At a young age, we went to church regularly but to me it was just to check a box. In my teenage years things began to change. I became very involved in my church and in leading our Children’s Ministry team. During these years of going to church and trying to live for Christ, my home life wasn’t ideal.

For years, I was verbally and emotionally abused. I didn’t know how to deal with it, so I buried it and acted like everything was okay by putting on a smile. I lived with that for so long, it got to the point where I didn’t care. Year after year it became worse, and I kept questioning why it was happening. I still went to church and tried to act like nothing was wrong, but deep down I was hurting. I often held in my feelings because I thought it was another thing people could judge me for. I never felt enough or worthy. Time and time again I felt like I was never worthy. It was extremely hard to think of allowing God in because I was afraid of getting hurt As hard as I tried to move on, it felt like I couldn’t get away from being hurt by people over and over again.

I heard of Mercy from many different people. My initial thought was that it was awesome for others to find freedom and healing, but there is no way I would ever do something like that. In my mind, my problems were not valid. I went to a concert that was put on by Mercy, and there I heard many testimonies and stories of lives being transformed and set free. At that moment I had been pushing away all the help from others because I thought I would live with my problems forever.

I was finally at a point where I needed help and was willing to do anything for it. I was tired mentally, physically, and emotionally, and my depression and anxiety led me to hopelessness. I felt unloved, forgotten, unwanted, unworthy, and misunderstood. In my mind I believed that going to a place like Mercy and getting help was a sign of weakness. This was a lie the enemy got me to believe. After making the decision to apply, I was ready to go as soon as possible because I wanted to experience this freedom that everyone was talking about.

I walked through the doors of Mercy and was ready to walk right back out. Part of me was ready for this journey and part of me didn’t want to leave my comfort zone. I went in with my mind set on what I thought my journey was going to look like, and I learned very quickly that the Lord had different plans. I have seen the evidence of God’s mercy and grace through it all.  The Lord was waiting with open arms for me. Chains were being broken and relationships were being mended. Though my journey has looked much different than what I could have ever imagined, it has been so worth it. The Lord knew this was exactly what I needed. I can say my relationship with the Lord is stronger than ever, and I am now ready to conquer whatever is in front of me.

I used to hide behind my smile like a mask, but now it is a genuine smile. I am choosing to not let my past define who I am but believing the things that God says I am. I am loved, redeemed, enough, more than a conqueror, and CHOSEN!

My plans after Mercy are to continue at my job, get more involved in my church, follow the Lord wherever He calls me in youth ministry, and eventually go back to college to major in business. I am ready to see what the Lord has in store for me next!

To all the donors, thank you for all the love support, prayers, and everything in between. You have made a big impact on my life and so grateful for this opportunity.