When I was a small child, a family member was physically and spiritually abusive towards me. They also heavily favored my brother over me which was the start of the damage to my self-worth.

By the time I was five, my parents split up. At this point, I lived with my mom who worked many hours to provide for us leaving us at home with my abuser. Over the next few years, I went back and forth between my parents. In between, I often ended up staying with a family where my brother and I were mistreated.  I was put down almost daily and threatened to be physically abused. This gave me lots of anxiety. I felt alone, unsafe, and very depressed. I also began to feel deep sadness, when my grandpa died.

High school for me was the start of a downward spiral. My home situation got worse. I began to feel like a burden and thought that my emotions weren’t valid. Feeling unaccepted, I looked for approval from friends and boys. My first boyfriend was highly influential and also mentally and emotionally abusive. Trying to fill a hole only God could, my depression got deeper. I began acting out in other areas as well and started smoking marijuana. At sixteen, I tried to commit suicide. After that, my depression got even worse and I began self-harming. A few months later, I was sexually abused by a close friend.

After my second suicide attempt, my dad realized that I needed serious help. I was acting out. I smoked to escape and started ditching school to do so. My senior year I was sent to a program that was meant for healing but did quite the opposite for me. After being sent home, God put my life on pause. I had more mental breakdowns and was severely triggered. I was in pain and confused about everything.

Finally, my parents came together to convince me to take the help my dad was trying to provide. I came to Mercy determined to finish the program in 3 months. It took about 2 days for me to see how that was not going to happen. I had an open heart for healing, and I could tell that this was the right place for me.

At Mercy, the first thing I learned was the importance of committing to Christ. Considering that I was already a believer, I thought “done,” but the Holy Spirit said, “not quite.”  Within my first months, God put me through a trial, and the lust I struggled with was gone and replaced with trust in God.

Choosing to forgive myself and people was very hard for me. I had nothing to forgive God for. It was people and myself I felt I couldn’t forgive. But I realized holding on to unforgiveness was hurting only me. I learned that forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. In forgiving myself, I realized I blamed myself for things I had no control over. God told me that I needed to receive His forgiveness, not just believe it. Finally, that stronghold was broken.  My counselor explained to me how “hurt people, hurt people.” God showed me His truth about the lies I believed and told me that each and every moment I was in pain He was there comforting me.

At Mercy, I built a deep and personal relationship with the Lord. I worked on my relationship with my parents, and I am thankful that they never gave up on me and were willing to make changes to do what is best for me. I even learned how to correctly express my feelings in friendships. One thing I will never forget is that my feelings are valid, and they are my responsibility. God took my confusion and gave me understanding. He took my pain and showed me His love. Now I have beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and I got praise for heaviness.

After Mercy, I plan to finish school, get connected with a great church, go to college, and get a job. I plan to use all I learned from Mercy and share it with the people in my life. God took what the enemy meant for evil and turned it for good.