I grew up with my older brother and sister. Both of my parents did not believe in religion or God. My parents divorced when I was one, so I grew up going back and forth between my parents’ houses every day. My mom spent her life working, so she was never around. I grew up not feeling loved and always felt out of place. I felt unwanted and neglected. I never saw my mom happy when I was growing up. She was always stressed, short-tempered, screaming, drinking, and at least once a month locking herself in her room taking pills. My dad started telling me in 4th grade that my mom was going to die before I graduated high school. This caused a lot of the insecurities I have struggled with growing up.
When I reached middle school I didn’t really have friends and always struggled connecting with people. I desperately wanted the popular crowd’s approval and acceptance, so I started to change to fit in. I changed my attitude, fought a lot with my family, and started dating. My relationship with my boyfriend became verbally abusive and destructive just like my relationship with my mom. I felt so out of control in my relationships, that I directed my attention to something I could control—my eating habits. This led to a 6-year battle with anorexia and bulimia. At the same time, I began drinking heavily and partying.
During my junior year my ex and I broke up. I felt broken, lost, and confused. I jumped from group to group, and constantly switched friends attempting to fill the emptiness in my heart. I started dating another guy 6 months after the break up and he introduced me to smoking weed.
After high school, I was excited for a fresh start at Cal State Fullerton. But during finals, I was super stressed and was given an aderoll. That one aderoll led to an addiction to aderoll, on top of smoking, drinking, and not eating. Obviously, no one’s body is meant to handle these things, and in December 2009, I ended up being hospitalized for 3 days and then continued in a 5-week intensive therapy at the Hospital. But this experience helped me start thinking about eternity and God a lot. I couldn’t place my finger on it but I knew that God was real. I felt like He was speaking to me so loudly even through all the pain and emptiness.
When I got out of the hospital, my mom took my car, phone, computer, everything in my apartment, and put it all in storage to teach me a lesson. I ended up leaving to my dad’s, who I hadn’t seen in 5 years. He encouraged me to go to Saddleback Church and hear Rick Warren speak. I was shocked that my dad was going to church since he made fun of religion all my life. He said God was changing him. I was filled with tears and chills the whole time I was there. Rick spoke about God’s love, compassion, and his greatest offer—how Jesus didn’t come to Earth to judge it, but to SAVE it. I realized that by accepting Jesus into my life I am adopted into God’s family, and I am given a brand new life where the old is wiped away. I truly believed every word and I had no doubts about it anymore. I was saved. I ended up going to Saddleback every weekend, learning more about God and starting to finally feel healthier. I was doing well and went back to Cal State Fullerton in February 2010.
That summer, my best friend and mom decided to take a trip to Cabo. My mom has a house there, and I always took frequent trips while growing up. I felt like I deserved a break from life since I was doing so well after everything that had happened. I still wasn’t completely understanding Jesus though, and I still wasn’t walking a Christian life, even though I thought I was doing “good.”
A night of drinking led to me blacking out and being taken advantage of by a local guy. When I came to conscience, I freaked out. I was completely disgusted and ashamed and horrified at what had happened. When I was back home, I just felt like my stomach was in my throat. I wished it was only a bad dream, but I knew it wasn’t. I just couldn’t believe that this could have happened to me. I got on my knees in my room and cried out to Jesus. I still clearly remember where I sat and just the level of sorrow I felt. I prayed this prayer: “Jesus, if you are really real and you do heal, then I pray that you help me not feel this pain. I am living my life my way and I keep driving myself further into a hole. Please Jesus heal me. I am so sorry for my sin. I don’t know how to get better, but I want to.”
All of a sudden I felt like I couldn’t cry anymore and God was telling me to go back to bed and get rest and not worry. After that I began going to Crave and going to Saddleback every weekend, and have seen God make a ton of changes in my life. I transferred from Fullerton to West Coast University in February 2011. At this time, I overcame bulimia. My mom and I have also reconciled our relationship. My family has gotten so close, it boggles my mind. I also started going to a small group in June 2011 which is where I began my full on commitment to the Lord. I have now completely fallen in love with God. I became a co-leader, and leading the girls really changed my view on true friendships. I really learned how to put my trust in the Lord to work through me. Kelly Sonnenburg also helped me a ton in growing and healing. She has helped me with forgiving myself through my struggles. She helped me with moving forward with my pain of the rape in Mexico. She has been an ear and a shoulder for me and also someone who I know is praying for me always. Being in Jim and Kelly’s small group has been a blessing. Also, having Crave as my home really has made my heart feel filled with love and joy.
Life now as an authentic follower of Christ is incredible. I still catch myself wanting to be worried or fearful, but I realize I don’t need to because God will work through all of my hardships with me. I strive to fully follow God wholeheartedly and not the ways of this world by falling into temptation drinking or smoking. The void in my heart is filled and I don’t need to try to fill it with empty, meaningless things anymore. I am grateful for God’s strength and unending love for me.
I want to leave you guys with one last thing. If you feel a void in your heart, like something’s missing, you may have had thoughts like, “I feel like I need a drink to make me feel better,” or “I just need to get stoned to make this loneliness go away” or “Maybe this girl or guy will make it better.” Whether it be sex, drugs, or people, all this trying day after day to make it go away just leaves you feeling like something is still missing…the answer in my life has been God. God filled that void, I now wake up full, like I don’t have things of this world to make me feel complete. I just need Jesus and I need to FULLY believe in that.
The verse that keeps me strong and going, is the one I got tattooed on my wrist for my birthday:
Isaiah 40:31--“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint.”