I want to do is say THANK YOU JESUS!!!

  40. Thank you for sharing your story, Donna! It was encouraging to read it. These are the words that describe my life: unloved, rejected, abandoned, fearful, unworthy and ashamed. Fearful, unloved and abandoned by my mother. I never had a Dad – my parents never got married or even lived together. I never knew who my Dad was. My Mom liked to have freedoms to enjoy her life, she rarely did anything with me. She was looking for love in all the wrong places. She had a problem with drinking, and lashed out at me in anger for not getting perfect grades or not doing . I tried so hard to please her but I felt I was never good enough for her. She never said to me that she loved me. When I went to college I began to look for love in all the wrong places too. I found God shortly after i graduated from college and was hired by a christian organization. But I was such a new christian at the time that I still made poor choices. I was still looking for love and I got involved with a married man. Long story short, my christian organization found out, I got fired and felt rejected, ashamed and unworthy. It took me a long time to pick up the pieces of my broken life. I was thankful for a good christian couple who took me under their wing and loved me just the way I was. It was God’s way to save my life. I am married now to a wonderful christian man and we have two wonderful children. Even though I know that I am loved by my husband, the shadows of my past still haunt me, they still hold me hostage. Now I have all kinds of health issues. I am ashamed of my past, I am fearful of all the anxieties that I have now. Donna, your words spoke to me. I know I can’t change my past, but I can accept it, I can forgive and i can pray for all the people that hurt me. I also have a choice to believe that He is who He says He is. I can believe His promises, because all those promises in the Bible are for me, not just for other people. Thank you for sharing your story!

    • Natasha, you have in common with me, I could related with you of ur sharing. My mom divorced with my dad when I was about two yrs old. Wasn’t aware of my hearing loss until about 3 yrs old. I grew up with mom who too busy with herself and left out many times. I first learned to do A B C, writing, communcate thru sign lanuage by the time I was about 5 when went to deaf school for first time. I struggle with fears, abandoned, unworthy like I’m not good enough even tried so hard to pleased mom and dad when he remarried different mother. Natasha, thank you for sharing. I pray for you to contuine cling on God’s love and embrace Him!

      • Natasha and Tracy,

        I am so sorry that you both had to go through your experiences with your Moms. I can so relate to both of you and am thankful that God has drawn you both to this study and to God. Praying for you both as you turn the pages of Renee’s book and God’s word. Praying that God will fill the both of you up with Himself and with His truths and promises and that He will give you both the strength that you need to believe that you were both worth dying for and that HE loves you like no other can or will. Keep turning the pages and I will be praying that God will reveal Himself in new and exciting ways to both of you. Blessings, Donna B.

  41. Donna, thank you for being so transparent. Your testimony gives me hope that I can get past the fear of sharing my past hurts with others. I know that would begin the healing process for me.

    Renee mentioned you are her email assistant. I can’t image how many emails you girls read on a daily basis. You do a brilliant job!

    Chapter 5 – Chaning My Focus – My aha moment was “We leave no room in our thoughts to listen to what He is thinking about us…” I have never thought about what God thinks about me.

    Renee, I know God lead me to this book and to your study. I have underlined so many sentences in this book that are so similar to my thoughts, but you were able to express them in writing. Thank you for giving us this platform to share. It’s like group therapy for me.

    • Sharon,

      It’s all God and the work that He is doing in my heart. It’s still a daily choice for me to love my Dad and to forgive my dad. I often pray for God to give me His eyes so that I can see my dad as God sees him. I have to remind myself daily that not only did God send Jesus to die for me and for my sins, He also send Jesus to die for those in my life that have harmed me. Praising God for your Aha moment because you are so right God thought enough of us to sacrifice His one and only SON for us! Now, that’s some love and an amazing sacrifice for all of us. Blessings, Donna B.

  42. Thank you Donna for sharing! I’m half way of reading chapter 4, been sick last few days of allergic stuffed nose, ears hurts. Donna, you are amazing by God handmade you and knew you inside mother’s womb. I have my own issues in my childhood of rejected due my hearing loss and felt left out too many times by families and seem always last person to know and am only child. I don’t understand my life of why many hardships events happened but yet God loves me and you and He made us and bad sistuation events turned out His own good! Keep me in your prayer!

    • So sorry that you are not feeling well. Praying for God’s healing. And yes, we both, we all are fearfully and wonderfully made. And I used to ask myself why … but unfortunately, I know what He may never reveal the whys and that it is way more important to know the WHO! To know Him as a God who loves us like crazy! Praying for God to focus your eyes and heart on Him and that the whys become less important as you lean into Him and get to know Him better. Blessings, Donna.

  43. Every chapter that I read I find more of myself and what I need to remember to be doing with my llife and that is turning towards God and His light. I feel like I too am a prisoner of my past hurts, mistakes and bumbles through life. I know that God uses all of those to make me the person that I am today and I need to remember to turn to that Light when I am feeling drawn back into my past darkness. I too am getting better but I have a ways to go. Thank you for sharing your story Donna it makes me feel better knowing that I am not the only one out there struggling with past issues.

    • Hi Sue,

      You are not alone. I have to make those choices and accept my Dad every day. It’s an ongoing process that God takes me through almost every day or at least any time that He comes to mind. And always focus on His promise that He will never leave us alone. Praying that your eyes will be focused on Him and not on the past circumstances of your live. It’s in and through Him that we find healing and it’s in His power that we learn to forgive – just as He forgives us. Blessings, Donna B.

  44. I don’t know if anyone’s heard of this, but there is a book called, “My One Word,” and the idea is that you pray for God to give you one word that sort of sums up what He would like for you to focus on for the year. My word is, “acceptance.” Everything that you said in your testimony spoke loud and clear to me, Donna. I also have a father who is an addict. When I was a kid, he made me so many promises and although he probably wanted to, he just wasn’t able to keep any of them. I have asthma, and when I was little, it was so bad that I was usually home from school so that I could have round the clock breathing treatments. I remember one time when I was like 6 years old, sick, and home from school; my mom trusted my dad to take care of me while she ran some errands. As soon as she left, my dad asked me if I was hungry. He told me that he was going to get me something to eat and that he would be right back. He left me there for hours by myself and without a treatment. I can remember watching show after show and making up reasons in my head for why it was taking him so long to get back. Other times, he would use me as a ploy to leave the house without my mom thinking that he was going to go hook up with drugs, so he would tell me that we were going somewhere and then we would end up in front of apartments and he would tell me that he would be right back…and leave me in the car for hours because he forgot about me. He also would do things when he was high that he thought were fun, but were fun only for him…like trying to see if he could climb trees with the 4 wheeler…even as I begged and screamed for him to please not try because it looked scary..and then he would say he wouldn’t and then last minute try….and then, of course, we would not make it and crash….okay, so that only happened the one time, lol….ahhh….I had no intention on writing all of that out, but once I got going I needed to continue. The worst part about all of it though, was that he was a really good dad when he could be…and so I was always so confused as a child…and still am as an adult. He is in prison now and I am so bent on not holding ill feelings towards him at all, that I try to not think about any of those things. I know that they have impacted me in soooo many negative ways, but I try to focus on the positive things that his mistakes taught me and the positive things that he added to my life; like praying before bed every night. My dad taught me “the Lord’s prayer” when I was itty bitty and would pray it with me every night (when he was there.) I cannot remember a single night of my life where I didn’t fall asleep praying because of his teaching me the importance of bedtime prayer. Even when I did my prodigal daughter thing and turned away; drunk as a skunk or high as a kite, I would pray and cry to God before I went to sleep each night. Anyway, accepting things and choosing to believe that my heavenly Father DOES love me and is who He says He is…and will come back and not just leave me here….and can be trusted….these are the things that make the difference between bitterness and peace, hatred and love, despair and hope!

    • I’m sorry to read of so many painful moments in your childhood, but I’m thankful that God protected you through all of it! I love the One Word resolution, actually, and my word this year is “surrender.” I also like your word of “acceptance.” May you continue to reach out to God prayer and be filled with His love and strength, as He takes you to place of peace and acceptance.

      • Thank you so much, Julie!!!! <3 Surrender and acceptance are very similar in nature. I pray that this year is a year filled with sweet surrender in your life!

    • Laura, I am so sorry that your Dad left you alone and made you feel like you did. But I am also praising God that your Dad taught you the importance of prayer. We sometimes get so wrapped up in why me that we lose focus and forget to focus on Him – the WHO. And I love your One Word! Mine for 2013 is sacrifice. Praying for you as you put your One Word into practice. Praying for God to heal and repair. Blessings, Donna B.

  45. Elizabeth says:

    So inspiring! Thank you Donna for sharing your story. Praise God for His faithfulness.

    • Elizabeth …..

      Praising Him with You! It’s all about Him and His faithfulness even when I am unfaithful. Praising Him and thanking Him for his forgiveness.

      Donna B.

  46. Donna ~ Thank you for displaying all that you have felt / feeling in your lifetime on that one occasion in your life. What a great amount of strength it took to allow us to see in your view. Thank you for that. Especially for the MANY that feel so alone, yet knowing full well we are not along. God bless you, Donna! 🙂

    • Elizabeth.

      It’s all God! Not me. So blessed and thankful that He doesn’t give up on me and that He brought me to Renee’s story and A Confident Heart. It was a transforming read for me and it is still transforming my heart and life for His glory. He must INCREASE. I must decrease. Thankful for His unconditional love. Blessings,
      Donna B

  47. Thank you, Donna for sharing your story! It is so powerful. I realized today that when I go to take this clinical weekend in a few weeks; it’s not like a cancer diagnosis; I will pass or fail. If I don’t pass, I need to find another direction. If I do; I will be an RN. I am tired of stressing over it.

    • Tiffany,

      Praying for you as you take your clinical. Praying for clarity of mind and speech. Praying that God will honor and glorify Himself in and through you. Blessings, Donna B.

  48. Debbie Pemberton says:

    Thank you for being honest Donna. My father or pops was a good fatheMy ex pased awayr. Now my first husband sounds just like your father in the way he was acting. I had to watch a kitchen table being thrown at me, fist to my face and a glass being thrown at me and cutting my elbow along with the artery. There is alot more but I am so thankful that you posted it. My ex passed away a couple of years ago and someone actually asked me how felt and I honestly di not know what to feel


    • Debbie,

      Thank you for sharing your story. And I am so sorry that you had to go through all of the pain and physical abuse from your first husband. Praying that you will allow God to search your heart and show you how you are to feel through the eyes of Jesus and not your own. Praying for God to walk with you hand and hand as you process your thoughts and feelings. Praying that you will focus your eyes on Him. Blessings, Donna B.

  49. I did not experience the abuse that Donna did. My dad simply was not there (parents were never married). My mother single handedly raised us but she was always so overwelmed by trying to make ends meet coping with her own fatherlessness, the abuse and neglect that started for her while she was a teen. What resonnates with me most is the Lord’s chare to Donna to accept her father for who he was, the past and to make a choice “to believe that He (God) was who He saids He was….”. That got me cause I know I often use the fact of not having a father to explain why its so difficult to see God as my new father. But I know He has been a true father to me. So the charge to Donna is the same one on my heart today. In the midst of all the tasks of my day and in the face of wickedly demanding feelings (and warfare) exclaiming that I am this or that – I am encouraged to take up my jounery of trusting in God and turning to Him for everything. I see why the scripture aptly says the “just shall walk by faith and not by sight”. For with out faith it is impossible for me to please God and see Him in the process of healing me.

    • Taiye,

      So sorry that you had to go through life not having your Dad around. And I too struggled with seeing God as my Father, because I didn’t know what it was suppose to look like. I could see my friends with their Dads but I just couldn’t see myself with a Dad until I went to Haiti about 5 years ago and I saw first hand how God was a Father to so many orphans. I love his promise in Psalm 68: 4 – 6.

      4 Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
      extol him who rides on the clouds[a];
      rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.

      5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
      is God in his holy dwelling.

      6 God sets the lonely in families,[b]
      he leads out the prisoners with singing;
      but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

      I found that God loved me more than an earthly father ever could. In fact, he loved me so much that he sacrificed His son for me. Not too many fathers are capable of that act.

      Love how he loves us more than his own son. That is a true Father!

      Praying that God will reveal Himself to you as your Father!

      Blessings, Donna B.

  50. Renee Matson says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Donna! What a powerful story that truly does show God’s grace, forgiveness and healing.
    When I process my own pain, it helps to remind myself that we all have painful stories, and different depths of pain. It took me until 2005 to get in touch with my own story, as I kept it dormant all these years until one day in 2005 I wanted to know who my dad was. I searched for him but found he had passed away of Cancer in 1993, I also lost my brother to Cancer at the age of 14 YO, I 13 YO. Short version, mom went into a severe depression, attempted suicide multiple times, so I spent my teenage years taking care of my mom. There simply wasnt time to ask questions about my absent father, or to grieve the loss of my brother. The pain I carry is deep, but through God’s powerful healing I believe I’ve worked through most of it. There are days when I’m weak, but I just look to him. I may not ever get the answers I want in this life, but Jesus has chosen me to be his daughter, even though my earthly father didnt want me.
    This chapter was a deep one for me, and it reminds me how thankful I am for the mentors I had influence my life for me. Jesus had his hand on my life from before I even knew him.
    Renee, thank you for writing this book….You’ve made such a huge difference to me.

    • Renee, I as so thankful that God has brought you into this journey with Renee and A Confident Heart. Praying that God will use it as your turn each page and that you will be open to His teaching and to His love. Praying that God will show you how to let go and release the pain to Him. So thankful that he has begun to heal your heart and that He has given you the desire to move forward in the light. Praising Him for the mentors that He has placed in your life! it’s a great thing to have others walk alongside us and love and pray on us.

      Donna B.

  51. Awesome testimony Donna. Thanks for sharing and inspiring us. By choosing to forgive your dad regardless of how you felt you allow God’s healing balm to heal your wounds and draw you closer to him. Allowing us to see God’s love and mercy. Have a wobderful day

  52. Donna you nailed it,
    I HAVE A CHOICE…. “A choice to believe that He is who He says He is. A choice to believe His promises; a choice to believe I was worth dying for; a choice to be filled with His joy; a choice to let Him be my Father, my Abba Daddy; a choice to live with a confident heart.”

    its easy to say yet hard to do every minute….. unfortunately my rebound is sooooooo much longer and i carry a VERY BIG guilt bat around with me and i beat myself with it allllll day everyday…. i still very much in a pit and downward spiral although lately i’m pulling myself up and out its just sooo hard and lonely… thanks for today’s message i sooooo needed it!!

    • Shannon,

      Praying for you. I did this excercise through my church one day and it helped out tremendously. WE were asked to write out one of our struggles on a piece of paper – something that we needed to hand over to God. So I wrote forgiveness down – forgiving my Dad. We then took communion and were directed to go outside and throw the struggle into a fire pit. Once the fire burned the struggle, we couldn’t pick it up … we weren’t to revisit the struggle. So when I caught myself in the future struggling, I would remember that I gave it up and that I couldn’t take it back. I would ask that you do the same … give it up … lay it at the foot of the cross …. burn it … destroy it …. knowing that you could never pick it up again. Jesus died in order for us to hand over those struggles to him. Let Him have them.

      Praying for you as God shows you how to release the pain … how to release the struggle … never ever to pick it up again …. and if you do pick it up again …. praying that God directs you to release it again ASAP.


  53. Jeanette says:

    I was in an abusive marriage right out of high school. It took 10 years for me to see how the pain and abuse from that relationship affected me. I got to a point where I asked God “Can I truly love as You’ve asked me to without addressing this?” I knew that I couldn’t. Believing that we are unaffected by pain in our past is Satan’s way of keeping us away from Gods will. As I began to work thru the pain, shame and multitude of emotions, God taught me to love and continues to teach me. Like Donna, a burden wasn’t suddenly lifted. A peace that healing had finally begun filed my heart. In chapter 5, I’ve learned I can not allow the past to dictate the future God has called me to.

    • Jeanette,

      I am sorry that you experienced an abusive marriage. And am so thankful that God has you on a journey of releasing the pain, shame and other emotions that come alongside abuse. So blessed that He teaches us how to love through His eyes. Thank you so much for sharing. Blessings, Donna B

  54. My story is very different, and very hard to even admit. Today God revealed to me that my husband is much of the reason I don’t have any confidence. It is so subtle that I don’t always notice. I must rely on Christ more to rise above these inferior feeling. Just so you all know I love my husband very much, and feel that it has been a happy union ( 47+ yrs.) Renee, your book has caused me to look deep within and ask God to veal ALL things I need healing for. Thank you for allowing God to use you.

    • Alice, thank you for sharing ….. just always remember that you’re confidence is found in Jesus. I too struggle thinking that I need to find my confidence in my friends, my family and others. But it totally comes from Him and is of Him. I often placed my confidence in those around me, to only be hurt and to be striped of that confidence. Once I read A Confident Heart and listened to God’s truth that Renee shared with me, I realized that I could safe myself a lot of pain by placing my confidence in God instead of those around me because God will never take that confidence away. Praying for God to continue your healing process as you lean into Him. Blessings, Donna

  55. Fearful. Betrayed. Abandoned. Unloved. Unworthy. Unwanted.

    Each word makes me wince with recognition. It’s a powerful statement to remind people they have a choice. So much can be lost in our relationship with Christ if we continue to believe and live our lives in those lies. Thank you for sharing and remining us that our Dad’s are men and our Father is a promise keeper.

    • Julie,

      Thank you for your words. Thank you for being a part of this study and this group. I love how God has pulled us all here as a part of His plan.


  56. Thank you for posting this. I am struggling with this same thing with my mom. I’m even rereading a book I bought a while ago, Lord, Change Me by Evelyn Christiansen, my question is how do I do this?

    • Felicia, that is a great book to be reading again. Remember that forgiveness is stronger than anything. I do not know your story but I too have one of my own and I have come to a place that I can forgive both my parents, I am sure they did the best they could in the situation they had and even though that is not a comfort always, I have to choose that obeying the Lord in forgiveness is most important and peaceful.
      I know for me it is a process of choosing to forgive and speaking it. I don’t think we always have to understand it, I know I don’t but it matters not. I would rather serve my God than the lies anyday.
      Another thing that comforts me is to know that the Lord of the universe chose me to follow after Him.
      More comforting then you will know. Focus on His truths as much as possible. Hope that helps.

    • Felica,

      So sorry that you are struggling with your Mom. Just remember it’s a journey. A day by day – choice by choice journey. It’s been about a 45 year journey for me. Please don’t give up. It took lots and lots of prayer for me. Lots and lots of believing God at his word. Lots and lots of forgiveness. And it was something that I couldn’t do without the help of God, his power and his strength. And lots of reading through His word and through A Confident Heart. And lots of self examination and lots of asking God to reveal His will to me … and then the kicker …. lots of obedience and love for Him. Sometimes it is not about us … most of the time … it’s not about us … it’s all Him and our obedience to Him. Praying for God to continue the work that He is doing in your heart. Praying for you to lean into Him for his strength and His power and His truths.


  57. Donna I’m so thankful that God is healing you from these past hurts! We all need to let go and forgive those things or people that hold us back from the glorious plans God has for us. As I think about my past, I see where I have hurt others and I have apologized to them. However, I’m not sure that I have really forgiven myself!! How do you let go of all that and believe you are loved, by God as His child? And if I do begin to believe that, I’m afraid that people will think that I think I’m something wonderful. Does this even make any sense????
    I have struggled with low self esteem all my life. I want to believe that I can be what God wants me to be but I’m afraid that I may never achieve it. :(.
    God is using this study and all of the posts to help me see things differently. I just have a LONG way to go!
    Still trying to let go and let God!!!

    • Rebecca,

      Me too! It’s been a long road and He has been there with me every step of the way. It’s all in His power, His strength and His forgiveness. One of the hardest things for us to do is to extend GRACE to ourselves. I recommend that you take a look at Chapter 12 of A Confident Heart. It’s loaded with His promises – promises that we need to claim and hold on too with all that we are. Also read Psalm 139 over and over and ask God to speak to you in and through His Words. Add your name to the Psalm like this …. Rebecca is fearfully and wonderfully made. Ask God to help your unbelief. He will do it .. and then read Psalm 139 again and again. And make the choice to BELIEVE God! To believe is also a choice. Anytime you doubt yourself, choice to believe the words of God. Grasp them and hold them tight. And above all else….BELIEVE them! He loves you like no other can or no other will. Claim each and every promise that Renee shares in Chapter 12 as a promise that God specifically means for you. I will be praying for you. Blessings, Donna B.

      • Thank you Donna! I will check out chapter 12 and read Psalm 139! I’m so thankful for this study! Although I probably sound like I’m not getting anything out of it, I really am! I love it! Thank you again!
        God bless you!

  58. Thanks for sharing your story . I love that God promise he will never leave us nor for sake us .

  59. Donna, thank you for sharing your story with us. I am thankful that our Lord spoke to you and gave you “a choice to believe that He is who He says He is. A choice to believe His promises; a choice to believe I was worth dying for; a choice to be filled with His joy; a choice to let Him be my Father, my Abba Daddy; a choice to live with a confident heart.” Our Lord Jesus is always loving and giving and sheltering and even when our earthly parents fail us, He never does. God bless you.

  60. I have to share this will all of you …. found it on my FB page and thought of this group.

    God never promises to remove us from our struggles. He does promise, however, to change the way we look at them. Max Lucado

  61. Oh how I longed for love from my Father. He was there but not really there if that makes sense. I never felt connected to him. I looked for that attention from all the wrong men. Good enough to be with, but “oh no not good enough to be married too.” I longed for a family of my own. I know I am not alone as I am embracing the fact that God is always me ( I am maturing as a Christian). Nonetheless, I am a single mom, with no support from family (My mother helps me financially, but she lives out of the country). Siblings scattered around 3 states and no type of close bond to any of them. I long Lord for a family of my own. A man of God, my baby girl, a son, and I. My true desires that the I believe God is a promise keeper. If he did it for Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth, I know he will do it for me. So I wait. I don’t date. I am just waiting and meditating on His word. Chapter 5, 6, and 7 has helped me a lot with recognizing who I am to the Lord. This is my feeling of unwanted, abandoned, and rejected. However, God wants me, won’t abandoned me, and never rejects me. If I delight myself in His Word and He will give me the desires of my heart. I choose to believe that God is a promise keeper. Please keep me in prayer.

    • Rebecca,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. Praying for you. And I love how you added that action is required of us …. “If I delight myself in his Word … sometimes we forget that as we wait …God requires action on our part. For years I claimed Jer 29:11 as my life verse “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

      But failed to read on and note that I needed to take action …..to call upon him, pray to Him and seek him with my whole heart.

      12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

      So thank you for the reminder that while we wait, we are sometimes required to take action.


  62. Thanks for sharing.

  63. Thanks Donna for sharing your story! Another great proof that our God is faithful! We need to believe we are “a chosen woman, a royal priest, a holy daughter, a woman belonging to God”, as Renee writes. Turning to His light and not looking at OUR own weaknesses and frailties makes all the difference in our daily outlook on life. Believing His Promises, His Word truly makes life worth living!
    Bless you all!

    • Susan G.

      I love God’s faithfulness – even when I am not. He is a God of second, third , fourth and so many more chances. Love His grace and that He chooses to lavish us with his love and grace.



  64. Thank you Donna and everyone for being opening up yourselves. But mostly for letting the seed of Jesus’ love develop, grow and blossom in each of you.
    With my own baggage of rejection, I am making the choice to help my daughter fair better than me. If any of you have pre-teen or teenage daughters, I recommend Lynn Cowell’s book “HisRevolutionary Love: Jesus Radical Pursuit of You”. That study was a great precursor for me for this study as well as an awesome way to get her to rest in God’s love for her and not look to other things or relationships.

    • Shelley,

      Thanks for your encouraging words. I’m single with no kids but I read Lynn’s book all of the time. Love her and her devo too! Love how God uses Lynn’s words for all ages. 🙂



  65. It’s so true Donna, things have been brought up again this last week for me where I thought I had let go, but the emotions ,pain and fear were still there. I have had to wake every day asking for key friends to pray and feeling low crying to God in my Quiet time. I had another cry this morning but it was short as I said to myself; Right I’m going to get up and do ….. I am going to pull myself together and stand up and choose to get on.

    After reading your story I am going to change my alarm which tells me to have a Quite Time (before kids get up) and label it: ” I choose ” as a reminder that I choose to give it all to God, I choose to Trust in him, I choose to hold on to his truths, I choose to change and make a difference, I choose to let go of the past and step into what God has got for me.

    • Babs,

      So sorry that you are experiencing that pain and fear all over again. It happens the same way with me … especially when my family updates me on my Dad and his crazy ways at the nursing home where he now lives.

      And whenever that happens, I’ve learned to lean into God’s promises for longer periods of time and pray for faster rebound times. I keep a copy of Renee’s book on the table by my bed and reference Chapter 12 constantly. Love how Renee has laid out so many of God’s promises for us in Chapter 12.

      Praying for your quiet time with God. Praying that you will hear God’s whispers as He bends and speaks to your heart. Praying for Him to fill you with His courage and boldness as you let go of the past and step into the amazing plan that He has for you.


  66. Donna,
    Thank You so much for sharing your story, you touched my heart with your powerful words,”Fearful, betrayed, abandoned, unloved, unworthy, and unwanted.” I too went through similar situations like yours but in my life, I was daddy’s little girl when he was sober,kind,and loving. Yet, when my dad drank, he became an ugly,mean, uncaring, and thoughtless monste,r who forgot his little girl and was kicked out of the house more than I can remember. This is when I started people had two faces (Dr. Heckel & Mr. Hide- nice/mean) Your story made me realize that eventhough my dad was a monster most of my childhood, I loved him deeply and I never forgave my dad for what he did, since he past away when I was 11yrs. old. Thank You so much for opening my eyes and realize that I too can Accept my past and the Choice to have my Heavenly Father love me the way I should be loved.

    • Olivia,

      So sorry that you experienced your Dad as mean man. But so thankful that God is reveailing Himself to you as a loving, caring and accepting Father. Praying for you as you continue to journey through A Confident Heart.


  67. Thank you Donna…the words accept and choose are helping me right now in a relationship with my mother.
    I know Jesus has pressed these two words in my heart so I can walk forward with his plan for my life…..I just find myself saying but she…….I don’t ……..but when I take the focus off me I find the peace and love I truly need.

    • Ruth,

      You are so welcome. Its all God’s doing! There were so many times, I would let me pride get in the way of the work that He wanted to do in my heart.

      Praying for you and your Mom. Praying for God to complete the plan that He has laid out for the both of you. Praying for restoration and forgiveness.


  68. Donna, Thank you so much for sharing your story! I really needed to read this right now. My father was never violent but the time I lived with him and my stepmother I felt second best. Not that I needed to be first but I felt like I was a burden and/or in the way. My stepmother also made it clear that I was not wanted toward the end of my high school years. My first semester in college I was asked to leave because my stepmother felt I was using them. My father told me it was best that I go somewhere else rather than upset my stepmother. I am currently working on forgiving them both for all the hurt, putdowns and disappointments they have caused me over the years. I haven’t spoken to either of them in almost a year and a half. My stepmother sent a comment on Facebook on a post announcing my 40th week of pregnancy last year and told me I didn’t need anymore children. I chose not to respond and have not contacted them since. I truly appreciate you reaffirming that forgiveness and prayer are the best course of action. God is my heavenly Father no matter who my earthly father chooses to be!

    • Mindy, so sorry that you are going through this with your Dad and stepmother. Praying for you and the pain you are experiencing as you work your way through the circumstances. Praying for you heart as you lean into Him as you forgive and as you pray for them both. Praying for strength and courage as you forgive. Praying that He guides your thoughts and your heart as you move forward into His amazing LIGHT.


  69. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Donna. As many of us have, I too have been labeled by those same emotions of fear, unworthiness, abandonment, unlovable. My mom was an alcoholic and as a result of the unpredictable, unsafe, environment I was raised in…never knowing when plates would be thrown across the kitchen or knives pulled…I was extremely emotionally scarred. I began having panic attacks 11 years ago and still suffer from daily anxiety and depression. God has been so loving, faithful and encouraging throughout my life, but especially through this healing journey He has me on. Within the past year He’s revealed to me that my tendencies to plan, make peace, please people, be perfect all stem from the fact that my life was so chaotic and out of control that I’ve done anything possible to try and control things. I also realize that I have felt unworthy and unloved because my mother was unable to give me what I needed. I’ve built up a lot of strong walls to protect myself. God is breaking them down. He’s asking me to step out in faith because of who He is, because of His perfect love for me, because I can trust in His promises. There is nothing I can do to earn His love and nothing I can do to lose it as He sees me through Christ. He certainly has more work to do in me, but “He who promised is faithful” so I am assured of the fact that He who began a good work in me will see it to completion. Thank God for this study and for all of you who are encouraging one another. Thank you Donna for the reminder of my part in this healing…accepting and choosing!

    • Jen,

      Praising Him with you! thanking Him for the work that He is doing in and through you. And you are so right, we are all on this journey – step by step – choice by choice – experience by experience. Praying for you as you draw closer to His heart and closer to believing each and every one of His promises.


  70. What a powerful story Donna. Felt God nudging my heart through a lot of it. This whole book study has left me pondering my relationship with my own father. The Lord has been asking me to send my father a letter. I feel like I want a relationship with him as adults. Ive realized my hurt little girl has kept me from that relationship and I have discovered as we are both very different than we used to be that I desire a relationship with my father. I have been thinking for a number of months that I would be regretful if he were to die and things are how they are. Im afraid of putting myself out there and being vulnerable and being rejected again… but I keep seeing things like this that prompt me to keep on walking forward. Thankyou for your encouragement.

    • Carla R.,

      Praying for you and your father. This I can tell you, being obedient to God and His promptings is a freeing thing no matter the outcome because you obeyed. Praying for your heart and praying that God will fill you with his courage to move forward – to move past the past and to forgive and walk in the freedom that God promises.


  71. My father has been in prison most of my life and the last time for 22 years. He got out last August and it took him until my birthday in January to call me. Now I’m unsure what to do I’m pretty sure that he is dying of cancer and that’s why he got out but no one has actually said that out loud. It’s hard to think about a life that includes him but I do think of him often. It’s a 5 hour drive to see him and I don’t have a car big enough to take all 5 if my kids. And I’m not even sure I want to see him. I have forgiven him and I do pray for him but its really hard to let someone who has been gone more than 30 of my 38 years into my life. He did help make me but he did not take care of me. I know I need to make the next move but what? He hurt my mom and my sister very much and they are both gone out of this world.
    Thanks for letting me share a little, I know God will give me an answer!

    • Father God,

      Please whisper into Treasure’s ear what action you would like Treasure to take regarding her Dad. God, I know it’s tough after so many years just because we feel like we don’t know them and sometimes when we feel that we don’t know them, we don’t love them. Guide and direct her next steps. I thank you that she has forgiven him and that she is praying for him. Take her by the hand and don’t let her get in the way of the work that you want to do in her and in her father. I thank you for her willingness and her desire to do the next right thing. Please reveal the next right thing to Treasure. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

  72. What a wonderful way Abba is working in Donna’s life in spite of almost indescribable pain. What a brave woman Donna is and what a awesome God we have that can take such painful memories and use them for the good of others and for Donna. Thank You Lord for your encouragement and for not giving up on us but helping us each work through our issues in a way that you have ordained for us. I can’t thank you enough for your love and your watchful eye and your body filled through each saint. We love you Lord because you first loved us.

  73. angela 2 says:

    Hi Donna thank you for sharing your story it really brought up things I thought I had let go. Well now I know I haven’t. I was raised by a loving and caring step- father ( I never thought of him that way he is my daddy always) in a good home I still let my daddy go to his grave with out ever telling his my secret. I never told my mother or anyone else until after he died. I didn’t want him loving me less. Now I know he would not have loved me less but he would have went to jail for murder in the first degree if he knew.
    See when I was 7 years old I wanted to meet my real father and spend time with him so I fussed until my mother go a hold of him, and I went and stayed with him for 2weeks. ( My mother really didn’t want me to go)I should have listened to her. hind site is 20 20. During these two week I lived in hell from the start. He and my step mother fought all the time hitting and throwing things cussing and all. I had never seen anything like it, my home was not like that. Then about a week in to being there they split up. well I was left with my father and that is when he started raping me only7 years old I didn’t know what to do I just knew something was not right about it. he told me that if I told anyone they would put me in a special home and I would never see my mom and dad again. well you can guess I didn’t tell anyone for a long time. I started thinking if some one loved you, you had to have sex with them. so you can guess how my life went after that. I had a child when I was 14 years old ( Lost him this past year 32 yrs old to a heart attack ) my Father wanted to come back in my life and be grandpa no way I told him to. every time he came to mind I would get scared. I told him My Baby only had one grand dad and that way Yankee that what everyone called my dad he was from up north. lol. I thought God would help me thought all this, so I went to my pastor, now he had been my pastor for 9 years but when I told him I was pregnant he told m not to come back to his church that I was a disgrace to the church and to the other girls my age and to God. Talk about hurt and a lone I thought I was all a lone. When I told my parents they were not happy about it but they stood beside me all the way. I never did go to another church for about 25 years I let my kids go but God did not love me any more remember. But I know better not I just need to keep remembering He loves me no matter what I did in the past I just need to keep looking to Him. As I got old ( in My early 30’s) I thought I had forgiving my real father but after reading and studying with Renee I now know I have not. I’m praying to God to help me really forgive him and all but it is not easy for me. in time I know God will show me how. But thank you for your story it gives me hope. Sorry I’m rambling on but I have never told this story to anyone but my mother when I was 14 after my baby was born. but thank you for listening. In Christ Love we will all heal and be set free, In Christ Love Amen

    • Angela 2,

      My heart breaks for you and I am so sorry that you had to go through so much at such a young age. Praying for God to bring healing to your heart and to your family. And thank you for being so brave to share your story with us. I will be praying alongside you as you continue to turn the pages of A Confident Heart. Praying for God to heal, for you to forgive those who hurt you and for you to forgive yourself. Praying for God to set you free from your past as you focus your eyes and heart on Him. Thanking God for you today and the work that He is doing in your life.


  74. In both Donna’s story and in chapter 2 talked about having a choice. It is our choice, to either more towards God, allowing us to grow confidently in Him, or the opposite, moving away from God resulting in isolation (and doubt). To live confidently, requires us to move towards God and a choice to believe His promises (Donna’s story). This choice is one that we have to continually make day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. We need to turn away from the darkness, and turn towards the light (pg 93).
    Thank you Donna for sharing your story. =D

    • Kourt,

      Choice – love that word. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about “choice” and for your encouraging words,

      Donna B

  75. Thank you Donna for sharing your story!! It was very encouraging for me. Love in Jesus, Cheri

  76. Thank you so much for sharing this! I was touched by your story because I also had a father who’s a little like your father… He punishes us a brutal way for every mistake, he was a drunkard, full of vices, had a son from another woman, unloving, impatient, and inconsiderate. He was not a good husband and a good father to us. Growing up was difficult but our mother taught us to always pray for him and ask help from God to not nurture the hatred and the anger that was building inside of us. Back then, our mother and the prayers were our source of comfort and security.

    • Erin,

      So sorry that our fathers were so much alike. And sorry for the pain that he caused you. I love the fact that your mother taught you to pray for him at such an earlier age. What a great way to curb the anger, because there were times that I would get anger at my dad for all of his broken promises. Praising God for your godly mother who loved through the eyes of Jesus.

      Donna B

  77. Donna,
    It was like I was reading my own story, even right down to the laughter as he and his drunkened friends watched me ride off in terror as he slapped the rear end of the horse! Wow.. The difference is.. I havent brought myself to the visit him. I have forgiven him and I finally do have peace. Praise God! I continue to pray for strength until that day comes.

    • Missy,

      Praising God for His gifts of forgiveness and peace. Praying for God to fill you with His strength, courage and boldness as you make those daily choices.

      Donna B.

  78. Thank you Donna, and Renee for sharing your story, it has now brought me to share mine (which has been so hard for me to do) Renee, thank you for this book. Chapter 4 was so hard for me, I read it twice…..I thought that my past was all revealed and I was ok, I know God loves me and he forgives me, Yes, as Renee says, I am the daughter of the King. I woke up one night and remembered something that happened to be when I was 7 or 8, it was buried…way down in there, because I hadn’t remembered it. I was molested by a relative and never told. I have prayed to God to forgive the person who was doing that to me. I felt sick to my stomach, but know I have to forgive too……as an early teen I began to drink, smoke cigarettes and pot, and occasionally used prescription drugs.. when I was 16 I was sexually assaulted by a friend. I had been drinking and doing pot. Six weeks after that happened I thought I was pregnant. I told my mom what had happened, and I admitted I was drinking. I went to a clinic several towns away (had to keep my secret). I thank my God, I was not pregnant. I was reading Genesis and had a hard time with Chapter 34, the story of Dinah, she was raped and in all of the story she was the victim and was overlooked, she was not comforted, everything that went on was about what others felt, nothing else was ever mentioned. The reason I mention this is because that’s the way I felt…..after I knew I wasnt pregnant, nothing was ever mentioned or done, life went on….so did my drinking and the drugs, I was angry at my mom and my dad never knew. I married out of high school to get out of the place I lived, wrong move….the drinking and drugs continued and the physical abuse started. Two years later I gave birth to my first child….I believe in my heart God sent this child to me to save me. I stopped the drinking and the drugs, but the physical abuse kept on..three years later I left him and took my child, and filed for a divorce. Before the divorce was final I met my husband, who accepted me with my child and made a home for us. Our life together was a rough one, a year and a half after the divorce we married, a year later I gave birth to my second child, 13 months later my husband was in jail. I struggled for five years while he was in jail, 2 children, and a home to maintain, my dad helped us alot, and my mom helped me when I needed help with the kids, this was a blessing. Thank you Jesus I made it through the five years. My husband surrendered his life to the Lord while he was in jail…I hung on to my beliefs, being stuborn. My husband came home, as our life went on we hit bumpy roads, and finally I surrendered my life to the Lord. We have been together for over 32 years, we are still walking with our Lord. We have 4 beautiful children, and now have grand-children. Even though our life has had many sturggles, I know God has been with us all the way, since I started this study, I’ve look to my past and have seen God’s hands in so much of our lives…in page 73 Renee writes “When we let Jesus pour His healing power into our lives, His love flows into our pain and cleanses the wounds from our past.” Amen. Yesterday I read my Proverbs 31 devotion “Her Hands”…I cried because I was mad at my mom, probably all my life, since all this has come to me. She has dementia and I look into her eyes and they are blank. I wish I could just talk to her, but she doesnt remember things, so I just pray and love her. I lost my dad a couple of years ago, and I was very close to him. My Dear Savior, this has been so hard for me to share…….Renee is right “Forgiving those who have hurt you is hard”…I thought I was all done with my past until now….but she also says “anytime we bury a hurt that’s still alive, it just rises from the dead to haunt us.” I have cried so much and prayed for God’s healing, I have come from broken to beautiful, I will continue to lean on His promises, and be dependant on Him everyday. Today I feel my heart is lite, I am free to share my story without being hesitant or afraid. The words of my King are a light for my path.

    Thank you so much Donna and Renee, for helping me free my heart……………God bless you sisters and I will pray for all of you…I have read so many of your stories and I know God has also freed many of you with this study.

    Romans 12:12 Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble come and pray at all times.

    • Anna,

      So blessed and thankful that God filled you with His courage to share your story. So sorry for your pain and your past but so thankful for God’s saving GRACE in your life. Praying for you as you continue this journey to forgiveness. Praying for healing for your heart as you draw closer to His heart. Praising Him that you have made that turn from broken to beautiful. Praying for you as you lean into His promises and live them out in your life.

      Donna B.

  79. Thank you for sharing your story. It brought up old emotions from my childhood that I didn’t even know were still there. God is healing those emotions now, I’m not sure I’d have dealt with them if I hadn’t read your story. Thanks again.

    • Susan,

      Praising God for the work that He is doing in the both of us through A Confident Heart and through Him. Praying for you as you come to peace with those old emotions and as you move forward into His bright LIGHT.

      Donna B

  80. Maureen Chiasson says:

    Thank you, Donna for your honesty and transparency. How liberating it is to realize that we can make the CHOICE time forgive and accept our experience. This opens a door for healing and moving on. You were a victim but I hope that God will give you a life that is beyond anything you have ever imagined. You have tools that God has taught you. I am sure by sharing your story you have offered a path for hope and healing to many. You have taken a courageous step of faith. You are no longer a victim nor nearly a survivor but victorious!!! Thank you dear, lady. God bless.

    • Maureen,

      Thank you for your words of encouragement and yes, it is all HIM and His work that has taken me from the dark to HIS amazing LIGHT! Praising Him for His healing and GRACE.

      Donna B

  81. Helen H. says:

    I am very thankful for your story and in your courageous love of the Father in heaven I can relate and feel it is our sorrow and tears God uses to build strength in our faith that helps as well as serves others well. In these times of so much suffering God relies on us to lift others up to help Him love them alot. God bless all who suffer and struggle with this life and wont it be wonderful to be joyfull with our Father and meet all our sisters in Christ. Amen Love to all Helen

    • Helen,

      Thank you for your kind words. And praising Him that He is our strength builder and the Author and Perfector of our faith in Him.


      Donna B

  82. Late to the comments, but I have been processing and re-reading chapter 5. This morning when I got in my truck to go run errands, the song by Selah “I Turn to You” was on the radio. I said, “Thank you Jesus – a more perfect song for my study time could not have been written.” I had a full, challenging day. As I got in my truck one more time to head for home this evening, I turned the radio back on. Tenth Avenue North’s “You Are More” started playing. The words were straight from Jesus to me. I needed to hear that I am more than the sum of my past mistakes, I am more than the messes I have made….I’ve been restored. Both songs, the only time I had to listen today and Jesus gave me those precious gifts. And i NEEDED them today. Look up the Lyrics to both songs and I hope that you are blessed. Thank you Renee and Donna for being willing to share, for letting God use you in helping me through this time of my life. I’m not through it, and it won’t be easy, but I have hope.

    • Sherry,

      I love God’s timing and how He brings us just what we need! Love those two songs and thank you for sharing!


      Donna B

    • Sherry,

      Love God’s perfect timing and how He shows up with perfect timing. Love those two songs and praising Him for His gift to you!

      Donna B

  83. Donna, God is doing an amazing work in and through you. Keep turning towards the light and let it shine on through to others like you just allowed for us to see. His grace and mercy is abundant. He is so faithful and His love endures forever. You are loved.

    • Chelsea,

      Thank you so much. And yes, He is doing an amazing work and am thankful to Him and for Him and His amazing gift of grace.

      Donna B.

  84. Sometimes God has to put something in black and white before I finally “listen”. Today on FB, I received the same prayer from two FB friends that have absolutely no connection. God was speaking to me.

    Heavenly Father, you know every decision I need to make and every challenge I face. Please forgive me for the times that I try to figure this life out on my own. I need You. I need Your Holy Spirit to give me strength, wisdom, and direction. Amen.

    Donna, thank you for sharing your story and your testimony. Prayers and God’s blessings to you.

    • Elaine,

      Love the prayer. Thanks for sharing and I love how God works in such ways that we know it’s Him doing the work. What a gift He gave you black and white!

      Donna B.

  85. Miss Mary T says:

    Donna…you are truly an inspiration to us all! To come from the dark places of your past, which are far darker than my own, and turn toward the light,as Renee describes, honors the Lord who had plans for you and inspires others that they can also find the light…and embrace his plans…if they turn to Jesus! p.s. loved the video from last years post!

  86. Woundings from childhood leave scars that are intrinsically embedded in the fiber of our heart. I am so thankful that God has a salve, and a princess bandaid that can heal that wound.

  87. Barbara R. says:

    Thank you for your beautiful story and testimony, Donna! God bless you 🙂

  88. Gloria C says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Donna. It’s so incredibly difficult to understand why parents treat their children so badly when all they want is to be loved and nurtured. I have a painful memory of my father in a rage chasing me down the hallway with a belt in his hand. His eyes were blazing and his teeth gritted as he charged after me. Since I was very small at the time, I crawled under my bed and scrunched up as close to the wall as I could. He couldn’t pull me out from under the bed so he swung the belt under the bed. The absolute terror I felt followed me throughout my childhood and into my adult life. Until the Lord starting dealing with me. I have forgiven my dad and we have a great relationship now. We love each other deeply and I dread the day he goes home to be with the Lord (he accepted the Lord several years ago–I’ll never forget the first time we all held hands and prayed in the kitchen!). Forgiveness is so healing and freeing! It sets you free from the prison of guilt, shame, anger, and loneliness. Only Jesus can truly set you free! Thanks again, Donna!

    • Gloria C,,

      Thank you for sharing your story and I so feel your pain and fear. I am so sorry that you had to experience those emotions and feelings with your dad. Praising God for the work that He has done in her heart towards your dad and the freedom that He has given you with the gift of forgiveness.

      Donna B.

  89. Oh Donna… What a powerful testimony. So glad that God is in the redemption business. You are so very beautiful friend… I’m featuring you as our Featured #TellHisStory this week. I can see from the FB shares and the sheer volume of comments that your story has touched many, many people. But I want to do my part to share your story. So grateful for you.

    (And thank you, Renee, for making a safe place for people to share their stories.)

    • Jennifer….

      Thank you for your encouraging words! And me too on God being in the redemption business! Thanks for featuring the story that God has given me. Will be praying that it touches and changes hearts for His kingdom and for His purposes.


      Donna B.

  90. Debbie Jo says:

    My father, too, was an alcoholic….making that choice to accept him just where he is at….what freedom; unfortunately, my dad passed away before I could get there….I know my Daddy God will take care of me and I can still accept and believe and wipe out that past and all those hurtful memories.

    Thank you, Father God, for your unconditional love…I am safe with you!

  91. Okay, so I’m finding that I cannot keep up with everything, but I am going to still plug away anyway with what I can do. And I still wanted to thank Donna for her sharing. I’m very glad you were specific because it helped me identify with some things. I can’t believe it’s taking me so long to heal, but God is using your words, Renee, and in your book, and Donna’s words, and I just had to say, once again!, thank you both!!! sincerely, in Him, Lisa

  92. WOW! I thought I was reading my own story! That was exactly my childhood detail for detail even the spaghetti on the wall!

  93. angela 2 says:

    Thank you Donna and you have the same last name as my nieces does, my bothers daughter. She and her mother is from Kentucky .

  94. Thank you Donna…
    Brought back some past memories of my childhood and Parents drinking….Things a child should never see or hear.. But learned as you to accept and choose….Forgiveness. .but through it all, I found Jesus and from then on His word is a lamp unto our feet and a Light unto our path….we can walk through all things into Victory with him at our side…

    Blessings my sister….

  95. Cheri and Angela 2,

    Thank you. It was all God and his providing. So thankful and blessed that God can use my story to encourage others. He must increase – I must decrease.


  96. Patty,

    Yes! VICTORY is ours! So blessed and thankful that you are a Christ Follower and that He is walking side by side with us.

    Donna B.

  97. For all you Ladies/ My Siters in Christ..

    I posted something on FB and it goes like this…
    I want to be so full of Jesus, that whne a Misqisto bites me, it flys away singing, there is Power in the Blood!!!!

    Just thought i would share a laugh…

  98. Sorry, for the spelling:)

  99. That is cute….I like that….

  100. Ha ha…very funny, I like that! It reminds of Jim Elliot’s journal entry I read last week, “Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.”

    I’ve been meaning to write you to let you know I was so excited to hear you speak in Charlotte, NC at the Parenting on Purpose Conference at Northside Baptist Church, April 20. My daughter was so excited to meet you even though I kept calling you Lysa TerKeurst…so sorry. Can you please email the picture with you and her in it, thank you so so much and so sorry it took me this long to contact you.


  1. […] God and sharing how HE moved me from living in the dark to LIVING IN HIS LIGHT today with Renee Swope.  Thanking God for how He used Renee’s story of grace, love and forgiveness in A Confident […]

  2. […] today, and I am quite thankful to have read it. I would like to share the story with you: “Living in the Light.” While the story brought me a lot of wonderful realizations and lessons, I would like to […]

  3. […] Hostesses: I have asked our online study blog-post guests – Melanie, Rachel, Donna and Lelia – to join us so you also get to talk with them and they will be answering questions, […]

  4. singing online auditions 2014

    Chapter 5 Living in the Light | Renee Swope

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