Emily – 2018 Graduate
My life had always been in complete chaos since I could remember. I grew up in a severely dysfunctional home and was sexually molested by a family member between the ages of five and six. From the third grade throughout my senior year of high school I was bullied, harassed, violated, and suffered from all kinds of abuse. I was sexually abused in the third grade by a female classmate which had brought on a lot of confusion into my life. I hated school and dreaded home because my parents fought a lot with each other. My parents were both abusive towards me, verbally, mentally, emotionally, and my mom was physically abusive. I didn’t understand how we acted one way in public; happy, caring, and loving, and then another way at home; yelling, slamming objects, and isolating. My parents fought to the point where one would take off and I would never know when or if they were coming back. My parents believed that they were giving me constructive helpful criticism but in reality, they were extremely hurtful. I strived to be the good, perfect, pretty, straight A, Christian girl my parents wanted but no matter how hard I tried I failed. I gave up trying to be perfect and please my parents and began trying to please everyone else around me. At ten years old severe depression began taking a hold of my life. I remember being ten years old and wanting to die for the first time. Growing up I never knew how to handle my emotions and feelings, so I resulted to self-harm, promiscuity with men and women, and eating disorder, suicide ideations and attempts, alcohol, and drug experimentation. I began self-harming in seventh, eighth grade and dove into everything else in high school. My freshman year of high school I dove into an eating disorder believing that in order to be liked, accepted, worthy, valued, and beautiful I had to be disciplined with my body. I began restricting, purging, and over exercising. I used my eating disorder as a punishment. I hid this part of me for many years. During high school I was beyond depressed and had attempted suicide several times. I believed the lies that said I was defective, worthless, a failure, a disappointment, and the list went on with much more. About a year after high school I joined the military because I wanted my life to make a difference even if that meant the cost of losing my life. During my time in the service I was sexually assaulted twice by other service members at different times. The first case I dropped due to fear and the second case I lost in military court. While I was in the service, I was engaged to a woman because I wanted absolutely nothing to do with men. I was tired of being used and abused in past relationships and previous assaults throughout my life. I used alcohol as a way to cope and escape because that’s what I was taught when life got hard. Several months after the second assault I broke the engagement off. Many months later I was honorably and medically discharged from the service. I was told that I was 90% disabled due to trauma and disorders such as severe depression and anxiety. After being discharged I went back home and met with my female senior pastor and another close family friend who helped bring me back to Christ. I attended a Bible College and during that time God had healed a part in me with women and I have never had the desire to go back to a homosexual lifestyle, but I still had difficulties trusting. Since God had healed that part in me, I thought life was magically going to get better, but it didn’t. I was still struggling with severe depression, alcohol, an eating disorder which lasted over ten years, and suicidal thoughts and attempts.
After a failed suicidal attempt in my second year of Bible College I told my counselor and my counselor told me about Mercy. I began applying for Mercy but felt to pressure into doing it, so I withdrew. It wasn’t until September 19th of 2017 that I attempted suicide determined to end my life. That was not God’s plan for me. While I was in the hospital unconscious for an extended period of time, I had an encounter with God. He held me as I cried and said, “I know you want to come home, but it isn’t your time. I have so many plans for you. You are going to help so many young women and girls come to know who I am.” When I woke up, I knew I needed help and a rehab program was not an option. I knew I needed something more. I wanted something more, that was a Christian program, long term, and that’s when I remembered Mercy. I restarted my application because this was something I wanted and knew I desperately needed. When I arrived at Mercy, I was honestly terrified and began second guessing myself. I didn’t realize how much I had been hurting and how broken I was when I arrived. As I walked through the doors, I began listening to the lies in my head that I had heard for so long that I was going to fail and that I was never going to change.
I was working through a packet about eating disorders and really began understanding more about it and why I had turned to it. It was through this packet that God showed me that my body is a gift. I remember reading a short story that went something like this: Imagine you giving someone a beautiful home with amazing furnishings, everything is put together for them, specifically designed for that person. That person decides that they don’t like it and they want to change it, tearing down walls, breaking windows, completely demolishing it. How would you feel? Well when I read that story, I knew that I would feel heartbroken because I had created everything that was beautifully designed for them. That got me thinking and had me realize that that is exactly what I had been doing to God. God created me so wonderfully beautiful and I was doing absolutely everything to destroy that believing that that wasn’t true. The story had me see and realize that I should be very happy, thankful, and super appreciative of how God created me to be. So I began taking care of my body and treating it the way it should have been treated so long ago. As much as I wanted to work out, I knew that if I was going to change and do things right the way God intended me to be, I needed to get healthy first. I did. I was able to get myself where I needed to be in order to be healthy. There were times where I may have been disappointed with the number on the scale but knowing that I was healthy and in a very good place was so much rewarding and actually shifted my disappointment into happiness and thankfulness.
Like I stated above God helped me see that my body is a gift. He fashioned me and made me the beautiful person that I am today. Throughout my time at Mercy God helped me see by displaying it through all the staff that I was loved, cared for, and not judged. The staff helped me see that they didn’t see me as whatever negative belief I had about myself, that my past doesn’t define who I am, nor does it define the future that I will have. The staff helped walk with me through it all, helping me learn and realize more about who I am in Christ and all that God was doing and will continue to do in my life. Everything the staff did God had displayed Himself through them. So, I was not who I thought God saw me as, God loves me, cares for me, doesn’t judge or condemn me, He was with me every single step of the way. God showed me He was always there, through it all. God healed me, nurtured me, and restored me to bloom into the beautiful possibilities He has for my life.
After Mercy I plan on working, getting out of debt, take some college courses, learn French, and do an internship or trade school in France. I want to help plant churches in France and reach young women and girls so that they can come to learn the love of God and the grace that He has for them. There are so many young women, girls, and children who need help, guidance, and love who are struggling to survive. I want to be that person of influence who steps in and helps them find the true healing and freedom that they deserve through God’s love.
Thank you to all the donors who help make this healing and freedom possible through your donations. I would have never been able to find a long term, free of charge Christian program to help me receive the healing and freedom I so desperately needed. Your donations do not go unnoticed, they are an amazing gift for all of us girls to experience God’s grace and love. Thank you so very much.