Though I grew up in a Christian home and accepted Jesus into my heart as a child, I never fully pursued God, and I didn’t have a personal relationship with Him. Once I reached middle school, I started becoming hyperaware of my appearance. I didn’t feel skinny enough or pretty enough or good enough. This began to cause terrible anxiety and depression.

My sophomore year of high school, I started to rebel against my parents. Due to the lack of attention I got in my home, I began acting out. I was always lying and sneaking out; I started partying and experimenting with guys. During this year, I met a guy who seemed perfect until the relationship became sexually abusive. I didn’t know what to do, but I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone. Keeping this secret weighed heavily on me and affected my mental health. I struggled with thoughts of ending my life almost daily and felt completely worthless and alone. I was so ashamed of myself. This went on for about three and a half years.

Then, during my freshman year of college I went out one night and tried hard drugs. From that point, I spiraled out of control and into substance abuse. I didn’t care if I lived or died. All I cared about was momentary happiness and validation. I was chasing temporary highs that faded away and left me feeling like a black hole, void of emotion. I felt trapped in a cycle of toxic friendships and relationships with people who controlled, manipulated, and oppressed me. I had so many walls up; I didn’t and couldn’t trust anyone. I was living in survival mode. I went to school, work, partied, repeat.

The darkness I was living in became too much for me and I attempted to take my life. I started seeing a psychiatrist, but nothing seemed to be getting better. After graduation I ended up getting a job as a Behavior Therapist. Though I loved the job itself, I found myself feeling belittled every day at work and experienced daily mental breakdowns and panic attacks. Due to this, I ended up having to quit my job. Soon after, my aunt told me about Mercy, encouraging me to apply. I was very skeptical of the whole idea, but I knew I needed help, and it was my last resort.

Upon arriving at Mercy, I was honestly terrified. As my journey continued, I started to find my worth in God. I had never experienced unconditional love before, especially not from someone who knew my past and all the mistakes I had made, but I felt this from God and always will. For once, I didn’t feel like I had to be validated by anyone else because He has made me feel accepted and loved regardless of my past.

My mindset used to be, “live fast, die young, and have a lot of fun.” This was the theme of my life. All I wanted was to be worthy. Then I felt the words my soul longed for, “I died to redeem you, my blood makes you worthy, you are mine.” I have never known a love like this. I am forgiven and nothing can separate me from God’s unconditional love. He has redeemed me from everything I thought defined me. He saved my life and because of that I will be forever grateful.

After Mercy, I plan on continuing my career as a Behavior Therapist  for children with autism. I want my life after Mercy to be completely made new. New city, new people, new me. I couldn’t be more excited to embark on this new life journey with a whole new mindset, and now I know God is on my side.

To all the donors, I would say thank you so much for your support and commitment to the women in this program. Your donations have impacted the lives of so many and we could not be more grateful. It feels amazing to have people out there that believe in us.