My father was an alcoholic. We lived in a home that was supposedly a Christian home. We went to church all the time and we always acted like we were the perfect Christian family. My father was very abusive, mostly toward my mother but also to myself and my two brothers. His abuse was directed mostly at my mother. He would hit her, strip her clothes off, and talk about her like she was a terrible person. At five, six, and seven years old we didn’t understand the curse words he would use. He would come in the middle of the night and drag us out of bed into the living room and begin accusing us of things. I remember him accusing me of being no good, worthless, and a whore when I was eight years old. I didn’t know what a whore was, but I knew the way he said it that it wasn’t good.
At a young age I had a very bad self image. This led to my being sexually promiscuous when I was older. I would do anything to make myself feel better or to get attention. There were many boys I was sexually involved with. I then started abusing drugs and alcohol, which is something I swore I would never do because it was the source of all our family problems, and I hated it. I became pregnant before I was married, and gave birth to a son. The man I married never loved me, nor did he intend to love me. Neither was he a father to my son. The marriage ended in divorce. So, I found myself having been rejected by the two most important men in my life; my father and my husband. That resulted in further destruction of my self image.
I ended up going to nursing school. I thought, “People like nurses. They have value in this world. If I can take care of people they will like me.” I decided that whoever I was going to care for as a nurse, I would be the best nurse that had ever taken care of them.
I had such a hole in my heart because of my X-husband abandoning me and my son. He came back and acted as if it was going to be a fun family experience. It looked as if it might become what I had dreamed of having. That’s when I began smoking crack cocaine. I quickly became addicted, and the shame of not becoming who I really wanted to be was tremendous, and it weighed heavy upon me. It was so intense I couldn’t stand to not be high. After I had spent all of my savings and all of my paycheck I would do whatever I needed to get more drugs. If someone wanted to trade sex for drugs I would do that. I would trade food stamps for drugs. I would steal for drugs. The more I did it the more I had to do it. I just couldn’t stand to live with myself. I did all of those things. I prostituted myself. I stole from my family. I stole from my son. I eventually ended up in jail because of stealing. That’s when things started turning around.
One day, in court, the Assistant District Attorney told me about a place called Teen Challenge. I entered the Teen Challenge program in Philadelphia, PA., but being from a small town of Etowah, Tennessee I thought, “God is not in here! He has dragged me to the ghetto to leave me, and I’ll never be able to go home again.” I went on the back porch, and screamed at God, “You brought me up here! You stuck me up here where I don’t have anyone or anything. You’ve got to do something.” That’s the first time I had been real with God.
I think trusting God enough to talk straight to Him is what really started my turn around. After that the Word of God began opening up to me. When I began to understand *Romans 8:1-2 is when I started to trust that He loved me and wanted the best for me. I began to believe He loved me when I was prostituting myself, when I was in the crack house; that he had never left me. All the times I was afraid and hiding from my father, God was there with me, protecting me. He also showed me that my life wasn’t over.
The ministry that I worked for, Women at the Well, sent me to Israel. It wasn’t a ministry trip. It was purely pleasure. I remember the beauty of that land. Jerusalem is a beautiful city. I remember standing on a hill looking over the old city of Jerusalem. As I stood there God spoke to me in a way that I could understand, saying, “You are my daughter. You are my favorite child. I invited you and brought you to this Holy City, Jerusalem.” I always worried about being good enough. There’s no way I could be good enough for that. The main thing he showed me was that there is nothing that I can do to keep myself from being that. He chose it. God is the boss, and that’s just who I am. This put me on a path to accepting that I am a daughter of God.