It has taken 7 years for me to sit down and write this. This is painful and I am not proud of these things, but feel compelled to tell what has happened to me and why I am who I am today. As a teenager, I began taking drugs and drinking alcohol with the rest of my friends, while my Mom was distracted with working and trying to raise 3 kids. At 17, she couldn’t handle my brother and I any longer and sent us back to Texas to live with my father and step-mother. I can’t speak for them, but I can only imagine the shock they must have been in and the struggles they must have had with two teenagers on their hands and with no warning!
After high school, I moved back to Tennessee and was attending college when I met and married Shay’s dad. After having Shay, I had severe post-partum depression. It was so bad that I had to be hospitalized, but 6 months later, I was better and able to start nursing school at UT Knoxville. Still somewhat depressed, I poured myself into being a mother and student, but I was not happily married and something was not right. The problem was not him, it was me.
We went snow skiing just before graduation and on that trip I had a knee injury and needed surgery. That is when I was introduced to pain killers and they didn’t just make the physical pain more tolerable, but the emotional pain as well. Gradually, I became addicted to the point of needing them daily in increasing amounts just to function. I was unsuccessful after many, many attempts at stopping for any length of time on my own. Over a period of about 4 years, I was in and out of drug rehabs and was hospitalized several times for psychological problems related to addiction.
During one of my brief periods of sobriety, I clearly remember the confusion of not being sure of anything and not knowing which way to go religiously speaking. I knew 2 things:
- There was a God
- I was not Him.
So, I prayed for Him to make it clear to me and show me how to live, but my addiction became active again and my mind and heart were blocked as a result.
After being released from the hospital in 2003, I decided I wanted a divorce and went back to Texas to be with my family. Just after the quick divorce was final, I was in a near-fatal car accident and was on life support for three days due to a severe head injury. A few weeks later, the reality of my circumstances at the time came crashing down on me and it was unbearable. There I was, still somewhat confused from the head trauma and I am realizing I am divorced and stuck in Texas with my daughter in Tennessee. I had no home, no money, no car, no job, and could not even work in my profession due to severe memory loss from the head trauma, which I did not know at the time was only temporary.
Deep depression sank in quickly. I never thought I could ever get to a point where I would even consider taking my own life, but I was there. The question suddenly was not if, it was how. Some say suicide is the most selfish thing anyone could do, but in my depressed, confused, and hopeless mind, it was the right thing. I thought everyone would be better off without me, especially my daughter. So, I set out to do the unthinkable. I found 3 full bottles of prescription muscle relaxers and sedatives. I knew that the combination of 2 of them would be lethal, but grabbed the third to be certain I would not fail.
I sat there for a long while with them in front of me. Mom was gone for the night and my sister was not due home until much later. I had not prayed in years, but felt the need in that moment. I bowed my head and prayed this one simple prayer that somehow I remember exactly. It was, ” Lord , I can’t do this anymore. I’m through hurting myself and everyone around me. I want to come home”. After taking the entire contents of all 3 bottles, I turned the lights off and crawled into bed, so I didn’t alarm anyone, just in case they came home early.
Suddenly, I felt an urgency to explain this to my baby. I didn’t get more than a few sentences down before losing consciousness and collapsing. My sister came home early, miraculously, and if she had been just a few minutes later, I would have been dead. I spent the next few days in intensive care, again on life support, yet I have no memory of it. The first thing I remember was awakening in a hospital room with my Daddy standing over me, obviously holding back tears. Barely able to speak from the trauma of having tubes shoved down my throat, I whispered,
“I am sorry, Daddy.”
I was sorry and I still am for putting everyone who loves me through that and all of the drama that led up to it. I suddenly realized that if I had it my way, I would be dead, but God said no. I realized that all that time, I just thought I was in control. It was the most powerful and pivotal moment in my life. He filled my emptiness with hope and the comfort of His presence. He is truly mighty to save and I have never been the same. The Lord did bring me home, just as I had prayed, but not in the way I had expected. The joy He brought is unexplainable and I want everyone to share in it and know this peace.
As I began my new life, with much time on my hands, I frequently attended various 12-step recovery meetings and read my new recovery devotional Bible. I am grateful for the existence of these types of meetings. God spoke to me through others who were going through the same struggles. The Lord was teaching me to listen without judgement and to speak with honesty about my thoughts and feelings. Suddenly, I was able to see the intense spiritual warfare taking place through the words and actions of those around me. His Word spoke to my heart like never before and began changing my thoughts and perspective as I trusted Him.
It wasn’t long before I hungered to gather with other Christians to worship, study His word, and sing praises to God for what He had done for me! I was finally learning self-discipline and it was exhilarating. I was trying to follow His instruction in how He wants me to live my life, instead of making excuses or doing what was convenient for me. I have found the friendships that I have made along the way to be precious.
We all know churches are not perfect. People come for all sorts of reasons and most of us are in various stages of brokenness and healing at the same time. The point is that we worship and learn the truth about God together, while strengthening and supporting each other. I know this to be true: He will lead you from where ever you are in life, no matter what you have done, if you ask with a sincere heart. He is waiting and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him! (see Hebrews 11:6). And Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”
Before He changed my life, I trusted myself and what I thought would make me happy. If I were asked if I were a Christian, I would have said yes, but there was little evidence of it in my words, thoughts, actions, or motives. I also had a head full of religious dogma without any relationship to the Lord. I saw the Bible as a record of past events that were mostly irrelevant to me now and a general guide to being good, but I had believed a lie. The truth is that none of us are good. We can lull ourselves into believing we are though, by not doing anything “too bad” and this is where our pride steps in and separates us further from God. As long as we are alive, we will think, say, and do things that displease God.
Because He is perfect and we are not! And, we live in an imperfect world with many temptations and distractions. We need a Savior to save us from ourselves most of all. Any person who says that they are without sin, deceives themselves (1 John 1:8). The Bible is God’s living words to us.” For the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit…It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Hebrews 4:12).
Instead of restriction, I have found freedom beyond expression. He transforms us, by the renewing of our minds as we seek him (see Romans 12:2). What a blessing, considering the prison I had created for myself before. The Lord has restored my sanity, freed me from the bondage of addiction, given me new life, and a grateful heart that is full of joy! “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
Since I have entrusted my life to Him, He has proven Himself faithful, even when I am not. He is All that He says He is and I am so grateful that He intervened so I could acknowledge my need for Him and spend the rest of my days with this awesome, surreal sense of His Presence with me. His Holy Spirit comforts me just as He promised it would when I trust Him.
The moment I begin focusing on problems and myself, I loosen my grip of His hand, but He gently squeezes and after I return my attention to Him, He raises me above my circumstances. Jesus said “I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance (John 10:10). I believe He saved my life that night so I would not have to hear, “Depart from me, I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23). When I do begin to wander, He is faithful to call me back to Himself and I stand in amazement again and again.
Jesus warns His followers that people would insult and criticize them. I have found this to be true also, even with those close to me. Though it is painful, I remember this warning and find peace. In pursuit of the momentary pleasure drugs/alcohol brought me, I betrayed the trust of many close friends and family. I can only hope and pray that they will find it in their hearts to forgive me. However, I cannot blame them if they don’t.
Eyes open wide, I see this world and what is happening in it. There is an intense spiritual war taking place. When the Lord opened my eyes to this, it changed everything. The advances in technology, just over the past 50 years is mind-boggling. Instant communication has become a way of life and it seems the pace of daily living, for some, is at warp speed. Our minds are bombarded by constant negative media opinions, advertisements, music, and news, not to mention our personal obligations, work, and activities. I’m not saying these are all bad, it’s just that for those who are true Christians, it is easy to lose focus and those who are not, are so self-absorbed that they are blinded. 2 Timothy 3 says this about the end times, “…there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure, rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them Godly.”
Doesn’t that sound familiar? This country was founded by Christians and our constitution was written on biblical standards. We were blessed as a nation and have become the most powerful nation in the world. Now, generations later, this country enjoys the blessings of the faith of prior generations, but has become ungrateful and rejects anything that even mentions God.
The truth is the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us (John 1:14). It may seem unbelievable that God would choose to come in the flesh, as Jesus, to bring us back to Himself, but He did. He came, showed us love, felt all human emotion, and was tortured and killed for it. He sacrificed Himself in the person of Jesus for all of our sin, once and for all, on that cross. That’s not the end of this love story though. He came back to life to show us His power even over death! Though these events occurred over 2000 years ago, the power and purpose of His physical resurrection goes far beyond the realm of time as all who choose to truly trust Him are resurrected in Spirit to new life. What an amazing plan! Nothing required except belief and simple trust.
In His love, He gives us the choice to accept or reject Him. If we accept Him, we are given the precious gift of His Holy Spirit within, which gives us a desire to know Him and please Him. It does not make us perfect. We battle the enemy of our souls daily and are still prone to wander, but He counsels and comforts us always, as we look to Him.” My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). I just thought my life was hell before, but that was nothing compared to eternal separation from God for refusing to turn from my ways and rejecting His Son. Close call indeed.
I did not intend on writing this much, but after I got started, I could not stop. Bless you for taking the time to read this. If you are already a Christian, may your faith be strengthened. If you are not, may the Lord call you to Himself through whatever circumstances arise. I pray that you sincerely believe with your heart that Jesus died for your sins and God raised Him from the dead. May you realize the power of the resurrection by recognizing the sin in your heart and life, confess it to Him, and turn away from it. He will help you and never again will you be alone with the gift of the Holy Spirit inside… glimpses of heaven await, here and now. Though we will have pain and struggles in this life, they are only temporary. The peace and joy that only Jesus can bring, changes our perspective and we rise above it all.