Hello, My name is Joyce, and I was a hypocrite.
By JOYCE ZOUNIS | director
"I don't understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don't do it.
Instead, I do the very thing I hate."
Romans 7:15 NLT
As Mr. Donald E. Wildmon of American Family Association has stated in his account of being a hypocrite, Paul the apostle wrote these very words about himself in the Bible. Did you know outside of the Lord Jesus Christ, he is the most important figure in the history of Christendom? Before he knew the truth of Jesus' love, his story begins when he was called Saul not Paul. He was a dedicated to his religious fervor, eager to seek out and destroy the Lord's followers. His number one priority was to wipe out the church of Jesus Christ.
Did you know I was a Christian when I chose to place my hand on the doors of the abortion facilities not once but seven times? Yes I have been one of them - a hypocrite.
I was far from the Lord during my teens and early twenties. I had become a follower of Jesus Christ at the age of eight, loved going to church and learning about my God. I found such joy in pleasing Him and my parents. But time and the secrets of my past began to hinder my ability to engage in natural affection. Slowly I slipped back into the familiar pattern of believing the relentless whispers from my childhood, "You are spoiled goods and no one will love you, Joyce, if they knew the truth."
The overwhelming effects of childhood sexual abuse paved the way to my disconnecting with relationships requiring trust and intimacy. Though my dad was not the one hurting me, our relationship was immensely affected. I believed the whispers that said his disappointment in me would lead to outright rejection and abandonment. I desperately wanted and needed his love and approval. So out of an act of protection I chose to emotionally withdraw from all close moments with him and others while wearing the mask of survival.
Over time I did feel accepted at church and allowed the mask to lose its grip. Then one night during a sleepover the girl's leader read us a short story and I understood that I was impure. "Joyce they will hate you when they find out." Fear and dejection grabbed my heart. Finally, I knew what I was not - pure. The whispers were true and at the age of nine I discreetly retreated to the corner of the room in my sleeping bag and sank deep in its darkness crying tears of absolute despair into my pillow. Right then I determined not even church was a safe place and the mask went back on for life.
Deep friendships I did not have growing up. It was easy trading in past violations for sexual invitations since I was safely locked away. My sophomore year in high school proved to be the turning point of my life. The boyfriend of my dreams had entered the picture. Excitement and hope in this love lightened the demanding load of cheerleading practice and the nagging problem growing in my belly left over from a summer fling. I wasn't about to let a positive reading on a stick interfere with this new relationship and the future I desperately wanted; had to have with him. My private life had now clashed with my public life.
By this time the whispers were getting louder, "You loser. You are a Christian without a God who loves you. Where is He? Where is He? He too has abandoned you." Aughhhhhh. You know at times I did feel His presence and I wanted so badly to be part of His family but the whispers won out. I was done. The time had come for me to save myself, this relationship and my future. Chosen isolation and my old friend, the mask, protected me as I walked into that first abortion facility in Fayetteville, NC. Even at 15 I knew abortion was wrong but it was the answer. I had become my own savior and a legal killer.
As the details of my life unfold across the pages in the book Motherhood Interrupted by Jane Brennan, you can read how this decision to abort this problem swung open wide the gloomy gray doors of no return. One abortion made two possible. Two made three and so on and so on. I had messed this up and there was no going back.
. . ."You like living in a wrinkleless world, don't you Joyce?" a new friend commented on a business trip. I never really thought about it until then, but she was right. Anything that I could take control of, I did. I am a perfectionist at heart, but with great reason. Too many experiences from my early childhood underscore the way I embrace life, keenly sensitive to right and wrong, black and white, anything gray is always a problem for it is out of my control. I learned very early to iron out these areas. . .
For years I sought out love in all the wrong places. I did not realize the love I so desperately desired could not be fulfilled by a man. It wasn't until I was 29, married & pregnant with my third living child, did I find myself in the awesome presence of the true lover of my soul, Jesus Christ. It was like I had never left. Being at Calvary Chapel of Ft. Lauderdale felt like home and as the months passed Pastor Bob Coy would speak often of an upcoming event called Life Chain. This hour long nationwide event gathered Christian families on public sidewalks to pray for the end of abortion and the redemption of those who have lost children through choice.
I struggled as I heard the old whispers but knew I was to go. My husband and I packed up our three small children and joined thousands of others in the hot sun of South Florida. As we stood there holding our signs with mine stating, "Abortion Kills Children", I had finally come face-to-face with the truth of my past. Afraid others could see right through me, alone and cold I did feel. As the minutes slowly ticked away in what seemed like an eternity I began to feel fire in my hands. Right then the beloved Jesus of my childhood revealed a great and unexpected act of love to me. He allowed my eyes to become outward focused as He started to melt away the icy layers covering my heart and unlatched the mask covering my face.
Can He really do this? Heal my heart? My life? Is this possible? Is He for real? Trustworthy?
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes!
Did you know when a lie is repeated enough it becomes truth to us? It did take time for me to embrace the grace and peace of His truth and love. I was wrong to believe and act on the lies of my past. Isolation prevented me from growing and my traumas turned secret nearly killed, stole and destroyed me. And this is the ultimate the plan, purpose and passion of the enemy of my, our soul.
I am here to share there is no end to God's surprises and abilities. If He can forgive and heal me, the poster girl of wrong choices; Paul the dedicated assassin of his people; He can forgive you too. Recovery and restoration is possible by believing in Him and asking for forgiveness. Reach up into His arms of comfort and compassion. He's real. His love is far beyond anything you can imagine. Crawl up, close your eyes, relax and let Him stoke your hair and heart with His tender hands of mercy. He longs to change you and heal your pain.
I am most thankful that we have the Word of God, the Bible. This Christian gal has made so many wrong choices, doing the very things I hate and yet He is faithful to forgive. Yes, I have sinned, failed and have been a hypocrite. As with Paul, and the many others mentioned in the Bible; I want to live right but sometimes I do the things I know are wrong. And with all the struggles and issues I face, in spite of everything, He still loves me just as I am. (He loves you too. Stop listening to those whispers!) I am a great sinner. And He is a great Savior, the MESSIAH.
I hope you will find comfort in one my favorite verses:
The Lord your God is with you; his power gives you victory. The Lord will take delight in you, and in his love he will give you new life. He will sing and be joyful over you.
Zephaniah 3:17, GNT
You are not alone. Say this with me I AM NOT ALONE. He gives you victory over today.
He DELIGHTS in YOU. He loves you enough to give you a new day every day.
OK, wrap your mind around this one - the God of the Universe, King of Kings,
Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace, joyfully sings over YOU.
I am a loved and forgiven hypocrite,
Do you want to know more about this Jesus, Creator of the Universe? Or perhaps how a devoted killer of God's people, Saul, is transformed from unhealthy attitudes & behaviors to becoming a brilliant spokesperson for Jesus Christ, then