Name: Quoleshna Elbert
Blogger, Soldier for
This is my testimony and, I can honestly say now, that if I had to live life over again I would choose to avoid a number of experiences; but having already lived them, there’s not much I would change; because I see now—more than ever—how God plans to use every good and bad thing as a tool to change lives for the better, if we humble ourselves and allow him to use us.
When someone gives a testimony and you find yourself feeling pity for them…I think something is wrong, somehow. Because a testimony is about the present and ongoing victory–not about past failures.
Like everyone my past is full of substantial events and seemingly small choices) My life is made up of both positive & painful experiences—all of which shape who I am. One of these life-changing moments occurred when I was four; during a period of time when my mom and I were facing unforeseen challenges which caused us to have to rely on family for housing. It was during this time in our lives that I was approached and molested for the first time by a cousin. In some ways, I don’t consider myself a victim in the sense that, though a child, I did know that things were wrong, and yet participated in wrong. I’ve since learned that this has been an issue in our family for generations. And, it’s a problem that God is now using me to address in our family. Apparently he brought me over 3000 miles to do so…! But, God’s timing is always perfect…
In the last half of 2009 the Lord led me to confess this to my family, starting with my mom (who I had never told). Under God’s urging and with his strength, I later shared with the rest of our family and felt led to plead for assessment and change. You know, the most miraculous thing is that the instant I chose to be obedient, God lifted my own shame and replaced that shame with a deep love and appreciation for the gift of my family, and the hope and beauty of family and community, in general.
The best part about all this is that there is a glimmer of hope that—perhaps starting with a few of us—this side of my family will begin accessing all the strength and innate love that God has gifted us with; there’s hope that we may be more unified, supportive, healthy and honest with each other and ourselves. But even though I don’t know, for certain, what the Lord has in store for me or for us, what I know is that he’s led the way in confronting one issue and in urging for change that extends beyond that. He’s softened hearts, he’s opened up dialogue, he’s provided the necessary tools and the necessary emotional strength to get the ball rolling. I trust his will is going to be done as long as I just do what he calls me to do. “We can only do what God calls us to do. No more than that.” That’s a quote from an older woman that has adopted me as a play daughter (as of about a week ago since the writing of this testimony). A woman I am so in love with because of her gentle spirit, her wisdom, her passion for Christ and her transparency. A woman I would not have met if I hadn’t started this journey.
My testimony is not only about what God has brought me to, but also what he had brought me through. The other side of my family, my father’s side, is remarkably close-knit and about as functional as you’ll ever find. However, like many young women today, I didn’t grow up with a consistent father figure to show me what a healthy relationship with a man looks like and how a good man treats and loves others and, specifically, ladies. Coupled with the only other dominant experiences with males I’d had as a child, well, I think I could have grown up into a very different woman. But, my mom’s desire to protect me as best she could, her unwavering love, high expectations and her solid support were a saving grace; I believe as important has been my father’s side of the family, consisting of a generous, supportive and frank grandmother, strong aunts, good-hearted uncles and caring cousins.
There’s a lot going on under our skins that we don’t share with others out of well-warranted fear of judgment. For me, I think some people look at the surface and see someone who loves Christ, who’s pretty accepting of others, who is honest (to the point of tactless, sometimes), and they assume I have and do live a pretty stainless life except for “acceptable” mistakes. But, the full story is that my life is a testimony to God keeping me. Yes, my life could have been different in many ways, but the Lord had a different sort of testimony in mind for me to be able share; even now he guides me away from some things, towards others and even keeps some opportunities at bay. That’s just the truth of things. I am in no way perfect (just ask my Mom and my genuine friends). I am frustratingly human and weak and need constant guidance and help! But, my life is a testimony to God’s grace for someone who just desires to live for him (and I promise he knew that about me before I even did!).
It’s also a testimony to how he can help us to move forward in God’s love vs. our own imperfect power, anger and fear; through His Spirit he can make us clean and give us renewed perspective. And guided by his wisdom, He can then help us use all of our experiences to help others find their voice and their freedom and their hope and their courage…just as I hope that this testimony does for you.
God bless you!
Quoleshna’s testimony was posted with permission from Quoleshna Elbert.