The day I saw a vision of Jesus was the day I was set free. I’d had a deeply traumatic upbringing; abandoned by my mother, my early years were spent looking after my mentally unstable stepmother, being a mum to my little brother, and housekeeper for my father – who also physically, emotionally and sexually abused me.

Years later, as an adult, I became a Christian, but I still wasn’t free of my past; it overshadowed everything. And then, while praying with some Christian friends, I had the vision.

I saw a dark room. A little girl was cowering in a corner, trying to hide her face. The child was terrified, cold and alone. Someone was coming. Light accentuated the outline of the door – there was movement in that light. The shadow of a man was moving closer and closer to the door. I could hear the sound of heavy breathing. The child began to cry. She was desperately afraid.

Then somehow, I saw myself as an adult in the room. I was talking to the child, reassuring her that she wasn’t alone. I held her hand and together we waited for the door to open.

As it did, a different, brighter light shone through the door. Then I saw a man standing there. He was wearing a white robe. Jesus! I remember he radiated kindness and compassion and I noticed the light shone through the hole in his hand as he took the child’s hand in his. Somehow, the brightness of the light that shone around him covered the little girl.

As I watched, the child turned and looked at me. The smile that lit up her face told me that she was all right; she was at peace. She was safe to let go of. Jesus and the child that was me walked away through the light.

I knew that it was time to move on. And suddenly I was smiling, just as the little girl had smiled at me; I was free. The tormented child inside of me, the child who had been silently screaming for years and years was now at peace. Someone had heard those silent screams – someone who knew and understood the extent of the child’s suffering, truly cared and was powerful enough to do something about the hidden agony.

Why does God allow suffering? Why did he allow me to suffer so much? I haven’t got all the answers, but the important thing for me is that my past no longer haunts me and it doesn’t shape who I am. Some day I’ll know and understand in full. But right now, Jesus has given me the ability to live a life free from bitterness and fear; a life full of peace as I trust him. I used to think of God as a far-off being with a big stick ready to beat me when I did something wrong. But now I have a very different picture of him. He understands and accepts me; he knew the very moment that I would be able to trust him enough, and then he came and set me free.

Perhaps most amazingly, given my background, I found God as Father. The word ‘Father’ doesn’t always bring to mind love, trust and protection, as it should; for some people that word is associated with rejection, abandonment or – as in my case – violence, cruelty and abuse. Sometimes the very people we should be able to trust the most are the ones who cause us the deepest pain. Unlike God, people aren’t perfect. But our Father God will never let us down.

I saw the overwhelming love of God on that day I saw the vision. And it enabled me to begin to walk in wholeness and security, as a beloved child of the King of kings, free to be the person he created me to be.