I was not raised in a Christian home. By age 6, my childhood best friend began sexually abusing me. This led to intimacy issues and unhealthy relationships. I was also physically and sexually assaulted in middle school by a boy in my neighborhood. Most of my friends and family didn’t believe me, and those that did either brushed it off or didn’t know how to respond.

At age 16, I gave my life to the Lord and for the first time, I experienced unconditional love within the body of Christ. Unfortunately, due to my history with people-pleasing, I anchored my trust in people and not the Lord. As a result, my faith fell by the wayside.

I soon found myself battling an eating disorder, drinking heavily, and abusing prescription medication.  The years of suppressing my needs for others finally caught up to me, and I began resenting everyone and everything. I was so sick with shame and disgust towards myself that I decided to take my life.

A friend found me unconscious. The miracle that happened that night changed something in me. I was still drinking, still lying, and still suicidal, but now I had this looming question that I couldn’t shake. Was God actually real? And if He was, why was He working SO hard to keep me on this earth.

My mother came across a Joyce Meyer teaching and heard about a program called Mercy Multiplied. She asked me that day if I’d consider going, and I immediately rejected the idea. There was no way I was going. However, that night in the midst of my drunken stupor, I ended up applying.

Two months later, I was at Mercy. My plan was to find out if God existed, and once I had the answer, I was out of there. Little did I know I was walking into the most beautiful love story I could ever have imagined for myself.

Two months in, a previous staff member led a devotional on integrity, and I did not like what I heard. She said, “Sometimes in life, you will have to choose between your character and your reputation. What matters most is what God thinks of you, not people.”

I desperately needed to learn how to depend on the Lord and not people, and that’s exactly what He anointed my counselor to help me with. I can now say the only approval I need is from the Lord, and it’s so much less exhausting. All the confusion and questions I had, He answered in His timing and in His own beautiful way, and I am so thankful that my hope is now rooted in Him and Him alone.

After Mercy, I plan on immersing myself in a Christian community, pursuing worship, and, most importantly, strengthening my intimacy with my God. I’m taking my testimony and this new love of the Gospel home with me, where I hope to lead my family and others into the kingdom of heaven. The Lord has redeemed my story and given me back my voice.