“I carried such self-hatred and rage,” said Belinda Breitling. “I was always so close to falling apart and couldn’t maintain healthy relationships. I avoided my feelings and hurts to appear to be a ‘good’ Christian and mom, but I knew my brokenness and sin were hurting my children. I experienced over twenty years of heartache, hopelessness, pain, and struggle.
“Sexual abuse as a young child and into my preadolescent years caused a lot of damage in my life, but somehow I always knew I could talk to God. I learned from my Catholic family that I am a sinner and that Jesus died on the cross for my sins – that was the extent of my faith. I didn’t know how to have a relationship with Christ, but I knew I could cry out to God in the midst of my pain. Always, right under the surface of my life was pain from my childhood experiences.
“My curiosity about God and faith carried through my life and as a young adult I tried different churches with family members and friends. When I got married at 20 years old, my husband and I even ended up living in Sri Lanka as Christian missionaries. I carried all of my brokenness and baggage with me to that foreign country. I stood in front of women and preached about God’s love. While I was in Sri Lanka, far away from everyone and everything I knew, I began to understand the holiness of God. I saw my sinfulness in light of His perfection.
“There, I opened my Bible and found Romans 5:1, ‘Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ I realized for the very first time in my life that I needed peace with God. I had been following God’s people and doing what they did but, in that moment, I realized my sinfulness and my need for Jesus’ sacrifice. Jesus is the only way we can stand before a Holy God blameless and unafraid. There, I surrendered my life to Christ.
“I spent the next twenty years striving and trying to be a good Christian and a good mom. It was exhausting because I never gave myself the time or energy to process and heal from my past hurts and experiences.
“When my children grew up, one of my sons became a Member at Watermark in Dallas. He seemed like a completely new person. He quoted Scripture in conversation and acted differently than before. I could see a peace in him that he never had before. The changes in his life and his involvement in his church encouraged me to come to Dallas and experience it for myself. I started attending different ministries around Watermark. Because we lived two hours east of Dallas, I would leave my house early on Monday mornings to go to Equipped Disciple classes and then sit on the brown leather couches at the coffee shop until re:generation began that evening. Through extended periods of time watching, observing, and interacting with the people of the church, I found a safe place to be vulnerable with others about my struggles and my past. Through re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry, I learned how to be honest about my own sin and to forgive my abusers. God was healing my past.
“With each ministry I participated in, I grew closer to the Lord. It felt like my life was drastically changing through my growing knowledge of Scripture and the authentic, biblical relationships that were being formed. My husband and I went to re|engage, Watermark’s marriage ministry, and the Lord began to heal our marriage, too. It was amazing to see how the Lord was working.
“I continued to pray to be obedient in what the Lord wanted of me. When we felt it was important to be close to a biblical community, we moved two hours to be a part of a local church. When I finished my third year of Equipped Disciple, I wanted to share what I learned with my family, so I temporarily moved to Oklahoma City to do the Equipped Disciple curriculum with my mom and sisters.
“As I was there, leading them through the Bible study, I realized I was in the very house where I was abused. The Lord redeemed me and now He redeemed that very place. I realized that the moment I was lying broken in that room, God was with me. And as I shared the Bible and my love of Christ with my family, God was still there. God knew even then that He would bring me back in victory to glorify Him in that very house.
“Before having an intimate and deep relationship with the Lord, I very tightly managed what people thought of me because I knew that I would fall short. I couldn’t even meet my own expectations, but when I learned Romans 7:18, I found freedom to stop trying to be good in my own strength. The more I learned about the characteristics and power of God in the Bible, the more freedom and confidence I found. The Holy Spirit – the power that raised Jesus from the dead – is also in me, regardless of my brokenness and my past.”