by Julie James
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I would like to take the next few minutes to tell you how I came to Teen Challenge and my journey to finding freedom.
I didn't grow up in any sort of religious home, and at the age of 6 I lost my father to an alcohol addiction. Up until the death of my father I had a relatively normal childhood, and the relationship I had with my father I cherished. Even though he had an addiction it didn't come between the love he had for me, I was the apple of my father's eye, his little girl. When my father died I was devastated and heart broken , but I never was able to deal with the emotions and feelings of losing my father, so I started looking at him as having abandoned me. Which became a much stronger feeling after, my mother remarried, a controlling and abusive man about a year after my fathers death. My stepfather was physically and verbally abusive to my older sister and me. I soon went from the outgoing 6yr old who just liked to have fun to a scared,fearful,withdrawn child.
Fear kept me quiet, of speaking about the abuse I was facing. I soon discovered that I had a passion for learning, so I put all of effort into my grades. The more I was learning the happier I was, but this was short lived as I became the focus of cruel jokes and taunting. I was a lost empty child, I didn't know who I was, all I knew was that loneliness filled my heart, and no one cared.
Public school came and went as I with drew more from people preferring to be alone, the taunting became worse. I was a socially awkward, fearful, book smart 14 year old when my world once again came crashing down around me. It was at this time of my life when my stepfather began sexually abusing me, not long after this abuse started were my siblings and I sent to live with my stepfather, because he and my mom were separating. My life came to a screeching halt, there was no escaping, there was no help, and worst of all I felt as though I was doing it all alone. No cared what I was going through, the sleepless nights wondering would he sneak in tonight, would I find myself fending off this father figure yet again to know avail? Finally completely drained of any fight left in me, with no desire for my future. I began the first of many attempts to end my life, as each attempt ended in failure I became more and more angry. The I found a new way to release everything that I was feeling, through cutting. The one thing in my life that I could control.
After 2 more years of abuse from my stepfather, more then just a broken spirit, was the outcome. I had become pregnant by my stepfather, the fear I had towards him and his threats kept me quiet. In 2005, I was blessed with my son Ethan, more then ever know I was determined to put this abuse to a stop, and I did at the age of 17 I left home with a child, a high school diploma and a future of uncertainty.
I desired more then ever to keep my son safe from the hurt I had come to know from the world, but in doing so I only buried my hurts. Struggling to live the life of a working single mom. I couldn't understand why I still felt such an emptiness. I tried to fill this emptiness with many quick fixes, first men, then alcohol. Until I found myself in a lifestyle, that I told myself I would never end up doing. I met my husband in this lifestyle, and in 2008 we were blessed with our daughter Harly.
My husbands parents lead me to God and His saving grace, not long after we were married. Finally I expected my life to turn around, I was wrong, my deep dark secret finally came to the light I shared with my husband the past that I had faced. Soon after I became the scared abused child from my past again. My husband wanting only to help me turned to what he knew, drugs. From my first pill to my first injection not much more then a week past. I had become a addict needing Oxycontin or morphine to be able to get out of bed. I let ecstasy and cocaine enter my life without hesitation. Drugs and money. It was all I thought about, it was all I cared about. My children were suffering , they no longer had a mom, and I didn't care.
One day, waiting for my husband to get home with our next fix. I broke down and started crying, I couldn't live this lifestyle anymore, I was tired, I was broken, I had finally reached the end of myself. I looked into the eyes of my beautiful children and for the first time in a long time I felt love for them, and I had a desire to be their mom again.
I also knew I needed help, so I turned custody of my children over to my in laws and they told me about Teen Challenge. I was at first very hesitant to go, but after seeking God I knew that it was what I was suppose to do.
November of 2009, I came to Teen Challenge, broken, scared and ready to start my life over. I had two very good reasons, to walk through those doors and never go back, and they sat in the back of the van, on their way home, as their mommy walked through the doors of the beginning of her journey to freedom.
I look back now on everything, that I went through, and I see God all over it. I never should have survived the attempted suicides, the amount of drugs I used overdoses were inevitable, yet I lived through those too. God was telling me “I created you I get to tell you when, it's time to leave” I am so thankful that he saved me. He has a purpose for me being alive, and I am yet to truly discovery that, but I do know that I am to be used by him.
I am serving as a second phase intern here, and I love what I have been called to do in this season of my life, not because I enjoy everything I am asked to do, But because God is using me to speak into the lives of other women in ways I don't know. As an intern I am given the opportunity to transition back into mother hood one step at a time, and because of people like you who support us my children still have a mother.
This time I have been an intern has not been easy, I have faced more opposition in the 8 months that I have been an intern then throughout my program. I know now that no matter what I face, that God is walking right alongside me. He has carried me this far his not about to drop me now. He has given me a father figure who is very similar to how I remember my dad,and still through all the hurt from my stepfather, I have learned to trust again, because God has healed my broken heart and made it new.
Thank you all so much for coming and I hope you each have a great day. I would like to leave you with something that often helps me through some of those tough days. It's my words, but God inspired.” If today I through the power of God, speak light into just one life, give hope to just one person, plant seeds into just one heart, help one person see Christs love, then every bit of pain, suffering or sacrifice I have experienced was worth it. If just one.. Have you had one today just one. I am sure one of you was mine. Thank you and God bless.
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