In the chaos of my everyday, crazy-beautiful life today, I sometimes forget what life used to look like. Sometimes I see a photograph, or someone asks me to share part of my story, and I can’t believe that’s who I used to be. Fourteen years ago I was a girl without hope. I was told by the “experts” that I probably wouldn’t live to see my 30th birthday, and that if I did, I would be in and out of institutions with a lackluster quality of life. Although I had grown up in a Christian home with Christian values, the weight of the world got the best of me. I was drowning in a sea of depression, anorexia, self-loathing, and suicidal ideation. I was lost, lacking worth, and searching for a reason to live. After years of self-abuse and self-neglect, I was told by doctors that I would more than likely never have children. Being given very little reason to look toward the future, I didn’t allow myself to dream, and I simply existed for the sake of existing, hoping not to be too much of a bother in the mean time.
When one of my psych hospital roommates lost her battle with depression in 2001, I felt my soul struggle to the surface for a gasp of hope. I decided to give myself one last chance, and found myself applying to Mercy. When I walked through Mercy’s doors, I felt for the first time that there was a hope for my future. Throughout the program I realized that I wasn’t created to just survive and hopefully escape to Heaven someday, but rather that Jesus died so that I could live an abundant, thriving life here on this earth. I was given the time and space to work through the hurts, disappointments, trauma and guilt from my past, and God truly healed my heart. I learned that in the midst of a world of hurt and chaos and uncertainty and disappointments and evil, God desires to shower us with his joy, hope, grace, and mercy. Beyond that, I learned the thrill of being privileged to carry Him to those around me. I learned to seek Him with my whole heart, to live in His truth, to wage war against the enemy of our souls, and to love with His love. I was empowered to live an abundant life, and I graduated with a heart full of dreams.
I couldn’t have possibly imagined everything God had in store. I went on to graduate in 2009 with a degree in Counseling and Bible. I married an incredibly Godly man who desires to serve God through reaching the hurting as well. I have had the honor of working with various ministries in the areas of disaster relief, international missions, student ministries, and dramatic arts. I am currently working with my husband and church toward opening a Student Center in our community to provide area teens with a safe place to be themselves and discover their potential. Additionally, God took my healing a step further and has healed and restored me physically. In 2012, I was able to conceive and give birth to my first child, Josiah (meaning “Jehovah heals”), and since then have been blessed with three other children, Karis (meaning “Grace”), and our precious twins, Selah (meaning “to pause, reflect”) and Mercy (I’m guessing you can tell where that comes from). Today, I am living a dream I never knew I had, raising these four precious souls and cultivating encouraging relationships with other moms so we can continually point one another and our children toward Christ in every day life.
It’s constantly amazing to me how God continues His work in us once we surrender ourselves to His will. Shortly after giving birth to my twins, I woke up one morning and realized that God had taken my healing from the eating disorder to a new level. Today I can say with confidence that I not only accept my body for how God has created it, I genuinely love my body in the midst of its imperfection. I currently write about my journey as a mom on a regional moms blog and love sharing my story. Beyond that, the tools I learned at Mercy have carried me through the hormonal changes that many new moms encounter through postpartum depression and anxiety. Without the lessons I learned over 13 years ago, I’m not sure how I would have coped. The healing and training I received during my time in the program are still serving me, very actively, all this time later, and I am so hopeful they will carry on for generations to come in my sweet little family.
Thank you, a thousand times over, to every donor who has given even a dollar to Mercy. And to anyone who is struggling to know if there is hope, let me tell you today, there is. And it’s greater than anything you could ever imagine.