Courtney – 2015 Graduate
When I was very young my parents divorced, and later my dad left my life completely, which was a tragic loss for me. As a young girl I was fully convinced that I had no value and that I was going to end up committing suicide. I was ashamed of myself for having suicidal thoughts, and saying “I’m ok” became a mask for me. I thought I was the only one hurting since I didn’t see much emotion from those in my life. I stifled my feelings and decided not to talk or deal with the things that were hurting me. In high school I got caught up in anorexia and also began self-harming. After I lost two family members in an accident and experienced sexual abuse by someone close to me, I fell even deeper into my eating disorder in order to avoid acknowledging the internal pain I felt. I was consumed with anxiety and depression and began isolating myself from my friends and family. All of the previous forms of coping that I had used in my childhood returned, and I became suicidal. I didn’t know how to talk about or deal with my hurt, emotions, or feelings. Hiding them in silence was literally killing me.
I heard about Mercy when someone gave me the book Starved: Mercy For Eating Disorders by Nancy Alcorn. I was offended at first that someone thought I needed the book, but about a year and a half after reading it, I decided to look up the Mercy website and apply. I knew I needed help. When I arrived at Mercy, I was very anxious because I knew I was going to have to start eating. I was hopeless that I would ever be free from my eating disorder, and I felt like I wasn’t good enough for God to want me.
My turning points at Mercy came when I was prompted by either God or the staff to step out of my comfort zone. I chose to be obedient, even when I didn’t completely understand the reasoning behind it.
At Mercy, God really began speaking to me. I had never heard His voice before, and I give Him full credit for the freedom I now have. He has shown me that I am worthy of love and that my worth doesn’t come from the number on the scale, the amount of calories I consume per day, or the amount of miles I run in a week. He thinks I am wonderful and has told me that I am beautiful. God has taught me that my feelings are important. In the past I felt like I had failed Him, and I thought He didn’t want anything to do with me. But God showed up countless times and told me how proud He is of me.
After graduating from Mercy, I plan to go home and be the real deal. I want to get plugged back into the youth ministry at my church and go on my first mission trip this summer. I have applied for a ministry internship and hope to be accepted for the fall. Eventually I plan to publish a book I have written and to travel and speak about what God has done for me. Someday, I hope to settle down with my future husband and have a bunch of children.
I am so thankful to have been able to come to a place that took me in just as I was, that never judged me, and that loved me when I felt unlovable. I am definitely on the other side of Nancy Alcorn and Mercy supporters’ obedience. My life has been completely changed.