As I write this, it’s been almost a year to the day since I gave my life to the Lord. I look back and am left amazed as I reflect on where He’s brought me from. I never did grow up in church. The only times I ever went were when my friends would ask me to go simply because they wanted someone to hang out with them. I had attended church maybe a half a dozen times by the time I was teenager. Also, by the time I was a teenager my parents had split up and I was living with my mother. It was an awkward time, being a girl without her daddy and being in high school. I spent the first two years of high school filled with rage and sadness. About that time is when I started struggling with depression. I felt like I didn’t fit in. I wasn’t beautiful or funny or worth anyone’s time it seemed. I started fitting the stereotype of a “goth” kid and I didn’t care. I hated everything, especially myself. At the age of fifteen I felt so completely empty that I began cutting myself just so I could feel something, even if that something hurt. The following year I attempted to kill myself but failed and it wasn’t until years later that I was ever able to tell anyone. I spent the remainder of high school being rebellious. I started drinking and smoking when I was 16 or 17. I did any thing any boy wanted because I was so desperate to feel loved. I never did feel loved though, I always felt used. By my senior year I had more friends and was more social. However, behind closed doors I still cried frequently and continued to hurt myself. Jump ahead three years. I’d graduated high school and dropped out of college after one year. I moved back to my hometown with my boyfriend and our apartment became the place to party. I drank every weekend and smoked dope as often as I could get my hands on it, but thankfully, was no longer cutting. I replaced that with a myriad of other bad habits. During this time my father found out that I had moved back into town and after many years of not seeing or hearing from him, we were reunited. By now he’d been saved and was going to Words of Life. He even convinced me to go a few times, but each time I walked out the church doors I went right back to my wicked ways. Then when I was 21 I got married to that same boyfriend. Once we got married, things turned kind of ugly and I found myself in an abusive relationship. In order to cope with all the nasty, negative things I was feeling I began drinking more, smoking more, and would take any pill my “friends” would put in my hand. That’s the haziest part of my memory. If I squint through the fog of my mind, I have vague recollections of clubs and parties and terrible behavior. I honestly didn’t care anymore at that point. I’d already resigned myself to the fact that I was unlovable, ugly, and worthless. After a year and a half of marriage I finally walked out on him and almost immediately found myself in another relationship. Looking back I realize I was just desperate to fill a void in my heart that, I know now, no man could fill. Naturally, after just over a year, this relationship ended badly like all the others. So I found myself 24 years old, living and working with people that were unhealthy for me. For the next year I lived in a dark depressed state. I cried continuously, felt horribly sad even when I was out with my friends. My depression affected my home life, nobody wanted to be around me. It also cost me my job. I knew I really had a problem when, one day at work, my boss found me in the middle of the floor sobbing. The tears just wouldn’t stop coming, I hadn’t eaten or slept in a couple of days and I was taken to the emergency room. From then on I took steps to get help, had some kindhearted people who aided in my getting better. In October of 2009 I began taking medications, going to therapy, and to a DBT class. It helped, I started getting better. I wasn’t drinking or smoking anymore and I was beginning to make better choices for myself. In April of 2010 I just stopped taking my medication. I did continue therapy and DBT. My doctor was pleased with my progress as was I. However, in June of that year, I began feeling empty again. Something inside me just didn’t feel right. So one day while riding the Asheville city bus I texted my dad and told him I felt lost, sad, and confused. He said he was sorry I felt that way and maybe I’d like to come to church that Sunday. I told him I would, only because I wanted to see him. That Sunday rolled around, July 25th to be exact. I showed up to Words of Life lobster red from sunburn and all I cared about was seeing my daddy. Then the pastor started preaching and Jesus showed up. To this day I don’t remember anything Pastor Carl said, I just remember knowing that the answer to my problems would only come if I went to that altar. When the altar call was given I walked up to the Pastor, tears pouring down my face. I was crying so hard I could hardly see or speak, but I remember saying, “I don’t want to be lost anymore.” I just repeated that over and over while Pastor Carl prayed. I told the Lord I was tired of living such a miserable life and I was ready to give it all to him. That Sunday morning I made the greatest decision of my life and the Lord took away all the pain and sadness and filled my heart with such hope and joy. Three days later camp meeting started and I immersed myself in church and the presence of the Lord. If it hadn’t been for ten glorious days under that tent, I really don’t think I would have stayed. It was the most incredible experience. I began seeing the Lord move and everybody just loved me and took the time to teach me. I felt like I’d finally come home. One year later I’m still seeing the Lord move, but now I get to be a part of it. This is the most at home I’ve ever felt and Jesus has blessed me with a large, loving, fantastic family. And now I have a friend who is always there, a solid place I can stand when I feel like the world is sinking around me, someone who believes I’m worth something, who thinks I’m beautiful, and who loves me for who I am because He made me.