From Orphan to Triumph


Not being wanted…I know the feeling so well. I felt lost and like life had no purpose for living. I didn’t know why my mother and father didn’t want me. The pain of feeling neglected was beyond what any child could bare. What did I do wrong? Why was I born?

That was what I used to say to myself in those dark days of growing up without my biological mother or father. Changes in life were inevitable. Each change seem more dark and painful. Growing up as an orphan of the state of Louisiana, I never had any true identity or existence other than what my mother gave me on the birth certificate.

For 16 years I celebrated my birthday on the wrong date, thinking I was born a day later than my actual birth date. I used to wonder why I was living in a world that had no existence. Even under the guardianship of my aunt and uncle, there was no true identity for Lawanda. Childhood molestation and depression took what little identity I had. My life was always in survival mode. The odds were constantly against me. Every time I had a little glimpse of victory, failure surfaced. I wanted so badly to be free, not only from life but from my own inner demons of depression, neglect and low self-esteem.

Due to my background, others always assumed that I would fail in life. I tried to find a way out of the darkness by reading, by attending school and writing letters to God — a name that at a young age was passed around like bread at the dinner table. I sought after His name, not knowing who He really was to me. I didn’t know He was a Father to the motherless and fatherless. For years, I had allowed society to dictate my destiny. I grew up believing I never would be anything more than a product of the state.

My lifestyle had become anything opposite of good. I fell into traps and pitfalls of anger, bitterness, unforgiveness and defeat. My battle was mental instability that arose from poverty, depression, emotional disturbance. There were suicide attempts and other tragedies, including the death of my 3-year-old daughter. That was the most painful moment in my life. It hurt so bad that I wanted to rip apart my heart to rid myself of the pain. Her body was so helpless in my arms. I could not save her.

In an effort to figure life out, my attitude became defiant, my behavior rebellious against human existence, against God, the unknown name. But I always kept a huge love for people in my heart. I loved people and didn’t like seeing anyone suffering. I always kept a smile on my face to show those who needed to know that I cared for them. Eventually, I fell into the identity of the status quo, and I became faithful to mediocrity. I settled for anything — thinking I was worth nothing.

By the age of 38, I had experienced so much: three divorces, two rapes, suicide attempts, domestic violence, depression, thyroid cancer and much more. I had become tired and began to seek an existence outside of myself. I believed in nothing other than pain and suffering. I found it difficult to believe in the impossible.

Opportunity surfaced for me when I started seeking a power higher than the world. In seeking God, I found that my faith was the key to unlock doors and windows of opportunity beyond any measure of a motionless mindset. I became a very powerful and strong worshiper and prayer warrior. Deep within my heart, I knew there was a place for me beyond an orphan individuality — but the only way to get there was to go beyond doubt and into faith. The very thing that was my torment became the stairwell to my spiritual leadership calling. I became a pastor, published author, philanthropist and community servant. The light that would not be revealed in darkness shone brightly when I surrendered my will to God’s will. From orphan to triumph.

In my pain was a divine purpose. Now I am free. My life events are God’s will. I am finally free to experience the beautiful life of peace, joy and love, leaning not on my own understanding but instead on the power of God. I made it — at 40 years of age! I made it completely to God! I broke free from the demons of my past! I made it through hell on Earth to triumph with God. I survived to tell my story so someone else can survive.

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