I was raised in a loving family. However, there were tensions in my parents’ marriage, and my Mum was very lonely as my Dad worked abroad and she started turning to the bottle while we were still young children. As a family we didn’t have many friends, and I was naturally very shy. I also had a very strong rebellious streak. Moving into my teens, I struggled to find my identity, and failed. I became very withdrawn and scared of people and my relationship with my Mum broke down. She was struggling with her loneliness, and I hated her for drinking and not being emotionally available for me. There was no one to give me the guidance I needed, and from that point on, with a largely absent father, it was just me against the world. By the age of 13 I was seriously depressed, didn’t have any friends, and had developed a bad eating disorder, which plagued me in various guises right up to my late twenties. I moved schools and started to get into music, smoking and drinking. All the music I liked was negative and anti-Christian. Something about it drew me to it; I think because it helped me express the indescribable pain I felt inside. Little did I know that it was also exposing me to demonic influences and creating negative patterns in my mind. I had experimented with sex from a young age and developed a habit of sexual sin, losing my virginity at 13. I found life to be incredibly lonely and painful and thought that anyone who thought otherwise was absolutely deluded and blind to the suffering going on around them. I sought comfort from music, sexual sin, smoking, eating, not eating, drinking–just anything that made me feel alive.
Then a strange thing happened. My only friend invited me to a Christian youth group. She was not Christian, but liked the look of the guitar-playing boys who hung around outside the building after the meeting had finished. For that reason we both went along. I was astounded when I went there. I thought I knew most things about life, but I had no idea that such people existed–normal people, and people like me, who were excited about God and who said that they had a relationship with Him. I had never considered Christianity to be anything more than the dry religion I had been served at school. They even sang excitedly to Jesus! I was profoundly touched by the presence of God. From that point on I lived for Sundays, depressed and miserable until the youth group, when I would feel overjoyed and whole. I would crash instantly when I came back to the bad atmosphere at home. My parents almost stopped me from going, thinking I was involved in a cult, and not understanding the new-found zeal I had for “God” when I was still my same miserable self at home. I soon became born-again and got baptized, and started turning away from sin. However, it wasn’t plain sailing from there.
My family was concerned about me. I was turning 18 and didn’t want to go to university, instead saying I wanted to stay in our village and evangelise the youth who lived there. They hatched a plan to send me traveling to “broaden my horizons.” So off I went to New Zealand for a couple of months. I wasn’t any good at making relationships, so had not been receiving any pastoral support from the youth group. I just vanished from their radar, and to my knowledge they didn’t follow up on me. In the first two weeks of my travels I stuck to not drinking or smoking, and turned down various offers of sex because of God, but then encountered a girl whose story of sexual abuse by a pastor shattered my already rocky faith. My sinful flesh wanted an excuse to give in to its cravings, and her story fit the bill. I went into a sinful spree of drinking and sex with various strangers just like my other co-travelers. I came back a changed person–changed for the worse.
From then on my life went from bad to worse. The scripture is true that says:
For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
2 Peter 2:20
I sank so low into sin that I was convinced that there could never ever be a way back to God for me. To stifle my guilty conscience I convinced myself that Jesus was not the Way and the Truth and the Life, and instead filled myself with all sorts of eastern religious and new-age philosophies. In the end my conscience became darkened. As the scripture says:
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, and ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
That was exactly what happened to me. I did all those things. I was paranoid and filled with anger and hatred for others. I scraped along in an existence of suicidal thoughts, extreme anxiety, factory jobs that I couldn’t hold down, sexual perversion, smoking weed and a string of dysfunctional relationships. I even thought at one point that I could channel energy into my body from trees and vegetation. I practiced yoga, tried to open my “chakras” and ended up in a relationship with a mentally ill homeless man, with nowhere to live myself. Once I was an A-grade student at a private school, and I had ended up the sort of person that people cross the street to avoid. Then my boyfriend had an accident and nearly died. I cried out for him to be healed. It came naturally to cry out to Jesus. Jesus miraculously saved that man’s life, against all the odds and doctors’ predictions. Then one night I cried out to Jesus for him to know the God who had saved him and the very same night he became born again. I don’t know where he is today but I hope he is doing well. My faith had been re-ignited through adversity. I tried to get back on the straight and narrow, enrolling in a nursing course. During that period there must have been a serious battle going on for my soul. The devil thought that I was his property, and wasn’t going to give me up without a fight. God provided a wonderful course-mate who prayed and fasted for my soul and I started attending a Nigerian Pentecostal church but was still entangled in sin and the after-effects of sin. After a year of struggling to do the nursing course, I came into some money and went back to my old ways, gave up on God and hooked up with a man who I had only known for two weeks and went to India with him, planning never to return to the UK.
After three months, the man had had enough of my unstable selfish ways and worked out a plan to dump me. I gave him two thousand pounds for him to go to Thailand and make a life for us both there, while I was to return to the UK to finish my nursing so I could then return to Thailand and work as a nurse out there with him. Once I was safely back in England he dumped me by email, and that was the last I heard of him. I had a serious kidney infection, and returned home to my Mum. During my adult life I had stubbornly refused to go and live at home, no matter how bad life had gotten, even preferring to search for food in skips than dent my pride and admit defeat. But I had no energy to find somewhere to live. My pride also stopped me from receiving state benefits. I had no alternative than to go home.
It was bad at home. My poor Mum’s drinking was worse than ever, and I think I could have died from that kidney infection. I certainly should have been hospitalized but she was too drunk to realize, and I was too weak to take myself to the hospital. Once I had recovered I was at rock bottom. I had no life at all to speak of. For the first time in my life I surrendered 100% of my life to the lordship of Jesus Christ. I had nothing left–no alternative–I was broken. Either He saved me or I would not have been able to go on. The stress of the past years’ events took their toll on my mind; I started hearing crashing noises in my head. By the grace of God I was kept from having a total psychotic breakdown, but I know how it feels to come close. God then started working a miracle of complete healing and restoration into my life. I stayed at home for three months, and in that time experienced the closest fellowship with God that I have ever known, just by myself in my bedroom. I left all decision-making up to Him about what I would do and where I would go. He provided a home for me and a place on a nursing course in a new city that I had not lived in before. He put me in a Bible-believing, Spirit-filled church and my healing slowly began. I just depended on Him and there was no going back. Every time I encountered a struggle with sin, I knew I had no alternative than to follow Christ (because I had tried every alternative and seen their deathly rewards), and I slowly started getting victory over various areas of my life. After a couple of years He gave me a prophecy that I would get married in three years time and have a family who would be very blessed. That helped me stay celibate. I didn’t consider myself worthy of marrying anyone, and had certainly never considered that I would have children, but God was in control and He knew what was best for me. My Mum passed away that year, but God had worked healing and restoration into our relationship and given me assurance that she had gone to be with Him and was relieved of her burdens.
I completed my nursing degree and specialized in mental health. I have now worked in the same job (nursing women who committed crimes whilst mentally ill) for four years, to the glory of God, and am going from strength to strength. I have experienced complete freedom from eating disorders, smoking, drinking and sexual sin. My mind is being renewed by the Word of God daily. I am married to a Pastor and have one beautiful daughter and one on the way. My testimony is not yet complete, as God is still at work and will continue to do great and mighty things in my life, to His glory. Please be encouraged if your life is “messy,” that it is not too messy for the blood of Jesus to cleanse. God is faithful despite our unfaithfulness. He patiently and graciously worked out my salvation, despite my utter depravity and sinfulness. He will do the same for you. Even the things that you think you will never be free from because you keep struggling with them– God will free you from them. Just trust Him and surrender 100% of your life to His lordship.