Twenty-two years ago, I was born into a Pentecostal home. I was raised in church and at the age of three, I received the Holy Ghost. I was baptized when I was four in the name of Jesus after I explained to my pastor why I wanted to be baptized and was able to tell him the steps of salvation. I had a real love for God deep in my heart.
As I got older, life changed, as it always seems to do. My sister got married and moved to California for good when I was thirteen. That same year, I started junior high at a really rough school. I know you all think, “How could a school in Wisconsin be rough?” But, it was. It was a really small school, about 500 people including the staff, but there still were the guns, the drugs, the gangs, everything. I watched one of my friends get his head kicked in on the front steps before school one morning. Another one of my friends had two kids by the time she was 14.
During this time, my parents started having problems. They tried to be there for me, but they had their own problems to worry about, and I started shutting them out of my life. Unfortunately, instead of turning to God as my refuge during these times, I turned to guys instead. I still loved God, but guys became more important to me than what He was.
In my high school years, my spiritual walk had its ups and downs. God would send me wake up calls and I would straighten out my life, and live for Him for a while, but then I would get distracted. Growing up in church, I always wondered about what the world had to offer. I never had the chance to experience the things of this world or to decide for myself to live for God. As I got older, I wanted to try it all for myself, instead of taking someone else’s word for what it was really like. I didn’t like high school, but I was a good student, so I graduated early and started college. College was like a breath of fresh air. I was no longer ridiculed for not wearing pants, not cutting my hair, or not partying on the weekends. People accepted me just as I was. It was great!
With every mountain, there’s also a valley. Me and my parents were not getting along very well, because I was tired of them fighting with each other and with me. I went to live with my mom’s friend, Marilyn for a while. It was while I was living with her that he started coming to church. I had known him since I was fifteen and when he asked me on a date, I was ecstatic! It wasn’t long before we were a couple. Everything was great, with the exception of the things like my parents didn’t want me to be with him and my pastor said I shouldn’t date him. But, what did they know? I thought he was different now; that he was going to live right. I was still reading my Bible at this point, but it started convicting me for being with him, so I quit reading it. And praying, that convicted me too, so I quit doing that.
My parents had me move back home to try and have more control over what I was doing. This just made me hate being home even more. My parents and I fought all the time.
My boyfriend had told me that he would always be there for me, but instead of being there for me, he started doing drugs again. I knew I should break up with him, but since that’s what my parents wanted, I stayed with him. I was so rebellious that I wasn’t about to listen to what anybody would try to tell me, especially if it was anything against him. I would do the opposite of whatever my parents wanted me to do. I was tired of fighting with my parents, so I would wait until I knew that they were sleeping, and then go home. I also started drinking to try and escape what my life was becoming. I was putting my parents through so much, but it was only just beginning.
My parents decided to move to Mississippi to work at the Children’s Mansion. So, I moved in with my boyfriend. My pastor warned me that doing this was going to be like stepping off the edge of a cliff. He begged me not to, but I still wouldn’t listen. I had no idea how right he would be.
My boyfriend lost his job, and we didn’t have enough money for rent, so he started dealing coke. It wasn’t long before I was hooked. My days consisted of going to work, coming home, doing coke, drinking, making drug runs and sometimes going out partying in the middle of the night. I got more death threats than I want to remember, but I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t even care whether I lived or died.
I quit going to church. If my best friend could get me to go to church, I would only go if I were high. I was so miserable, but I had so much anger and I didn’t want God to be able to reach me.
My parents came up to Wisconsin to finish signing papers for the house they sold, and they took me out to dinner. They offered me a second chance. If I would leave Wisconsin and live with them, they would pay for me to finish college and get me a new car. The part of the deal that really got me to consider this was they would fly me to California to see my niece after she was born. I told them I would think about it and get back to them. I didn’t think I would ever go, but people were praying for me.
The night before my neice, Caitlin, was born, I went to church sober, and God touched me. I prayed for the first time in I don’t know how long. I called my sister that night and told her that I had given my life back to God so she could have my niece now. Caitlin was born the next day.
I learned the hard way that when God touches you like that, you need to get out of the sin you’re living in. I went back home that night, and without thinking, when I was offered drugs, I did them out of habit. But when I realized what I had just done, I felt horrible and knew that I had to quit.
Things where I was living got worse than they already were and I wanted out. I finally let my boyfriend make the choice about whether I should leave or not. I told him it was the drugs or it was me. He chose the drugs. I called my parents and told them I wanted to take them up on their offer.
I flew with my grandma to California to see my baby niece, and was she ever cute! From there we flew down to Louisiana to my uncle’s house. I was still so angry and scared about living with my parent’s again. I decided to forget about it all, so I went out drinking with my cousin every night, until the thought of drinking was repulsive to me. My parents picked my grandma and I up from there and brought us to Mississippi.
Things didn’t work out for me to live with my parents, so they told me I could either go live in Louisiana with my uncle, or live in California with my sister. I knew that some day I would want to get back in church if God could ever want me, so I picked California.
God sometimes answers people’s prayers in ways they could never imagine. I had such a wall up around my heart that it would be hard for almost anyone to reach me. However, God sent along the person that could. A couple nights before I was going to leave Mississippi, I met a guy who asked me to go on a date. I figured I might as well have some fun as long as I was down there, so I agreed. As it turns out, he was a hit man. Somehow we got on the subject of God, and I told him that I didn’t think God could ever love me again after all that I had done. He told me that God still loved me. It’s pretty ironic that the person God put in my life to tell me that was someone who wanted absolutely nothing to do with God or church. However, those words started cracking the ice surrounding my heart.
I moved to California to live with my sister. I took care of my niece while my sister and brother-in-law worked, and I went to school at night. I went to church out of respect to them, but it still took me a while before I wanted to change and let go of all the anger in my heart. But feeling the presence of God and the peace again gave me a longing for what I was missing. The night I remember most vividly was when there was a move of God in the service. I saw Bro. Michael (who is now my boyfriend) praising God with this huge smile on his face. I said, “God, I want joy like that.” I finally started wanting to change, but I wanted it to be real. I told God, “I don’t want something that’s based on emotion, I need something that’s real. If you’re willing to forgive me, take me back, and give me another chance, I need you to change me completely.” And, He did.
I’m not saying that I’m perfect now, but I’m finally on the right road. I am now serving God with my whole heart and I’ve never been happier. God has blessed my life more than I could have ever imagined. There is nothing that can replace the love of God. Always remember, no matter what you’ve done, God loves you.