Aleesha McMurdo: The Power of Forgiveness and Healing
Even though she was a victim most of her life, Aleesha has found freedom and healing in forgiveness with God’s help. She now finds peace helping others.
Aleesha is a joy filled passionate woman. She is the mother of four amazing children whom she is raising to be happy and responsible people. She is a speaker, mentor, author and facilitator of healing. Aleesha continues to build her healing and coaching practice, Pure Essence Healing, LLC and she uses her gifts to facilitate powerful healing and awakening on many levels for individuals. She works with people striving to heal from the effects of trauma and abuse and also those who are trying to create a healthier life path. Aleesha also works with parents and families to create greater joy and connection within the family structure. The reason she does this is because she herself is an overcomer of the effects of childhood sexual abuse, molestation, teenage rape and domestic violence, and so her life mission is to teach love, forgiveness and acceptance for every human being in whatever state they may be in.
Aleesha and her family lived in Africa for one year and loved and serving the people there. She is a lover of truth and continually encourages her students and audiences to find the truth within and align their lives with it and become creators of their lives and live their truth. She has let go of being a victim and stands strong in encouraging other women to take their lives back, change their story, and create a life they want by taking 100% responsibility for their lives.
The Name Change
For many years Aleesha went by her given name Jenn Alexander McMurdo. But recently she changed it. I asked her to tell me why.
When Jenn (Aleesha) was 18 years old, she started having the memories of sexual abuse. At this point of her life she was in a safe place out of her home. At this time she was blessed to have some really beautiful people around her supporting her.
There was one particular woman with whom she became really good friends. This friend had just gotten out an abusive marriage. They began to study, learn and heal together. They actually had some really spiritual experiences together and felt like they had known each other before this life, that God had brought them together to help each other during this time to help each other heal.
One night they felt like there were angels with them ministering to them. Jenn heard an angel say, “We want to give you the name that you had before you came here so that you have, something to hold onto to know who you really are as you go through this experience in your life.” Then they told her that her name is Aleesha.”
Aleesha decided a few years ago that she wanted to come into full authenticity and alignment in every area of her life–including changing her name–which she did.
The Victim Mentality
With so much abuse, domestic violence, and rape in her past, I asked Jenn if she would mind talking about how it felt to be a victim and then evolve into how she feels about herself now and how that change happened.
Aleesha explained that victims tend to heal physically from the events, but that it was harder to heal from the beliefs that we form about ourselves. Some people never do heal from these traumatizing events.
Aleesha feels like she lived two different lives when she was younger. She would put on a happy face in public but on the inside she always felt there was something wrong with her. Aleesha explains, “I felt like I was never good enough. I was anxious so much of the time, I just would feel nervous. I dealt with depression for 15 years and I tried to take my life twice….So on the inside I felt desperate. I felt broken.” A lot of her younger years were spent in bed, alone, and isolated.
Her Inner Feelings Today
Aleesha confesses, “I probably still look the same in some way on the outside just because I am a people person. I do love people but I feel completely different on the inside. My really close friends that have watched me and know me, they have said there is so much peace that emanates from you and love. . . And I think that that is one of the greatest differences is that when I was struggling with all of that, I didn’t love myself because one of the biggest messages that you get from people from going through those things as you feel unlovable. . . I felt unlovable and undeserving of love, so I would push love away. I wouldn’t receive it, and it created problems in my marriage and because I wasn’t willing to receive love. Deep down inside I had this belief that I just wasn’t deserving of it. . . I was very critical of myself and very judgmental. Nothing was ever good enough. I was just always beating myself up and all of these things.”
It finally dawned on Aleesha that she had been a victim for so long and that she had to figure out how to stop this process. She wanted to stop the negative self-talk. She was trying to give love to other people, but she wasn’t loving herself or receiving love.
The biggest change in Aleesha is that, “I absolutely love who I am. I adore who I am and I feel love in my heart for me. . . I have forgiven myself and I have forgiven people.”
Aleesha realized that, “God loves me and that has never changed and that no matter what I do or don’t do or what experiences I have, that love is consistent.”
You Are Loved
A few weeks ago Aleesha was just sitting and pondering and this voice in her mind taught her an important truth, “the fact that you exist–just that you exist, you are loved. You are enough.” The voice also told her that she, “could do nothing more in this life but just to be, and the fact that you exist, you are loved.” This message hit Aleesha to the core.
How to Change
Aleesha’s true healing began about six years ago when a good friend taught her about the power of forgiveness. She taught Aleesha about how we hold on to emotions. And when we hold on to negative or dark emotions like anger, hatred and bitterness it creates a disconnect between our body and our spirit and wreaks havoc in our body.
Aleesha continued, “It creates disease because our body and our spirit want to work together. They want to be in harmony with each other. But when we hold onto those heavy emotions and we allow them to stay within us, it creates a disconnect. . . Really what happens is we start to come away from love.”
This friend taught Aleesha how to let go of those heavy emotions through forgiveness.
The Power of Forgiveness
How to Forgive
When I asked how Aleesha applied this principle of forgiveness she explained, she would wake up in the morning realize she didn’t feel good. Then, she would acknowledge those emotions and ask God in prayer if He would help her understand what this emotion was attached to. For example, “What am I angry about? What am I hurting about?” Aleesha explained that we really have the answers inside of us if we will listen. “And so I started listening and I would ask and when something would come to my mind, then I would say, ‘I forgive myself for holding on to anger, or for being angry at So-and-so.’ ”
What Forgiveness Really Is
Aleesha continues, “But the reason why it’s so powerful is because no one can make you forgive. Only you can choose to let it go. . . So many people that have had so many horrific things done to them. They’re like, no, I can’t forgive that person. And I say, hey, let’s talk about this for a minute. You’re thinking that to forgive someone, you’re saying, oh, it’s okay. What you did to me like that was okay. No, that’s not what it’s about. Forgiveness is about love. Forgiveness is loving yourself enough to let go of emotions that are actually keeping you from feeling love. It’s one of the greatest acts of love for you.”
“And yes, does it, does it extend other people? Yes. If they’re willing to take it. But that’s not what forgiveness is for. It’s an act of love for yourself to be able to let go of emotions and things that are keeping you from having love in your life.
Forgiveness & Choice
Aleesha is quick to remind that, “I had 20 years of counseling that were supposed to help me get out of the this mindset. Because when you are abused, you come into a victim mentality, and you feel like things are always being done to you instead of you being able to choose and create your life. And so it feels really disempowering. I thought, I have no choice here.”
“But now I’m like, nope, I am the creator of my life. I choose my life, I choose my thoughts, I choose my words, and I get to choose what I’m doing. So it’s a whole shift. But that came from from being able to forgive and let go and, and love myself to be able to let, let that stuff go.”
Feeling Love Again
I asked Aleesha to explain the process of how she was able to feel God’s love more fully in her life. She explained it like this, “So imagine a container that’s full of rocks and then you try to pour water in that container. How much water are you going to be able to really get into that container? Some, but not the full container, right? So as you start taking rocks out of that container, then how much more water can fill it? As much as the container will hold.”
Aleesha continues, “It’s the same with our bodies. It’s the same with our spiritual, emotional, energetic, physical bodies. They’re all connected. So the more we forgive, the more we release the emotions that are heavy–it creates space. I chose to fill that space with gratitude and love. And so as I would let something go, I would literally picture like light coming in and filling those spaces, or I would literally say, now I fill that space with love and light and gratitude. And so that is what started changing, but I had to be willing to let go of those things that were blocking that love. That process, is being able to let that go and then inviting that that love in, and there’s lots of room when you can let go of hatred and anger and bitterness, you’ll find that it kind of opens you up for love to be there.”
God, the Suicide Attempt & Love
Aleesha then explained that you are not going to have to travel forgiveness road alone ever. God carries you through those times.
The Suicide Attempt
Aleesha further explains it was God, “that saved me actually when I tried to take my life, you know? One of the times that I tried to take my life, I was about to drive off the cliff. There was nobody in the car with me, nothing. And I was pleading on the edge of the cliff, like, ‘please help me.'”
“And all of a sudden the radio turned on and there was this song, ‘He Hears Me.’ He hears me in the night when my soul longs to fight. When the morning comes.’ It’s a Hilary Weeks song and there was no one in that car to turn that radio on. And I backed my car off from the edge and said, ‘I’m listening.'”
Aleesha concludes, “So God partners with us and he generates love. He is in us. We are divine beings. We were born from divinity, which means we were born from love. So who he is, the majesty of His love is actually within us as well.”
How to Handle Negative Thoughts
I asked Aleesha, “If you have a negative thought come into your head now, what do you do?”
Aleesha confesses that she is still learning, but she knows what to do with these negative emotions. She can feel them in her body as an emotion. She calls them, “A disempowering thought from the past. I’m like, okay, thank you for showing up, but you’re a disempowering thought from my past and I’m just going to excuse you and I’m just going to bring in light. So a lot of the time I’ll say thank you for sharing this with me and I’ll think, okay, what’s the truth? And so I try to find the opposite and then I replace that–Nope, I am love, I am light. I am truth. I am a strong woman.”
Negative Thoughts Attack Internal Worth
Aleesha acknowledges that face that most disempowering or negative thoughts have something to do do with her worth because she was raised to be very concerned about how things looked. “And that happens when there’s abuse going on and people don’t want others know. So they try to make everything look perfect and you become overly concerned with what people are thinking.” Aleesha is still working on changing this mindset.
So, when bad thoughts some she says, “They can think what they want to. I take back my authority, and I choose how I want to feel about today. I choose who I’m going to be today. Then I say, I take back my power. And it’s really powerful when you realize that no matter what is being presented to you in your mind, that you still get to choose what you’re going to focus on and you still get to choose what you’re going to act on.”
So I acknowledge it and then I, I do a few things. I just get with truth, whatever truth I can pull out, you know, I just, I speak it and I pull it out and breathe through it and then I’m like, okay, next.
The Price Has Already Been Paid
Aleesha explains that sometimes it’s uncomfortable when you’ve been in a place of pain and pushing away to learn to love yourself and stop the negative self-talk. But she has figured out how to change. She explains that in the past she understood “the atonement of Jesus Christ,” and believed in “Jesus Christ and what he did,” BUT she was constantly beating herself up. She would not accept His love. “And I was one of those like beating myself up, not accepting love.” Aleesha then expounds that Jesus “did what He did so that we could take those things, lay them at his feet, so that we could receive love–not so that we could take a stick and continually beat ourselves up. And He taught me this. His spirit taught me this. It’s like, ‘there is no need. The price has already been paid. You don’t have to beat yourself up. It was already paid. You don’t deserve to be punished. You don’t need to learn that way. I am love. I am light.'”
Give it to God
So Aleesha had to be brave enough to let God take the burden and say, “Lord, here’s my anger. Here’s my frustration. Here’s my fear. I’m surrendering this to you. You already paid the price. I realize I don’t even have to go through this process. I don’t have to take myself down this road. I’m worthy of love right now because of what You did because of who I am. Here you go. I’m done with this.” And then she opened herself up and, “Just let that love come in.”
Aleesha acknowledges that we all fail, and sometimes we feel like we have to atone for our own mistakes. But, “All those emotions and everything that were already paid for. We just need to be willing to surrender them, to let go of them, to forgive ourselves, and allow that love to come through.”
Things that Help Aleesha Feel Close to God
1. Affirmations and Meditation
Aleesha also does a lot of affirmations. She meditates in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening because she knows I know that her brain needs to be helped in that area. “I need to reaffirm to myself morning, noon, and night, who I really am. I’m a daughter of God. I have worth, I have power, and I can choose my own life.” Those types of statements are empowering.
“The negativity are lies. They might be part truths, and they may feel like truth because they resonate from something of the past. But when you speak truth, it really just cuts through those lies. So speak that truth. The presence of God or the presence of love is in the moment when you can be very present and be aware and feel that love because it really is all around us. Being able to use those phrases of truth helps bring us back to that present moment where there’s so much power.”
2. Be in Nature
Another thing Aleesha does to feel close to God is being in nature. She has come to understand that the essence of who God is is in every living thing. “And so when we can connect with water, with nature, we actually connect to a piece of Him and we connect to a piece of our soul. And so that is a really a big way for me right now that helps me to stay connected, and to stay peaceful and be able to move through this life.
3. Connect with People
“I just love people. So for me like having conversations with people, serving in the ways that I loved to serve brings that love and it flows through me.”
Aleesha also connects with people when she speaks or writes. She feels like she is expressing the things that are so deep inside of her soul. Doing this fills her with love and allows her to express love by teaching and speaking and sharing.
Aleesha had a recent experience connecting with a homeless woman in Los Angeles. Aleesha share, “I had this beautiful conversation with her about God and about where she was in her life and it was beautiful and just put my arm her and I’m just like, I love you. You’re amazing. You are so strong. You know?” This sweet homeless woman had been through so much and is now living on the street. She then told Aleesha, “I love you. You are the real deal, you know?”
So interacting with people help Aleesha get that love flowing. It helps her to get outside of herself, and out of her head and into her heart.
Trips to Africa
First Trip to Kenya
In May of 2016, Aleesha went on her first expedition to Kenya with 100 Humanitarians and Heidi Totten. 100 Humanitarians empowers. They see what they’re already doing in their community and then ask, what now? What can we do to support you? So they build garden boxes. They do water storage systems. They have a sewing center there now and a literacy center. So all these things that create skills so that they can feed their family and so that they can create income for their family.
Anyway, Aleesha knew getting ready for that trip that it was something big for her because there was a lot of opposition and she just felt like there was something there for her to do. Heidi felt that way too and wanted to send her to Bomet.
The African People
Aleesha tells the story about walking down these dirt roads, visiting these people in their mud huts and seeing the state of some of these families and assessing their needs. “And they have nothing. And they would greet us with song and dancing and they give us tea. That’s what they drink. And they are these beautiful people.”
“It’s almost overwhelming the feelings that you have when you step into seeing that much poverty and hearing stories, and seeing children that have been left because their parents have AIDS or drinking problems. And you wonder, ‘God, what is it that they’re missing?’ And the Spirit was like, ‘Truth. They need truth. They have a little bit, but they need truth…and they also need these other things.'”
Another Trip to Africa?
“Well, in January of 2017 I started having these visions of my children playing with Kenyan children, on the ground at the age that they were. And my youngest was five at that time. And finally I was just like, ‘Okay God, what are you asking? Are you asking us to go to Kenya? Is this what I am seeing?” And she got the answer, “Yes.”
Taking the Whole Family
So, she talked to her husband about it and they decided to go. They sold everything and lived in a trailer for four months in the middle of winter and our friends park property to save money for plane tickets. And then they went and took their four kids (ages 12, 11, 7 and 5), to Kenya and had a beautiful experience.
“We had the opportunity to love people and to serve people and to bring down walls and barriers in the area that we were in. We were the first white people that they’d seen. I just remember standing up in church and just saying, we’re here to love you and we’re here to be loved by you and we’re here to teach you some things if you want to learn and we’re here to learn from you. The more vulnerable we became with sharing our own stories, the more the walls would came down. e just became friends with the people. And even though we were there to do the humanitarian work, those walls still came down. We were brothers and sisters to each other.”
Aleesha’s Special Mission
Aleesha had an amazing experience in the village of Bomet where there is a great amount of poverty. “The people lived in one room mud huts, and they would have quite a few children and a lot of single moms because they do practice early childhood marriage there (That’s changing.) So you’d find a lot of young mothers that wouldn’t have a way to provide for their children. The sanitary napkin is a real issue there. So my daughter and I actually traveled quite a bit, probably once a week to different schools with the women there to educate on the sanitary napkins and, and give them reusable sanitary napkin kits.”
Aleesha was able to teach classes on forgiveness to the women there. “I actually taught about forgiveness at the little sewing center that we had there. I shared some of my story because they don’t talk about the challenges. There are a lot of challenges like female circumcision and early childhood marriage. So I was very open with them and shared with them some things and talked to them about forgiveness. And this one woman in her broken English, she kept asking me questions like question after question, “Well, what if somebody does this or what if somebody does that? And and I’m thinking in my heart and my mind, ‘you have been so hurt.’ So we became really good friends and began to talk and she was able to forgive.”
Teaching The Girls
Another amazing experience Aleesha recounts was, “When we went to a rescue center, there were 74 girls there that had left their homes. They didn’t want to be married off and they didn’t want to go through the female circumcision ceremony. They wanted to finish their education. And I had the opportunity to go and to speak with them. Even though there was a language barrier, there was an interpreter.”
“I just poured my heart out and felt to share some of these experiences. And I said, ‘Here I am now before you do I look sad, do I look broken down?’ And they’re like, ‘No. You’re happy, you are helping people.’ And I just said, ‘You can too.’ And the every single wall that could’ve came just crumbling down. And I had these young girls just crying and just saying, ‘We want to share our story with you.’ And that’s not something that’s common–you don’t share your story. Those things are kept quiet.”
“And so I literally spent a day in a room with a girls, one girl after the other, just coming in and sharing their stories of what they’ve been through. These incredible, these girls as young as 11 years old that have broken away from their families and the things that they’ve been through. And some of them had been raped. And do you know what an honor that was for me to sit and have these young girls be willing and the freedom for them to be able to speak their truth and have someone look in their eyes and be like, ‘You’re so brave. I hear you, I see you. I love you. You’ve got this. You can do this.’
Aleesha concludes, “That was, that was probably one of the highest experiences for me. I would go through it all again to be able to have this experience, to sit with these girls and to be able to share with them and to give them that kind of love, that much encouragement.”
Those sweet girls knew Aleesha had been through a similar thing and Aleesha showed them that she could love them purely. She taught them that they could see that their experience either as being a victim the rest of their lives or they could see it as, “I’m going to someday be like her. I’m going to teach others that you don’t have to let the past define you, that you can be filled with love and you can teach others to forgive and to love and then to share that love, God’s love.”
Aleesha explains, “I’m on an uphill trek, because I want to learn and I want to grow and, but I wouldn’t trade anything because of the experiences. The learning and the growth and the closeness to God that this has allowed me to have in my life is one of those pinnacle moments.” Aleesha also sees the benefits of her journey, “The compassion and the ability to be empathetic and to really help people now help them through their own healing. And to be able to say, ‘You get to choose, you get to change. You get to choose your path. You get to choose who you’re going to be. And you get to choose what you’re going to do.'”
Aleesha also loves, “To be able to share that message that just because this has happened doesn’t mean it defines you. It doesn’t mean that it’s just going to continue. You get to choose–that’s the most powerful message and that’s the most powerful thing really that has helped me. Nothing defines me. I get to choose and everything that I’ve been through that has nothing to do with the worth of my soul, the worth of my soul stays the same always.
Favorite Bible Verse
Philippians [4:13] “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
“I remember I was in Provo going to school, sitting on the banks and reading my scriptures and that was like, it just hit me. . . because by myself–not so much, but with His love and His encouragement and understanding how much He loves me, that’s how I’ve been able to get through and be able to do the things. It’s because of His love that and His grace.”