Before Mercy, I was completely out of control and hopeless. Growing up, I was raised in a home where my parents struggled with alcohol and drug addictions. When I was a teenager, my parents got clean, but I didn’t like the new structure at home. I never felt like I was important or enough. I began to rebel and lash out at anyone who tried to tell me what to do. I was saved in third grade but never knew my identity in Christ or God’s character. I thought the world’s way of living the “teenage dream,” being free, and doing whatever I wanted was better than God’s way of life. I thought His way was boring and full of rules. I ran away from conflict and the rules at home towards what I thought freedom was: partying and doing what I wanted.

I had low self-esteem about my weight from over-eating, and I began using nicotine so I wouldn’t eat as much. I hated myself and numbed my depression with marijuana. I was lonely and insecure, so I’d sleep around with guys and find my worth in whatever they said, whether good or bad. I thought I was too bad and messed up anyways so nothing mattered.

During my time at Mercy, God showed me my identity and His character. He spoke to me through journaling, letting me know I’m important and beautiful inside and out. I learned that in Christ, there’s no shame, and I’m not bad. Through my counselor, I learned what grace is and how to give it to myself and others. Then going to In His Wakes, the volunteers showed me I can still have fun as a Christian and enjoy life. I read about what real forgiveness is in the Kerrie Oles’ book Unlocked and learned how to have freedom in the Keys to Freedom study.

I also began to be more vulnerable and communicate better, which helped restore my relationship with my parents. Living in a house full of young women and seeing their lives as well as staff’s care, showed me what type of love the Bible talks about and how to treat others like Jesus would. I began to read the Bible and realized it’s full of life and answers to every area of my life. As I spent more time talking to God and reading his Word, I realized He is what I’ve been looking for all along. Reading daily scriptures and my truth statements aloud began to transform me and renew my mind. I began to believe the truth for myself and have hope again. I gained the confidence I never had. God truly did bind up and heal this once broken heart. All Satan meant for harm; God used for good. I taste and see His goodness. As Proverbs 31:25 says, I now smile at my future and laugh without fear.

After Mercy, I plan to work a lot and look for a new car. I want to continue to grow in God and get connected to a fun, uplifting church.