By Lisa Cherry
October 22, 2002 had progressed like most any other for our model Christian family. We were close, hard-working, tight knit, fun, and stable. As the mom of my larger-than-average brood of nine, I felt my life was exciting, fulfilling, and grand. That is why what happened to us was such a shock.
An $800 cell phone bill had brought our day to a screeching halt. As the phone numbers were identified with a middle-aged man from our church, the possibility of a billing error was considered. We launched a family investigation.
Kalyn entered our bedroom hesitantly. She sat in the green rocker at the end of our bed, and at first denied any role in the calls. But something did not feel right. Dad pressed his questions just a little harder. A look came over her face that I did not recognize. With cold, distant eyes she broke her stiff silence. “I made the calls. It was all my fault.”
So began our family’s multi-year nightmare. Kalyn journeyed through the aftermath of what we were to later discover was teenage sexual abuse. She had become a statistic—one of the one in four girls sexually abused by age 18. Denial, rebellion, depression, suicide threats, cutting and eating disorders filled her teenage life. As her mother, I travelled the sea of anger, hurt, despair, fear, and torment. My beautiful, fulfilling life was transformed into what seemed like scenes from a bad B-rated movie. Never were we more tempted to give up and give in!
Kalyn’s behavior was so extreme that each day was a battle. Angry, irritable and hostile, she saw us as her personal enemies. None of the other children wanted to even come near her if they passed her in the hall. She resisted every form of motherly direction. It was just too much, and one day I came to the end of my mothering rope. I ran to my bedroom, locked the door, and threw myself on the bed. Deep, racking sobs shook my body as I cried out to God in my pain. Unthinkable words rose from my wounded soul. God, I can’t feel any feelings of love anymore for my own daughter!
Me, not love my own child? How could my mother’s love fail me? My own thoughts sent me deeper into despair.
That day marked a new chapter in my faith journey as I plunged deeper into the awesome healing power of my Heavenly Father’s covenant of love. He spoke His words of hope so clearly to my heart. “Lisa, now you will understand the force of My love working through your weak vessel. It is supernatural. I will agape love your daughter through you. And remember, Lisa, My love never fails (1 Corinthian 13:8).” I grabbed onto my Father’s words of hope!
How is my family today? We are healed and set free by the miracle working power of our King! Kalyn is a 23 year old bride-to-be, and together we have written a book about our mother-daughter journey to the edge of destruction and back. Kalyn’s Secret: Every Parent’s Battle to Save Their Children was released in bookstores on July 17. Truly, what the enemy meant for evil, our God is working for good.
As we share our family’s story and what we learned, God is mending wounded hearts. And even more, He is awakening and equipping a new generation of parents and Christian leaders to be strong in battle for the hearts and souls of their kids. Can you hear His call? Do you need His healing power?
Lisa & Kalyn Cherry – have weathered the storm of extreme teen crisis. On the victory side of their pain, this vibrant mother daughter team sounds an alarm and offer hope to parents and leaders of today’s youth. Lisa is a conference speaker for Acquire the Fire/Teen Mania Ministries. She and her husband, Doug, founded Victory Christian Center, REALITY Youth Center and Frontline Families Ministries of Carbondale, Illinois. http://www.kalynssecret.com