Ever since I can remember, I struggled with anxiety. At a young age, I was diagnosed with a learning disability, and I allowed it to define me. I lived with the belief that I was a mistake. At age 12, my mom got sick, and this was the beginning of a 10-year journey. During this time, my grandpa passed away, which led to my world starting to fall apart. In addition, my dad began to grow distant and became involved with substance abuse, influencing other family members to engage.

Over time, I learned I couldn’t be vulnerable and felt I had to be strong for everyone else. During middle school, I was bullied, which led me to become insecure. Girls would make comments about my sexuality, which led to confusion because I didn’t understand what it meant at the time.

Continuing into high school, I assumed anything people spoke over me to be true. I chose to continue in relationships with boys, but they all seemed to be possessive and controlling. I started to fall away from God slowly, as it seemed He didn’t answer my prayers. I didn’t think God heard me; on top of everything, my mom was still sick and needed my support. In my senior year of high school, I decided to no longer follow God. I turned to drugs and alcohol for comfort, as I didn’t see God as my comforter but instead as the one who was allowing it all to happen. I wanted so badly to numb the pain. I was upset with God, and I chose to no longer believe He was who He said He was. I lived every day in fear I would lose my mom.

After high school, I was diagnosed with PTSD, depression, and anxiety. I allowed it to define me. I didn’t know who I was without the trauma. I engaged in pornography, experienced nightmares, and struggled with insomnia. My mom soon passed away, and I blamed myself. I had hundreds of what ifs – what if I could have done more, or what if I didn’t leave God? I began to engage in self-harm to numb the pain and to numb the memories.

Deep down, I knew God was the only way. My mentors mentioned Mercy, and after a few weeks, I knew this would change me forever, and I greatly needed it. I came through the doors of Mercy, scared, sad, and isolated, but I was desperate for change. I was quickly challenged to talk and deal with what was on the inside. As I became vulnerable, I became friends with my Mercy sisters and began to feel more included and less isolated. I was challenged to learn how to get the attention and affection I needed in a healthy way. I was given the chance to process the loss of my mother. For the first time, I allowed myself to grieve. I finally began to understand that in grieving her, I wasn’t losing her. I fully understood that her memory will always be with me. Through this process, I started to see God for who He really was, not who I thought he was based on my experiences.

I broke free from self-harm, pornography, dependency on substances and people, depression, isolation, self-hate, and unforgiveness. For the first time, I no longer chose to live out lies I had been believing for the past 13 years. I came to Mercy thinking that it wouldn’t even be possible to change, but over time, God did such great work, and He proved me wrong.

To the donors, thank you so much for the difference you’re making. My life won’t be the same because of this program; God has changed my life.