Sandra, 2014 Graduate

Tragedy struck my home at the age of 9 with the sudden death of my mom; leaving my dad to raise 3 little girls all on his own. My dad didn’t know how to deal with his grief in a healthy way so he often drank his pain away. When he drank he became mean and angry and shouted words that no little girl should ever have to hear. His hurtful words that began to shape my identity. I hungered for his love and affection; longing to hear the words Sandra, I’m proud of you.

My dad stayed widowed for 9 years before he re-married. Five months into the marriage, his new wife asked me and my sisters to leave their home. Once again I began to question my worth and wondered why I wasn’t wanted.

During this time, I worked at a place where most of my co-workers were men. I began to connect with a few of them and it wasn’t long until one of them began to pursue me. I was a broken 19 year old girl looking for acceptance. What began as a very innocent, brotherly kind of relationship became a poisonous, adulterous relationship. I became so filled with guilt and shame that I began to feel undeserving of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and grace. Feeling like I had no right to cry out to God anymore, I began to grow cold towards Him.

I became consumed with suicidal thoughts, feeling like that was my only way to escape the relationship. Needing to feel in control, I started controlling my food intake with restricting. I became very ill, thin, and frail I battled with anorexia for about a year and a half. Eventually, I began to lose control of that too and became bulimic, binging and purging several times a day, seven days a week. The more weight I was gaining the more I hated myself and the more intense my suicidal thoughts became.

I hit rock bottom when I started looking for a way out, but I could not go through with it because God had a hold of my heart. He knew that deep within me, I didn’t want to end my life, but that I wanted to live for him and a chance to grow close and walk with him. So it was then that I decided I needed to seek help. I began searching online and stumbled across Mercy Ministries.

I walked into Mercy as a lost and broken person escaping an adulterous relationship, engaged in an active eating disorder with no hope for a future.

As the weeks went by I began to discoverer who God truly is. I found that he is God who loves relentlessly and that there is nothing you can do to make him love you more. He already loves you just as much today as he did yesterday regardless of what you have done in your past. He is a God who forgives, no matter how ugly, dirty or dishonoring the sin is.

God has shown me that I no longer have to carry the shame and guilt of my sin, and that I am no longer labeled as an adulteress but I wear a crown stating that I am holy and pure and that I am a daughter of the King. I have discovered that God wants me, that he handpicked me and thought me up before I was even born. He is a father to the fatherless. Even though my Dad never gave me the affection I longed for, God has doubled that affection and then some. I have discovered that God is a God of restoration and transformation. He can turn something that Satan meant for destruction into something that brings life.

I have been able to forgive my dad for his hurtful words, I was able to forgive his wife since I have been at Mercy – God’s hands are currently at work restoring the relationship I have with my sisters and my dad’s wife. I have also been able to forgive the married man I was with. Most importantly, I have been able to forgive myself.

God has also revived my dreams and hopes for the future. I hope to one day help preteens and teens that are struggling with self image and help them see the beauty that God has created within each of them. I also hope to use my teaching degree in the mission field one day, bringing hope to other children. All in all God has turned my ashes into beauty. He has revived my dreams and has spoken life back into my being.