I grew up attending a Methodist church and going to Sunday school every Sunday. I started attending a Catholic school in Kindergarten. From a very young age I learned about who Jesus was. As I got older, I began to attend Youth Group at our church. When I started around 5th and 6th grade my family began to experience heavy dysfunction and I was exposed to a very toxic environment. I did not know anything other than an environment full of physical, mental, emotional and verbal abuse and I grew up thinking it was “normal” for parents to yell and scream at each other day in and day out. Because of this, I became independent at a very young age doing adult tasks such as laundry, cooking, and cleaning as a way to instill some normalcy into my life. During this dysfunctional time in our lives, addiction began to sweep through and break my family apart which ultimately resulted in my parents divorce. As many children of divorced parents, I felt very alone and since then I have struggled with depression and anxiety. Although, for most of my life, I did not live in a “Christian” way. I have always believed in God. I’ve prayed faithfully every night the same prayers for years, asking God to please heal my family members of their addictions. I trusted God when I became discouraged as years passed and addictions weren’t broken. I wondered why God was allowing this to happen in my life and to my immediate family members that I loved the most. “Why?” I would ask and I kept feeling let down, I started to get frustrated with God.
I was outcasted in every sense of the word
As I got older, I attended a Co-Ed Catholic High School. I am so grateful for the opportunity and advanced education I was able to receive at this school. High school was one of the darkest times in my life. I wasn’t sure of who I was. I didn’t have a “home” where I felt loved and secure. The Catholic Church really began to make me feel as though I was an outcast, even though I was a Christian I was unable to participate in the church activities that the Catholic religion participates in. I felt like I was outcasted in every sense of the word.
After my parents’ divorce, my relationship with my father was lost. No matter how much I tried it always felt like a one sided relationship. My dad had moved on quickly and started a new life with a woman very shortly after leaving my mom. This hurt me deeply and I just wanted more than anything to be “daddy’s little girl” again. The lack of love and affection from my father made it hard for me to see my Heavenly Father in a positive light.
I was lost and did not know who I was. The weekends quickly became a time where I began to find myself hanging out with a crowd of “friends” where I only cared about partying. The devil got a hold of me and began to pressure me with the temptations of the world. I fell into peer pressure and drowned myself in alcohol-where I thought I found my identity-and looked forward to Sunday’s as a day to cure my hangover, not worship my God above.
It was at this time that I began to see that God was faithful because he (after what felt like an eternity) answered my prayers and began to heal my family. They began to find recovery from their addictions and mend relationships, but I was still so lost. My soul was wandering… trying to find its place of peace, comfort, and identity. Trying to heal the pain of my childhood.
I was physically assaulted, bullied, and became very sick
After high school, I started attending college in Florida. When that experience didn’t turn out to be the “perfect college experience” I was hoping for, I resorted, yet again, to alcohol. During my time there I was physically assaulted, bullied, and became very sick to the point where I needed emergency surgery. My advisor at the college wanted me to withdraw and drop from all classes but I was not willing to leave this experience with nothing. I wanted the college credits I had earned, so I opted to take all of my finals in two days. From January to March 2013 i underwent 3 major surgeries. My experience forced me to do some soul searching and taught me a lot about myself. It brought me to my knees begging God to help me.
I had finally found my home
After recovering from the surgeries, I was offered a job as a Medicine Technician and caregiver for the elderly. This job is where I truly found my passion to care and helps others and the reason I went back to school to pursue my career in Nursing. Fast forward to January 2014, a very good friend of mine invited me to check out her church, Lighthouse Church, in Glen Burnie, MD. The very first time I stepped into Lighthouse I felt God’s presence everywhere. I knew I had finally found my home. I had initially started attending every weekend until I got involved in a toxic relationship with a nonbeliever which made it difficult for me to maintain my relationship with God. Sleeping in on Sundays became easier than attending church which ultimately put a strain on my newly ignited relationship with God. After about 3 months the relationship ended pretty badly… I then knew I need to go back to church consistently to build a solid relationship with Jesus Christ.
On October 12, 2014, I made the decision to give my life to Christ. I knew that I was done with the “old” me and ready to start a new journey walking hand in hand with my savior. I was done partying I was ready to focus solely on my faith, becoming a better person, and working toward my future career. When I made this decision I lost a lot of “friends” by not wanting to participate in the luxuries of the world. But I found my strength in my new relationships I was able to make with the people I met at church.
I felt trapped with no way out
About a year later, I got involved in yet another toxic relationship. This relationship controlled me, made me forget what I stood for, made me ignore my morals, and made me a person I was not. I was so convinced God had placed me in that person’s life for a reason. The “caregiver” in me felt like I could “help” them. I suffered a lot of mental and emotional abuse and was used so badly that I allowed it to continue for almost 2 years. It was like I desperately wanted the relationship, but he never did. During the time I was with him, I was also attending nursing school, this became another very dark time in my life. I wanted more than anything to pursue my goal and my calling but I found that I fell into the familiar state of depression again. I believe it to be the combination of my stressful curriculum at school as well as the emotional toll of this relationship that led me to this point. I felt trapped with no way out. I would find myself praying and continued to pursue the Lord but had taken many many steps in the wrong direction.
the chains were finally broken
When I turned 21 and things went downhill again and I turned to the party sceme to keep up with the very unhealthy relationship I was involved in. Because he wasn’t a man of faith, this felt like the only way to maintain what relationship we had. When he finally called off the relationship in 2016 and the chains were finally broken, I was engulfed by all of the truth and the secrets that came to be. I was convicted to be truthful and bring light to all of the toxicity that had been part of my life for far too long. I may not have had the courage to do all of this but it was my relationship with Christ and by God’s grace that I did and that I was able to come out a stronger woman.
Now, nearing the end of 2017 I am finding myself again. I’m rebuilding my relationship with the Lord and working on becoming a better person living a life trying to glorify God as much as I can. I realize I am human and I will always fall short but God’s grace is always there and he has saved me time and time again, and He always will. That’s the beauty in God’s love. He will never stop loving us, even when we feel like we don’t deserve it. He will never give up on us. He will never turn His back on us. And for me He never has.
I feel the Holy Spirit and lift my hands to the sky, I cry, and I sing
Today, I can honestly say I am thankful for all of my struggles and trials, the good and the bad that I have endured in my life because without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I wouldn’t need to rely on Jesus to get me where I am. I am so lucky to be able to know Jesus as my Savior. I am still learning to take care of myself and love the person God created me to be. I know and truly believe God has a purpose for everything that happens. I am here for a purpose and a reason. Jesus gave His life and paid the price so I could have mine and now I owe it all to Him. I was never one to not go out or miss a party, or give up on the temptations of this world, but now I enjoy spending my weekends reading His word, going to church and of course watching Netflix and building up others. I was always the person who thought it was weird to praise Jesus, with your hands raised moving around during worship… but that is now what I do. I feel the Holy Spirit and lift my hands to the sky, I cry, and I sing to Him. I thank Him for all He has done in my life. I couldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for Him. God placed me exactly where he wants me to be at this time. As I continue to grow as a Christian and as an adult, I know the plans that God has for me are being revealed to me as I mature in the areas of family, career, and ministry.
— K.E., Daughter of the King