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Briana – 2015 Graduate

BrianaI come from a loving family, grew up in church, loved God, and wanted to serve Him with my life. I do not know whether I genuinely did not know or whether I never truly believed that my identity, value and self-worth were found in Christ alone, but as a result, I looked everywhere else for those to be fulfilled. My desire for acceptance and approval from others launched me deep into a chase for the perfect image. I developed an eating disorder when I was nine years old. I also turned to sexual addiction and pornography, which falsely fulfilled my desire for intimacy. I remained on this unstable foundation into college, where I ran NCAA cross-country on a scholarship. When I got injured and could no longer run, my life began to spiral out of control. My eating disorder became uncontrollable, I began to be promiscuous, and I started cutting and using alcohol to escape. I started having suicidal thoughts and almost died one night as a result of my extreme pain-seeking behavior. I was hospitalized for four months and was told that I would never be free from these lifelong diseases. I began to wonder, “If Jesus came and died to set me free, what did He die for if I was doomed to live in recovery forever?” In a desperate attempt to find freedom, I walked away from God and became involved with the occult.

I heard about Mercy from a girl I met at a treatment center. Given that I had relapsed and was in the occult, only God could have put in my heart an overwhelming desire to get into the Mercy program. I started the application and slowly God prepared me to enter Mercy. I broke ties with the enemy and recommitted my life to Jesus. I walked in the doors of Mercy hopeful that God could help me get my life back together and hungry to know more about Him.

I had the opportunity to be baptized after a couple weeks of being at Mercy. This was a huge turning point for me. I had been through a treatment program and a 12-step program, and neither had worked. I asked God, “What will make this time different?” A few days later, He gave me a picture of a butterfly and spoke to me about Galatians 5:1 and Galatians 2:20. He told me that in the same way that a butterfly would never get back into the cocoon that it broke out of, I was not to go back under a yoke of bondage. The old is dead and gone, and now Christ lives in me!

What I gained at Mercy has been invaluable. I met God in the most intimate way I have ever known Him. God reassured me that He never walked away from me, even when I walked away from Him. God cares about my heart and wants my love more than anything else I could give Him. I learned that perfection is an illusion. In my weakness and imperfections, He has the chance to be my strength. With the help of the staff, I was able to break off tremendous oppression related to my occult involvement and work out my fears and anxieties with exercise in a healthy, hands-on way.

I graduated from Mercy in February of 2015 and have experienced the abundant life that is in Christ. Even when the unexpected happens, my heart trusts in Christ. I now have a solid foundation and hope and peace that surpass all understanding. I re-entered college with purpose, different motivation, renewed vigor for academic excellence, and an intense love of learning. I endeavor to do all of my work as Colossians 3:23 directs: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” The Lord has filled my heart with beautiful dreams and goals. I want to be a world changer, and to preach and teach the Gospel around the world. My heart is for those who society writes off as hopeless and broken—who society says can never change—because that was me. God has already given me opportunities to speak life and hope to those in prisons and teens at risk. Jesus has rescued me, redeemed me, and restored me. With a revived heart, I desire to go into the darkness to be a light and to tell of God’s amazing love.