Monica and her son, Samuel

I was thirteen the first time I used drugs. There were no role models in my life and I was struggling with my identity – I didn’t believe I fit in anywhere. So, naturally, I found myself hanging with the “troubled” kids. My choices at that time ultimately rendered me a “bad girl” – I believed it and it made me hate myself. Throughout my youth I struggled with anger. I needed my parents to be there for me, but they were too busy dealing with their own issues in life. I felt incredibly unloved. Although I managed to do well in school, gaining friends and popularity along the way, I still battled self-hatred.

At 17, my father committed suicide as a result of struggling with an addiction for many years. After his suicide, I rapidly headed down a path of destruction. I never doubted that God was real, but I doubted my significance to Him.

My drug addiction worsened. I rarely worked and lied about everything. I lost friends, jobs and anything of any value in my life. After 7 years of hardcore drug use, I finally hit rock bottom. I remember lying on the floor in a state of panic. I had been up for days and was ready to give up. I prayed for death, crying out, “God! If you want me to live, you have to do it, because I can’t.

Three months after I cried out to God, I was a resident of Mercy in their Nashville home. During the application process, I learned I was pregnant. It was a huge shock, but I realized I had something to live for, other than myself. My time at Mercy was a time of healing. When I first arrived, I was very angry. I remember the pain of facing my past and how hard it was. To my surprise, God was gentle with me. I don’t think I’ve ever been more at peace than when I lived in the Mercy home with 40 other girls.

It’s been ten years since I walked through the doors of Mercy. Much has happened since then – life is certainly rich. In truth, it’s not always been easy, I’ve faced many trials. But what I’ve learned is that we are always in process – we are always “becoming”. The time I spent at Mercy was just the beginning – it gave me the tools and foundation I needed to navigate the ongoing challenges and temptations that life brings us. I’ve not done everything perfectly, but thankfully, I don’t have to be perfect, because He is. I’ve learned much about grace and forgiveness along the way. And I have a deeply rooted and experiential compassion for anyone who is struggling with self-worth and self-hatred. I can look at people and remove them from their behavior – knowing that destructive behaviors are merely symptoms of pain. My struggles have fostered empathy, which allows me to love all kinds of people – and I believe that is part of what we are supposed to be developing in this life.

Today I am the Digital Marketing Director of an incredible company in Nashville, Tennessee. Samuel, my son, is nearly 10 years old. We have a blessed life and continue to be the recipients of God’s favor and grace. We’ve seen many miracles over the years – He always provides – He never leaves us. We are so thankful.

Oh yeah, we are still waiting on that lucky man who will get to share in this life with us. ;)