If you would have asked me my whole life if I believed in God, I would have told you yes, every time. I remember many times saying, “I know I’m not living right, but God knows my heart. He knows I’m a good person.”
In reality, I was not a good person, and it would take until I was 38 years old to realize that I had been living like there was no God at all.
I was living my life from a broken spirit and a broken heart, as someone unloved and unwanted.
When I was young, my parents divorced, and I would have visitations with my father, off and on, until around the age of 10 or 11. What I remember of him is that he was an amazing dad, and I adored him. He read me The Hobbit, bought me a pony, took me on surprise visits to Disneyland... I was daddy’s little girl. Then, one day, my bags were packed for a visit, and he never showed up. I’m not sure the real story behind what happened, and at this point, it doesn’t matter. What I do know is it planted the seed that I was unloved and unwanted.
My mother had remarried by then, and my stepfather became an alcoholic and very abusive into my teen years. The first incident I remember of physical abuse came in the summer before high school. I had gotten into trouble with some friends, talked back to my stepdad, and he beat me pretty badly. He grabbed me by the hair, took me to the ground, and punched me over and over.
I ran away the next day. That night, I would lose my virginity to a boy I have never spoken to or seen since.
I believe that was the weekend my soul was broken. I think that I had suffered with depression before this, which is why I was being rebellious in the first place, but on this particular weekend something changed. My soul was broken. My spirit was broken.
I would spend the next four years in high school lost. I look back and feel like I was constantly searching for who I was and for someone—anyone—to love me.
Life at home progressively got worse, which led my mother to spend as much time at work as possible to escape her own turmoil with my stepdad. I would start drinking heavily and found myself in situations that just broke my spirit even more. My once straight-A report cards would evolve into me almost not graduating.
I had my first child at 20 with a man who abandoned me while I was pregnant. I wish I could say this is where my daughter saved my life and I got myself together, but unfortunately my feelings of worthlessness only intensified. The next few years I would fall into a downward spiral of meth addiction, lost jobs, lost friends and family, and a job in a strip club.
By the time I was 28, I had 3 separate overdoses that landed me in rehab each time. My mental health was in such despair that I finally found myself in the mental hospital for a week. It was there that I was finally diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and Bipolar disorder.
Over the next year, I would begin going to AA meetings, stayed sober, got a job in property management, but would eventually go back to the strip club. I worked my day job and at the club. I was up for a promotion to a larger property, and I remember saying a prayer to God: “If I get this promotion, I will quit the club.” I got the promotion. However, the new position did not start for another month or two. I didn’t quit the club. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, someone saw me in the club and told my manager. They took my promotion away. I still to this day, remember that prayer and think to myself, what if I had kept my promise to God?
I ended up quitting the property management job shortly after that and went to school to get my Esthetician License. I graduated, stayed sober, and again worked two jobs.
In 2002, I met the love of my life. We had an amazing five-year relationship and were to be married in September of 2007. In February 2007, on a Monday, he sent me a text telling me that he had “a permanent smile on his face,” knowing that one day soon I’d be his wife. He sent me flowers that week. The following Monday, he called me on the phone and said he “was done.” Six months later, he was engaged to another woman.
Needless to say, it solidified my belief that I was unloved and unwanted. This abandonment would send me into another downward spiral of alcohol and drugs. My life plan at this point was to get my now 14-year-old daughter graduated and on with her life, and I was going to end mine.
I would spend the next two years drowning myself in a bottle of vodka, numbing myself the best I could. I was working nights and days, getting about 3-4 hours of sleep a night, all while getting my daughter through school and cheerleading. I was burning the candle at both ends, to say the least.
In 2009, after a drunken stupor and a one-night stand, I found myself with a positive pregnancy test. I couldn’t believe I was in this situation.
I had had two abortions in my past and vowed I would never do it again. Both times I was left devastated and completely broken inside. However, here I was in this hopeless situation, and abortion seemed the only sane option.
This is where God showed up. It was no accident that the weekend I found out I was pregnant was Easter weekend. God knew I would be in church the next day. I was the girl that only went to church on Easter, and maybe a few times on Christmas. (My mom had found the Lord years prior and had been praying and praying for me.) On April 12, 2009, at a church in Vacaville, California, I began to hear the Lord truly speak to me. The church was putting on a production, and the woman announcing it at the pulpit said, “And the name of our production today is called ‘Eternal Choices.’” Eternal Choices. I heard that. I was about to make an eternal choice.
My heart and mind were in turmoil. I knew what it was like to raise a child as a single mother. I also knew I would lose my main source of income at the club if I had this child. The father was in another country and wouldn’t even return my calls. The only logical choice, to me, was to abort.
Later that night, I got on my knees to pray. My mom had given me a Bible as a gift a month before this. I grabbed that Bible and said to God in a rather stern voice, “Okay, God, I can’t make this decision on my own. I am going to open up this Bible, and You are going to tell me what to do!” Then I opened it randomly.
This is what I read:
“‘All right, bring me a sword.’ So, a sword was brought to the king.
Then he said, ‘Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other!’
Then the woman who was the real mother of the living child, and who loved him very much, cried out, ‘Oh no, my lord! Give her the child! Please do not kill him!’
But the other woman said, ‘All right, he will be neither yours nor mine; divide him between us!’
Then the king said, ‘Do not kill the child, but give him to the woman who wants him to live, for she is his mother!’” (1 Kings 3:24-27)
I would go on to read that this king was King Solomon. Solomon is the last name of the father of the child I was carrying. He had a “King Solomon” tattoo across his abdomen.
I knew in that moment, without a doubt, that God was really real.
Like, really real. There wasn’t enough coincidence in the world to make me open up to that page in the Bible. The only place in the Bible that says, “don’t kill the child.” My next thought was, I might be going to Hell. The sin throughout my life was glaringly in my face. I knew enough of the Bible to know I had not been living right. I became fearful. Then, just as fast as I became fearful, I was comforted. I could almost feel God physically put His arms around me as I flashed back through my life and could see all the times that God had been with me and I just didn’t know it. He showed me how He had been calling me to Him so many times. How He protected me in so many instances I shouldn’t have survived.
I wish I could say that I was just filled with joy from that day forward, but I wasn’t. I still did not want to be pregnant. I would go to bed many nights with a plan to “take care of it” the next day. That scripture kept haunting me. What would happen to me if I did not listen?
I understand today what Proverbs 9:10 means. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom...” It was truly the fear of the Lord that led me to not make the decision to kill my child. Every day, as I walked it out and chose to obey, God showed me more and more that He was with me through it all. As things began to unfold and I started to lose all my worldly things (including some friends), God kept giving me Jeremiah 29:11-13, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me...’”
So, I did just that. I kept praying. I kept trusting. I began to see how loved I really was, and I began to fall madly in love with my God.
On December 18, 2009, God blessed me with another beautiful daughter. She is now the most amazing, smart, talented, and beautiful girl in the world, just like her sister. I always tell her that Jesus saved her, and she introduced me to Jesus.
When God showed me my life, I felt Him say to me, “Do you see why I say to live the way I say to live?” He showed me how the ways of this world lead to heartache and despair.
Life is different when you make choices from a place of already being loved, valued, cherished, and chosen.
We no longer live from a place desperately needing validation and acceptance from the world around us. Our identity becomes secure in the One who created us.
Today, I have walked in purity, been freed of my addictions, and try to honor God with my life as best I can. I may not always understand why God does some things, but what I can do is trust that He is for me and that He knows and wants what’s best for me. Romans 8:28 tells me that He will turn it all for good—even the bad.
Our first command is to love God with all our heart and all our soul. 1 John 5 tells us what love looks like to God: “This is love for God: that we obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” What this means is that our obedience flows out of love and gratitude, not some burdensome obligation.
Romans 12:2 has become my life verse. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” As I walked this out with the Lord, I changed, and my mind changed. I no longer desired my old way of life. God’s desires became my desires.
Jesus died on the cross, not only to take on the punishment of my sin but also to cleanse me of my impurity. The Holy Spirit was poured out to give us power to live as Christ lived on the Earth.
The life of a disciple is no longer riddled with sin but empowered with hope, peace, love, and self-control.
Empowered to live holy and love deeply. Love God and love people... in that order. When we love God deeply, we are able to love people and worship God in Spirit and in TRUTH.
I don’t claim to be perfect today, but I can claim that my desire is to honor God with my whole life and surround myself with people who will tell me the truth when I stumble or get off track. I never want to take the grace of God for granted. He lived and died for me; may I live and die for Him.
Eternal choices. We make them every day. May we choose to spend eternity with God and not eternity without Him.
“Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” - Jesus (Matthew 4:17)