By Lisa Meister
Lisa Meister is a survivor who grew up in an ostensibly ‘good’, churchgoing family which had the darkest of secrets. But as a little girl she found God – and it was this that brought her through deep places of healing to being a happy grandmother today
“What have you lost?”
The question seared into my brain as my mind wandered down different paths at the same time.
After years of abuse at the hands of my father and others, this one question opened up more questions than I could ever hope to answer. Can you lose something if you never had it? What didn’t I lose? My mind screamed, “Everything! I lost everything!”
I pondered these questions many times over the next four years, never coming to a satisfactory conclusion. I looked back over the archives of my life, looking for answers. I tried to picture how my life could have been different, if only the abuse had not happened. Not only had I lost things in the past, but I also felt a sense of loss for the present.
It was 1999; I had found a godly man and we had been married for seven years with three adorable children. Everything in the present was fine, although for years I’d suffered emotional disturbances which made no sense. I would find myself crying for no reason; I had also suffered from depression, suicidal thoughts, emotional tics and extreme, startled responses to normal stimuli.
Now the past was bursting into my present through graphic flashbacks.
At first the flashbacks covered sexual abuse at the hands of my father. After nine months, the flashbacks turned sinister.
There were people dancing around in grim reaper-like robes, chanting; I saw candles, bonfires, pentagrams, and goats’ heads. There was blood, drugging, sexual abuse, orgies, torture and the killing of animals and babies.
I was very confused both by these flashbacks and the extreme pain that coursed through my body with them; this pain would last for days and then a flashback would come with the torture that would fit the pain.
The flashbacks showed that the abuse happened from when I was tiny and continued into my teenage years
But the flashbacks provided information that explained why I always had the feeling that something was horrifically wrong with me. I wasn’t broken. I was a survivor of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA).
The flashbacks showed that the abuse happened from when I was tiny and continued into my teenage years. I realised that I must have been drugged as a child so I would not remember it next day – but it was coming back years later.
Still, the ritual scenes were so bizarre that I decided to look for evidence. With my husband, I returned to the town where I grew up.
I felt God leading me to talk with pastors, family friends and townspeople I hadn’t seen in years. While they didn’t know about the SRA, they did know that my parents had been part of an occultic group in town.
My husband and I even talked with the family members of the known witch from that group. I filed a police report, and a detective was assigned to my case. He interviewed other SRA survivors who came forward with stories very similar to mine. I had to face the fact that I was, indeed, an SRA survivor. Now it was time to heal.
This was in 1999 when not much was known about SRA. I had to go to God to know what to do and how to do it. From the age of seven, I had known God – because I had actually gone to church when growing up.
Even though it seems counter-intuitive because my family was worshipping Satan himself in the rituals, they found the church a great place to hide. Who would ever think a “good churchgoing family” was involved in torturing their daughter in rituals worshipping Satan?
Compared with the evil of the rituals, God was all love and healing and peace
But I found the church a great place to find out about the goodness of God. Compared with the evil of the rituals, God was all love and healing and peace. I asked Jesus to save me at the age of seven in vacation Bible school and never looked back.
I haven’t been able to put the Bible down
I found out that the Bible was what God wanted me to know about him, and I haven’t been able to put the book down since. Now that I needed to heal, this was really valuable. I had a relationship with God and knew his voice – and I was going to need it to move forward.
God led me in what to do. I found a team of pastors, counsellors, doctors and friends who supported me as I healed through the years. I went through deliverance, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing, a counselling procedure), counselling and prayer and I also
connected with other survivors.
As I watched my own children grow, I looked for things in their lives that I had missed as a child. I heard them complimented on good efforts. I saw them surrounded by love. I realised that there was power in their ability to say no, because it was heard.
They enjoyed life and their home was a cocoon that protected them from the harsh world. I listened to their hearts as they shared their dreams and hurts.
One day, as I sat thinking through the question of loss again, that still, small voice asked: “What did you keep?”
Those words stopped me in my tracks, as a refreshing new way of thinking entered my mind. Here was a question that would require some thought, but it would have a satisfying answer. I went through the archives of my memories again.
I can reach the potential God put into me when I was born
As I thought and sorted out my memories, I still experienced sadness as I realised what I didn’t have, but a new feeling of release arose from the loss. A cleansing was beginning.
After much thought, I realised I had kept two things: my relationship with God and my life. Then the epiphany happened – I knew that with those two things, I had everything I needed.
I told myself: “God can take me from ground level and grow me into the person he wants me to be. He can grow me into the wife and mother he wants me to be. I can reach the potential God put into me when I was born.”
Jesus came to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). That certainly included me. He saved me, and I am his.
But he is also saving all that goes with me. I haven’t lost my childhood – I’ve found a platform to develop a way for God to use me.
I haven’t lost parental love – I have the love of the most loving Father. Not only that, but the love I receive every day from my husband and children is all the sweeter.
I haven’t lost parental love – I have the love of the most loving Father
Deuteronomy 28:1-14 discusses the good things God desires for his people. I read this passage over and over to remember God didn’t put me on this earth to merely survive pain and sadness. God desires good things for my life. He wanted good things for me then, just as he wants good things for me now.
For many years, I did not see goodness in my life, but God has used circumstances in my past as a springboard to bring goodness to me now.
All I missed in my home growing up is now firmly in place in the home where I will spend the rest of my life. I haven’t lost my ability to enjoy life; I have gained an understanding about the fragility of life and the preciousness of each moment.
I haven’t lost who I am. I have found my core – the strength God placed in me. I do not have personality based on the superfluity of life, but one based on the reality of the Word of God.
As I look back at my past now, I do not see a little girl alone with her abusers. I see a little girl and her caring, heavenly Father looking over the whole scene. I see him suffering and crying with me. I see him making provisions to set me free from a situation where the
enemy thought he had free reign. The enemy had my body, but he did not have my relationship with Jesus, nor did he have my life. Now he has nothing of mine.
I am not a product of my past sufferings; I am a vessel made all the more beautiful because the past shaped me to be real, to have a relationship with God based on day-to-day need.
I can honestly say that God has been good to me in this life he has blessed me with. I am now 52 years old and have been married for 30 years. I have four children, two married, one engaged and have three adorable grandchildren. With God, all things are possible!
Lisa lives in the United States with her family and attends a local church. She is working on exposing SRA through a podcast of survivor stories (‘Only God Rescued Me: My Journey From Satanic Ritual Abuse’); has a memoir with the same name as her podcast and has a Facebook group for survivors called ‘Christian Women SRA Survivor Support Group’, and gives her testimony in churches. Her vision is to expose SRA one story at a time and to bring understanding of SRA to the Church so that survivors can find compassion and deliverance.
Lisa’s message to other survivors
If you have survived, or are in the midst of abuse, please remember to turn to Jesus, the One who has suffered just like us. He wants us to remember to be grateful for what we still have.
Even if we feel no strength, we need to remember God has given it to us – it is how we have the ability to survive the abuse. It’s how we’ve made it this far without giving up.