I was in a dark place. The type of place that makes you believe you might actually have died and went to hell. I felt the type of pain that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. I had attempted suicide multiple times, and I was fighting (and losing) my battle against anorexia, depression, and anxiety. I was completely lifeless, numb. A dead girl walking. I had no hope. I hadn’t felt hope in so long that I doubted the existence of it all together. And while we are on the subject of doubt, my belief in God was basically non-existent. And if, IF, even a small fragment of me believed that He could possibly be real, I did not believe that he was anything less than absolutely cruel.
One day I was driving home from my twice-weekly therapy appointments. I saw an eating disorder specialist, and due to my small town location I had to drive four hours round trip to see her. I could hardly be alone at the time for more than a few minutes without completely self-destructing. As I drove home my dark spiraling thoughts completely consumed every inch of me. I knew it was going to be bad. I was safe in the car, but as soon as I got home I knew I would be alone, and I knew it was going to be bad. I was overwhelmed with thoughts of self-harm, starving myself, and even suicide. I would be lucky to make it out the evening alive.
I still don’t know why I did this, but I turned off my Bluetooth connected music on my iPhone and switched to the poorly connected radio stations. I flipped through trying to find a station to land on when something caught my attention. “Come on out to Greenville Ohio, EUM church tonight to experience the start of Revive Ohio.” That was a little odd, I was two hours from home and the radio just happened to announce an event that was going on in my home town. Time To Revive was a ministry based out of Texas that I had never heard of and they were in my tiny, rural hometown for the week. I wasn’t the least bit religious, or spiritual, but it gave me a way out of my misery, at least for a few hours. So I decided, what the heck, I had nothing to lose, I would go to the stupid church event. But ONLY, so I wouldn’t have to spend the evening isolated and alone.
I went to the service that evening, and long story short; I HATED IT. I felt uncomfortable, out of place, and even more hopeless than before. I didn’t understand what all these people were worshipping, crying, and smiling about all at the same time. People welcomed me in with open arms, but it all felt so wrong. Their love felt wrong, because I was worthless in my mind, and love was the last thing I deserved to feel. I swore I would NEVER go back or step foot in that place again.
And yet, the next day came and I found myself driving to that stupid church again. I don’t know why, I truly don’t. I did not want to go, it was the last place I wanted to be. As I look back now, I honestly feel like I was not in control of my body or mind that day. The devil had a strong hold on me, but I was closer than ever to God, and he was tugging hard at my heart. He wanted to bring me home. And that’s exactly what He did.
I got to the church and was standing in the evening service. It was the beginning and they started out with a video. Every service they would show a video from the day before of clips of all the people going out on teams to spread the gospel, baptisms, and all sorts of ways that the Lord was changing lives. The video caught my attention when a man appeared on the screen. It was one of the cameramen. It was his first week working with the ministry, and the camera was focused on him for the first time. The other staff members were asking him questions. He revealed that he was addicted to drugs a few years back and what got him out of his addiction, what saved him, was Jesus Christ. I wasn’t sold, but I was curious. I too, struggled with addiction, however mine was to food and the lack thereof rather than drugs. Same hell, different substance I suppose.
I became restless as we stood to worship. I couldn’t focus on the music, my surroundings, or anything. All I could focus on was this strong undeniable urge to find that man and talk to him. But how? He was probably videotaping the service, or hidden away somewhere in a staff only room. Plus, there were some 500 people there, how was I going to find him in such a crowd? I continued to stand there, thoughts racing. And then out of nowhere, I kid you not, I heard a small, still voice say “NOW.” “Now what?” I thought to myself. I had no idea what to do or where to go, but before I knew it my legs were moving and I found myself standing in the lobby. I slowly brought my gaze up from the floor and that’s when I saw it. When I saw him. Standing there, just feet away from me. “Oh shit” I thought. Now I have to talk to him. What were the odds that he’d be out here? I didn’t know. But I did know I couldn’t pass this opportunity up.
I slowly and timidly approached him. I introduced myself and told him I saw him on the video and began to share my own struggles with addiction with him. He spoke with a great big smile on his face of how the love of Christ brought him out of his addiction and into a new life. He then paused and said to me “Wait, are you saved?” “Define saved,” was my exact response. He then called over another staff member, this time a girl who had been on staff for much longer than a week. They began talking to me about what it means to be saved and quickly came to the conclusion that I was not.
These two incredible humans then spent the next two hours sitting at a table with me trying to get through my thick skull that I wasn’t the worthless human I thought I was. I was stubborn, and resistant, and I thought I deserved to be miserable. Besides, their “savior” couldn’t save a wretch like me. There was no way.
After hours of resistance a third staff member was brought to the table. This gentleman was much older than the young man and woman I had been talking to and he radiated wisdom. He challenged me, hard. He challenged the lies I was believing, and he made so much sense that for a second, I thought that maybe he could be right. The service ended and so did our time together. I exchanged numbers with all three of them, and the older gentleman invited me to come back the next day for a prayer session of “tangling and unraveling.” To be quite honest, it sounded like a bunch of Jesus freak bullshit to me, and yet I ended up agreeing to give him a shot after he asked me what I had to lose.
Now before I go on, I must make something clear. Later I came to find out that that evening was the ONLY evening that the cameraman I talked to had off, and he just happened to be in the lobby at the same time as me. The girl who spoke with me, was not supposed to be working in the lobby that night either until last minute changes placed her there. And the older gentleman, he was NEVER free… he was constantly working with people and spreading God’s love. This was the only night. The ONLY night, that it would have been possible for all three of them to not only meet me, but to take the time to be with me. Also, I found out months later, that the woman, the day before meeting me, had a stranger come up to her, and ask if she would pray with her for me. Little did she know, she was about to meet me just 24 hours later.
Later that night when I got home, I texted the man and cancelled the appointment and then went to bed… angry, sad, and conflicted. The next morning I woke up with a fire lit underneath me. What did I have to lose I thought to myself. Followed by a counter thought that even if it could help, I didn’t deserve the help, because all I would ever deserve is misery and death. Yet there I found myself, picking up the phone, and calling the man. We rescheduled to meet later that day.
So I got to the church and went back into a room with the man and his sister in law who he worked with. I was doubtful, skeptical, and unsure. I had no idea what to expect. I reassured both of them that this was a waste of time, that I was a waste of time. But they politely ignored me and got things started instead.
The man asked me “If you could hear God’s voice, would you believe in Him?” I thought for a second, and humorously replied “sure.” I thought I would play along even though I knew nothing would happen.
The next part of the story is all a blur. For the life of me I cannot remember the details. All I know is I spoke to God, and he talked right back. I asked him questions, and I heard an audible voice respond. I felt his arms around me. I felt him there down to my innermost core. It was the first time in perhaps ever, that I didn’t feel this numb loneliness down to my bones. I felt love, and healing. We went through tabs of the bible that they had highlighted, and read some of the most impactful verses. Through the flood of my tears I realized that I was not the only one crying, they both were too. And then he asked the question. “Do you accept Jesus as your Lord and savior?” With a weep I exclaimed, “yes!” In that moment, I swear to you everything changed. My sick, sad, self was replaced with a new identity, one of love, of worth, one found in Christ. It was like a shock went straight through me and suddenly every weight was lifted from my shoulders.
This next part I will never forget. The man said “If you want, we could baptize you tonight, you could run home and get clothes.” Now my tears turned to laughter. They both looked at me curiously. I just smiled and said “you’ll never believe this, but I packed a change of clothes before I came today, they’re in my car.”
For the life of me, I cannot tell you why I packed those clothes. I had no idea that baptisms were taking place that night, but more importantly I had no plans to or desire to be “saved.” I believed the whole idea of being saved was as phony as it could get. There was no one left under my shell of a human being to save, or so I thought. Boy, was I wrong.
I was baptized that night in front of hundreds of people. August 13, 2016, my life changed forever. Actually, my life began. I was reborn. Or perhaps, born for the first time. Because I had been dead inside for as long as I could remember. And yet in an instant. I had never felt more alive.
Now I didn’t reach full healing instantly. I still haven’t. But the healing I have experienced has happened at an unfathomable speed. The type of healing that can only be explained by God.
Nine months ago, I had just gotten out of my fifth treatment center. I was emaciated, starving myself, cutting myself, and making myself throw up. I was depressed, anxious, and suicidal. Today, nine months later, I am about to declare myself fully recovered from all of that. I am happy, truly truly happy. I am free. I didn’t believe in God until that day, and now God has wrecked my life in the most beautiful, and best possible way.