My Testimony

_

How God rescued me from a

lifetime of fear, seizures, and a

voice telling me I would

never amount to anything.

I have attempted to write my testimony numerous times over the past twenty months. Each time I sit down to write, I have this underlying fear of what people will think of me after I share what I've gone through. I have told my testimony to a few people outside of my family, and each person has had a different reaction. I have experienced rejection and/or confusion, as well as incredible love and support. What I have come to the conclusion of is this: I shouldn't hide my story for fear of it being unpopular. What I have experienced is very real and could be the very thing that helps someone (maybe you) finally understand why their life has been so challenging or discouraging. My story could help someone's friend, someone's mom, someone's spouse. Because of this, I'm going to step out on a limb and allow the Lord to lead me in what He wants me to say.

 

Before I begin my story, please note that I grew up in a loving Christian home and accepted Christ as my Savior at the age of five. 

 

The Seed of Stupidity

 

My story begins in a church parking lot with a box of chalk. I sat on the pavement with my three friends and marked up the concrete with various happy colors. Seven-year-old me loved cats (not much has changed), so I drew my family's flame point Himalayan, Simba, while my friends took turns tracing each other’s bodies to make their doppelgangers. After we had drawn for a while, one of the girls stood and walked to a different part of the lot. Out of curiosity, the rest of us followed and watched as she began spelling out the words sort of, maybe, and not really. There was nothing particularly special about the words she wrote, but I stared at them in complete dismay. My friends quickly began reading aloud and I looked at them as though they knew some kind of crazy secret I didn’t. Unlike them, I hadn't learned how to read yet, and it wasn't until that moment that it actually sunk in. Even though the girls didn't notice that I couldn't read, I immediately felt embarrassed and wanted to hide. 

 

Growing up, my siblings and I were home-schooled. I will not go into detail regarding my school years, but what does need to be noted for the sake of my story is that I received a poor education. By the time I graduated from high school, I didn’t know how to write a paper, I struggled to do basic math problems, and I knew very little to nothing about history or science. The holes in my education were very deep – so deep that I often felt the need to avoid social situations that might include the subject of school. I lived in constant fear of someone finding out that I was uneducated.

 

In high school, I began to view myself as stupid. I started to think that I had nothing to offer the world because I was uneducated. I felt like the opportunities other kids had were not available to me because of my lack of knowledge. The seed of stupidity, the thought that I was unintelligent, had been planted in my mind at the age of seven and had progressively grown into a tree. In addition to feeling stupid, there was a voice that began to tell me how dumb I was, and sadly, I often believed it. The voice would tell me on a daily basis, "you'll never amount to anything because you're stupid. You're too dumb to understand anything. You'll never do anything worthwhile."

 

I felt like I had this massive secret in me that I had to hide away from the world. It terrified me to think of someone finding out that I was uneducated, so I began to quiet myself in social situations. I told myself that if I kept my mouth shut, I wouldn't have to worry about someone discovering my secret. I began to identify myself as the quiet one, the one that doesn't really talk, the one that is shy. Anytime I went out, I would be pleasant to those around me, but I wouldn't say much at all. But even though I was choosing silence, I desperately wanted to speak and connect with people. Sometimes I would finally get the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation but my mind would suddenly go blank as though the words were literally stolen from my lips. Socializing outside of my home and family was a struggle, but inside the house I was quite talkative and usually always had something to say. I found myself wishing that I could be myself everywhere I went, but I just wasn't able to come out of my box of quietness.

 

The Seeds of Discouragement and Fear

 

Around the age of twelve, I began to have outer body experiences. For the life of me, I cannot explain the feeling as it truly is, but I can compare it to the feeling of not being completely awake. It’s as though a veil is put over my face and I'm detached from reality. As a child, this experience followed me so severely that it was like I was stuck in a literal dream world. It would often last for hours and the only way I could get rid of it was to go to sleep. When I’d wake up in the morning it would be gone, but it would eventually return that day or the next. Even though it was hard for me to focus while the detachment was happening, I could still carry on conversations and go about my life normally, making it impossible for anyone to detect that something was wrong. At one point I had the thought that maybe I should tell someone about what I was experiencing, but a voice repeatedly told me that it was normal and that it happened to everyone, so for many years I never told anyone about it. I found out about four years ago that what I was experiencing is called a simple partial seizure.

 

As I grew older, something peculiar began to happen. The detachments (or seizures) started to evolve in a way that only impacted certain areas of my life. For instance, when I would be in a social setting or around another person, I would often detach. When I performed music, I would detach. When I sat in church and tried to listen to the sermon, I would detach. When I closed my eyes during prayer, I would become detached as soon as I opened them, so I began to always keep my eyes open. Normal, everyday situations that should be easy for a person to experience were often very difficult for me. I began to grow a strong dislike for crowds and social gatherings because as soon as I walked into a room full of people my mind would slip into a dreamy state. I would often opt out of youth retreats, especially if they were away from home, and avoided going to slumber parties.

 

As you can imagine, this symptom was highly discouraging and caused me to become rooted in a fearful mindset. I found myself worrying about when it would happen again. How long would it last? How strong would it be? The already anxious feeling I had in social situations became heightened and I started to become fearful of leaving home. Home was the one place where everything felt safe, secure, and simple. On the few rare occasions when I did leave home for more than a day, I would experience panic episodes. I remember sobbing in a bathroom stall during a three-day trip away from home, trying to figure out why I couldn't be like the other kids around me. I wondered how they could leave home and be okay with it. I wanted to be like them with their carefree nature and adventurous outlook, but I couldn't. There came a point when I couldn't even figure out what I was afraid of because it seemed like I was just afraid of everything. I missed out on missions trips, youth retreats, and possible friendships because of my fear. There were moments when I told myself that I would never leave home and that I would stay in my town for the rest of my life. I had dreams of pursuing music and traveling, but it seemed like everything I wanted to do was held captive by fear. I didn't want to detach. I didn't want anyone to find out I was stupid. I didn't want to panic. The only way to keep those things from happening to me was to stay home.

 

Staring at fear

 

I don’t know how, but teenager Taryn, a kid that viewed herself as stupid with an ACT score of 15 to prove it, was accepted into college. I remember holding the acceptance letter in my hands. No matter how long I looked at it, I just couldn’t believe it. Even though the thought of college made me sick to my stomach, deep inside I thought that maybe I had a sliver of potential. Maybe I could do well? Maybe I could make friends? Very quickly, though, the voice of discouragement would remind me of my inadequacies.

 

Part of my nature as the human being I am is to please the people around me. I want everyone to be happy, and the two main people I want to make the happiest are and were my parents. They were excited for me on the day that I received my acceptance letter and they were happy about the new chapter I could start in my life. The decision was not easy, but I decided to attend the state school, which scared the crap out of me.

 

Apart from going to class and getting food, I didn't leave my dorm room for the entire first year. I had brought my hermit habits with me from home and continually felt more lonely, alienated, and cut off from the people around me. I struggled to keep up in my mostly remedial courses because I was learning the information for the first time. When the professors would call on me in class, my heart would beat so fast that I thought it was going to jump out of my chest. When I didn't know the answer, which was basically every time I was called on, I would feel ashamed and embarrassed and my face would get hot. It was during this time that yet another voice started to tell me lies. This time it was the lie that no one could possibly like me, so why try making friends. I began to view myself as an unlikable person. I wasn't smart, social, or adventurous, so why would someone like me?

 

As I continued my studies, I was unhappy with how I was being taught and treated. I wasn’t being challenged in my violin lessons and I was the only violin major in the music department. I auditioned at another university (the one my dad and two uncles had attended) and was accepted on caution due to my low test scores. When I finished my second year at the state school and was getting ready to transfer to the next school, my parents broke the news that we could not afford for me to go. Even though I really didn’t like school, all of the expectations I had for the next two or three years of my life were shattered. I refused to go back to my previous school, so I decided to take some time off.

 

I ended up taking three years off and worked with my dad in construction, which is one of my fondest memories. It was during this time that I also found deep interest in various musical instruments, recording, and film. I began to research editing and mixing and found great satisfaction in creating music videos. The process of researching and learning about something I really enjoyed was healing to me and brought me a lot of happiness. The voices I had been hearing during school had lessened significantly and I had finally found a niche where everything seemed safe. In the midst of the safeness, though, I had this uneasy feeling. I knew that something was going to change, but I didn't know what it was.

 

In the beginning of the second year at home, a very clear, quiet voice began telling me to go back to school. Once it started, the voice repeated itself every single day for months. At first, I tried to ignore it because I was enjoying the safeness I felt, but each day the voice seemed to chip away at the hard layers I had grown around my heart toward school.

 

One day I decided to go on a walk to try and think things through. While I walked, I continually asked God for direction and took time to listen for His response. It wasn't long before a flood of voices began running through my head. The voices were very confusing to me and I didn’t understand what they were saying. Then that same quiet voice, the voice of God, broke through and told me the same thing, “go back to school.” As soon as God spoke to me, the slew of voices started yelling at me, repeating what the Lord had just said. It was a taunting, awful type of sound, and I didn’t understand what was happening. I didn’t think a God who is supposed to be so loving would yell and confuse me like that. Eventually, I became very annoyed and said out loud, “God, if there is anything here that is not of you, please make it go away." As soon as the words left my mouth, my mind went utterly silent. I stopped in the middle of the railroad tracks, shocked, looking around as though something had just left me. I had no idea what had just happened. I listened very intently for a few minutes as I walked home, trying to hear something, but there was nothing there.

 

A couple of months later, I was still struggling with the choice to stay home or to move away and go back to school. I knew exactly what I wanted, but what did God want? He had made it very clear. I had previously decided that I would stay home for, well, the rest of my life, but something inside of me was churning. I had to go back to school. There was no option. I had to do what God was asking of me. His persistent voice had finally broken me down to a full-hearted decision and He made me well aware that my life was not meant to be lived in my parents' house forever. That same evening I announced to my parents (well, my sister announced because I was an emotional wreck) that we were going to move to Virginia and that I was going to go back to school. And so that's what we did. And it was one of the scariest things I had ever done.

 

We moved over the summer, and as soon as school started, all of the voices came back louder and angrier than before. They were more discouraging and condescending and my detachments became more frequent. Some of the detachments were so strong that I would completely forget where I was for a moment, which terrified me. There were times when I had to remind myself of where I was by repeating a phrase over and over in my head. You're in orchestra, you're in orchestra, you're in orchestra. Sitting in class, performing in concerts, and being in groups of people were literal war zones for me. 

 

There’s something in the water

 

Flash forward to my fourth semester at my new school, which was spring 2017. I started getting this feeling that something was going to happen, but I didn't have any idea what it was. I felt unsettled, and as time went on, some even more explainable things began to take place.

 

I was beginning to have nightmares and strange experiences at night. One night I was woken by a swarm of voices. This wasn't out of the ordinary for me, but this time I was especially fearful and felt like there was more tension around me than normal. I had no idea what the voices were saying and kept my eyes shut. It wasn't long before I felt a large, dark presence move over top of me and a strange sensation run through my body. I began to feel something press down on my chest, pushing me down into my bed. I was so afraid that I couldn’t move. The voices kept sounding in my ears, taunting me, but soon a very different voice entered, saying, “If you open your eyes, they will leave because they know you will pray.” It was the same voice that had urged me to go back to school. It was the quiet, kind voice of God.

 

It took me a few seconds to muster up the courage to open my eyes because I had no idea if I was about to see something horrific. When I opened them, though, I didn’t see anything, and just as God had told me, the presence left and the voices subsided. There was no longer pressure on my chest and I was able to move. I then prayed for God’s protection over me and went back to sleep. 

 

The next day, I told my sister about what had happened, along with the fact that I regularly heard voices. I asked her if she experienced those things too, expecting her to say yes. When she said no, I was completely blown away. I had always thought that what I heard was normal, but I discovered that day that maybe my normal was not everyone else’s normal.

 

June 25th, 2017

 

I was visiting home and it was a Sunday afternoon at 5:30 pm when my parents arrived home from a conference they had attended at church all day. I was watching TV with my sister when my mom came in and sat down on the couch. I asked her how the conference had gone and she said that it was really something. I muted the TV because she looked very serious. She went on to say that she had witnessed two people be set free from demons. I looked at her in disbelief. My initial reaction was, “um, excuse me, what?” I was highly skeptical because how could demons possibly be in a person, let alone a Christian? Like many people, I had heard about the whole demon possession in Africa thing, but it never crossed my mind that demons could be present in the lives of the people I saw at church every week. I was purely baffled and thought it was a little crazy... until she said something that struck me.

 

“The pastor read down a list of questions and you were supposed to listen for a voice to answer. If the answer was incorrect, then it's not the Holy Spirit speaking. It's testing the Spirit.” As soon as these words came out of her mouth, I looked over at my sister across the room and said, “that’s me. I hear voices."

 

It wasn’t but a second later that my whole world began to make sense in the most bizarre and terrifying way. I immediately felt my heart pound in a way that I cannot describe and a voice screamed in my head, “she knows!" I felt something move from my chest to my head and was immediately sent into a very strong detachment. My dad came into the room and I began spilling everything I had been through and experienced over the years. This came as a surprise to my parents because I had never expressed any of it to them before. I had kept all of it hidden inside of me simply because I believed that what I was experiencing was normal. The voices had told me it was normal so many times that I had come to believe it.

 

We decided that we should call for some help from the pastors at church, and within an hour we were all huddled together in the living room, praying. Over time we discovered that I had numerous demons, each of which had a name and purpose, and all of which had been with me for many years. There was one demon that had influenced me for sixteen years (since I was around eight years old). The experience was physically draining and quite challenging to go through, but regardless of the rawness of the situation, it was on that very day that the Lord reached into my life and rescued me. In the name of Jesus, the footholds that Satan had in my life were broken and the demons who took up residence in my life were forced to leave. They could no longer influence me.

 

You may be asking the question, how is it possible for a Christian to have evil spirits living in them if they are filled with the Holy Spirit? There can’t possibly be room for both the Holy Spirit and demons, can there?

 

Here’s my point of view: while I did have evil spirits living in me, they were not possessing me, but oppressing me. There is a big difference. I was in control of my own decisions and had a relationship with God throughout this whole experience. I belong to Jesus and have since the age of five when I accepted him as my Savior. But because I had the strongholds of intelligence, discouragement, and fear in my life, Satan found a way to further develop those weaknesses. He wanted to hold me back and cut me off from people. He didn't want me to succeed in life.

 

Satan's desire is to make sure we are unaware and poorly informed of what he is doing around us, and he's pretty darn good at it. If you ask me, the church has massively failed in the area of deliverance and spiritual warfare. We have allowed Satan to turn our attention to other things. We are mainly focused on preaching God's word and reaching out to people, which are both wonderful and good things, but what about deliverance? When did that slip through the cracks? Why aren't we working on setting people free from addictions, illnesses, and generational curses? So many people could be set free if leaders would step up to the plate. Growing up, I never heard a single sermon spoken on deliverance. I didn't even know that demons were real. I was completely in the dark because my church didn't teach on the subject. Were they as ignorant on the issue as me and that's why it was never brought up? It's hard to tell. While I'm sure there are some churches that do preach on deliverance, I'm also very sure that there are even more that do not. We need to change this. We, as the body of Christ, need to act in boldness and reveal Satan for who he truly is. We have authority in Jesus Christ to cast out demons and demolish strongholds, so let's get to it. Let's give Satan a run for his money and add deliverance to our Sunday morning services, small groups, and other ministries.

 

Getting to know myself again

 

I cannot begin to express the amount of change that has taken place in my life since that day. There are details in my personality that have changed and there was even a point when I felt like I didn't know who I was anymore (in a good way). Where there once was fear, there is now boldness and courage. Where there once was inadequacy, there is now capability and drive. Where there once was nothing to say, there is much to say. Remember when I spoke about identifying myself as the quiet one in group settings? Well, that was a demonic influence in my life, and the very name of the demon was the quiet one. Creepy, right? I can't make this stuff up.

 

I haven’t heard a voice tell me that I’m dumb since the day the Lord rescued me. I’ve gone on to accomplish things I never thought I was capable of accomplishing. In October of 2018, I boarded a plane to go on my first missions trip overseas, and I can gladly say that I wasn't one bit afraid. How amazing and freeing is that? And this year, I will graduate from college with a degree in music, which is something I never thought was possible.

 

Through all of this, I've learned that I can do anything with God, and I've also learned that I can't do anything without Him.

 

The battle has only just begun

 

You would think that the climax of my story would end here, but the truth is, I'm in a continual battle that is never-ending. The amount of spiritual warfare I have faced since June 25th is more than I could have ever imagined. Directly after my deliverance, numerous demonic influences, all with their own names and purposes, attempted to enter my life. Because I could sense them, I began to fight back... but not before I spent a couple of months being completely mortified over it all. I began to search the scriptures and found that because I belong to Jesus, I have authority to tell off the demons coming my way and to send them straight back to hell. The powerful name of Jesus Christ demolishes the efforts of Satan, and that is truly amazing. God has helped me to develop a boldness in my spirit when I'm faced with darkness so that I can stand against the schemes of Satan and refuse his efforts to destroy my life and the lives of those around me.

 

There have been moments when I’ve been completely exhausted and worn down from the constant fight. I'm nearly always aware of and can sense the invisible world around me, which is very overwhelming at times. I could be sitting in a restaurant and sense that the waiter is addicted to pornography. I could be walking down the street and sense that the woman I pass has a demonic spirit of depression. The activity I feel when standing in large groups of people is often overwhelming and I tend to exit as quickly as possible. Every single day is an interesting day for me because I never know exactly what is going to be thrown in my direction emotionally, physically, or circumstantially.

 

The strongholds I used to have were such a part of my personality that I find myself inching back into them on occasion. Sometimes I'll have the thought that I'm quiet, and then I immediately have to turn on the battle switch and remind myself and the enemy that I'm not that person anymore. People will sometimes still tell me I'm a quiet person, but I refuse to personally describe myself that way because it flat out disturbs me. I also still struggle with the fear of detachment, and to this day, I still do not close my eyes during prayer. If you think about it, prayer is engaging in spiritual warfare because Satan does not want us to communicate with God. There have been times when the enemy has returned to me and has caused me to detach again, but because I better understand how to fight in the war now, I send the enemy running in Jesus' name.

 

 Final thoughts

 

Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the unseen darkness around us (Ephesians 6:12). If you are a Christian, you will face demonic oppression at some point and Satan will try to get a foothold into your life. Whether through circumstances or inward turmoil, Satan wishes to enhance our weaknesses and to develop small problems into life-altering issues. He wants you to forget who you are, which is a child of God. He wants you to think you are defeated, but you can and will have victory in Jesus Christ.

 

If you sense that you might be demonically oppressed, I ask that you seek guidance from a trusted Christian friend, family member, or pastor. If you know me in person, please do not hesitate to come talk to me. Let today be the day that you claim victory in the name of Jesus Christ and give Satan a run for his money.