So, I love love love missionary stories. You know, the kind where the Holy Spirit is crazy alive and working in the lives of people who are spreading the love and message of Jesus Christ. One day they don’t have money for a trip behind the Iron Curtain and the next day they have visa approval and exactly the amount of money they need to go.
I have heard some crazy stories from my friends, too. For instance, my girlfriend’s husband almost died. The EMS almost never use the defibrillator five times, but that night they did. He remained in a coma. Severe brain damage was the order of the day, but the saints of God gathered around him in prayer and he was healed. His physical healing was only the beginning. Their marriage has never been the same.
Or my friend who spent 40 days in a coma and saw Jesus, who gave her the choice to go to Heaven or to stay on Earth? (She decided to stay, by the way).
The testimonies of other believers has enable me to have more faith, stirred my desire to declare God’s works and his Good News boldly, and made me repent from my own sin.
Occasionally I have guest bloggers. And lately I’ve been thinking about featuring one of the amazing stories. And I will.
But the Lord convicted me that I had forsaken to tell one of the stories that was so dear to Him as well. Mine.
I didn’t start out by going on mission trips to Haiti or flying off to India with my husband, but I started someplace a little more dark and less appealing.
My Testimony of How I Got Saved
When I was nine, I walked down the aisle of my local Baptist church in Sealy, Texas. I heard a message of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The pastor asked if anyone wanted to receive the free gift of salvation and I just knew that I needed it to get to Heaven. And who doesn’t want to go to Heaven, right?
Soon, I got involved in the youth group at the church. It was fun. We played volleyball until it was dark and got to hang out with the cute older boys.
I went to a Dawson McAllister conference about Jesus’ return and the Rapture. I thought it was interesting. My dad had always told me about the Rapture and he frequently watched Jack Van Impe’s tv programs which referenced how current events were evidence of the nearness of Christ’s return.
An assistant youth pastor introduced us to “cool” Christian music like DC Talk and Pray for Rain. He actually gave away all his “secular” CDs because he only wanted to listen to music that glorified God. Everyone was in awe of his spirituality.
I tried to follow suit, but I was too embarrassed to be heard blaring Christian music.
I dated a sweet Christian boy for a while, but soon grew bored. My home life was increasingly strife-filled. Teenage angst coupled with my mom and dad’s marital discord caused a huge rift every day.
After breaking up with my boyfriend, I continued going to youth group events. We always got together to watch the Houston Rockets, who were playing in the NBA playoffs. The assistant youth pastor would always drive everyone home after these late nights.
That’s when it started. Now I know the word for it — grooming. But I didn’t know it then. Didn’t know that it was what a sexual predator does to a young girl like me. I was so young and naive, he was so cute…and old. He always dropped me off last. We’d drive around and talk about my problems at home. He just listened. What girl wouldn’t fall head over heels?
I thought he was so spiritual. I wanted to be like him.
Fast-forward six months, my father found us in a precarious situation. He ordered the man out and struck me to the ground. I was twelve.
During the days and months that followed, shame was my constant companion.
My mother, who knew sexual molestation when she saw it, dragged me to see the pastor of the church to address the issue.
“We’ve heard of the situation and we believe that your daughter was the instigator of the sexual misbehavior,” he said.
My mother sat slack jawed. I hung my head the entire time.
As we exited the church, I begged her to not go to the police. I couldn’t bear the shame anymore. She looked me deep in the eyes and relented. She hurt for me.
(Sidenote: I wish she had made me go. Years later, this same man was convicted for pedophilia when he molested a similar-aged girl during his service as a volleyball coach at private Christian girl’s school).
After that incident, my family disintegrated. We stopped going to church and my parents struggled to connect. My dad dove into his work and alcohol and my mom smothered him with love until she was so burnt out that she couldn’t bear his rejection of her anymore.
As a chunky pre-teen, I turned to bulimia. It felt good to purge myself of food. Now, I realize it was a coping method. There was the stain of my shame I wanted to be rid of, so I threw up. But the feeling of rejection could not be puked away enough.
I whittled down to nearly 100 lbs. Everyone suspected, but no one could pin me down. I started high school and began running cross country. I was good — the only freshman to get to state, beating all my fellow varsity members.
Acceptance felt good.
But every night I prayed that God would deliver me from my bulimia.
“If I turn 16 and I’m still bulimic, I will tell someone. Lord, please heal me.”
But by 16, I was not healed, nor did I tell a soul. I didn’t want to give up being thin, beautiful and well-liked by my friends who were no longer my cross-country running buddies, but a new crowd of drug-using cool kids.
Nirvana, Alanis Morisette and Beastie Boys constantly played on my car’s CD player. With my drug-dealing boyfriend, I frequented Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” at the laser light show and danced at Numbers, an all-ages club, in the Montrose area of Houston.
My life mirrored Angela’s, the main character of My-So-Called-Life, a popular TV show in the 90s. I explored everything that came my way. I had a blast doing it. I rarely thought about God anymore.
We played with Oujia boards and I got into studying Janism, an extreme form of Hinduism. I always knew that I was a Christian, but became increasingly open-minded.
I lived and died on my copy of Sassy magazine. I wore knee-high Doc Marten’s and could drink any guy under the table. (Cuz that was important for a girl like me…to be able to out drink a guy! So silly!)
People were worried about me. I was too skinny. Partying too hard. I was confronted a number of times. But when you have become an expert at lying to yourself, it’s easy to convince others that you are okay.
Eventually, my long-term boyfriend decided to get serious about school and dumped me. He didn’t like my party-girl mentality or my crazy angry side.
Luckily, I was a smart kid. I graduated early from high school with honors. I enrolled in UT after a crazy three months backpacking across Europe.
That’s when it got really bad.
I dropped out (okay…dropped out meant I stopped going but didn’t de-enroll from class.) After my first semester in college I had a .26 GPA. (Read that POINT 26…not a 2.6…aka super bad).
I was already doing coke, but then I met someone who introduced me to heroine. I was shooting up 1 to 3 times a week, hiding my track marks and going to work reeking of pot.
Crazy thing was that no one knew except the friends I was doing drugs with. I was the ultimate chameleon. My mom even lived with me for a while and didn’t realize the extent of my issues. Once she saw the holes in my arm and I blamed it on my cat.
The Day I Met Jesus
For weeks I had been feeling restless. I kept telling people that “something big” was going to happen to me. I didn’t know what that meant, but I said it nonetheless.
I went to Jamaica on my father’s dime just to get away from it all (seriously, poor little rich girl, right?). It was there that I reignited my passion for writing. Since I was in second grade I knew I wanted to write stories. But this time a strange thing kept happening. Every time I would write a scene, a week later it would happen to me.
Needless to say, I was weirded out. Especially because the storyline was apocalyptic.
When I got back to Austin, I kept writing and the events continued to repeat themselves in my real life.
The day I met Jesus, I wrote a journal entry about spiritual things not realizing that I was about to embark on the most amazing spiritual experience that I’d ever had. I popped a pill of Ecstasy, smoked a joint and drove around Austin. (Yes, drove. Watch out!)
I drove up to the intersection of Lamar and Anderson Lane when I had the thought I should get a Bible. Since my story was about Biblical events, like the end of the world, I should do “research.” I had left my little pink NIV Bible that was given to me at my baptism ten years prior at my childhood home.
I turned at the signal and happened upon Redeemer Luthern Church where I parked and got out.
The elderly women that met me at the door must have thought I was crazy. I wore a long black tutu, a black veiled covered my face and my lips bled red lipstick.
“Can we help you?” they asked.
“I need a Bible,” I said.
They looked at each other and went into the back office to retrieve one for me. They probably said a little prayer that I wouldn’t hurt them or cast some sort of voo-doo spell!
They handed me the Bible and all of a sudden I had the overwhelming urge to pray.
“Can I get into the chapel?”
“Why?” They looked worried.
“I need to pray!” I feel like I almost yelled at them.
The doors were unlocked for me and I went in. As the heavy doors closed behind me, I traveled up the aisle between the wooden pews. The crucifix of Jesus hung from the vaulted ceiling.
And I knew I was home.
All the questions that I didn’t realize I had been asking were answered. I realized that I was a horrible sinner, but at the same time I knew that Christ had already died for me and my sins were washed cleaned.
It was like the second verse of Amazing Grace that goes:
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed.
The moment I recognized I possessed sin was the moment that God told me I had already been forgiven of it, all I had to do was receive it.
Repentance (or turning away from my sin) was a natural by-product of the amazing grace I had received. My old lifestyle held no glamor compared with the glory I witnessed that moment.
From then on, I never did heroine or any other hard drug again. It did take me a while to give up smoking cigarettes and there were a few times I smoke weed again, but that all eventually faded into the background as I became closer to God.
That night I took the Bible the women had given me home and read it like I’d never read it before. It was alive. I understood it. It made sense and I was convicted, humbled and thankful all at once.
I couldn’t wait to tell people about my experience. I went directly to MoJo’s, a local Austin coffeeshop on the main drag, and started asking people if they had “met Jesus.” They looked at me like I was crazy and said, “No!”
I didn’t think they understood so I restated what I had meant.
“No, not like church-religious Jesus, but really…the real-life Jesus,” I asked them.
No, really. They didn’t want to hear about it. I couldn’t believe it. They must not have experienced what I had experienced. I kept talking to people until I found someone who did understand. A homeless man. We talked for hours. He was just as passionate about God as I was.
I remember calling it a “spiritual high” because I felt like I was on drugs all the time. I could see clearer. Colors around me seemed more vivid. Everything felt heightened. But I was completely sober.
The Bible references this euphoria or awakening:
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2
Reality Set In
It wasn’t long before I realized that people DID NOT want to hear about Jesus. I saved my testimony for only a select few that I felt would understand the realness of what I had experienced.
My druggie friends grew tired of my excitement and I grew weary of their lack of response to my wonderful news.
Soon after I found a great church where I felt “at home” in. Every sermon felt like the pastor had read my diary that week and knew exactly what to preach on. But at the time, there wasn’t a youth adult ministry. I didn’t have anyone to connect to spiritually.
Since I had quit my drug usage cold turkey, my bulimia, which had subsided during the peak of my substance abuse, came back with a vengeance.
Again, I prayed for deliverance. I confessed to my mother. When my church finally developed a single’s ministry I confessed to my pastors and my new friends. I wanted to be healed.
I struggled for a year after I got saved.
I begged God. I fasted (which didn’t go so well given my eating-disorder mentality). I prayed. Eventually, I cursed at God.
“Why won’t you deliver me!”
Finally, my mom suggested I go to an out-patient clinic. I bucked. I wanted to go to a 24-hour monitored facility. I didn’t trust myself.
But she reasoned that I needed to deal with real-life while I went through therapy. I agreed.
The moment I walked into La Que Sabe (which is no longer in existence) on December 18, 2001 I was healed of my eating disorder. I never purged again. I hadn’t even attended one therapy session yet!
But I did still finish the course of meetings, which included group and individual counseling. I was the only one who recovered out of my group. I have to believe that it was the power of Christ working through me that did it.
I knew I had been healed miraculously of my eating disorder, but it wasn’t until one day walking down the steps of UT that I realized how fully I had recovered.
In the past after I had eaten anything I would recount every thing I had consumed, but that day as I neared the campus bookstore it dawned upon me that I had eaten both breakfast and lunch without a second thought. That had not happened to me since I was twelve!
I was healed. And it was all God’s handiwork.
There are many more stories of God’s working in my life. I could fill a book and, who knows, maybe one day I will.
Since those days, I have performed spoken work poetry, been a jammer on the first Roller Derby league in Austin (LadyHawk on the Rhinestone Cowgirls), graduated UT with a Journalism degree (worked my way up to a 3.0 from that horrible first semester), gotten married, had six children and written multiple books (including one eBook on motherhood and a longer fiction book).
There have been ups and downs, setbacks and struggles, but through it all God has been right by my side.
I have sinned again and again…oh how I wish this weren’t true, but it is. And His mercy and grace has been ready for me time and time again.
I hope my testimony has been encouraging to your faith if you already know Christ.
And if you don’t know Jesus, I encourage you to ask the ONLY God of the Universe to show himself to you the way he has shown himself to me.
May God’s peace and love be with you.
Head covering Christian woman who loves good wine, coffee, stinky cheese and missionary books. My favorite dessert is Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake. I am a Christian author, blogger, and speaker. I fell in love with my husband because he had rain drops on his glasses (true story). In my spare time I homeschool my six children (5 girls, 2 boys).