When you have an addiction, you learn to give everything you have to your addiction. It becomes the one single focus of your life. It’s all consuming. And so those who have had an addiction should be able to then more easily give all they have to Jesus, right? And really, that’s what the Lord did in my life.
So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. (Luke 5:11)
My testimony begins with a verse because the verse became the call to live for me. Growing up a believer doesn’t make you a disciple, because sometimes that real point of surrender happens much later.
I grew up in a Christian household knowing all about Jesus. I went to Sunday School. I went to Vacation Bible School. I knew every Children’s Bible story and I always said my prayers. I believed in God, but much more so it was in my head only and very superficial.
I sensed God’s presence in my life and I knew God spoke to me—I just didn’t know, or even understand, what it meant to follow Him. I was saved right? Why did I have to live like Jesus did? I didn’t even know that was an option, and as I tried myself to be a “good person,” I realized just how impossible that was.
And besides all of that, I was very stubborn, very proud, and very rebellious. I mean we think we know it all, don’t we? That is until we realize we really don’t know anything.
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Growing up I would go to North Carolina in the summer to visit my grandparents. My grandma was probably the most faithful believer you could ever meet in your life, and my grandfather was a child molester. But you know, nobody knew that until we knew that. Eventually he ended up getting arrested for it, and it wreaked havoc in the family. It wounded me deeply—and yet the most vivid memory I have is of my grandmother’s forgiveness of him.
How could she do that?
What a curious thing that we know no human being is capable of—forgiving the man who betrayed you and who violated your daughter and your granddaughters.
That is only the love of God and so the Lord was leaving me a witness in the tragedy of my youth.
Fast forward, my high school years were spent experimenting with drugs and chasing boys. Through relationships and in relationships was where I found my identity and the place that I thought I knew love.
I married my high school sweetheart at 22, just 4 days after my best friend died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. A little over decade later, my other childhood best friend would die after a year’s battle with cancer.
A few years into my marriage, my then-husband suffered a psychotic break and from that day forward stayed in some level of psychosis daily, being diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. There was so much grief and I often would open the Word of God to find the comfort I needed. I looked for me though, not for Him.
I ended up having an affair with, and eventually married, my boss—hoping this man would rescue me from my past and my pain, hoping for some “fairytale” version of life. And it looked hopeful, because after years of infertility in both of our prior marriages, we were suddenly pregnant! We suffered a miscarriage, but not long after I was pregnant again and would bring my baby boy into the world. Funny thing how I could still hear God’s voice and sense His presence, even in my disobedience—I knew the Lord had His hand on this child.
I took my son to church every Sunday while my unbelieving husband stayed home. I was no different from the world except on that one point—and that I occasionally would read my Bible. I always said my prayers. And that was good enough, right?
I got pregnant again. One Sunday, the pastor at my church talked about a woman who gave birth to a child with disabilities and I went home sobbing. I knew there was something wrong with my baby—Hannah was stillborn on September 21, 2009.
What a pivotal day for me.
I started to take God seriously. I took an online Bible study which eventually led to me leading it. My unbelieving husband was watching and even serving alongside me in the ministry birthed from that loss. The problem was that ministry wasn’t really about Jesus, it was about me. It was for my own glory—and God was faithful to later humble me in that.
We later gave birth to Eliana Grace, meaning “my God has answered my prayers with grace.”
And God healed me from Lyme disease, panic attacks, depression, and a pituitary tumor. He saved my husband after we lost our home to bankruptcy. We got baptized together 10 years ago in 2012.
You think I would have seen the goodness of God in all of that. I didn’t.
It was as if God was saying, “When will you let Me be the One to lead?”
In 2014 I asked my husband to leave for no good reason. We weren’t even fighting—I was just bored, I suppose. How awful is that?
I got into a demonic relationship.
If you don’t believe that people can be possessed today, how can you believe you as a believer are possessed by the Holy Spirit?
That relationship nearly destroyed me—and I am so grateful for that. I was like desolate Israel in the book of Lamentations by the end of it, ready to look up and ready to let go. Thank God for that. I have abundant life today because of that destruction—and so, if you are going through something tough, rejoice in that. I would have never surrendered and God knew that. He also knew exactly what it would take to get me to that point. I was just too proud and God knew that. I was just too stubborn and God knew that too.
By month three of the relationship, I was addicted to opiates, daily taking methamphetamines. Every day I was high on something. This completely ruled my life—so I would say I gave everything I had to my addiction, but really, I gave everything I had to this man, and the addiction came with him.
It was a rapid downward spiral as I became like him whom I worshiped. I barely survived my first suicide attempt—braindead and unresponsive in a coma, on day three they told my husband if I lived, I would be a vegetable. Our God still works miracles! I am a living testament to that.
We can separate ourselves from God by our sin as the prodigal son. We remain the same positionally as a son or daughter, but relationally there is no longer any fellowship. He let me go my way knowing His intended end—that I would be restored to Him, in righteousness and truth. Only by God’s keeping power and His mercy did I survive.
The relationship was purely evil, demonic, every sort of abuse you could imagine. It went on like this for two years.
Towards the end of it I got a phone call from a headhunter, and this is how God saved me. I took a job in an entirely Hindu company, except there was a man there who befriended me—and he was a minister of our God.
Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20)
I will forever be grateful to him as he gently brought me back to Jesus, teaching me those things I never understood, and encouraging me to start reading my Bible again. I had even stopped praying during those years. Satan attacked my voice and my words through that relationship and I went silent. I silenced God’s voice even. I completely shut Him out. (I can’t imagine the million ways in which I was breaking His heart—but His love was greater still. Oh we should live in awe of that love!)
And reading those words in His book again I wondered how I had never seen all of this before? How did I not see God’s love before? How did I not see my own unfaithfulness?
I will hedge up your way with thorns,
And wall her in,
So that she cannot find her paths. (Hosea 2:6)
What a dark period it was. It was a time of bitterness, confusion, and lies. I guess what the early Christian would call the “Dark Night of the Soul” in which everyone and everything else has failed you. But then there comes His mercy. It came like a rushing flood upon me—and His amazing grace!
Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Will bring her into the wilderness,
And speak comfort to her.
I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope;
She shall sing there,
As in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. (Hosea 2:14-15)
Oh I love this so much! Oh that wilderness, that Valley of Achor—that word “Achor” means trouble in the Hebrew. My trouble became my door of hope. Oh my soul rejoiced!
Thank You Jesus for crushing me. Thank You Jesus for letting me see the fruit of my own ways. Thank You God for showing me my own faithlessness and thank You for showing me Your power and Your love in Your power.
And so really, the best part is the response to that. Look at all of the foolish things we do and the bad decisions we make when God has given us the power to make wise ones. We have His Word and we have the Holy Spirit!
Do you know my addiction just miraculously fell away? He literally broke every chain, that I might walk in freedom. He restored my marriage and my family. Every broken piece put back together upon His firm foundation, now built upon the Rock. Not my way Lord, but Yours.
Oh that is when I learned to say “Yes Lord!”—because why wouldn’t I?
Your words were found, and I ate them,
And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart;
For I am called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16)
Do you know that there is no greater joy than to be His? And His Word! There is nothing like it!
My life forever changed because I finally surrendered. And daily I will do that again for the rest of my life here below.
I will die daily.
So back to the verse that we started with at the beginning: So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. (Luke 5:11)
The real question is why wouldn’t we?
Why do we hold on to things that keep us from getting to Jesus when we’re trying to get to Jesus?
It’s not about trying harder tomorrow, or doing better next time, or anything else that involves human effort. We lay it all down, our very lives, to take up His.
You were made with a purpose—to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!