A Good Beginning
I grew up in a Christian family. My dad was the last who got saved when I was around eight years old. Our home was filled with love. We sang Christian songs and had nightly family devotions. I grew up memorizing verses in school and in Sunday School. I was a “good kid.” I did what my parents told me. I excelled in school and even managed to get a scholarship at the Philippine Science High School – Western Visayas Campus.
An Open Door to Vices
Since my scholarship was in Iloilo, I was required to stay at a dormitory away from my family. It was during those times that I learned how to drink and smoke. For some reason, I felt no one understood me– not my family, not my friends.
One of my greatest fears then was to get expelled from school. Compared to my classmates, my grades were really low. In fact, there were times when I’d get one of the lowest grades in the whole batch. If I get kicked out, I thought inwardly, I’d kill myself!
One night, I drowned myself in cigarettes. I felt my life had no sense and that no one really understood me. This was a night when I was back home. I went to my father’s room and got my dad’s revolver. I loaded it and went back to my room, intending to pull the trigger. I cried and cried until I fell asleep. I woke up the next morning with the gun still in my hand. I remember saying to myself: Today must not be the day I die.
A Downward Spiral
I was complicated. I was composed on the outside, but crumbling inside. I engaged in a lot of vices. I was drinking, thinking I could drown my sorrows. I was smoking, thinking my fears would just disappear like smoke. I was also involved in relationships, thinking it was the only thing I lacked. I desperately wanted someone to love me and understand me.
My wanting to be loved led to me a series of wrong relationships. I was once entered a relationship with a man who forced himself on me, raping me when I was tipsy and had too much to drink. It was because of that incident that I formed a very low opinion of men. I wasn’t really a man hater, but in my mind, I thought that all men ever wanted was just sex. I started to think that men weren’t capable of loving without lust.
In search of the love that I craved, I engaged in homosexual relationships, too. I thought that since men couldn’t really satisfy my desire to be loved, then perhaps someone from the same sex would. I knew it was wrong. I knew it was a sin, but I couldn’t seem to stop. It was a life of compromise. The life that I lived was completely the opposite to the truth I knew. It wasn’t how a Christian should live, but I felt so incomplete.
A New Relationship
Eventually, I graduated Magna Cum Laude from college, then I went to law school.
One day, I met a man. For the first time after many years, I thought my relationship would be normal and perfect. Everything was fine at first. Everything was great. He confessed to me early on that there were instances in his past when he’d hit his ex-girlfriend. He asked me to help him manage his temper. I found it sweet and very sincere that he confided in me. It was all in the past after all. He told me he loved me. I believed him with all my heart.
An Abusive Relationship
After a few months, I found out that I was infected with an STD. I then decided that this man was going to be the man I’d marry. I told myself that I didn’t want to confess my condition to any other man and since this one already knew everything about me, I might as well be with him for the rest of my life! For the first time, I committed to something—good or bad, I made my decision.
Then he started hitting me physically. I was in disbelief. I couldn’t believe it! How could someone hit me like that? I cried and kept it all to myself. I thought being hit must have been my fault because I angered him. It must have been my fault because I wasn’t able to help him control his anger. He apologized and promised never to do it again.
The hitting continued.
The second time I was hit, I stayed on the floor. His fists went still, then he spat on my face and kicked me, saying I was worthless and stupid. I cried, thinking that I should leave. I was smart; I should go to the police, I said to myself, but my pride wouldn’t let me. I was stuck. I felt I had no choice but to endure everything.
I took pictures of myself because as a law student, I thought I needed some evidence of his violent actions. I also decided that the next time he’d hit me, I would kill him. I would do it in self-defense, and so, I learned to box.
The third time he hit me was the worst. But this time, I fought back. I punched, kicked, clawed, and fought back as hard as I could. I was so angry. My family found out what had been happening because I came home with all my cuts and bruises.
A Glimmer of Light
During this time, I kept praying to God to end my life. I remember overdosing on antihistamines because I wanted to sleep and never wake up. I kept begging God to take me out of my relationship with the man. I kept begging God to make it all end.
Nevertheless, I brought the man to a church, and we started attending Sunday services regularly. He ended up getting better, and we planned on getting married. We began working on the details, even attending premarital counseling at the church. But deep in my heart, I knew this wasn’t the person God had planned for me. He wasn’t the best man God had for me. I felt tied. I was ashamed of myself. I was ashamed to admit that I had STD, and that I allowed someone to kick me, hit me, and spit on me. I was so broken. I felt so soiled and dirty.
END OF PART 1
What happens to Zilpah? Does she continue in a relationship with this man? Or does she extricate herself from him? And how does God heal her from both her physical and emotional scars? Watch out for PART 2 of “Redeemed by the Greatest Lover” in One Voice Magazine!
Zilpah Beltran is joyfully married to Pastor Rod Beltran, the Associate Pastor of Ablaze for Jesus Christian Ministries. They have two kids, Zia and Matt. Zilpah graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Political Science, after which she proceeded to finish a Law Degree at the Far Eastern University. She currently works as a Senior Sales Manager at the Security Bank Corp.