As a kid I started struggling with my gender identity and same-sex attraction. I was faced with rejection from many different people in my life that instilled in me a pattern of isolation, people pleasing, and attention seeking behavior. I also started self-harming. In middle school, I began experimenting with how I expressed my gender. I fell into disordered eating to make my body look more male. I was later sexually assaulted by a few friends. That experience made me hate my body even more, led me to pornography, and worsened my sexual confusion.

During that whole-time, resentment was building up in me towards my family. The enemy was convincing me that I didn’t fit in with them and that they didn’t love me. My friends were demonizing them, telling me that they were abusive for raising me to love Jesus and not allowing me to choose my gender or who I loved. Because of this, I started telling horrible lies about my family. Eventually my lies about them became so extreme that someone called and reported the “abuse” I was experiencing, and I let them even though I knew it was a lie. That night, I was interviewed by police and continued in my lies. After several days the police caught me in my lies and exonerated my family of all wrongdoing. They told me that the extent of my lies was disturbing and that my actions were serious but that I wouldn’t be charged if I chose to go to an in-patient facility. That night, I applied to Mercy. But my heart wasn’t in it and a few days later I left home and stopped my application process.

The next three months were a downward spiral. I began Identifying as male, went by a different name and began my gender transition. I started smoking, drinking, and engaging in promiscuous behavior. I also tried to end my life several times. I was also continuing to spread horrible lies about my Father. Through all of this, God never took His hand off me. I kept going to church and felt strong conviction from the Lord, and I also felt His gentle presence and love that I couldn’t stay away from. I really wanted help at this point and reapplied for Mercy.

I walked through the doors of Mercy shut down, exhausted, numb, and carrying deep shame and self-hatred. I was miserable. As my counselor and I worked together, I realized how many lies I was believing about myself. I realized how much those lies impacted the way I was living. As I dug into the Bible to find truth to combat the lies, I fell in love with the Word and started to develop a deep relationship with the Lord. I found freedom from many mental strongholds.

Over the next few months, I had to face my identity struggles. I was slowly learning that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, that God doesn’t make mistakes and didn’t make a mistake when He made me. I also had to face my people pleasing nature as I learned to use my voice. I was learning to walk in integrity. I challenged myself a lot to align my thought patterns, words, and actions with the Word of God. I started to feel secure in myself. God was showing me who I was, and He was just getting started.

Every element of Mercy saturated my numb and broken heart and mind with God’s awakening healing love. At Mercy I learned that I’m not loved because of what I do but because of who I am. I don’t have to have a tragic story to tell to be seen, loved, and cared for. At Mercy I met my Savior and I learned that at the mention of that Savior’s name, demons flee and darkness trembles. His name makes broken families whole, renews minds, breaks addictions, shatters shame, and brings the dead back to life. His name is Jesus, and I will keep in step with him for the rest of my life. Mercy saved my life.

After Mercy I plan to continue rebuilding and restoring relationships with my family, and to go to school abroad to learn how to minister to my generation and help pull others out of the darkness I fell prey to for so many years. I eventually want to start a Christian based arts program for middle school and high school students, but above all else, I want to glorify God in all I do and keep Him at the center of my life forever.

Mercy changed my life and it’s because of the donors! I have had so many amazing experiences at Mercy that made me feel loved and seen that would not have been possible if it weren’t for the donors. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!