I was saved during the Alpha Course (now Bridge Course) in the winter of 2000. Back then, I dressed heavily goth and was severely depressed and suicidal. By God’s grace, he opened my heart to the gospel at the retreat, and I came home wanting to live. I found myself cracking all of my CDs and throwing out all my clothes. This isn’t to say that goth as a style itself is inherently bad—our God does not judge by outer appearance, but by our hearts. In this case, it was him separating me from anything of my old self that could pull me back into the world.
I was baptized that Sunday, and Monday I returned to school, and I was rejected by every friend I had. He gave me the strength not to turn back. I’m so grateful for that, because at a prayer meeting the summer before my senior year, I was told that he was going to use me to minister to those who rejected me. That year, he added every person back into my life. Many came out to church, and some came to know Jesus through conversations at school.
I’ve struggled with chronic pain since I was 13, and it became worse as I grew older. The hurt I carried from not being believed about my pain, not understanding biblical suffering, and a painful broken engagement all led to my becoming a prodigal. I ended up in many broken relationships and doing things I swore I never would. But God, in his mercy, had me pick up my old journal one night. After I read it, God led me to cry out to him. During this time, I met my husband, Bobby, who also was a prodigal. Through a series of car accidents, God in his grace led us both back to himself. We went through Bridge as a couple in the summer of 2013, and we gave our lives back over to Christ. I moved home with my parents until our wedding. We married on October 25th, 2014, and were able to share the gospel with our family and friends during our ceremony.
In January 2015, I had surgery, and developed severe complications afterward. They also found that my pain was from a genetic condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Sadly, it had disabled me by April of 2015. We walked through three years of fighting for disability, many hospital stays, and Bob losing his job. But God remained faithful through all of it. We have so many stories of his provision that floored us. He also helped me to understand deeply what Scripture teaches on suffering. He started using me to minister and encourage others who were also walking in various kinds of suffering, both online and off. He even used my hospital stays, to the point where they were no longer about me, but someone there I’d meet.
Nothing we experience is pointless, and nothing is wasted. God has a purpose in all of it, working all things for our good, and for his glory. Our trials, pain, and loss have a deeper purpose. Even the time I spent as a prodigal, he used to show me how empty this world is, and how all I searched for can only be found in Christ. When I look back over my life, I can’t help but praise him, because he has been so incredibly good and faithful to me, in every way. He is sovereign, his love is steadfast, he is gracious, merciful, so faithful, so kind, and he is our God!
Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!