Natalie – 2018 Graduate
Before coming to Mercy, my life was chaos. I had been struggling with an eating disorder for years, and my behavior was only encouraged by someone close to me. As other people suspected the ED, I turned to self-harm as a less obvious coping mechanism. I battled these two addictions on my own for five years but failed miserably. This led to a failed suicide attempt. Soon after that, I gave my life to Jesus and a lot changed, but I was still in bondage to so many lies. I continued to engage in my flesh-driven behaviors, in regard to my eating disorder, and I still let a lot of unsafe people control me.
I found out about Mercy when I was younger, when I gave my life to Jesus and my issues weren’t going away. I was looking for places online. I kept Mercy in the back of my mind, and I finally applied at 20 years old. Lots of miracles happened to get me here. For example, one of my friends gave me the book Starved by Nancy Alcorn without even knowing that I was thinking about applying to Mercy. I applied because I knew there had to be more to my life. I realized that life was only a vapor and I didn’t have to spend the rest of it living like this.
When I walked into the doors of Mercy, I was timid and shy. I had no voice. I was responsible and followed the rules, but I didn’t want to talk too much to anyone. I was controlled and haunted by my memories and by the unsafe people in my past. I had no idea who I was or even who I could be. A turning point happened for me during my first week at Mercy when we had a guest speaker who talked about becoming ourselves. He talked about how his daughter had hated college and so he’d simply let her drop out and pursue her own interests. My whole life, college had been my only option. So again, this was a revolutionary idea. I admitted to the fact that I hated college and that I didn’t need a college degree to love on children. So, I decided I wasn’t going back to college. Another turning point happened when it was my first time to go to Jesus Culture and the sermon was on submission, both to the Lord and to others. Through the sermon, I came to terms with my pride–that I really didn’t know what was best for me and that the Lord was calling me to listen to Mercy staff and trust the program had my best interest. After that sermon, I started to comply more. Also, around my third month when I read “Make your dreams bigger than your memories,” the Lord opened my eyes to the dreams in my heart that had been dormant for so long. That started the process on discovering who I am and what my soul loves.
Also, the pastor at the church we attended prayed over me. He felt like the Lord said that I was going to be a 3rd grade teacher in a foreign country. That started my pursuing to moving to a French speaking country in Africa, to eventually teach English to them.
During my time at Mercy I learned that the Lord is my defender and protector. I learned that I am worthy of having boundaries and I don’t have to let people walk all over me. I learned that it’s okay to want love and acceptance–I was in fact created to need those things. I learned to call God my Father and that, my heavenly Father always has time for me and His intent is never to hurt me. I learned that I have a voice and it’s valuable. I learned who I really am, and that I don’t have to be defined by my past or the people who used to be enmeshed in it.
After I graduate, I’m moving to a new city, where I plan to get involved in my new church. I plan to get a job nannying or working with preschoolers in the area. It’s a dream of mine to get married and have my own children, and eventually, I’d love to move to a French-speaking country and teach/love on children.
To the donors and supporters, thank you so much. I’m walking out of here a completely different person. I would have had no other option if Mercy hadn’t existed, free of charge. I’m walking out of these doors finding my voice for the first time.