Woman Praying, woman with nose ring in background

I Am Not Who I Was

John 8:5- Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”11 “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more…

I love this story because it shows how Jesus can set us free. I did struggle with some adultery in my life, but that’s not the only thing. And when I did struggle in my life, Jesus never walked away. He always pursued me….“If God is really a good Father then where is he?”

This is the question I used to ask myself growing up. I never realized until I was truly found by Jesus that He was there the whole time. I was born into a fatherless environment; my mom was an abusive drug addict who let my siblings and I got molested a lot. I remember very little but what I do remember at the beginning of my life was pain, hurt and confusion. Growing up I had this mindset that abuse, neglect and drugs were what “saved” a person or what the definition of love was, that’s all I knew.

Growing up was really hard, 2 days after my 6th birthday my mom died of colon cancer. While this was freeing for my siblings, I didn’t know what to feel except for numb. I remember sitting at the patio table at my aunt’s house feeling broken and sad inside. For the first time I truly felt something, and I didn’t like it. I started lashing out in anger.

Unfortunately, that anger carried through most of my life. It really started when my sister and I got moved into our uncle and his ex-wife’s house. My aunt was very mean and talked me down a lot, into my adult years some of her words still resonated with me until I gave those to God. As you will later hear in the rest of this story, there is grace and healing in forgiveness.

How do I know that? You’re probably even wondering how is that even possible? It’s all because of Jesus. If we sit here and say that grace and forgiveness isn’t possible, we are saying that the work of the cross was foolishness and wasn’t real, but it is. How do I know that too? Here’s how… when I was 8 years old, I got moved in with my grandma.

My uncle didn’t know how to deal with my raging fits so he sent me away. This was the middle of my feelings of abandonment and worthlessness. I didn’t understand why no one wanted me or much less loved me because everyone in my life seemed to leave me- first my mom, then my uncle and then my grandma.

While living with my grandma, I found out what the world was like. I hung out with friends much older than me. They taught me things no 8-year-old should ever know about. What happened next is amazing, what my grandma taught me about was extraordinary. She taught me about the love of Jesus. She taught me what mercy and Grace really was. At 8, I gave my life to Jesus memorizing John 3:16. I didn’t know how it would change my life, but there in that little old Baptist Church Jesus for the first time became real to me. I started reading my Bible, but it seemed the more I tried to do the right things, the more I ran towards the world.

At 10, we moved with my uncle in Texas. I was still an angry little girl. My uncle was also a very very angry man, he broke my things, beat me sometimes and so again, I believed in my mind that was “love.” At 12, I got sent to Juvy for hitting my grandma. I was there for a few months, then I was told I could be released but I couldn’t go back to my family. It was either a state foster care, or a Christian Girls Home, I didn’t know what to choose. But in order to get out I had to pick one of the arrangements made for me.

In that cell, cell CC3 I was battling with God. He was trying to pursue me, but I kept telling him he wasn’t worth my time. He took everyone I thought that loved me away from me, how is a God who’s supposed to be loving supposed to take you away from everyone and everything you know? Little did I know that day in that juvy cell, that God was starting to write my story. I did the only thing I could think to do at the time to get my mind off of it, I asked to read. Anyone who knows me knows I hate reading, lol, but that’s all I could do.

Unbeknownst to me, the guard brought me a Bible. I took one good look at that leather cover reading “HOLY BIBLE”, and I threw it across the room in disgust and yelled

“I told you God, I DONT NEED YOU!”

When I threw it, it landed straight open….to John 3:16. Something (now I know it was the Holy Spirit) told me to look at, and when I did, I saw that verse. I burst into tears and asked God to show me he was real by showing me what to do and what decision to make by giving me a dream that night. He did.

I had a dream of me as a little girl with a mom and a dad–a dream I had from when I was a tiny child, and they were holding my hands. But all I could see was the back of their heads. The next morning, I had to make my decision. I repented of my anger towards God and told him if he showed me where to go, I’d live for him all the rest of the days of my life. That promise was dear to God because I chose to go to the Girls home. My pastor had already set it up for me. There I was, with my bag of stuff, shackles and handcuffs on me in the back of a cop car headed in the middle of nowhere to this girls’ home.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but I kept my word to God as long as he kept the promise to me to not abandon me or leave me. He never did and he never has. I went to that home and at 13, I rededicated my life to Jesus and got baptized. I was redeemed from the anger that chained me up so tightly for so long. But I also found a mom and dad who never stopped loving me. When we were at the store buying groceries, I looked at my dad and asked him if I ever did anything wrong would he ever give me away…. My mom and dad embraced me with tears in their eyes and told me “No, you’ll always be our daughter” and that set me free.

I asked my parents a lot during that time “what was so wrong with me my dad didn’t want me? Was I not good enough to be loved by a mom and dad?” And every time they held me and loved me. They always told me it wasn’t my fault; it was my biological parents for choosing the lives they did. Sin can be selfish sometimes, can’t it? It robs you from a beautiful life. It takes what’s beautiful and makes it ugly! I know this all too well, and here’s why.

At 14 I was diagnosed with ADHD and I let that became my identity. 14 and 15 even 16 were some pretty tough teen years! I was a cheerleader at this time too, and I would look at the girls on my cheer squad and tell myself if I didn’t look like them, I wasn’t pretty. This started my bad self-worth. I would put my fingers down my throat and make myself throw up and I even used cutting as a coping mechanism. I hid both of those things and didn’t let my parents know for a long time.

At cheer camp one year the Father really showed himself to me and set me free from both of those sins. I was all he wanted me to be, I didn’t have to seek boys for approval or send them pictures of myself to make myself feel better either. When I was 15, my parents adopted me and gave me their last name! You can only imagine the freedom I found in that!!! It was amazing.

At 17, my parents were concerned with the pattern of my life. Always in trouble, always wanting to do what I wanted to do, and they didn’t even know at 17 I started smoking weed. I hid that for along long time. At 17, I graduated High School and didn’t have any clue what I wanted to do with my life. That’s when I found YWAM, (Youth With A Mission) and I studied there.

I went on a Mission trip to Africa and it was so great! It opened my eyes to so many things! I saw so many miracles happen. I saw things that I didn’t want to see either, heartbreaking things. Dirty water, starving babies etc. when I was 18, I started waitressing. I met a guy while doing so, and forcefully lost my virginity to him. He did things to me that are hard to speak of, but it happened.

I got with someone else months later and he was super abusive to me. Mentally, physically and emotionally. He controlled my life, he made me someone I wasn’t. I was battling addiction to pills, and pretty much anything you can imagine. But I was addicted to the man I was with because I was drawn to how he “loved me.”

And again, I believed this was love. By now you’re probably wondering, how the heck didn’t you know that it wasn’t love if you had wonderful, adopted parents? I felt a part of me was missing and I felt this man could give me all I needed. I was 100% wrong. It was damaging and toxic. I wound up getting pregnant by him and forcefully had to terminate my pregnancy. Though I had no idea that the pill I got was to do that, I remember the bleeding and the excruciating pain I felt as that baby passed out of me in the bathroom floor.

While I felt this, my boyfriend at the time was cheating on me. I got pregnant again at 19 and this time it was by a man who raped me at a party. I won’t go into many gory details for y’all, but it was a horrible degrading thing I never wish on anyone. By the timeline of my pregnancy, I thought it was my boyfriend at the times’ child and I told him I was pregnant. There again, he was cheating on me and told me a few simple words “fix it.”

I never felt so much hurt mixed with so much anger at the same time. He threatened many things in our relationship if I left him, to kill me, to hurt my family and even end my dying dad’s life. My daddy had cancer at the time. Imagine being pregnant, having an abusive boyfriend and your dad dying AND losing your job. It was the worst season of my life in that moment.

I remember asking God to somehow send me love. It didn’t matter how but just to do the very thing I asked., he used my child. I hid the fact the father of my child molested me even though my boyfriend at the time knew it. I was ashamed and felt like it was my fault. But I still never said a word.

In May, almost a whole month after I found out I was pregnant, my dad lost his battle to cancer and went home with Jesus. Prior to this we had some of the best times, I read the word to him, I sang to him, fed him, etc. it was amazing, but it was so so hard!

In December 2018, I gave birth to the most BEAUTIFUL little boy in the world. He was my Saving Grace. He was every answer to the prayers for love I ever prayed. I’m so thankful! I came out to my family about what happened to me. It was freeing but so embarrassing too because of the mean and nasty comments I got.

But my mom loved me through it. I wish I could say that’s where the story ends but it isn’t. I’m now 23, and at 21 I was with another man who changed my life for the complete worst. He allowed drugs into my life and beat me so bad I almost died many times. He got me involved in things I’ve never even told anyone. There were many drug deals gone bad that lead to guns to my head, the enemy wanted my life to be over because he knew how powerful the Holy Spirit was in me. But God wasn’t done with my story. He still isn’t.

I became an addict and in Sept of 2020 my abuser got sent to prison for 10 years for violating the protective order and for beating me. He is still currently in prison, and it was the best and most freeing thing I could ever have experienced. The anxiety and trauma I still continue to grow and deal with is hard sometimes but not like it was at the beginning. I would have anxiety attacks every night and every time I heard his name. It was a very horrible season of my life; it wasn’t until he tried to hurt my son that I was able to brave against him and that’s when the cops got called. My son is so much happier and free because I am. I thank God for that.

CPS came into my life and that changed my life too. I had been set free from drug addiction. It was very hard to comply with them because I had to do outpatient rehab, do classes and stay clean but I did. And I’m so thankful. In closing, I want to say that I am still a work of progress and the Father is still working in me. But I am not who I was and for that I’m so thankful.

Jesus loves you so much, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, what you do or where you come from. He came and died on a cross to set you free. He came to show you if you don’t have love, you have it in him. His grace is beautiful, receive it and see all he can do for you.

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