Category Archives: Blog

My Search for Significance

By Patty, a Grace House Resident

I was in the middle of sixth grade when my family moved from a South Dallas suburb, away from everything I’d ever known, to an extremely affluent town northwest of Dallas. All the kids in my new class at a new school already had their group of friends, all of which seemed closed to new people. I did not fit in with these rich, snobby kids. I felt an intense sense of being less-than. With both my parents being at work a lot, it was an extremely difficult period where I experienced a multitude of rejection wounds.

Because of this rejection, I began to seek love, attention and acceptance in all the wrong places. I started hanging out with the older kids and drinking. I finally felt like I fit in through all the attention I was receiving from older guys.  That is until I started receiving unwanted attention.

At 16 years old, I was raped by my best friend’s ex-boyfriend in his attempt to hurt her. He succeeded in his endeavor: she was hurt and she took her pain out on me by spreading vicious gossip throughout the school. I was an innocent victim caught in the crossfire of their hate. I had been betrayed and raped by someone I trusted as well as abandoned, further hurt and shamed by a friend I loved.

Because of this traumatic event, I experienced shame and condemnation like never before. How could I let this happen? How could I be so stupid? What is wrong with me? This condemnation only intensified at school with wild gossip spreading and severe shaming incited by my peers who were both naïve and ruthless in this process. I was so ashamed of what happened. Since my close friend who started all this gossip wouldn’t believe me when I tried to explain the truth of what happened, I was convinced no one else would believe me either.

So I lost my voice. I didn’t fight the horrible things people said about me because I so desperately just wanted to move on and pretend it never happened. I withdrew from friends and family, started drinking daily and acting out. I hated myself and everyone else.

At 17, I met a guy who I thought was the “love of my life,” an exceedingly charismatic, intelligent and fun guy; and above all else, he loved me. I got pregnant right away. But it wasn’t long before I realized that this guy was even worse off in the self-esteem department than I was. Our joint insecurities led to an extremely toxic relationship. But when you have such poor self-worth, you feel as if you do not deserve any better.

I survived 3 ½ years of severe, relentless physical and emotional abuse. I was convinced I could change him and unwilling to give up the idea of a perfect family for my son. About a year after the birth of our son, we started doing hard drugs to cope with the deep pain we faced.

I was eventually able to escape the abusive relationship, but just encountered new problems on my own. I was using drugs to numb the pain of the lies I’d been fed for so long and to deal with the abuse I’d suffered. I had finally found an effective method to cope with the pain and low self-worth. Drugs were my escape for the next ten years of my life.

I can see now that the real reason for my low self-worth was that I was alienated from God. I had been living for so long as if I were floating alone in a remote sea without meaning, not caring about anything, especially myself. So the first step in my search for significance was turning to God, grabbing His outstretched hand and coming out of the darkness to find hope and to realize that my life is significant. I knew this in my head, but how could I really experience that truth in my heart?

I knew my next step was putting into practice Romans 12:1-2, which says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

I had to break my strongholds and set new ways of thinking about myself. This breakthrough finally came when I asked God into my heart and became reconciled to Him. There was a tangible shift in my perspective. My perception was finally in line with God’s. My thinking had changed, which led to a shift in my behavior.

Through this surrender to God’s Truth my mind has become progressively renewed. And as my mind is renewed, so is my lifestyle; strongholds are broken; I am transformed. My self-worth is no longer contingent on others’ opinions of me or my performance. I am no longer in bondage. I will not be afraid. I have a VOICE! I can’t change my past, but I will not give it power over me. The abuse I suffered as a 16-year-old was not my fault. I will not continue to let this pain hold me down, suffocate me or keep me from the freedom I deserve and that God so desperately wants me to experience.

God loves me so much that He sent Jesus to die for me. Jesus took on all my sins so I could be reconciled to God. I am completely forgiven for any wrongs I have committed and I can forgive others for the wrongs done to me. I am fully pleasing to and totally accepted by God. I am complete in Christ. This is God’s Truth, this is my truth and this is the basis for my self-worth. I now have a new self-awareness and strive to resemble Jesus in all that I do. I will never again be conformed to any negative worldly thinking when God has released so much provision. I can see myself through His eyes and experience ongoing transformation.

 

When Abba’s Child Goes to Jail

By Patty, Grace House Resident

I pushed against religion for as long as I can remember.  Deep in my heart, I wanted to have a genuine relationship with God.  But I wanted to believe and have faith in God because I believed, because my beliefs were mine; not because it was something my friends were doing or that my mom wanted me to do.

When I was six years old, the church asked our Sunday School class if we wanted to get baptized.  All my friends were going to do it, but I had reservations.  I talked to my teacher who asked me if I believed in God.  I couldn’t answer.  I was unsure and didn’t want to commit to something and get baptized unless I meant it.  So I didn’t get baptized.  I did continue to go to church with my family, never believing, but just going because my mom made me. 

As I got older I became more of a skeptic, more of a cynic.  I started to believe that religion was created as a means to control society, to implement rules, guidelines and principles to live by.  I also felt like religion was created to comfort hurting people, which isn’t a bad concept, but isn’t real either.  My heart became hardened to religion and religious people. Even if I had wanted to believe, I felt I was inadequate, unworthy and not good enough to be “Christian.”  I wouldn’t feel accepted if I tried.  I’d done too much wrong and hurt too many people.  I felt unforgiveable, untouchable, unclean and unwanted.  If I didn’t like who I was and wouldn’t want to be around me, why would God?  So I turned away from God and stayed far removed.  If I shut out God, then I could justify all the bad things in my life.  I didn’t want to become a Christian because what kind of Christian would do the things I did?

In my denial of God, my imposter self was born.  I could do whatever I wanted because there was no God to judge me.  However, in believing this, I did not have God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, leaving me feeling desolate indeed.  Out of fear of failure, I did the bare minimum to get by in life. I convinced myself that was all I needed. Due to this attitude, I became extremely self-conscious, and in an effort to compensate I invented the façade that I didn’t care what others thought about me. I have never gone with the social norm. I’ve always prided myself in being a unique individual that was not affected by the opinions of others.  This belief fueled my behavior until I stopped caring about everything.

Life itself was insignificant and meaningless.  What was the point in trying? I started using drugs and alcohol to numb the effects my feelings and behavior had on me. I had a lot of superficial friends and relationships. I always had to be where the party was to feel accepted. I liked to have a lot of people around because when I was alone I would start thinking about the reality of my painful situation.  I needed people to distract me from the truth.

On the outside it may have looked like I was succeeding: I went to college, was on the Dean’s List most semesters, graduated, got great jobs.  I was a single mom, providing and taking care of my son. I had a significant amount of friends in an effort to prove to myself that life held significance, but inside I was feeling totally unfulfilled, unsatisfied and never happy. To other people I looked great, but the truth was I was miserable, coping with daily life through drugs and meaningless relationships.  I didn’t know who I really was, much less allow others to truly know me.

When I landed myself in jail, I didn’t have drugs and alcohol anymore.  I was sobering up, thinking clearly and having to face things I’d been running from for a long time.  I am so thankful my mom sent me Brennan Manning’s book, Abba’s Child. I started recognizing this false self I had manifested.  I started dealing with the “I don’t care,” “Why try? I’m a failure,” “I do what I want,” and the “I don’t care what you think about me because then I don’t give you the power to hurt me.” It was in this intense soul-searching, along with the help of my family and the church services offered in jail, that I finally stopped projecting my false self on God. I stopped believing that how I feel about myself is the way God feels about me. I was finally able to acknowledge the imposter and come to terms with my feelings about God.

Without the haze of drugs clouding my judgement, I was able to be rational. God’s plan for salvation suddenly seemed so natural and right once I finally understood that Jesus died for me, that I was already forgiven, that I can’t do anything to gain it or lose it. It’s grace: an undeserved gift. So laying in my bed in jail with Abba’s Child on one side of me and my Bible on the other, I prayed to God the salvation prayer! I was a believer! I was saved!

It had been a long, rough journey to salvation. But after I prayed that prayer, there was finally a light at the end of the tunnel and it was not a train barreling down the tracks toward me. It was freedom! Escape! God! Drugs are no longer my escape from the pain and darkness; God is. He walks beside me, and if I stumble and fall, He picks me up. I’m not self-sufficient, I rely on my capable God. I trust in Him.

It was reading Abba’s Child in jail that really helped me understand who God is.  I began to establish roots in Jesus. I wanted my own genuine, authentic relationship with God that was mine. I was learning to love myself as God loves me, becoming more confident in myself each day. I finally understood how worthy I am of a relationship with God. How badly I wanted this relationship with God; but more than that, I needed it! I didn’t want to be this miserable person anymore. I wanted forgiveness. I didn’t want to wallow in my pitiful depression anymore.  I wanted to start living, to come out of hiding. I wanted to love myself the way God loves me: compassionately, intensely and freely without restrictions. It was in my fear of not being good enough to be a Christian that I ran from God. I refused to have a relationship with Him because I felt unworthy. But through Abba’s Child, I was finally able to recognize that I had it all wrong. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes, but God never stops loving us. He can’t. It is not who He is.

I cannot impress on you enough how much this book touched me, shaped my beliefs, helped me to understand who God is and helped me reclaim my identity in Jesus.  In doing so, it helped me to cast aside self-doubt and self-hatred. I love me in Jesus, all of me! It was in reading this book that I committed my life to God. I am Abba’s Child! Thank you, Jesus!

 

Grace House Graduation!

Every time a lady graduates from the Grace House program, it is a BIG deal!  We recently had a young woman complete the program, and she is now thriving in life-involved in community, serving as a reading mentor, working, and planning on starting a discipleship training school in just a few weeks!  Here is Sara’s story in her own words.

When I first came into Grace House, I was battling an eating disorder (bulimia) and substance abuse, leaving me hopeless and dying. With an angry heart towards God and towards myself, it kept me from moving forward in my healing journey. The Staff believed for me in times I couldn’t. The way they fought for me, served me and the other ladies in the home, chipped away the walls I had built up on the inside. One of the biggest things the Lord spoke was, “I will love the hurt out of you.” No matter how hard to get I was, His love has won me over. He cares for our wellbeing and He remains faithful even when we are not.  He provided a safe place to heal from all the years of trauma. He wanted me back in His arms and that is just what He did. He drew me with cords of loving kindness. My stone, stubborn heart became a tender responsive heart. The healing I received during my time at Grace House will always mark my life by the Faithfulness of God.

Here are some highlights from Grace House… 

  • Relationship with God restored and my heart able to love again 
  • Having a safe place to heal 
  • Discovery of my gifting and restoration of dreams 
  • Growth, learning how to live in recovery 
  • November 15,2016 graduated from Grace House.

One thing that really impacted me and made me deeply trust the staff was watching them while the house closed down due to lack of funding (in 2015).  I got to watch the sweat, tears, time, and sacrifices they spent to get the house back open.  They stayed involved in my life—I call myself their backpack baby—and kept providing me with curriculum for class, spending time with me, and coaching me toward recovery.  They’ve  been mothers to me.

Now that I’m able to look past myself and my own pain, I’m excited to give out what I’ve been given.  I can’t wait to minister to other girls who are going through what I went through.  One of the major things the Lord did during my time at Grace House was breaking off anger.  I contended so much for the anger to leave.  I was so angry with God that my attitude was literally that His words didn’t mean a thing to me.  But something I received from Grace House was a restoration of that relationship with God.  There is just no way I could have done it on my own.  I am now at a place where I have been receiving love from the Lord and able to love him back.  It has literally changed my life.

sara-and-staff-at-graduation

Restoration and Grace: Leigh’s Story

Grace House, our recovery home for women, desires to see women holistically healed from chronic addiction and restored through relationship with Jesus.

Here is Leigh’s story of how Grace House has impacted her life. She has experienced the healing and redemptive power of Jesus, and has been brought out of hopelessness into a life full of hope and joy.

Describe your early life before addiction.

My first memory is of being sexually abused by a man close to the family. I was also sexually abused by a family member.  So from the beginning, I was led to be silent, compliant and alone.  I grew up scared; scared to be used sexually and scared of the rage that ruled over my family.  Everyone fought.  It was so bad we were forced to go to family counseling.  But I said nothing—I was coached well.  I was depressed, anxious and neglected.

At age eight, I started seeking ways to just make myself feel good.  That same year, my parents decided to separate, and by nine I was moving to El Paso to live with my mom. I began to fantasize and plan suicide at the age of nine. I didn’t have any friends and was teased every day for the next five years.  I started getting violent.

When did addiction first take hold of your life?

I was 13 years old when I realized I was a drug user, though I started around 12. I came to realize the only acceptance and love I would receive was from drugs and other drug users.  That became my identity: I was a drug addict. I only felt happy when I was high and I only felt accepted by others who got high.

What was life in addiction like?

At 14, I went to a mental institution. By 15, I was in my first rehab.  And right before my 16th birthday, I was raped.  In the midst of all this was rage and suicide idealization.  I got into witchcraft, then was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against my sister.  I could not go a day sober, and when I did, outbursts of rage ensued.  I got into cutting, drinking, heroin, meth, sex and never went without weed. I was a blackout drunk and was raped more times than I can count.  Every moment sober, I was overcome by shame and self-condemnation. I overdosed nine times in two months when I started using heroin.  I was in and out of hospitals, rehab and relationships with men who used and abused me.  Caught with heroin while shoplifting, I spent my 25th birthday in a mental hospital and my 26th in jail.  I tried to get help, but I could only ever get short-term care: a couple weeks in the hospital to stabilize meds and bring up trauma, then sent out into the world. I’ve been to rehab four times. If I wasn’t high, then I was having flashbacks.  Eventually, I had to use more and more and started using needles. I gave up.  What was the point?

Where were you last August?

Last August, I was drowning in addiction.  I was shooting up meth every day.  I relapsed on heroin with the intention of suicidal overdose.  I couldn’t die; nothing worked; I failed at everything.  Except drugs. I resigned myself to doing what I knew how to do: drugs and sex.  I was an object for men and women to use and I was good at the drug lifestyle.  I had given up—there was no way out.  I stopped fighting and gave in.

When I failed a drug test with three different substances and was facing my probation being revoked, I was ordered to go to Cenikor, a short-term rehabilitation center.  This was the first time I was ordered to rehab, and the first time I didn’t plan on staying sober.  I had truly resigned myself to my addiction and sobriety wasn’t an option.  “Get high until I die,” was my purpose.

After nine days in detox, I was moved to residential care.  It was there that I finally came out of denial.  I could no longer blame my drug use on my trauma. I admitted I was an addict.  This truth set me free.

I realized my death in addiction would be tragic and prolonged, so I decided I wanted to live.

I became open, willing to listen to others’ opinions and insights. I even started going to Bible study.  Not because I believed, but because I hoped I would get more knowledge.  My roommate encouraged me, because she glorified Jesus in so many ways.  If it wasn’t for her, I probably would not have softened my heart to the Lord.  One Sunday, she pushed me to join her in attending a worship service. A group of men came to Cenikor to share the Gospel.  These men were also in recovery, so I was able to relate. The lesson was good: describing Jesus as the bridge between old self and new self. However, it was something else that captivated me. One man had so much passion for Jesus that my whole body vibrated. He had no shame, but only purpose and fire! He would die for his convictions, not condemn others. Whew! He was on fire!  As the discussion went on, tears started streaming down my face.  I was thinking, “How could Jesus love me after what’s been done to me?  I am nothing.  How could He love me after the abuse of my childhood?  I’m disgusting.  I’m unlovable.”  I was heartbroken, hopeless and full of shame. I wanted what those guys had—I wanted to be loved by Jesus so badly.

Then glory came.

They asked if anyone wanted to accept Jesus as their Savior, and I could not get my hand up fast enough. We circled up, prayed and I was filled with the Holy Spirit. I had a pentagram I had worn since I was 16 and I felt like it was choking me. I ripped it off, went outside, prayed and buried it along with the hold my abusive family member had over me. I was so joyful that I couldn’t stop smiling.  I felt brand new. Thank you, Lord.

I was scheduled to leave Cenikor that Friday and was homeless, but I was so sure that I would be ok.  I had Jesus, and it was well with my soul. An employee at Cenikor got me a phone interview with Missy at Grace House, then we met in person the next day. This place was a dream come true!  A year of true healing, free of charge. Could it be? Long-term recovery, space to heal from the trauma and learn how to walk with Jesus?! The morning I was released, I was packed up, homeless and trusting the Lord.  Missy called to say I had been accepted into Grace House–five days after I chose Jesus Christ as my Savior! That’s the Lord!

How has life been since coming to Grace House?

Since coming to Grace House, I’ve not only dedicated my heart and mind to Jesus, but my body as well.  I’m married to the Lord and confident in celibacy. At World Mandate, I was moved by the Holy Spirit and surrendered all the men who sexually abused me and declared forgiveness. I’m learning what conflict resolution is and how to set boundaries. Through counseling and prayer ministry, I am facing the pain and bringing Jesus in.

I have been delivered from shame and rage.

I was baptized June 12th at Tonkawa Falls, and shared my testimony with all who were there.  My family is being reconciled and generational curses are being broken off.  Grace House is setting me up beautifully for life outside the home. I’m in a great Lifegroup, full of supportive individuals who value and encourage me. I’m working part-time at a bakery, learning how to budget and bring Jesus into my workplace.  When I look to the future, I rejoice at the days to come. Jesus is my future.

Where He goes, I’ll go.

 

This was previously posted on the Antioch Blog.

A Night with Grace House Event Update

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This past Thursday we were honored and humbled to host 400 people at our second annual “A Night with Grace House.” THANK YOU to each and every one of you who helped make the event a huge success. We were filled with gratitude to see so many people give joyfully, obediently, and sacrificially in order to see restoration come in the lives of women struggling with addiction.

Together with the silent auction, donations, pledges, and annualized monthly giving, we raised over $100,000 for Grace House!

The staff and ladies at the House are blown away and grateful beyond words for God’s provision.

If you would still like to jump in to the community giving financially to keep Grace House running, it’s not too late! Just click here to set up a monthly or one-time donation.

If you would like to sign up to volunteer or donate a high-value item for next year’s event, you can email us by clicking on the button below. We would also love to take you on a personal tour of the House—just click here to email us and we’ll set it up!