AAKultureZone.com is delighted to introduce another new column to the Faith Channel. We hope you are blessed by the writings of Sonja Ewell. Enjoy and be blessed!
In thirty nine years of surviving experiences often perceived as too harsh for a normal person, I’ve been repeatedly asked the same question, “How do you keep going?” For many years I hadn’t really thought about what kept me going as much as I thought about the fact that I had to keep going. Giving up didn’t seem like an option for me, even when I tried to give up, God would not let go of my hand. It is the survival instinct that remained hidden in the cores of my soul that allowed me to continue expecting things to be better one day.
I recall saying to my husband in 2006, “Honey, I can’t wait until 2007, God’s year of perfection. We can go no where but up from here.” It seemed we were stuck to the bottom of a pond with the heart wrenching challenges we faced. 2006 had introduced trials to my life that tugged at the core of every loving relationship I valued. I was in an emotional drought that partnered perfectly with the desert climate of Nevada, a place I regretfully call home. My relationships were broken, as was my heart. All I wanted was for things to get better for my family. I was desperate for change, and I convinced myself 2007 possessed that change.
2007 finally made its grand entrance as we watched fireworks from our upstairs room. Our window looked down on the Las Vegas strip, and nothing seemed prettier than the multitude of lights bursting into full-bloomed beauties in the sky. I stared towards the heavens with awesome appreciation for God’s beauty. Some see beauty only in things polished and primped. I, on the other hand, see beauty in simple things like the color raw sienna. Its tint described as a mixture of yellow, orange and brown, reminds me of California sunsets in all their glory. I often found myself thinking about the things that brought my life beauty. It was all I could do to hold on during the trying times of our life.
As party revelers poured into the streets of Las Vegas, I embraced my children as an eerie sense of trepidation settled into my stomach. Some call it a sixth sense, others discernment, but I just knew on New Years Eve that my hopes of better times would be dashed with some looming catastrophe yet to make itself known. Whatever this thing I felt was, somehow arrested my heart with fear. I didn’t have to wait long, as three months into the New Year I faced every parent’s nightmare.
As I begin this new series titled Endurance, you will go back in time with me to relive the experiences of my troubled life. My hope and prayer is that you will focus on the ability to endure such hardships, rather than focus on the tragedy itself. The following are factual events that occurred to me. They require no dressing up or dressing down, as they provide intensity on its own merit. The intriguing message here is not what I went through, but what God brought me from. Here’s a sample of things God helped me endure:
- In exchange for my stepfather not leaving my mother, I was offered to him sexually for six years, starting at the age of two years old. When he finally did leave, I was later exchanged for monies and other material gifts, to her boyfriends until I was twelve;
- I was forced to watch as my dogs were savagely killed as a means of sending my mother a message;
- I was beat within inches of my life by my own mother, as others turned a deafening ear;
- I was in and out of foster homes while being separated from my siblings for months at a time;
- First raped by a stranger while walking home from school, I was later raped again by my older sister’s friend. Since all I had known was sex as a child, I wasn’t even sure crimes had occurred until I was an adult;
- Forced into the harsh streets by a system that couldn’t accommodate foster children after they either a) graduated high school or b) turned 18 (whichever came first), I was on my own with no money, no education past high school, and no family;
- I married and was viciously abused by a man much older than I, the same man who fathered my oldest daughter;
- In 1993, I buried my sister, my brother and my second baby all within nine months;
- Finding peace in the church, I was later kicked out and forbidden to evangelize any longer in the organization of churches I had come to call my family after marrying a man they didn’t approve of;
- In the past five and a half years, I gave birth to two children, one with autism, and the other a receptive language delay; and finally
- I suffered from depression, the silent enemy of our minds that has become the forbidden truth to discuss openly in our black families and churches.
I’m sure by now you get the point I first made in the beginning when I referenced the experiences I had that were too incredulous for a normal person. My answer to those who question how I survived is so simple yet so complex. My answer: “I endured.” The dictionary defines “endurance” as the ability or strength to continue or last, despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; and stamina. My series delves deeper into endurance. I would like to share with you how I utilized great God-given tools to endure my hardships. I conclude this introduction by sharing with you that through it all, I remembered the passage that said God would never place more on me than I could bear. Even when wickedness had risen against me to devour my soul, God was always there helping me endure.
As 2007 draws to an end, you will see how through the near death experience of my oldest daughter early this year, God held my hand even tighter as he walked me through every parents worst nightmare. I look forward to your questions, as I am writing this for one purpose, and that is that others may grow stronger through faith in their walk with Christ. The bible teaches us that when we have done all to stand, we are to remain standing. In other words, no matter how difficult your situation may seem, you must endure. God is an amazing deliverer. Your deliverance may not come when you want it, but be assured that God loves you and wants to see you free. The first of many stories of endurance is forthcoming with the article titled, “Mama, Why’d You Let Them Do That?”
Welcome to Endurance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sonja Ewell, formerly Sonja Lord-Tilley, began in the entertainment industry as an assistant tour manager for several hip-hop artists. She later went on to own her own script consultation and artist management business in Beverly Hills, California. She enjoyed several of today’s most successful artists as her clientele in the early ’90’s. The mother two daughters and one son, Sonja lives each day to teach her children about God’s goodness. Her son diagnosed with autism in 2004, led her down a different career path. Anxious to research the cause and effect of autism, she went back to school and received her degree in Paralegal Studies. With lots of hard work and prayer, her son who was completely non-verbal in 2005, now leads the family in prayer!
Sonja spends her time working to better the lives of her family, her friends and her community. She and her husband, Damainion Ewell, are dedicated workers in an orphanage ministry they helped found in their home church, Remnant Ministries. Together they share their life experiences with hopes someone can be helped. Always in pursuit of knowledge, Sonja is currently learning Spanish to broaden her ministry. In addition to her commitment to God, family, church and community, she also enjoys many hobbies (sewing, painting, decorating, spoken word and writing). She has positioned herself to be a Proverbs 31 woman.