Catherine – 2014 Graduate
I was born into the “all-American” family, but my view of the world began changing when a friend sexually abused me as a child. The abuse left me guilty and ashamed, and my shame was multiplied over the years because I lied about it. When my parents got divorced, I felt abandoned and betrayed, which led to rebellion that presented itself in drug abuse, sexual promiscuity and self-harm. Even though I claimed to be a follower of Christ, these behaviors continued on and off until a one-night stand left me pregnant at 18 years old. I cleaned up for awhile, but the pain was still present, so I relapsed in all areas when my daughter was about 4 months old. Things got progressively worse until I was hospitalized for suicidal ideation multiple times in one month.
I first heard about Mercy when I was 16 years old, and a youth leader encouraged me to apply. I thought the program was great but not for me. After four years, when I was at my lowest point, a good friend asked if I was finally ready to apply to the program. I applied and was accepted, but when I first arrived, I was not focused at all. I was mostly focused on what people thought of me and making friends.
A real turning point in my stay at Mercy was when I began seeing God as my Heavenly Father. As I started to understand God’s love and acceptance as unconditional, I became more focused on my relationship with Him than my relationship with others. When I began to experience His love and forgiveness, it affected every area of my life. I came into Mercy terribly ashamed of the person I was, but now I know that God loves me regardless of the gross, stupid, and messed up details of my life. I am God’s daughter and am worth something.
After graduating, I’m excited to go home to my daughter and raise her to be a God-fearing woman. For the first time in my life, I recognize her for the blessing she is, and I can’t wait to show her how loved she is. I also plan to go back to college someday and would love to work in some capacity with teenagers.
I can’t say how much I appreciate my experience at Mercy and all that the donors provided for me. They’ve given me the opportunity to live my life in freedom. I’m so thankful for their obedience to Christ!