Abusive Parents Adopt Innocent Little Girl
CBN.com When Lonna was a child, she suffered unthinkable abuse at the hands of family members and friends. As a teen, she dated men that beat her up. So it’s not surprising that by the time she was in college, she wanted a way out.
“I had put the gun up to my head, and I’ll never forget, it was cold, the barrel was cold to my temple, and it was a defining moment.”
Lonna Vopat was only 20 when she put a gun to her head. The violence and abuse she suffered in her childhood made living unbearable.
Her parents adopted her when she was a baby, but they divorced by the time she was 3. They shared custody. At her dad’s house, she was horribly beaten by her stepmother. At her mom’s, her mother’s live-in boyfriend sexually molested her.
“I was never safe," she says. "I was just never safe. I remember crawling down the hall to my room and climbing in the closet—the only place I felt safe—and I remember looking up at the ceiling and saying, ‘God, do You see me?’"
When Lonna was 13, friends invited her to a Christian youth group. She jumped at the chance to learn more about the God she never really knew.
“I said, ‘Jesus, if You see me, would You be my Lord? Would You be my Savior – the Savior they’re all talking about?’ I felt His presence and I felt a love that was not associated with pain. I felt a completeness happen in me and a warmth and a safety like I’d just been wrapped in the biggest, best bubble ever. And I floated home from that weekend.”
Lonna’s newfound faith was quickly squelched when she returned to her troubled home.
“I started believing those seeds of doubt: ‘God can’t love you. You’re used; you’re dirty; you’re insignificant. God doesn’t love you. He can’t.’”
As a young woman, Lonna wore a happy mask for the world, yet turned to drugs, alcohol, and sex to numb her pain. She remembers the first time she took a drink. She was only 13.
“I remember getting drunk that night and feeling released, feeling like I could take a break from everything and being able to be somebody else for a short amount of time.”
But the years of molestation and abuse hung like a shadow over her life. The men she dated were abusive. By the time she was 20, she’d had two abortions. The guilt and hopelessness drove her to attempt to take her own life.
“I loaded the chambers of that gun, and I remember sobbing because I knew it was my last day. I finally cried out to God, ‘God, if You see me, God, if You would take me back, God, if You could love me even in this mess I’ve made of my life, if You could love me, would You take me back?’”
That’s when Lonna says she felt the hand of God on her shoulder. She had a decision to make.
“I could pull the trigger and end it, or I could drop the gun and I could grab onto that hand. And I dropped the gun. I remember sobbing, saying, ‘Forgive me.’ And I’ll never forget. He said, ‘I’ve been waiting for you. Welcome home, daughter.’ And my life changed.I left everything that had covered me. That shame that had veiled me, I left it at the cross and I walked away, because His grace is sufficient. And I moved into a new life.”
Lonna surrounded herself with Christian friends.
“My Christian walk was clumsy. It was three steps forward and two steps back, and three steps forward, but I continued to move ahead, even if it was baby steps. God continued to bring people into my life to encourage and to teach and to uplift me. And my faith walk began to grow and it was exciting.”
Eventually, she met and married Kevin. They have three children.
“How I’m parenting our children is through the grace and love and compassion and the discipline and the understanding that Jesus gives us. That’s the only way that I could have a healthy, intact family, was to go by that.”
Then a few years ago, Lonna was asked to participate in the Mrs. Idaho Pageant.
“I walked into a room with just the most beautiful women from across our state. I was totally intimidated, so I began praying a lot.”
Lonna became the new Mrs. Idaho and represented Idaho in the Mrs. American Pageant. Lonna now ministers to women and children full time.
“I sit here today restored, redeemed, and uplifted by Jesus Christ. Even if I sat down and wrote out my greatest dream for my life, it would be nothing compared to what God has done in my life today. I couldn’t have written this story myself. But God loves me so much that He wrote this story for me. And I get to sit here and live it. And He has that for every one of us.”