Growing up, my dream was to live in a penthouse in New York City with my pet tiger and own a private law firm. I have been about my business since I was a little girl. But how many of you know that our plan for our life is not always God’s plan for our life? Thank God for that!
My parents were never married and split up before I became a toddler, causing me to bounce back and forth between the two throughout my childhood. Stability was foreign to me, but I made the best of the circumstances I was dealt. In my early years, my mom took us to church faithfully. I learned about the Lord through standard Pentecostal teachings. I understood, but had not yet made a deep, personal connection with God. We moved from New York and began attending a church that had a separate children’s church in North Carolina, which I loved attending and really paid attention to the message brought forth there.
Not long after, my father had been in a terrible truck accident and was hospitalized. Immediately, I knew to turn to God. I went to my support system of leaders in the children’s church. One of the leaders taught me how to pray the word of God over my situation and how to speak life over my father through the power of God’s word. Every night I prayed, “No weapon formed against my father shall prosper,” and by the end of the week, we got a call and my father was doing great! My faith increased and I discovered the power of prayer.
My mom opened up a nail salon at a local flea mall shortly after. I discovered a section of the mall where they held bible studies for kids. This is where I took a stand and accepted Jesus as my Lord and personal Savior. Up to this point, I was as innocent as I could be for a child who had endured some unfortunate events during early childhood. But then, we moved again. We were too far to attend the same church and my mom discontinued her shop at the flea mall. The less I fed my spirit, the less sensitive I became to His convictions.
By age 12, I had what I believed was my first real boyfriend, we had gone to second base, and I tried and liked alcohol. My new interests were to act older because I was treated as if I was older and told I was mature. I moved back north to New Jersey to live with my father at 13. It was a constant battle because I would remember the word of God that was in me from young, but my flesh had already experienced certain pleasures. Deep down, I yearned to be innocent again.
My father was a long-distance truck driver, and I spent a lot of time at my aunt and uncle’s house. My older cousin took me to church and introduced me to a youth group, presenting the opportunity for me to reconcile my relationship with God. But I never hesitated to enjoy the familiar temptations when I would visit my mom and sisters every summer. By age 15, I added weed to my selection of substances.
The struggle was so real because my father was never a believer. The only access I had to church and the word of God was through my cousin. High school is where I met the person I eventually gave myself to, and began what ended up being a tumultuous on-and-off relationship for years. Still, my education was something I took very seriously. I had goals, and reaching those goals became my outlet. I got into NYU on a full ride scholarship. Ironically, I was studying Applied Psychology. While I could not fully help myself, I wanted to save everyone else.
The freedom I experienced living on-campus came with greater spiritual challenges. Experiencing a lot of close losses in my family during my first couple semesters of college, coupled with the stresses of a toxic, inconsistent relationship, took a toll on me. What I learned was how to numb the pain through substance abuse and I added pills to my choice of substances. When I returned to NYU from a medical leave of absence due to being diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, I was introduced to a Christian student club on campus called the Navigators. Eventually, I went on a mission’s trip with the Navigators to Morocco, where I met my [now] husband, Myron.
Coming back from our trip, things took a terrible turn that eventually led to Myron and I distancing ourselves from each other. My ex decided to “surprise” me, like he enjoyed doing every time I finally started to move on. I fell back into the whirlwind of our toxic relationship and was so ashamed that I didn’t even want to face God. I distanced myself from everyone who would remind me of my faith, and fell into deeper depression.
When things did not work out, I went on a downward spiral and found myself in the lowest, darkest places of my life. Further hurting myself, I gave way to promiscuity. Filled with anger, I wanted to be in control and I wanted no restrictions. Feeling wanted was my new high. I wanted so badly to please others because up to that point, I felt I had failed and had disappointed my loved ones. With each escapade, I was leaving myself more bound than the last.
Fast forward to finding my current church home. Two different people dragged me there on two separate occasions and despite my reluctance, I was shaken by the Word every visit. It was as if something began tangibly taking place within me every time I stepped foot in the church. I could make myself cold to everyone but God.
Eventually, God gave me the strength to finally walk away from years of a toxic relationship, and began showing me my identity in Him. The following year, Myron found a way to reconnect with me and we grew close again. We entered into a serious relationship, and fell into sin. After already deciding we wanted to spend our lives together, I found out I was pregnant. The news made us speed up our engagement and wedding because we did not want to bring our daughter into this world without making things right before God. Unfortunately, speeding things up also meant we were not truly prepared for marriage.
This brought many trials our way, due to our own weakness and doing things out of God’s order. But all the while, God remained faithful! Though our decisions led to us learning things the hard way, God honored our desire to ultimately glorify Him and please Him with our lives. We dedicated our marriage and our family to Him. Our commitment to each other has been real from the beginning. But more importantly, because of our commitment to God, we have been blessed!
While I’ve ran from sharing my testimony most of my life, I do it in hopes that I can reach someone who is where I once was. It is not over. You are not too dirty, too far gone, and certainly not less than because of your past mistakes. God pursued me, and he is in pursuit of you, too! I am living proof that you are neither where you’ve been nor what you’ve done. You are who God says you are!
My favorite verse of all time can be found in Habakkuk 3:19, “The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.” (KJV) It is the perfect depiction of my life, as God has taken me up from the valleys and molded me in the process to equip me for the high places He is setting me upon now. I do not take this platform lightly and I give God all the honor and all the glory for every success and every triumph I achieve.
Below are a few verses that spoke to my heart then and still serve as positive affirmations for me today:
Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV) – “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
Luke 9:11-17 – This scripture came as an answered prayer and confirmation that I was called to go to Morocco as a complete act of faith.
Psalm 139:13-14 – A daily reminder I often speak over myself as I look into the mirror at the woman God has shaped me to be.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20