"A Beautiful, God-Written Story"
Let me take you back to four and a half years ago. There's a seventeen year old girl, sitting in the back of a large conference room in the beautiful Mountains, crying out of her utter brokenness and desperation, realizing she was no longer alone... and then she makes a life-changing decision. She made the decision to follow Christ.
That girl was me (surprise)! I made the decision to give my life to Christ on December 9, 2006, and it's been one crazy ride! From deferring my plans to attend a state college, taking me to a Christian University, challenging me to be a leader at my school, igniting in me a passion for children's and women's ministry, and providing for my every need, I can confidently exclaim that God never disappoints!
But let us rewind once more. I grew up in a pretty "normal" family - two parents, one younger brother, dogs, and lots of fun vacations! When I was eleven, however, devastation struck our family when my parents separated and divorced. I was forced to grow up way too fast, to mother my brother and be a best friend to my mom. My dad and I struggled in our relationship (and sometimes still do), which affected me greatly, though I didn't realize it then. Though my age said I was young, I was no longer a child. My childhood was gone. I learned that I couldn't rely on anyone but myself, and so pushed all of the hurt and confusion from my parents' split and the role-reversal to the back of my mind and pressed on.
In middle and high school, I fell hard to worldly desires and pressures. While I was successful academically, I was a social wreck. The "party scene" overtook my life: lies, alcohol/drug use, and boys became the weekend norm. When I was fifteen, I finally emotionally connected with all that had happened when my parents separated, and I fell into a silent depression. These feelings of utter aloneness and sadness led me to self-mutilation - an ugly, ugly term which means I began cutting myself. The physical pain helped me to deal with the emotional scarring, and it served as a means of control. Fortunately, it didn't last for very long, as once a friend found me drunk and bleeding on her bathroom floor with a razor blade in my hand, I stopped. I desperately needed someone to discover this secret of mine so that I could finally share with those close to me the pain I was dealing with from my past.
By the time I was seventeen, though, I was literally alone. My mom was working crazy hours and was never home, my dad and I weren't even on speaking terms (and my brother lived with my dad), and I was completely friend-less. I was alone. One day, I was invited to a local youth group by a few people from school, which I refused many times. They persevered, however, and I finally agreed to go just that one time (or so I thought). I walked into that youth group, hesitant and skeptical, but immediately felt what I never saw coming. Comforted. Supported. Loved. This group of people welcomed me in with open arms, sincerely wanting to get to know me, and I knew that there was just something different about these people. They had something that obviously meant a lot to them, and I wanted it on their secret. What was their secret? Jesus Christ! It was with this group that I went on a weekend retreat to Mt. Hermon in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and it was there that I made the decision to dedicate my life to Christ. Since then, my life has never been the same.
I praise God for the life and story that He has gifted me with, but this is not just simply my story. Rather, it is a small part of His grand story. It is a story of brokenness, redemption, and powerful transformation in the life of a daughter in desperate need of her Father. He has used this story - my testimony - to glorify Himself and to lead others to the recognition of His ability to truly lift one of His children out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, and to set their feet on the rock of salvation (Psalm 40:2). I am now and forever completely His.