Katie – 2016 Graduate
I grew up in a very loving, Christian family. My dad served as a pastor, and the church was a major part of my upbringing. Although my childhood was full of love and seemed ideal, my family was under a heavy legalistic mindset and religious spirit. Through this, I saw love as performance based, needing to be earned rather than given. It began to not matter what anyone said to contradict this thought; I saw it as truth. Questions of my worth and the need to be accepted were fueled by comparison, strife, and a passive aggressive atmosphere within my family. I loved with a fear of rejection and shame from standards imposed by all the systems around me, including Jesus. From a young age that continued into adulthood, it seemed like I was battling for my survival against anxiety-filled nights and spontaneous panic attacks. I felt misunderstood and began shoving everything down inside of me instead of talking about it. Throughout high school, codependent relationships and a hypercritical lifestyle became normal patterns for me. I tried calling out to a God I thought I knew, but felt like He never answered. At this point, I believed God enjoyed my pain. I finally quit all church involvement, and I decided to walk away from God. When an unstable romantic relationship finally ended and things came to an all time low for me, I attempted suicide for the first time, but was unable to go through with it. I turned to self-harm and became addicted to it for five years. Through many more attempted suicides and constant depression, self-harm became more than a coping mechanism for me. When I began college, everything I thought I still had control over started spiraling out of my hands. I dove into a relationship that was severely codependent with a women who was emotionally and mentally abusive. When she ended the relationship, I had completely lost who I was. I started drinking and smoking heavily, putting myself into dangerous situations. A friend of someone I trusted sexually violated me, and I believed everything to be my fault. I thought that my very purpose on earth was to die. I tried to numb my pain by an increasingly reckless lifestyle. Alcoholism, excessive partying, experimentation with drugs, and sleeping with both men and women became a part of my daily life. I was miserable, desperate, and hopeless.
After many medications, isolation, theft charges, and the intense worrying of my parents, I finally decided to ask my dad for help. He had already been researching Christian facilities, and he told me about Mercy. I was very hesitant, but he had me come back home and really consider my need for help. After seeing a video of Nancy Alcorn describing her heart for Mercy, I decided to apply and was eventually accepted. I walked into Mercy sick from a hangover and wanting to run out of the doors I had just walked through. Needless to say, I knew there was nowhere else to go. I had a lot of hate for God and Christianity, but I knew my only future at that point was Mercy.
When I finally started trying to talk to God again, He began stirring up my spirit and powerfully showed Himself to me one morning during worship. The love I felt was overwhelming, and I realized I must not have known Jesus at all. From that point on, I decided to do whatever I needed to get to know Him. Jesus started to really speak to me, and I began seeing how valuable and treasured I was. I started literally changing the way my brain thought by speaking God’s truth over me. When I made the decision to forgive God for not letting me die, as well as forgiving everyone who had ever hurt me, I experienced a joyful freedom that made me feel so light, but full of substance and grounded. When my counselor gave me a challenge to sit down during worship times and realize that God loved me just as much sitting down as He did me standing and making an effort, performance based love melted off of me. He showed me that His love is not striving, does not hold onto wrongs, and is freely given and constant.
God has given me a beautiful realization of my identity in Him. He’s torn open my boxes of small minded thinking. He has given me a strong voice and multicolored personality. He has given me freedom and release from tormenting voices and the power to overcome! He’s given me a bright future that I never thought I would have.
Upon leaving Mercy, I will be returning home to spend time with my family and rebuilding relationships God has already begun to restore. I will be actively involved at church, connecting with my accountability partner, and working to raise money to attend a music and arts program that I believe God is calling me to in Australia. I also feel that God has laid it on my heart to start sponsoring at-risk and in-need children, working toward missions in Israel, and using my story to help other girls in pain. I’m so excited to embark on this journey with confidence, love, and eyes open to discovery.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! Through everything Mercy supporters have done and given, I have been able to find freedom and healing without the worry or stress or distrust that comes from a charge-based program. You have helped change and save lives. Thank you.