I was extremely nervous about writing and sharing my testimony. I have never been one to share my thoughts and feelings, especially with people I don’t know. I then thought of Paul 5:31-32 NASB:
“If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true”.
This made me realize that this testimony isn’t about me, its about the Love and mercy that Jesus Christ has shown me. By sharing my story I am sharing the Glorious Power of Christ with each and every one of you.
When I think about my childhood, I can count on one hand the amount of times I had walked into a church. Our family wasn’t very religious, and the older I became the less I believed in God. One question I always asked myself was “How could there be a God watching all the horrible things happening in the world and not lift a finger to help all those in need”.
It just didn’t make any sense to me. The older I became, the more horror I saw in the world, and the more horror I saw, the less I believed. Right before my experience with Christ, I strongly believed that there was no God, and when we die, we die! That’s the end of us.
I was raised here in North Bay, we resided in Harmony Haven co-op for a majority of my childhood. There was my mother, stepfather and my two younger sisters, Micheline and Angel. We had a very dramatic childhood.
I had a father whom I saw a few times a year and he struggled with alcoholism, and he was quite abusive physically and mentally. My mother did try her very best, she always made sure we had food to eat, and clean clothes on our backs, but it was different time back then and she struggled as a single mother of three daughters.
At the age of seven my stepfather (Raymond), fell asleep intoxicated while he was cooking, and our entire home caught on fire while we were sleeping, thankfully, the dog we had at the time woke up my mother so she was able to get us out in time.
We lost everything, and it took us a long time to recover from this traumatic event. We resided at his mother’s home for 6 months, that’s how long it took for Raymond to fix the damage he caused in our home. He would often kick us out into the street in the middle of the night. I have memories of having to stay in motels and with neighbors, it was terrifying as a child, never knowing when you were going to have to wake up and leave your home in a hurry.
And by the age of 10, I had been a victim of sexual abuse from a relative. I was dragged through the court system and asked to testify against the abuser. The end result to this situation was that there was not enough evidence.
As a child this was heartbreaking, no one believed me, and I can’t imagine anything, that would feel worse for a child, than to be telling the truth about sexual abuse and having no one believe that it actually happened. When I turned 13 years old something inside of me changed. I was rebelling against my mother, and I started running. I wasn’t really sure why, or where I was running too, but I thought I was smarter than my parents, and that I was old enough to be on my own.
I decided I wanted to try living with my father. Even to this day, this is the biggest mistake I ever made in my life. I was the troubled teenager who disrupted my stepmother’s happy little home; therefore, I was treated like a prisoner the entire time I lived there. I had no freedom, no friends, I didn’t even have a bed. I slept on a blanket on the floor in the corner of my young brother’s room for months until my mother had enough and finally called CAS and they came to my father’s home to make sure I had a bed.
My father was an alcoholic and so there was never any money for necessities, or even food at times. I thought to myself “Why should I have to live like this?” It wasn’t long before I ran from there as well. I had recently met two girls who were my age, and who lived close by to my father’s home, and we had all agreed to run away. A couple days after we had made this agreement, we found ourselves wondering the streets in downtown Toronto.
It was only moments after we arrived that we would find ourselves in a rundown building doing drugs and walking the streets at night to sell our bodies for drugs and food, all other necessities we needed to survive on the streets. All three of us split up after a few days and we were all on our own doing what we needed to do to stay alive.
For myself, It was close to a year later when I realized I had to get off those streets, cause if I didn’t do it now, I was going to die. I made enough money for a bus ticket and went back home to my mother. My mother did try her best to help me; she tried to get me to talk about it with counselors and a therapist. This wasn’t something I wanted to share with a total stranger. The truth is I wanted to hold on to my mother tightly and tell her all the horrible things that I had done and that were done to me.
My mother was in no place to hear what I needed to tell her. I didn’t understand then, but now as a mother I understand how difficult that could be for a parent to hear these things from your child. So, I kept it all to myself, I tried for a short while to live a normal life, and I went back to high school, and tried living with my mother again, but this just wasn’t working for me, too much had happened to me.
After a short while of trying to live life like a normal 15-year-old girl, I left home again, and returned to a life of using drugs and alcohol to bury all those memories and deep as I can. I lived this life on and off for twenty-three years. I was not capable of forgetting what happened to me, and I wasn’t willing to talk about it either. Continuing to use drugs and alcohol as way of numbing myself seemed much more efficient to me.
I had destroyed all the relationships I had with family and friends, my only interest was myself and what limits I could take with my mind and my body. I hadn’t been on good terms with my parents since before I became a teenager. We didn’t even talk at all anymore. I was in and out of relationships, and I was never happy with myself or my life. But I never had the strength to quit living that lifestyle.
I didn’t know how to love myself; therefore, how could I ever really learn to love anyone? I became a mother at the age of twenty-seven and all I ever wanted was to be a good mother for my son, but I knew that addiction had the better half of me. Every day it killed me inside knowing that I could be so much better that what I was.
In January of 2017, I was residing in Sudbury, I had just received approval for housing and moved into my new apartment with my son. It was only a matter of days before depression started to kick in. I kept asking myself “How did I let myself get here”? I was in a horrible relationship with a man who was very angry, and who was also very unhappy with himself, and his life. The one and only thing we did have in common at that point in our relationship was that we needed to get out of Sudbury.
We packed up everything we owned and moved to North Bay on February 1st, 2017. Almost immediately after moving here, I realized that everyone I did know who would be able to help me to obtain the drugs I needed, have moved on from that lifestyle. I then went back on the methadone program and about a month later I also started using again.
At this point not only am I using again, I am still in this horrible relationship, he was always yelling and my son and I.( I honestly believed that he was going to give me a heart attack eventually). I was having panic attacks, I was crying almost everyday, I was so miserable. I had reached the very bottom. I couldn’t sink any lower. And deep down I knew that I didn’t have the strength to come out of this alone.
On September 11, 2017, which also happens to be my birthday, I woke up and something felt different. I was in and extremely good mood, I was awake before my son, I had made him breakfast and sent him off to school with a huge smile on his face. This was not normal in my house, I was still using, and was often awake till three or four in the morning, and I would sleep till noon sometimes.
I had my taught my son at an early age how to fend for himself in the morning and he would come into my room in the morning to kiss me goodbye. I wasn’t this cheerful supermom who was up at the crack of dawn making breakfast for her family, but that morning was going to be the beginning of a whole new me.
Later that morning an old friend from Sudbury stopped by her name was Michelle, and I had known her for a few years now. We often used together. She was always into much harder drugs than I was used too, or even cared for at that time in my life.
But it was my birthday so we sat down and started using and out of nowhere Michelle starts talking about the bible. We got into a discussion about the New vs Old Testament and we had a disagreement about it. Shortly after she left my home. And that would be last time I ever saw her again.
The moment Michelle left my home, something began to happen, my mind started racing, I found myself thinking of things that I haven’t thought about before. For example, I started thinking about “Jesus”, and all I did know about him, and what he had done. Then instantly I began to understand things about the world that I didn’t understand before.
Well, I just couldn’t handle all this thinking anymore. I sat down in my living room and turned on some music videos and as I was watching and listening to this music, I became completely mesmerized by the music that I didn’t realize I had been sitting there for close to six hours.
When I did snap out of it, I looked up at my clock I saw that it was three a.m., and without hesitation I got up off my couch and headed into my bedroom. I got into bed, and I prayed to the Lord. This is something I hadn’t done since I was a small child, but something was telling me that this time, it was going to matter. The moment I closed my eyes was the moment that was going to change my life forever.
I closed my eyes and instantly, my soul began rise upward, out of my body. A black hole formed in my wall and something was grabbing me by my legs and was pulling me in. Well, this happened three times, the first time, the Lord pulled me out and put me on my knees and my bedroom door flew open and I saw my son’s soul sitting on the end of his bed staring at me.
The second time, the Lord pulled me out and put me on my knees at my bedroom door and had me listening to voices on the other end of the door, I could hear these voices saying that I was loved and that I was beautiful.
The third time, the Lord pulled me out and my soul stood in mid air and illuminated, at this very moment I was in heaven, and it was the most euphoric sense of peace and Love that I have ever thought imaginable. This lasted a few moments and slowly my soul slipped back into my body.
The moment my soul returned to my body, I jumped out of my bed and I had goosebumps all over my body and I could not believe what had just happened. There was no doubt in my mind that it was non other than Jesus Christ my Savior, that had come for me.
When I woke up from this experience, I locked myself in my room for a few days, there were some things that needed to be dealt with.
First thing I had to do was, I had to call my mother and thank her for giving birth to me and for being my mom. Then, I was to love myself, I sat on my bed and cried, and hugged myself for an entire day, loving every single part of myself. Now, I had to find forgiveness for others but also for myself. Once again, I just continued to cry, and I was able to let it all out, and begin the process of forgiveness.
I started making phone calls, starting with both my parents, and I apologized for all I had done to them and I found forgiveness in my heart for all who had done wrong to me. After I accomplished these three major steps I was finally able to return to my life.
I remember sitting down and realizing that it has been a whole week since I used any substances or even smoked a cigarette. That week then turned into a month, then a month turned into a year, and I am so very proud to say that now it has been 2 and a half years since I used any substances. As it says in Jeremiah 30:17,
“‘I will give you back your health and heal your wounds’, says the Lord.”
This was amazing, for the first time in my adult life I was going to be able live life the way it was meant to be lived. I rebuilt all my relationships within my family, and I can honestly say that I have never felt so close and so loved by my family.
I was able to escape that horrible relationship with the support of both of my parents, and I found the most adorable home for myself and my son. The Lord has given me a second chance to be the woman and mother I always dreamt I could be. 2 Corinthians 5:17:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come, the old is gone, the new is here”.
My last and final step was to go to church. I was a catholic at this point, I went to my catholic church, but I did not feel right about being there. When I think about the priest and the people, it just didn’t feel like home to me.
Every day I would walk by First Baptist church and so one day I decided to go in, and this was one of the best decisions I had ever made. Pastor Wilbert and Stephanie welcomed me with open arms, and the very last thing the pastor said to me that day was
“Welcome to our family Natalie”.
It wasn’t until the beginning of last year that I would know what he really meant by that. On May 31st, 2019, I was baptized here at First Baptist Church. I was then asked to take on the role of coordinating the kitchen, and this role has given me a chance to build so many new relationships. I have found the most loving and supportive family within this church. As it says in Psalm 133:1,
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”
This church and all its members have played a huge role in the growth of my relationship with the Lord, and they continue to do so.
There’s a great sense of relief in knowing that I have been forgiven, and that The Lord is on my side and still wants what is best for me. Since beginning my life with Christ, He has, by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in my heart, continues to sanctify me through His Word and His working in my life. I am a progressive Christian because I believe that the lord is always pushing me to grow in my love for God, love for my neighbor and love for myself.
Praise the Lord!
Thank you for your time