By the time I was 13, I was living on my own, living from house to house with whoever would take me in. By the age of 16, I had been raped three times and had tried to commit suicide three times.
Abandoned and abused, I still knew there was more to life than what I was living. But I could not find it. I was still a giver and loved people. I just could not understand why I was born. I often wondered why I was alive. As a matter of fact, I longed for death thinking it would be a relief. I hated living because I could not see a good reason to live in my circumstances.
I was not raised in a church and didn’t know about God the Father, his son Jesus or the Holy Spirit. I did not have or know anyone I could call on. Manipulated by friends and betrayed constantly, I just thought this was the way of life. That is until God decided one day to pursue me.
Although my earthly father was not there, my heavenly father was always there. I consider it a miracle that God took the time to pursue me. I didn’t know what love was until I met the Father and experienced his love for me.
Looking for Love
I always looked for love, searching for it all the time. But I didn’t know what it looked like. My hurt and rejection created a needy person who longed to be loved. I gave away everything I had, including myself, thinking that if I gave, someone would finally love me. Instead of love, I found myself deeper and deeper in a hole.
Up until this point my life was spiraling out of control and many others assumed the job of controlling me without any fight from me. I had no sense of freedom and at many times I didn’t even believe it was possible to be free. I had one thing going for me that proved to payoff, I had to the skills to do hair which provided finances for me to take care of myself.
I remember the day God sent one of his servants on the streets of my hometown of McComb, Mississippi. It was hot and miserable outside that day, but this man had on a suit and looked completely different than us. He walked into the projects and I followed him. I followed a short ways back so he could not see me. I overheard him talking to a group of people about God and Jesus. He seemed to be very different and he also seemed to genuinely want to help people.
At that moment something happened on the inside of me that I could not explain. I felt inspired and I whispered to myself , “Man, I really wish I could be like that one day, oh I really wish I could be like that.”
I did not really understand what I was asking but I understood that I wanted to be different and that I wanted to help others. I had attempted to do that many times before but did not know how to truly help others or even what to say to others since I was doing some of the same things.
From that point on, there was an unsettling in me that I could not shake. For two years after that God was preparing my heart to receive him.
I was sick in my body and was making many visits to the doctor. Out of nowhere, at about seven o’clock in the morning, a strange lady from the neighborhood came to the house where I was staying. She knocked and they let her in. She was known as a Jesus freak, so most people stayed away from her. I was also told to stay away from her because she was crazy. But for some reason, they let her in the house. I was in the wash room at the time. I was preparing to go to the doctor because of stomach ulcers that left me in a great deal of pain daily.
She began to talk and said that as she was passing the house she felt a tremendous chest pain and whoever that is God wants to heal them. Everyone looked crazy because they knew I had been really sick. They called me out of the bathroom, but I would not come. The woman said, “That’s okay because God moves by his Spirit.” She prayed and left.
I chucked it up to a crazy experience. In the meanwhile, I went to the doctor and they could not find any problems anymore. I also realized that I was no longer in pain. It took about two weeks, but I finally mustered up the courage to go and find the “crazy” lady. I took two friends with me and we found her. I knocked on the door and she opened it with a smile on her face and said to me “I was waiting on you.”
I was completely shocked. She invited us in and started to talk to us. She looked at me and said, “Hold on to this garbage can.” I reluctantly and confusingly held on to it while she talked to the other ladies. I held on to the garbage for about two hours. She finally looked at me and said, “Are you still holding on to that garbage can? That is what you are holding onto in your life— a bunch of garbage.” She snatched the garbage away from me and said, “That is what you are holding onto in your life—a bunch of garbage all because someone told you to.” She said, “You are so ignorant that God is going to have to take it from you.” She said that God had a plan for my life and that his plan was good for me. She explained how blessed I was going to be and she did not lie. Everything she said I live in today.
The Love of My Life
After that day God began to open many doors in my life. One door led me to church and I gave my life to him. God took everyone out of my life that was not good for me or his purpose for my life. Every door that opened I ran through. At the time I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t know God’s character, but he said he was going to help me and I believed him. Anything that looked like help I ran after it.
All of this happened in a four month period—May to August 1994. I went back to school. I had dropped out of school in 11th grade. I earned my GED and enrolled in community college to study cosmetology. At end of 1995 I was preparing to graduate and went to work in a salon owned by a Christian woman. She would have bible studies after business hours.
One day after bible study when everyone had left, I went away to myself to have a conversation with God. I said, “God if you are real, and I believe you are, listen. I am not use to loving and giving to someone I can’t see or feel. But, if you will teach me, I will live for you for the rest of my life. God I will run after you.”
From that moment on, God began to reveal to me his heart towards me. Needless to say, I fell in love with my God and Jesus Christ.
This was amazing. All I could think about was I had no idea that this was even possible. I was in awe and wanted to tell everyone about him. I did not know that a relationship with the Creator of the universe was possible. But most importantly, He longed to fellowship with me.
I felt love so powerful. I was inspired and completely dedicated to his cause. After all how could I not want to give myself back to him, after all he had done? It all started to make sense. I began by the aid of the Holy Spirit to piece all of the pieces together. I cried and wept many days. God loved me that much that he gave his only son, Jesus. I began to reflect on decisions I made before I knew of his love and I was overwhelmed with sorrow. I repented over and over again. I found out that he was there all the time. When I thought of his love and holiness, it was amazing.
After all that was said and done, I knew that it was good that I had went through those uncomfortable situations in my life. It was those things that allowed me to come in relationship with the love of my life, the Father, my God and my strength.
Knowing how the Father loved me, I knew that I could not walk in unforgiveness. I made it my goal to give that love to others that I received from the Father. Today I love my parents and others not because of what they did or did not do but because of who they are, just as the Lord loved me. To love and to forgive is to be free.
Things are great all because of the unfailing love of the Father towards me. Now I can see my future through different eyes. Eyes that have been healed from rejection and abandonment.
Katrinna Harris is a resident of Olympia Fields, Illinois. She is the wife of Lethaniel Harris Jr. and the mother of four beautiful children. Katrinna went back to school to receive her cosmetology teacher certification and went on to own her own beauty salon. She is currently in school studying to be a medical doctor.
Click on the cover to read this story and other powerful testimonies in the spring issue of The Well Magazine.