For as long as I can remember, I have lived in a multitude of worlds. Yet, in every space, I was always the one that didn’t belong. My biological mother was a stranger to me. The only thing I knew I had from the woman who birthed me was the melanin in my skin. From a young age, it was painfully obvious to me that I was the one who was not like the others. My mom did everything in her power to make me feel loved and normal at home. People outside of my home were not understanding. The questions began in kindergarten. What is adoption?  Why did your mom give you away? Why is your mom white? Why are you so dark? The worst part was I couldn’t hide it; it left me with an exposed wound. I learned to be ashamed of where I came from, ashamed that my biological mom didn’t want me, ashamed that I was black.

For as long as I can remember, it has been abundantly clear to me that my parent’s primary goal for my life was for me to love others well and to love God well. I accepted God at the young age of four, and even at four, I wanted to do everything with excellence and be the best. The best daughter, the best Sunday school student, the best little sister. So that’s what I did. I strived, and I strived.

However, all my work to be perfect was suddenly destroyed when, at age six, I was molested and then later sexually abused by people who were close to me. This happened repeatedly throughout the ages of six and seven. It was during that same time that I was exposed to pornography. Unfortunately, those experiences sparked sexual confusion in my head, and I didn’t know how to process it. I shoved all those feelings into the darkest corner of my heart, and the shame was so heavy it was suffocating. I felt dirty, and I began to question if it was my fault and if God was disappointed in me.

Performance, self-sufficiency, and perfectionism became my holy trinity and the sole object of my affection. I was constantly feeling as though I needed to perform to feel ok. I needed to act and appear in control so that everyone could only love me from a distance. Fear took over, and life became very lonely. I continued leading a double life; all the while, my sexual confusion only grew, and so did my self-hatred. I prayed God would remove these sinful desires from me, but I remained broken. I hated myself for not being able to just simply change. I lived in constant fear and hiding that someone would find out.

As my mental health continued to decline at home, I saw the way that my depression created fear and pain in my parents, and I decided to just be ok. I went above and beyond with people pleasing, but my suicidal desires only increased. I made my first suicide attempt near the end of my eighth-grade year. The years that follow are a blur. I got sexually abused again, along with several major relationships falling apart. Shortly into my freshman year, I began self-harming, as well as abusing substances, and later made several attempts to take my own life. But God’s hand was over my life. By the time I was 19, I was working in youth ministry and loving it, but I was spiraling. I knew I was an imposter, and nothing about my life was honoring God. I was mentally and emotionally unstable, and I seemed to cause disaster in my every wake. Just before coming to Mercy, I was at the lowest point of my life.

When I arrived at Mercy, I walked in with a bounce in my step and a smile. But behind my smile was a hurting girl who was extremely angry at God and my family for allowing me to live. I resented the very breath in my lungs. I felt vulnerable, and I immediately went into performance to suppress all the pain and anger I was feeling.

God showed me His love for me over and over through others who loved me and allotted me grace upon grace, even though I didn’t know how to love. God showed me his love was consistent by blessing me with friends and a counselor who loved me consistently. He put people in my life that when I stepped back, they stepped forward, and when I stooped low, they called me out in love and called me higher.

I spent most of my Mercy journey fighting with God and trying to run from Him. Time after time, I was ready to walk out the door, but God kept convicting me and calling me to stay. God loved me far too much to ever let me go. I had come to the end of myself.  My anger, my guilt, and my shame had to have a confrontation with the Highest. I asked God to give me hope for a future and the desire to continue living. I asked Him for the grace to obey even when everything inside of me was telling me to die. Soon, I began experiencing breakthrough after breakthrough. Suddenly, I had hope. The suicidal thoughts that chased me every day for years subsided. I fell in love with the Lord at Mercy, and I truly met Him here.

I came to Mercy buried under anxiety, self-hatred, fear, and shame. I made a futile attempt to outrun my brokenness, but at Mercy, I found my Heavenly Father, or rather, He found me. I found love, acceptance, safety, peace, and belonging in the Lord.

After Mercy, I plan to go back to school and study psychology, working part-time at my church. After that, I want to transition into full-time ministry and serve at a women’s cohort in Cairo, Egypt. Serving, providing counseling, worshiping, and proclaiming liberty to the captives.

Dear Mercy donors, thank you so much for giving to support a program that transformed and saved my life. Thank you for making that possible; it means the world to me!