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From Rebellion to Running from GOD to Redeemed | A Transforming Testimony | Abbey Walters | PART 1

Introduction and Podcast Overview

The You're Blank, What Now? Podcast aims to offer support and reassurance by showing listeners that they are not alone. The You're Blank, What Now? Podcast's mission is to help people navigate their journey from chaos to joy by sharing stories of individuals who have faced and overcome significant challenges.

Introduction of Abbey Walters

I am especially excited to introduce you to today's guest, Abbey Walters, who was present in the studio. Abbey is mydaughter-in-law, a mother of three, and a fraud investigator with over ten years of experience. I am eager for Abbey to share with you. Abbey is a bit nervous but excited to share her journey.

Abbey's Childhood and Early Influences

Abbey begins by sharing her early life experiences, growing up in California with two supportive parents who later divorced when she was seventeen. Her father, a Navy man, led to the family moving frequently. Abbey recounts her love for church and the early inspiration she received from her great-uncle, a missionary in Thailand, Myanmar, and Burma. This inspired her childhood dream of becoming a missionary herself. However, her family's move to Arizona marked a turning point, as they faced financial struggles and she had to adapt to a new environment, losing friends and facing bullying. Abbey's father insisted on church attendance, which felt forced at times, but she developed a personal love for Jesus, although she struggled with the church community's shortcomings.

Personal Faith and Church Experience

Abbey reflects on the difference between attending church and having a personal relationship with Jesus. Despite the forced nature of her church attendance, she cherished the idea of Jesus's sacrificial love. However, she felt that church teachings often lacked depth, focusing on stories and songs rather than the profound significance of Jesus's sacrifice. Abbey's personal faith journey involved seeking a deeper understanding of Jesus's love, which she didn't find in her church experiences during her childhood.

Transition to Arizona and Struggles with Identity

Abbey discusses her move to Arizona and the subsequent challenges, including losing friends and being bullied. She shares her identity as a tomboy, influenced by her three older brothers, and her parents' supportive attitude towards her interests. Despite their support, Abbey struggled with societal expectations and her own identity. She also reveals a traumatic experience of being molested by one of her brother's friends, which she had not shared widely before. This incident profoundly impacted her trust in people, especially men, and contributed to a growing sense of isolation and disconnection from God.

Impact of Trauma and Beginning of Spiritual Struggles

Abbey explains how the trauma she experienced led to a decline in her trust in others and a growing distance from God. She felt abandoned and unprotected by God, which marked the beginning of her spiritual struggles. Despite still loving God, she grappled with feelings of betrayal and doubt, leading to a downward spiral in her faith. I understand the guilt and shame Abbey feels, as these emotions are common among those who have experienced similar traumas, even though they are not responsible for what happened to them.

Addressing Trauma and Reassurance

I did share my own experience of trauma, revealing that I did not disclose it until I was in my thirties, emphasizing the difficulty of speaking about such experiences. I wanted to reassure listeners who may have faced similar trauma, emphasizing that it is not their fault and that God did not cause their suffering. I emphasized that people make bad choices, but Jesus offers healing and support.

Here is a transcript from the actual interview:

Um, and if there's anybody out there that's listening right now that had that type of trauma as a young child, whether you were a girl or a boy, because it happens for both, both boys and girls, um, just know that it was not your fault and that God did not do that for you to you. And he did not put you in that situation so that you would be hurt. People make bad decisions.They make bad choices because we're all human beings, right? Um, but that's where Jesus comes in and thank God for Jesus. But before we talk more about Jesus, tell us about that downward spiral and what happened in your life because of the way the enemy started talking to you. And when we talk about the enemy, we're talking about Satan.We're talking about the opposite of God. And so how did that progress in your life? Um, from there it started into acting out like most kids do. It's the first sign of like sexual abuse.Any type of trauma is a rebellion aspect out. Um, within three is that was it like 10 happened again at 11 by 13. I was drinking alcohol.I was smoking cigarettes, um, into eighth grade. Um, that's when I started going to raves for the first time. So I was a 13, 14 year old little girl lying to my parents about where it was every Friday, Saturday night.And I was in the middle of the desert, downtown Phoenix. And it was like about like 14 years old is when I started using drugs heavily right into high school. And I was just trying to do everything in my power to numb what happened to me as a child.The bullying I was dealing with at school, just the trying to people please. And just like, I felt my whole life, like I never fit in, no matter what friend group I had, I came out as bisexual, my parents lost it. I go into like that whole LGBT community.Some of them accept me, a majority of them reject me. You know, I was getting rejected from my friends that I was still going to church. And this was like a really big counteractor battle in me.Because at school, I went to two clubs, I went to the LGBT club, but then I also went to Christ Church on campus. Wow. Yeah. So I was definitely in a very big battle of God, who is God. And I distinctly remember being in my kitchen one day having an argument with my dad about God and religion and all of it. And I finally looked at him and I was like, well, I don't believe God is who you say anymore.I'm like, God could be a six armed cow. And my dad's the look on my dad's face, I'll never forget it. Because it was just utter heartbreak to hear that from, you know, your child.And my dad definitely lived by that verse. You know, if you bring up a child in the way they must go, they will never flee from it. And my dad was watching all of his children flee from it.And I was the last one at that point. And in that moment is when I just, I just kind of like let go of like God. And I was like, okay, you know, you haven't shown up.And then it was a few years later, in 2007, my Nana passed away. And she was my best friend. And what was hard to is she was a minister of I'm trying to think of the best way to put this, because it's more of a, they had a title, but I can't remember the proper naming.But she would talk about all religions, and the fundamental values and all religions and how they're very similar. They're very the same, the good core values from all of them. And I thought that was really interesting. So it just piqued my world religion interest through the roof. And when she passed away, that was the catalyst of my life of completely running from God. I said, F you, I don't want anything to do with you. How dare you take such a lovely, kind, sweet woman from this earth? Like you're, you're not a good person. You're not good if you do that. And I just, that was when everything worse happened in my life.The day I, I cursed him and said, I want nothing to do with you. And I'm going to leave you. I'm going to run from you.I'm going to go do my own thing. And that was a bad choice. It was a very bad choice. So, you know, and it's interesting too, because when we run from God, he doesn't go anywhere. He stays there. He's always constant.He's there for us. It is always us that does the running. So unless you'd like to like run for physical fitness, don't run. Don't run from God."

The Decision to Run from God

We discussed the impact of Abbey's decision to run from God, particularly after the loss of her Nana, who was a crucial support system for her. This decision led to a cascade of negative events in Abbey's life. Abbey recounts that her Nana, who had always avoided traveling on September 11th to honor the victims of the attacks, passed away on that date in 2007. This loss was devastating for Abbey, especially given her already difficult circumstances, including being bullied and feeling isolated.

Struggles with Substance Abuse and Pregnancy

Abbey recounts her descent into daily drug use and heavy drinking before discovering her second pregnancy. Determined not to repeat past mistakes, she quits drugs and alcohol abruptly, though she continues smoking cigarettes. Conflicted and unsure about her next steps, Abbey contemplates whether to keep the baby or consider adoption. As a junior in high school, her pregnancy becomes widely known among her peers, leading to bullying and mockery similar to her previous experiences. Despite this, Abbey finds support from three teachers, Miss Pena, Miss Roddy, and Miss Blair, who help her navigate her academic challenges and provide emotional support. These teachers become key figures, embodying the love and support Abbey associates with God's presence, despite her estrangement from her faith.

Alienation from God and Seeking Spiritual Alternatives

Abbey shares how her continued suffering led her to perceive God as unkind and distant, exacerbated by negative experiences and abusive relationships. She explores various religions, including Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, finding solace in the principles of peace, karma, and meditation espoused by Buddhism. However, she ultimately feels unfulfilled, as her spiritual practices do not bring the peace or answers she seeks. Abbey admits to intentionally excluding the God of the Bible, holding a grudge against Him for the hardships she endured. Despite her father's efforts to encourage her faith, Abbey distances herself from Christian teachings, viewing them as hypocritical and unappealing due to her negative experiences within the church community.

Decision to Keep the Baby and Continued Struggles

Abbey decides to keep her baby, a choice influenced by her past experience with abortion and her desire to embrace motherhood. This decision leads to further challenges, including conflicts with her parents, who suggest adoption as an alternative. Abbey reveals that her mother, initially unaware of her first abortion, is heartbroken upon learning the truth. This revelation strengthens their relationship, fostering open communication and support. Despite this, Abbey battles suicidal thoughts and mental health issues, exacerbated by a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder and the detrimental effects of various medications. Determined to overcome these obstacles, Abbey focuses on raising her child, navigating a difficult path marked by loss, heartbreak, and a continued estrangement from her faith.

Feelings of Alienation and Loss

Abbey expresses her deep sense of alienation, feeling unwelcome and out of place in various communities, including the church. Despite her efforts to find a sense of belonging, she often feels isolated and misunderstood. This sense of not fitting in exacerbates her struggles and contributes to her ongoing battle with negative thoughts and emotions. She recognizes that poor decision-making by others also plays a role in her hardships, highlighting the complexity of her experiences.

Navigating Relationships and Heartbreak

After ending her relationship with her son's father, Abbey decides to remain friends and co-parents, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a positive environment for their child. She shares her disdain for dating but eventually meets a man at work who shares her interest in Buddhism. Their relationship faces a significant challenge when Abbey learns about his past heroin addiction. Despite her friend's concerns, Abbey approaches the situation with empathy and understanding, guided by the principle of "What would Jesus do?" She supports her partner through his struggles, showing love and acceptance rather than judgment.

Tragic Loss and a Renewed Downward Spiral

The relationship takes a tragic turn when Abbey's partner relapses and overdoses on heroin laced with fentanyl. Abbey recounts the harrowing experience of finding him unconscious, trying to resuscitate him, and ultimately spending seven days in the hospital, where he is declared brain-dead. Despite the emotional turmoil and the brief moments of hope as his heart rate changes, Abbey feels abandoned by God. She does not call out to Him, harboring resentment for the perceived absence during her previous struggles. This tragic event marks the beginning of another downward spiral in her life, filled with heartbreak and disillusionment with her faith.

Anticipation for Part Two

On March 28th 2016. I woke up getting ready for work and I found him unconscious in the bed next to me He had overdosed because the heroin that he had purchased that time was laced with fentanyl. I Was rolling him on his side he was having foam out of his mouth shallow breathing I called his mom I called 9-1-1 his mom got there before the ambulance and and we were trying to resuscitate him I had to lock my son in his room. So he didn't see what was happening His dad lived right down the street at the time his dad was there in a second and was like what's happening like, you know, and I was in the hospital with him for seven days He was completely brain dead And He ended up at some point in the middle of the night had gone outside gone into our car Smoked and then came back in and then because again they were that's when it was like the peak of fentanyl was becoming a big problem and He had no idea and it cost him his life. There was the doctors tried everything I would lay in bed with him. I would talk to him And his heart rate would change so I knew there was something left.But even in that moment, I Still didn't call out to God I Didn't call on him because it was like this is your fault You know like you're not gonna show up. You didn't show up for me any of the other times in my life You know when I was being abused when I was like hurt when I was trying to take my life You didn't show up. You're not gonna show up for this. So I didn't I didn't call on him and that Started another kind of downward spiral.

Wow, if you're like me, you can't wait to hear what happens next in Abby's amazing story Please subscribe and come back for part two next week.

- Marci

If you loved this story, you may also enjoy these YBWN Podcast Episodes:

Episode 67: You’re Doubting God after a Childhood full of Physical, Sexual, and Relational Abuse, What Now?” with Michael Kalous

Episode 25: “You’re the Father of Aborted Children, What Now?” with Dondee Nettles

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