At six months old, I was placed into foster care and I grew up as a caretaker to my two brothers, Steven and Nathan, who both had special needs. I took on the many responsibilities of their care, and I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to care for them. Through them, I learned to care for others well and be sensitive to other people’s needs. But because being a caretaker is so stressful, I dealt with feelings of resentment, guilt, and loss while caring for them.
As a young child, I was sexually abused by a family member. Because I was in foster care, the abuse led to a lot of changes in my family which created a lot of confusion for me. I learned at a young age how easily families can become broken and how damaging secrets can be. Family is very important to me because I never felt like I belonged anywhere. I tried finding my sense of belonging from an intense need to caretake, trying to earn everyone’s love, and I struggled with a performance mindset.
In the next season of my life, my brother Steven suddenly passed away. Two years after Steven passed away, Nathan passed away as well. My brothers were my best friends, and I found so much comfort in them. After their deaths, I lived in a constant state of survival and hopelessness. On the outside, it seemed that I was a responsible young woman whose life was well put together. I was working full time and going to school full time. I performed until there was no energy left to feel. I stayed so busy that there wasn’t any time for sleep. Eventually, the pain that I had been running from caught up to me, and my life began to spiral down at a rapid speed. I started to experiment with self-destructive behaviors to do anything to feel, leaving me desperate to find something to “fix” me. I had supportive women in my life, and without their voices pointing me to Jesus, I don’t think I would have believed God could heal me. The various hospital stays never worked and my way wasn’t working either. So, Mercy was my next option.
When I walked in the doors of Mercy, I was very anxious, but I knew everything was going to be okay. Slowly the Lord began restoring my life by bringing the pain and darkness to Light. I started learning what was true, and I was able to discern the truth from a lie. A truth that I learned and hold very close to is, “God loves me unconditionally and He is pleased with me.” It was powerful for me to realize I had the ability to choose my thoughts. I could choose to walk in freedom or stay captive to my thoughts.
While being at Mercy, God created space for me to evaluate what I wanted for my life. He gave me permission to ask the hard questions, and through everything, I found His faithfulness in the midst of the chaos. I can wholeheartedly say, God was an ever-present help through it all. I started seeing the small steps of growth and found those to be huge milestones. Learning that the small things are really the big things helped me break out of the performance mindset and be okay with the simplicity of just being. I felt the loss, anger, rejection, and abandonment, but it did not break me. God gets all the glory and praise for the woman I am today.
To all the donors, thank you for blessing my life. I couldn’t have received the quality of care or experienced God’s transforming power without your support.