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Amid Hurt and Pain, Esther Fleece Learned to Put God First

Jesus can help heal people who are in the most desperate and hopeless situations — as one young woman who grew up in an abusive home learned.

“You design your life to look a certain way, and then your worst nightmare happens,” Esther Fleece, a millennial speaker and leader, says in a moving video made by I Am Second, a multimedia organization and “movement” that tells the stories of people who put Jesus first.

“The only comfort I had was reading the Bible.”

In the piece, Fleece tells the empowering story of how God helped her overcome an extremely painful past. She grew up with abusive parents (she does not say in what city or state, almost certainly intentionally) — but she didn’t fully realize the magnitude of her awful situation until her life started to crumble.

“It was like my hero was becoming the most unsafe man that I had ever been around,” she says in the video — a reference to her father.

After the abuse she alleges both parents were guilty of — she has described bruises on both herself and her mother, who later remarried — Fleece says she ended up on her own as a young teenager. “My parents didn’t see value in me. I guess I don’t see value in myself, either,” she says in a heartbreaking segment of the video.

Related: Nurturing a Healthy Soul: The Divine Gift of Spiritual Direction [1]

Fleece moved on — and after finishing school, spent 15 years writing and speaking about faith and family issues, including doing a stint at New Iron Media, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. While at a conference in California in 2010 — speaking to 15,000 people — she learned her biological father was at her home and stalking her. It had been 20 years since she had last seen him; he apparently had done time in jail.

Fleece learned to redefine love as she healed and dealt with her situation. "The only comfort I had was reading the Bible," she says about her younger years — and found scripture to be "normalizing" as she read the Psalms and other stories that she could relate to in the Holy Bible.

"In the midst of the heartache and just in the middle of it all, I'm OK," she says. "I have this incredible hope that my story is not over yet."

Fleece has shared her full life story in a new book, "No More Faking Fine," out from Zondervan earlier this year. As she noted on her website, she did so "in the hope that readers will apply the events and learnings of her life to their own disappointments and injuries, resulting in new hope, healing and health."

In addition to writing and speaking, Fleece is founder and CEO of L&L Consulting, Inc., which helps new and established Christian ministries "develop innovative strategies for non-profit sustainability, new business development, next generation outreach, marketing and communications, and relationship brokering."