I was raised in a Christian home with both of my parents and my three siblings. I grew up constantly surrounded by people who loved the Lord and spoke truth. Beginning in elementary school, I was bullied. In seventh grade I was sexually abused by my friend’s father. This was when fear and shame really took root in my life. I felt like my voice was stolen and silenced. I felt that any red flags I raised had been met with denial by those closest to me. One of the ways I found safety was by repressing. I began to experience anxiety and a need for control. Performance and perfectionism showed up in every area of my life.

During my junior year of high school, I thought that if I took my life, I would find a way out of all the fear, shame, and anxiety that I knew. I attempted to take my life for the first time in 2014 and this was just the beginning of finding comfort in thoughts of suicide. The next several years were marked by depression, self-harm, suicide attempts, hospitalizations, finding comfort in medications and finding control through an eating disorder. By 2016, I moved as I went to multiple treatment centers attempting to find freedom. I would hear that I would always struggle to some extent with what I was dealing with.

In 2017 God introduced Himself to me and He was declaring who He was to me – giving me a promise to cling to during the pain that was about to make itself known. Months later I began to experience widespread chronic pain through my body. I had no idea that the next several years would be marked by physical pain and doctors prescribing medication that barely worked saying there were “no other options”.

I then moved and went to ministry school. During my time there, God would make Himself known to me in such a tangible way that as my eyes were fully on Him, my body became more aware of His presence than my pain. It was also during this time that memories began to resurface. After I completed my second year, I moved again. I lost sight of the Lord, and my eyes went to my circumstances, pain, and the abuse that I was beginning to remember and process. Panic and PTSD made themselves known through the next couple of years in ways that pulled me deep into isolation and distanced me from family and friends. I grabbed control again through an eating disorder, excessive exercise, medication, and other forms of self-harm. Fear and shame consumed me, and the idea of suicide entered my mind again.

At Mercy, I discovered that it is okay to speak up and advocate for myself. I came to realize that I can speak through fear, and I can speak even when I am afraid. Fear and shame can’t silence my voice anymore. I had lived with regret that my voice wasn’t heard 14 years ago when I was most vulnerable and unsafe but here at Mercy, I was given the space to use my voice.

Renewing the Mind was one of the most impactful keys for me. I began to realize that I could choose what thoughts I meditated on. I have started to believe that even when storms surround me, my mind can be sound. Memories might make themself known but I don’t have to be shaken. I began to believe that God really does keep me in perfect peace when my mind is stayed on Him. My mind has become so much stronger as I have become acquainted with the Truth.

The other key that impacted me was Choosing to Forgive. I made the choice to forgive those who hurt and abused me. Choosing to forgive was simply out of obedience but in the coming weeks, the effects of forgiveness were catching up to me in the most beautiful way. At one point after this key, I remember thinking “If I came to Mercy just to know the power of forgiveness, it would’ve been worth it”.

So much of the future is unknown but this time around, there is no fear attached to it. Just an expectancy of all that is to come as I am fully surrendered to His ways. Knowing the Lord is going to show up as He always has!

Coming to Mercy shifted and changed everything for me. I have a new hope for life. I have found healing that I didn’t think I would ever find. God is so present here at Mercy and there is no place like it. Your support means a ton.