A.W. Tozier said, “There are no unknown Christians, no insignificant sons of God.” Very often life, and the experiences we encounter, can convince us otherwise. We not only feel insignificant, but unworthy of love and security. For Tessa Rataczyk, life included alcoholism and domestic violence from a very early age. Her experience with abuse formed her early impressions of how relationships work. As happens for so many in that situation, as she grew she repeated that behavior in her relationships. In her eyes, she was not worthy of anything more.
Her teen years included drug use, abusive relationships, and an unplanned pregnancy at 16. Her daughter inspired Tessa to get clean, but her past and the patterns of abuse continued to weigh her down. By the time Tessa was 20, she had lost custody of her daughter, and her life began to spiral down. She felt hopeless. She fell into a relationship with a man who seemed to be an answer to her prayers. But the honeymoon period came to a crashing halt one day when an argument turned violent. From that point forward, every fight became physical.
Tessa felt trapped. She missed her daughter, she was addicted to drugs, and she lived in fear of her boyfriend’s anger. She never knew what might trigger his jealousy and paranoia, and result in another beating. One day, in desperation, she cried out to the God she had known as a child. In the shower, sobbing, she got down on her knees and begged God to get her out of the situation, to bring her to a place where she could be back in her daughter’s life.
Not long after, there was another fight. This time Tessa left town with some friends. But the longer she stayed away, the angrier she knew he would be. She just wanted to get home, gather her things and the little bit of money she had saved, and get as far away from him as she could. She wanted a fresh start.
Tessa went home at a time when she thought her boyfriend wouldn’t be there. Unfortunately, just as she was opening the door, he pulled into the driveway.
“Something told me to forget about the things I had inside the house, to just go. To run away. But I didn’t listen to that voice.”
While her boyfriend seemed happy to see her at first, things quickly turned violent. It felt as if he wanted to take out every bit of anger he had on Tessa. After beating her, he told her to sit down in a recliner. He grabbed a jug of industrial strength brake cleaner and doused Tessa twice. Then he lit a cigarette lighter.
“You’ve probably heard a bonfire that has flammable liquid on it. I made that noise. I knew immediately what had happened. I screamed and I stood up. I threw myself down and tried to put the flames out. I remember thinking, this is it. I was ready to give up fighting. But I was also scared, because I knew that in my heart I was not ready and I was scared of where I might go. I wasn’t living the way that I should have been. And I remember having that thought. I thought that was it. ”
Just as Tessa was giving up, her boyfriend gave her a smirk and walked out. To Tessa, it seemed as if he was saying he had won.
“That look ignited something in me. I got up. I thought, ‘No, this isn’t the end.’ Nothing else could have gotten me out that door except God.”
God not only got Tessa out the door, but He also carried her through the horrific days to come. She spent two months in a coma. When she woke up, she knew God had given her a second chance. She was determined to have an amazing life. And she has. Hear Tessa’s inspiring story in Chapter 39 of Epic.Addiction, domestic violence, and feeling unworthy - Tessa Ratajczyk