Desperate Woman's Search for Love Ends at the Cross
By Zsa Zsa Palagyi
The 700 Club
CBN.com -“The police stopped us and that’s when the police told me they were investigating me,” Jennifer recalls. “He pulled me to the side and said we saw you running through the desert. And he said, ‘When are you going to be done with this?’”
Jennifer McPheron wasn’t proud of what she’d become. At age 24, she was homeless, in an abusive relationship, and addicted to drugs. It was a far cry from the life she’d vowed to have when she was young. “I was never going to be like my mom,” she says with determination. “I was never going to let anybody abuse me. I was going to have a good life and that I was going to be an example to my family, but also to my children when I had children.”
That’s because she’d had a rough childhood herself. Her mother and stepfather were drug addicts and thieves, with six mouths to feed. “A lot of times we didn’t have food or bed or clothing. A lot of the places we lived were roach infested,” Jennifer confesses. “I personally didn’t bring a lot of friends to my house because I didn’t like the environment we lived in.”
She didn’t tell her friends that her home was a war-zone either. “When my dad would go on his drinking binges, he would get really violent and he would beat up my mom,” remembers Jennifer.
When her parents weren’t fighting each other, they verbally attacked their kids. “I always felt like a disappointment to my mom.” Jennifer continues with tears, “I asked her why she named me Jennifer and she said, ‘I named you Jennifer because your name is common and you were common.’”
The words stung. Then some relatives added even more to her pain. Three of them sexually abused her, and she ended up living with one for an entire year when she was just 12. Thinking back, she recounts, “When he started to touch me and started to kiss me, I just remember thinking, ‘I guess this is my lot in life’ and just went with it.”
Jennifer says she felt like no-one would care or believe her, so she kept silent. Meanwhile, she came up with a plan. “I thought that if I could have a kid, then I would be able to generate the relationship that I was lacking in my life,” she says. “They would love me and I would love them and I would not be like my parents and it would fill that void that I had.”
So at 16, Jennifer got pregnant. She had a son with one man, then a daughter with another. By now, she’d left home and was living with a friend. She became pregnant a third time with a married man, and had an abortion. A little of a week later, Jennifer’s best friend died from cancer. “I just couldn’t do life anymore,” Jennifer declares. “I was emotionally broken and I couldn’t carry the weight of it anymore.”
She started drinking and using drugs to numb her pain. Jennifer admits, “My goal when I started using was that I could just use until I died.”
She gave her daughter to the girl’s birth-father and later walked away from her son, leaving him with his grandmother. For the next six years, Jennifer stayed as high as she could. Much of the time she was homeless and in in and out of abusive relationship. Jennifer acknowledges, “I didn’t like myself. I was disgusted. I felt ashamed. I had a lot of guilt. Basically the lifestyle that I ended up living kind of confirmed the things that my mom said about me. I started to think I didn’t just become like my parents. I’m worse than them. In my mind, I did everything I said I was never going to do. So I broke a promise to myself, but also to my kids.”
Jennifer started stealing things like automobiles to support her habit. Finally after a police investigation, she landed in prison on charges of trafficking stolen property. She was released after a year and went to rehab. She couldn’t stay sober, but desperately wanted a better life. “I wanted peace. I wanted joy. I wanted to like myself. I wanted to be able to function a day in my life where I wasn’t fearful or worried or overwhelmed,” Jennifer says. “So my only other option was to try God. I’d tried myself, I’d tried to use my kids as a way to live, I tried to please everybody 9:40:23 and so my only other option was allowing God--- really taking the time to find out who God is, not who I thought God was.”
So Jennifer called a friend who took her to a Christian rehab center. Even though she believed she needed God, she wanted to pick and choose which parts of the Christian faith she’d accept. Then, after three months, Jennifer says the Lord spoke to her. She remembers clearly, “He said, ‘you serve me completely or you don’t serve me at all,’ and that’s when I made the decision. ‘I’m going to serve you completely.’ The most important thing was the fact that I had to give over control. I had to give up all the things that would fill my void. I had to give up the drugs. I had to give up a lot of things and I was very uncomfortable for a long time. Those were the things that defined me, even if they were bad. But they were also the things that I used to keep me safe.”
As Jennifer memorized scriptures and got counseling, she grew in her faith. Over time, she learned to accept God’s forgiveness, and she discovered her true identity. “In Christ, I am loved, and I’m complete. I’m victorious. I’m justified,” Jennifer says with confidence. “I just am because God says I am. And that is where my peace is.”
Jennifer was able to forgive everyone who abused her, including her mother. “These people are hurt people and have lived through a lot of stuff,” she empathizes. “So it was easier for me to forgive them.”
She finished rehab and married Matthew. Together they have a son. Now, Jennifer is rebuilding relationships with her two oldest children, and she says it’s all thanks to God! “He’s given me life and He’s given me purpose and he has shown me love that nobody else can show me,” She says with a joyful smile. “There is nothing that you can do that Jesus won’t forgive you for. He’s waiting for you to come to Him and say, ‘I’m ready. I’m ready to start my life over in you!’”
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