“Don’t let shame from your past keep you from living the life God has for you,” says Jessica Clancy. “Share your story and bring light to the darkness. Your story can be your song to help set others free.”
Clancy is the author of “The Quest for Family,” the story of how God brought her through a childhood of trauma to a place of “spiritual renewal, which allowed her to see herself as God sees her—his prized possession and cherished daughter.” You can learn more about her at her website, JessicaClancyPerseveres.com.
In “The Quest for Family,” Clancy describes her upbringing with brutal honesty, explaining how Jesus pursued her through a variety of life experiences, including abuse and trauma. In an interview with ChurchLeaders, Clancy gave a sneak peek into her story and offered key takeaways on the faithfulness of God.
“Many times I felt shame about sharing my past, but those times God sent many people along the way who kept encouraging me to share,” she said. “God gave me strength to keep moving forward. He continues to provide gentle nudges pushing me to share his story, opening doors and opportunities.
Jessica Clancy: ‘We Are All Made for a Purpose’
This interview has been edited for clarity.
You describe a variety of traumatic, abusive experiences you had as a child, teenager and even adult. How would you summarize some of the defining moments of your earlier years?
In the midst of the storm, he was there. God had me under his wing. As a child, I had a lot of instability with three dads by the time I was six and multiple moves. When I was in second grade, my mom took me to a couple who babysat me. They started reading the Bible to me and telling me stories about Jesus and all the wonderful things he did and who he was.
They said I could invite him into my heart to be with me forever. It just felt right; it was a sense of peace in the storm. I accepted the invitation, and from that point he was with me. Jesus was almost like an invisible friend. From that point on, it was all about relationship, not religion. Oh, how I wish my story would lead me back to that couple in Zion, Illinois, who made such an impact in my life so that I might thank them.
During my teenage years in junior high, I had a friend I confided in. She introduced me to Amy Grant’s music. Her music became my escape, and her music became my prayers as I would recite and meditate on the words, crying out to God. My friend gave me her soundtracks, and I would find escape in the lyrics as God took me away from the hurt and loneliness I was feeling. This escape and place of safety continues to exist to the present day.
As an adult, the scars of religious abuse that were implanted kept me away from physical church. I continued to seek God through his music and could hear his voice in the solitude of nature. But I knew Jesus was calling me back to church. I prayed and asked him to remove the pain if that is where he really wanted me to be.
One of my clients when I was a hairdresser invited me to a small group, and I started a Beth Moore Bible study. God used her studies to peel back the layers of hurt, mistrust and anxiety. Layer by layer, he took the pain away and healed me. I desire to be in no other place than with the body of Christ in community, in family as one. I was able to forgive others who hurt me and see my relationship with my Father. During my storms of life, he was always there.
How did you first meet Jesus as a child, and how was God pursuing you during that time?
After first meeting Jesus, salvation and the Bible through the babysitters in Zion, my family moved again to the East Coast. God was calling me to himself and I heard his call. We lived in a trailer park, and there was a little church bus that came through the park. I went to church alone as an 8-year-old who was locked out of the home. Church and the kids programs provided safety and songs of great cheer. There was love there; there was no other place I wanted to be.