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Joyce Meyer - One Life



Ginger: Joyce, you've been very transparent, and I think that is such a foundation of what your ministry is built on just integrity and transparency, showing who you are and what has God done through your life, but it can't have always been simple to share some of the things that you've shared. So, why have you felt that it's so important that you want to go to some of these deep, once-very-painful places to share with people?

Joyce: I just believe that God's heart is so much to heal people, and to see them be whole, and to have the life that Jesus died for them to have. The place that I was and where God has brought me to, I mean I'm willing to share that with anybody if it will give them the hope to say, "You know what? If God can help you come through that, then I believe that God can help me with my problem too".


I was sexually, mentally, emotionally and verbally abused by my father as far back as I can remember until I finally left home at age 18. Abuse means to be misused, used improperly, to be used up, or to be wasted, to use in such a way as to cause harm or damage or to be treated cruelly. People listening or people here today may have been sexually, emotionally, mentally, physically or verbally abused but all types of abuse are damaging. Anytime we're misused or used for a purpose other than which God intended us for, it is damaging.

My father did many perverted things and you can believe me today when I tell that I'm only gonna tell you a few. There's some that would be way too distasteful for me to try to talk about in a crowd like this. He made me look through the key hole and watch him and my mother having sex and then I was supposed to tell him how it made me feel. If I walked into a room where he was and nobody else was in there, he would grab himself or reveal his private parts as if that was supposed to excite me. Any time he had opportunity, he grabbed me in personal places so I despised even having to go into a room where he was at.

And I remember when I was at home, my greatest goal was to stay out of the space he was in. If he would go to the basement or the garage to do some work, he would tell me to wait 5 or 10 minutes and then come where he was at, act as if I was looking for him and then he would molest me in those situations, touching me and make me touch him. I was continually fearful that my mother would come in the room and catch him and blame me. When he was gonna go places in the car, he told me to beg to go with him in front of my mother and then he would tell me no and then I was supposed to keep trying to get him to let me go until he finally gave in. And so, it's kind of interesting, he had this thing all set up to where it looked like it was me. I, of course, did not really want to go because I knew what was gonna happen if I went, but I had to do what I was told.

My mother went to the grocery store every Friday morning and I so desperately wanted to go with her and he would make me beg to stay home or make an excuse about why I couldn't go. And then while she was gone, he would rape me. There was no place where I ever felt safe when I was growing up. I don't think we even begin to imagine the damage that does to a child because children, first and foremost, should always feel safe and I never felt safe. And I know that many of you, you've had these same experiences. For some of you, I'm just like telling your life story today.

He wanted me to bring girls home from school so he could try to do things to them. I managed to make excuses for all the girls at school, but he did abuse the girl that lived next door to us a few times. She and I were friends and I remember my father making me get her into a place where he could be alone with her and then he'd tell me to go off and wait in another area while he did things to her. And I was so, so profoundly ashamed and embarrassed. I was ashamed of me. I was ashamed of my parents. I was ashamed of what they did. And it wasn't until I was an adult that I understood the problem of shame and when you're ashamed of who you are, how that poisons all your thoughts and your actions. And I'm so grateful that the Word of God says that, "For your former shame, I will give you a double reward. I will give you a twofold recompense".

Let me tell ya something, if you were raised right, you ought to go by and kiss your parents three times every day. If you were even remotely raised right, even a little bit raised right, amen? Sexual abuse is so shaming that nobody talks about it. Nobody knows how to talk about it. After my father abused my friend, she and I would get back together and her and I wouldn't even talk about it. When I think back now, it just makes me kind of scratch my head and think. That's just such a unique thing to me that it's such an awful thing that nobody even knows how to talk about it.

At school, I pretended to have a normal life, but I felt lonely all the time and I felt different all the time, never felt like I fit in. I couldn't make friends with anybody. I was never allowed to participate in an after-school activity, never went to a ball game of any kind, no kind of a sports activity. Couldn't take part in anything. I had only so many minutes to get home from school because my father always suspected that I might be out doing something with a boy. It's kind of interesting that guilt always breeds suspicion.

Had no friends and, of course, I was never allowed to date. I never attended a party. My father would not buy me a graduation dress, a class ring, or senior pictures. He felt all those things were stupid and a waste of money. So, then I had to try to explain to my classmates why I never got to do the things that they got to do, never came to anything, never went to anything, couldn't get a class ring, couldn't do this, couldn't do that. So, that was more pretense and making up more stories and it was just awful, just absolutely awful. He always told me that what he did, he did because I was so special and because he loved me. So, what I learned that love was was a pretty perverted thing.

When I was about nine or ten years old, I remember my father taking him with me to the house of a female relative and telling me that he was gonna have sex with her. And he told me how much she loved it, how good it was, all these things were to encourage me that it was an okay thing to do. And then he would tell me in detail the things that they did. I had to keep lots of secrets. He said everything he did was good and it had to be our secret and if I told anybody, nobody would understand. They wouldn't believe me anyway and I would cause lots of problems in the family.

The reason why Satan wants us to keep everything hidden is because as long as it's hidden in you, you can never really get free from it, not completely. And so those things that you have hidden in you, if something you've done that you're ashamed of or something that was done to you that you're ashamed of, if you've never ever, ever talked about it, you're not doing yourself a favor. Start by talking to God openly and honestly. Talk to yourself openly and honestly. You have to get it out to get over it.

Ginger: Joyce, let's talk about trust a little bit because trust is really hard when it's been proven over and over and over that people are not trustworthy. So, how do you get to the point to understand that God is faithful, God is trustworthy and somewhere along the line, we do have to begin extending trust and seeing what happens? That had to be really hard.

Joyce: Well, one of the things that's really helped me is just that scripture that says, "Love always believes the best". And so, I spent a lot of years being suspicious because it wasn't just my dad that abused me. I mean, I had two or three other men that tried to do the same thing, a boss I worked for once, an uncle, a grandfather. And so, there was kind of like that spirit of incest in my father's family bloodline and to be honest, I think some of them just grew up around that and...

Ginger: It was the norm, almost?

Joyce: Well, yeah, I mean I think they knew it was wrong, but it was something, that, you know, happened to them in their childhood too. And I remember like in my marriage to Dave, Dave would say to me sometimes, "Why do you act like I'm your enemy"? You know, because I always had this "Everybody's out to get me" thing or like it was very hard for me to let him make decisions for us as a family because I really didn't believe that anybody would ever even attempt to make a decision that was good for anybody other than them because that's all I saw. Every decision that my dad made, it was for him, what he wanted, what felt good to him. He didn't care about anybody else. And so, I was trying to work through that whole thing with God. You know, I remember the Lord putting in my heart one day, I said, "How can I trust Dave, after what men have done to me? Even though Dave hasn't done anything to me, how can I trust men"? And I remember God just putting in my heart, "I'm not asking you to trust Dave or any other man, I'm asking you to trust me with them".


I did a little bit of math and realized that my father, whom I was supposed to be able to trust, who was supposed to keep me safe, raped me a minimum of 200 times before I became 18. He was angry a lot of the time, and we all feared that he was always angry at us. That's another thing that I still have to stand against today. If I'm around somebody and it's somebody I'm close to, if they seem angry, I'll automatically wonder, what did I do. And then I have to talk to myself and say, "Wait, wait, wait".

You see, that's the great thing about God, you have an option. You don't have to just react. You can catch yourself reacting to old information and you can now act upon the Word of God. I became ashamed of myself because of what was being done to me and I grew up very lonely. He took me with him to bars on Saturday night when I got into my teenage years where he would get very drunk and then he'd force me to have sex with him in the backseat of the car. Once a police officer caught him and I thought, finally somebody's gonna help me. I was so glad. But he and my father talked outside the car for a while and my dad finally told me he said, "I told him you're my cousin, and he promised to let us go if I would let him have sex with you so you're gonna just have to do it because otherwise we're gonna end up going to jail".

Well, thank God the police officer got a call on his radio and I got out of that one. So I guess when I finally tried to reach out to enough people and it became obvious nobody was gonna help me, the police weren't gonna help me, relatives weren't gonna help me, I couldn't talk him out of it. I just finally settled in and thought, I'm gonna survive. I'm happy to say that God gave me the grace to completely, 100%, forgive my father. It took some time, but I was able to do it. And I had forgiven him, but I had not totally forgiven him and I realized that when God asked me several years ago to bring my mom and dad to St. Louis from where they lived in Southeast Missouri and move them close to our home and take care of them until they died.

And I thought, you have got to be kidding. I mean, at first I just rebuked it. I said, "There is no way this is God. No loving good God would ask me to do that". 'Cause, you see, they were in a place where I only had to deal with them a couple times a year, go by on holidays, throw a little money at it, and try to keep it off my mind. God said, "They're sick. They're old". I'm like, well, what did they ever do for? And you know what he said? "You're breathing. They came together and gave me a life". And but I, by then, I had enough experience to know when God's dealing with me and I also know that God never tells us to do anything if it's not gonna work out for our good. I want you to remember that. God will never tell you to do anything if it's not gonna work out for your good.

When we brought my father and mother to St. Louis to live, bought them a house, took almost all the money we had saved. Had to get them a car, their car was worn out. They had to have furniture. We had to send somebody over every week to get their groceries. Every time something needed to be repaired, we had to do it. We bought all their clothes. Three years went by and there didn't seem to be hardly any change in my dad. And by then he was at the point where he would try to go to church occasionally on holidays with us. And but he was still just as mean as a snake.

And one thanksgiving morning, my mother called and said, "Your dad would like you to come over. He wants to talk to you". She said, "I don't know what's wrong with him. He'd been crying for about three weeks". She said, "I think I know, but you better come over". So, Dave and I went over and he looked at me and he started crying and he said, "I just need to tell you how sorry I am for what I did to you". And he said, "I've been wanting to say something for three years, but I just wasn't man enough. I didn't have the guts to do it".

And he looked at Dave and he said, "You know, most men in your position would have killed me and you've never been anything but nice to me". And my father, by the way, received Christ that day. We baptized him ten days later. Amen. And he died about three years ago, but I mean that man was changed. I mean, he actually became a sweet, old guy. I could actually kiss him on the cheek and not be afraid. And so, that was a big black eye for hell.

Where was God in all this? Let's talk about that for a minute. I prayed for my dad to die, that didn't happen. I prayed for my mother to leave him, that didn't happen. I prayed he'd leave me alone, that didn't happen. Why didn't God help me? I was praying. I was asking him. I was this innocent little kid being abused. Well, you know what? I don't have the answers to all that, but I can tell you that by faith I now understand. That's why that scripture that I shared last night about by faith we understand how the world was made.

You know, I can't explain it to you in my mind, but I know that God didn't get me out of it, but he did give me the strength to go through it. God had a plan. And I cannot explain this to you, so don't even ask me to. But for years I said, of course, I wish that I would have never been abused, but God has helped me recover. And about three years ago, I said that but, of course, I wish I wouldn't have been abused and God stopped me, said, "Stop saying that". And then I thought about it and I thought, and I know this sounds crazy, but I'm glad it happened. You know why? Because I'm a better person now than I ever would have been.

I don't know how to make any sense out of that, but I know that I know that I know that God has redeemed me and he has taken what Satan meant for harm and worked it out for good. And I'm a better person than I would have been had it not happened and you can be too. I'm stronger. I know God better. I understand people's pain, and I believe that it's made me able to reach out to you in your pain and your need and to tell you with all passion, God is alive. He loves you. He's got a good plan for your life and don't you ever doubt that. Don't ever doubt that. Can you recover? You're looking at somebody who did, amen? You're looking at the evidence that you can recover. There's no pit so deep that he can't reach down in it and lift you out. He will set your feet on a rock. He will give you a wonderful life. He will give you beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. He will make you a tree of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that he might be glorified and he will give you a double blessing for your former trouble. Come on, give God praise. Hallelujah.

Ginger: you know, when I listen to you share your story and I hear some of those details that you share, my heart breaks for the little girl that you were. And I see the woman of God that you are today and the healing that God has done, but I still think of all those people who are saying, "But it won't work for me. I'm still in that place. I'm not gonna receive the healing that God gave for Joyce. God loves Joyce in a different way, somehow". So, how do you bring people to that understanding that he does not respect anyone differently than another, he has that love for all of us?

Joyce: Well, you know, if you're watching and you're thinking what Ginger just said, "Well, you know, maybe for Joyce but not for me". I mean, faith is a step. I mean, faith is a leap. It's like, you know, the bottom line is, I guess, is if what you're doing right now is not working, which is probably not or you wouldn't be watching this, why not take that leap of faith and say, "You know what? I do believe that God can do it for me, and I do believe that God will do it for me. And I'm gonna have hope. I'm gonna believe. I'm going to expect something wonderful to happen in my life".

And, you know, something that you can do, even if you really can't say right now that you really 100% believe that, you don't have to be phony with God. You know, take your little tiny bit of faith to God and say, "You know, I believe that you exist. I believe you care about people. I'm having a hard time understanding love. Help my unbelief". But something that you can do that will help you immensely is you can begin to confess out loud what you would like to see happen in your life as long as it agrees with the Word of God. And you can take scriptures and like you can confess Psalm 27:10. "My mother and my father have rejected me, but God will take me up and adopt me as his own child".

And one of the things that I've learned recently is even scientifically, we believe there's something in our makeup that's been proven scientifically that we believe more of what we hear ourself say than what anybody else says to us. And so, I can say to you, God loves you, and you might think, "Huh, well I sure don't feel like it". But if you would start saying about 50 times a day out loud, "God, loves me. God loves me. God loves me". I'll tell ya, won't be very many days and you'll start thinking, "Well, maybe he does love me". And, you know, that's a principle that I applied in my life, and it has had a lot to do with the healing that God has brought in my life because the Bible says plainly, "You need to call those things that be not as though they are".

And as you know or anybody who partakes of much of my teaching, that's a real central theme of my teaching is that you have to begin to speak it and you have to begin to confess it and come into agreement with God because for so many years, I was just in agreement with the enemy. Although I was a Christian and I went to church, I would say things like, "I'll never amount to anything. My life is always gonna be a mess. If only I wouldn't have been abused". You know, and the self-pity.

And you have to get to the point where you say, "You know what? I can't do anything about what has happened to me". And I say all the time, you know what? I didn't have a very good start in life, but I am going to have a good finish, and every one of you can have the same thing. No matter how you got started, today, right now is a day of transition and change for you where you can say, "I'm gonna take that leap of faith and I'm gonna believe if God will do it for anybody, that he'll do it for me".

Ginger: Well, then, would you pray with people so that they can begin taking those steps, not on their own strength, but in God's strength?

Joyce: Yes. I pray that you will understand that God loves you and that no matter what has happened to you in your life, no matter how deep of a pit you're in, God will reach down in it and lift you out and he will make you whole. God can renew your mind through his word. He can heal your emotions. He can help you financially, physically, heal your body. He can give you the right friends, the right social life. God can help you and he wants to help you. It's not gonna be quick, it's not gonna be easy, but it's much easier than staying in bondage.

Some things will come quick, some will come more slowly, but the thing you have to make a decision on today is "I'm gonna step out on this journey by faith and I am never going to give up". Make a decision before you ever start that you're not gonna give up because God will not give up on you. And if you're really sincere and you really want this complete restoration and healing in your life, then I want you to agree with me in prayer today, and I believe it's gonna start a brand-new journey in your life.

And I might add, some of you watching probably has never even received Christ as your Savior. And so, for those who have never invited Christ into your life, I'd like to first pray, a short, but powerful prayer of salvation, which basically means I'm gonna pray a prayer, you're gonna pray after me and you're gonna be inviting Jesus to come into your life. Then we're gonna pray that prayer of complete healing and restoration. So, let's just pray together. I'll do little short sentences and you pray after me.


"Father God, I love you. Jesus, I believe in you. I need you, Jesus. I believe you died on the cross for me. I know that I'm a sinner. I'm sorry for my sins, and I ask you to forgive me. You paid for my sins. Jesus, I receive you now into my life, and I give myself to you right now. I surrender. I release my life to you. Take me just the way I am, and now you work with me and make me what you want me to be. I believe my sins have been forgiven. I believe I've been saved. I'm on my way to heaven, and I'm gonna enjoy the journey. Now God, I surrender my life for you for you to heal me. I ask you for complete restoration and the redemption of all that's been lost in my life. I ask you to bring justice into my life for all the things that have hurt me. If I've hurt someone else, then I pray, God, that you would make that up to them and pay them back for the wrong things that I've done. Show me if there's something I can do to make it better, but I can only do it through your strength. Father God, I want this healing, but I know that I cannot do it myself. So, I ask you today to heal me completely, and I will work with you and not give up until the job is completely done. Thank you for all that you have done in my life. Thank you for what you're doing right now, and thank you for all that you will do in the future. In Jesus' name, amen".

Well, I think you're on your way to a brand-new life. And, of course, at Joyce Meyer ministries we're always here for you. We have so many wonderful teaching resources that will help you, books, and CDs, and DVDs. And I really believe that it would be beneficial to you. So, we love you, we care about you, and I want to close with this scripture. "But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph as trophies of God's victory and spreads through us and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere". God is gonna heal you, then he's gonna use you to heal other people. God bless you.
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