I grew up in what I thought was a Christian home. My mom had a radical life transformation and saving grace experience when I was very little so from that time on we were in the church any time the doors were open. My extended family didn’t understand my mom’s life change and made it very hard growing up. Any move we made that they didn’t consider very “christian” like they were the first to tell us how messed up we were. I rebelled against this a lot growing up. When I was in highschool I went to a concert where I first learned about Compassion International and India. I instantly had a heart and love for India, the woman and children. I knew that I wanted to go over there! I was able to graduate early and in 1998 went to a Youth With a Mission DTS and then spent just short of 2 months in India! It was an overwhelming, heartbreaking and wonderful experience! Being young and in love with the idea of being a missionary like Amy Carmichael my time was spent very affected by what my thoughts were about missionaries and thinking that I was supposed to be there for the rest of my life like all the other missionaries you hear about growing up. I didn’t know what to do with all of the poverty and sadness.
When I came back to America they attempted to “debrief” us and prepare us for reentry into our old lives. Nothing could prepare me! All of my friends had plans and were heading off to college and I had not done anything to plan for my time after India. I found a job and decided I wouldn’t waste money going to college when I didn’t know what I wanted to be. I started hanging out with friends that I worked with and they got me into smoking, drinking and eventually drugs. I was rebelling against everything that I had learned or been shown because I didn’t understand a God that would let people in America be born with so much and others in India with nothing. I was angry with Him and didn’t know how to fix my anger. My way of dealing with the anger and dysfunction that was going on in my home life was drugs and alcohol. I ended up meeting this drug dealer and thinking my life would be problem free as far as providing for myself because he had money. It turns out he wasn’t a very good drug dealer and smoked more than he sold. I was financially in a pinch when my grandparents wanted payment for the car they had sold to me. I also owed rent to the girl I was living with and I had nothing.
To make a long story short I got myself very mixed up with all the wrong things and ended up being an accomplice to my ex boyfriend when him and his friend did an armed robbery. I was picked up at my job and was taken to jail. I spent 108 days in jail and eventually I would spend 90 days in prison. During my time in jail, God got a hold of me and thanks to my mom who was my advocate and fighter I was able to get a reduced sentence. I didn’t snitch on my ex or his friend even though that would have been the easy thing to do. I knew that when they told me the night it all went down that they would have alibis and knew where my family lived I was looking at the whole sentence… 25 years in prison with a 22 year mandatory! God saw my heart and how I surrendered my life to Him and I believe He worked a miracle on my behalf. I will always give Him the glory because there was no way that I should have been freed.
I was mandated to a drug and alcohol program for my pre-trail release and I started at Pathways outpatient group sessions and did a Celebrate Recovery program through the church I had gotten involved in. I will tell you that it wasn’t the counselor that they assigned me to that was fresh out of college with all her cheerleader friend pictures up in her office that helped me… how could she relate when she was probably still out on Friday nights with her college buddies living it up?! No it was the group counselor who happened to be the Director of the program that helped me the most. It was him because he was a recovered alcoholic! He knew where I was or had been and could effectively help me through the process because he had been there! He asked our group to do an assignment per say.. We were to pick 2 people in our lives that were 5 years older than us… 1 that was clean and living an upstanding life and another that was still using. He told us that it was up to us what life we wanted because no matter what time goes by and you end up being whatever person you choose 5 years from then.
I won’t tell you from that point on I was right on track and lived a problem free life. It is hard to break dysfunctional thinking that you never even know is dysfunctional. You see my mom never told us that she was living in an abusive marriage for 31 years until I found myself fleeing my abusive marriage in 2007. I was so shocked, angry and relieved! It finally helped me to see why I continued to walk into negative relationships thinking that there would be different results but I didn’t have a correct view or what love should and shouldn’t be. It helped me to see that it wasn’t all me. I could begin to see what I had grown up learning as normal for what it truly was and begin the process of finding God’s truth instead.
In 2008, I was able to go and volunteer at an orphanage in India for 6 months. This time helped the healing process! I was able to take my focus off of myself for a time and pour out love on these sweet kids that had absolutely nothing. I could take the time to process and work through the hard things. I got to help the housemothers with the infants and toddlers, teach art classes to the school age children, minister to the women staying in the women’s shelter and help in the office correcting documentation to proper English. It was a life changing experience and I haven’t been the same since!
So now it is almost 2013! It has been a challenging couple years but I have learned so much!
I would love to be able to be a part of an organization that I can not only pour myself into but one that can also continue to help me grow and dig deeper in my relationship with the Lord. I need mentoring and have really struggled to find a church or organization that is willing to invest in me. They sure want volunteers and people to serve but are not willing to fill those people pouring themselves out back up like they should. I desire that, long for that and plead with God on a daily basis for Him to place me somewhere that would do just that!
5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
(Italics and bold mine to emphasis what it meant to me!)
You can never be to far gone for the saving grace, love and mercy that Jesus died to show you! My life is living proof of that!