I was born into a broken family. For most of my life, my dad was sick, and my mom was either taking care of him or working. For that reason, I spent a lot of time alone. I found that negative attention was the easiest to obtain, so I focused all my energy on that. I was disrespectful to any and all authority. I was a bully to my peers, and I took everything I was feeling out on the people around me.

I grew up in church pretty much all of my life, but I pulled away from God and everyone around me. I became numb to my feelings and circumstances. I was sexually assaulted by a teenage boy who was a family friend. I told nobody and pushed it aside. As I got older, I started seeking attention from the boys around me to fix the shame I felt, engaging in unhealthy relationships. As I hit high school, I started to cool out on negative attention-seeking but I was filled with so much anger, shame, and sadness.

When my dad died, I went on to endure multiple hospitalizations and outpatient programs. I tried to take my life a couple of times but couldn’t seem to get it right. I was miserable. I started going to church again on my own and began serving. God brought so many wonderful and loving people into my life, but I was so guarded and had so much self-hatred I couldn’t see it. I was determined to die. I thought death was my only way out.

I caved into going to a church retreat and met a wonderful speaker named Tonya. She shared her testimony, and that was the first time I heard about Mercy. People close to me encouraged me to apply, so I did. I honestly did not think I was going to be accepted. I was just trying to please the people around me.

When I arrived at Mercy, I had already made up in my mind that I would stay only 30 days and then go home. I came to Mercy heavily guarded with thick walls and major trust issues. I hated everybody, especially the staff. My authority problems were the first issue to hit me in the face. I did not like being told what to do. But then I started to learn about how much God did love and care for me. I began to hear His still small voice again, even more clearly. God had given me a choice of life or death, and He wasn’t going to force life on me. He told me it wasn’t going to be easy, but it would bring fulfillment in the end. From that day on, I was fully in and invested. I gave my life back to God. I began renewing my mind and killing all the lies that crowded my mind. My whole Mercy journey has been focused around my obedience to God.

My biggest and hardest lesson with obedience I experienced here was trusting my counselor. God kept asking me if I trusted Him and I would say “Yes, of course.” Then He would say that I should trust her if I trusted Him. I couldn’t wrap my brain around that. I came to a point in my journey where I had to make the decision to just be obedient and trust God. When I finally broke down that wall, things started changing. I was able to express my frustrations without being rude or disrespectful, which was a big deal for me. God showed me I had a pride problem. He walked me through how pride tied into my rebellion, anger, need for control, and disrespectful attitude. God told me He couldn’t use me fully if I was going to let my pride control my life. He has brought so much growth in that area, and I am so thankful. God used the staff here to show me that authority isn’t always so bad. They poured so much love, truth, and life over me and my future. I am forever grateful.

After Mercy, I plan to relax and enjoy my favorite people until God calls me to start the hard work of His kingdom. Then maybe down the line go to bible school and seminary. I know I have a lot of work and growth ahead of me. I am incredibly excited about the plan that God has uniquely put together for my life.

To the donors, thank you so much for giving me a chance to build a lasting relationship with God. Through your generosity, I was able to mend past hurts and make a future for myself. Thank you for blessing my life and journey.