I lived solely for my own pleasures—always seeking the next high, until one dark day, I found myself down in a slimy pit. Cocaine and alcohol were my best friends. It didn’t happen overnight, but there I was. I had reached the bottom. I lost my husband of 17 years, my job, my life savings and retirement. But for the grace of God, my landlord didn’t throw me out even though I was five months past due in rent. I went from a size 12 to a size 0.
My folks knew something was wrong but they were probably too afraid to ask the real reason. My friends thought it was depression. I was lost and isolated myself from everyone except my fellow druggies. I had tried to quit scores of times, but couldn’t. That’s when I cried out to Jesus. He heard my cries and offered me a life preserver. All He asked in return was to receive Him, believe in Him and live like Him.
I tell people that Jesus called me to my church—that he told me to go there. I didn’t listen and went to another church. It didn’t feel right. I waited and cried out, until I eventually found my way to the big steeple a couple of blocks from my house. I found women who loved and cared for me, but, they didn’t know me, and I would never tell them my story—there was too much shame. I know now that that wouldn’t have mattered to these godly-women. They loved me like Jesus loved me.
Then the Holy Spirit took over. The Counselor taught me about agape love, self-sacrificial love. He taught me to die to self and to live for others. And years of studying in small groups taught me how to forgive—mostly how to forgive myself for the pain I caused others. I still fight that ugly sin of pride, but when it does rear up, I can call on my Savior for help.
Those painful years now provided the basis for me to help women recover from lives of homelessness and addictions. I lived the endless cycle of drug and alcohol addiction that so many of the homeless women suffered, and while I thought I’d never tell my story, suddenly, I realized God had other plans. The evil I had done, God meant for good.
During a recent prayer meeting, a pastor, who did not know me or my story, looked at me and said, “You’d like to re-write, or completely forget paragraphs of your life. But, they are your story.” Jesus spoke through him to remind me that I needed to forgive myself, embrace my story and live my life for Him.
Healing comes through the release of shame and guilt of past acts. Chuck Swindoll once said, “He is a master at turning devastation into restoration.” He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. I will sing His praises forever!
I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will fear and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 49:1-3.