My name is Sarah.
I was born in Idaho into a split family home where I was the only child between my parents but had two older step sisters. I knew growing up that I was loved and cared for even though my parents had many struggles. My dad traveled a lot, and I missed him, however he did shower me with love when he was home. I remember attending church a few times as a family but God was not a part of our family or conversations and the church was a place where I had to be quiet, sit still and listen to things I didn’t understand. I knew there was a God. I knew Jesus was good. But we didn’t pray, attend church or study the Bible – God was not a part of my life.
While I was in grade school my dad accepted a job in Missouri. Those first two years living in Missouri were very hard on my family. It was a very confusing time for me as I witnessed my parents face many stressful circumstances. Two years into our new life in Missouri I was placed in a Catholic private school where I began to learn about God and study the Bible. But since the message was not backed up at home, none of it really mattered to me. After two years in the Catholic school my mother home schooled me for one year. And it was during that time that God showed up and my life changed.
One night in 1995, my mom surrendered her heart to Jesus and she was changed in an instant. Jesus became the center of our family life. We attended church. Bibles could be found all over the house. My mom was a true Jesus Freak! For the next two years my life changed drastically. My father began to follow the Lord and I too made the decision to follow Him. Our family became highly active in our church home as my parents were leaders of our youth group. At this time, I really started to see my gift as a leader and my relationship with the Lord grew steadily. But all this spiritual growth in our family made us a target for the enemy and in 1998 he hit us hard.
In the summer of 1998, my dad left us. I watched my mother, the light of Christ to me, shrivel up and waste away. The dark cloud of depression wrapped around her like a lead blanket. My father was gone and I was filled with rage, bitterness, confusion and anger. I grew up very fast and began to care for my mother who was lifeless and unable to function. My faith became weak and I started to look for other ways to fill the now empty hole that was inside my heart. I tried everything to fill that emptiness. I was hell on wheels and ran myself to the ground. I was in a sexual relationship with both boys and girls. I was a thief. And I abused alcohol and drugs. My life didn’t matter to me any more and on more than one occasion I contemplated suicide. I just didn’t care. Everything I was doing to fill that hole in my life was only ripping me apart and making life worse. But God had not forgotten me, He had a plan.
I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
In the fall of my junior year of high school, I started dating a boy that was kind, gentle, very easy to talk to and quite handsome. Brandon and I began our relationship with passion and lust for one another and within three months of dating we found ourselves in the bathroom looking at a positive pregnancy test. We were scared and abortion was a tempting option. When the requirement of a parent signature to follow through with abortion surfaced, I decided to keep the pregnancy a secret and hope that it would just go away. However, my body could not keep my secret and within three months, I was unable to attend school or go to work because I was not eating, throwing up constantly and barely able to function. Finally, we had to face the truth and tell our parents the situation. My mom showed tremendous grace to us. She took me to see a doctor and to get counselling. Brandon moved in with us. Rage, disappointment, disgrace, chaos, stress, and overwhelming shame hit us all at once from all sides. I felt like such a hopeless mess. But Brandon and I joined together like glue, the whole world seemed to be against us; we were alone and only had each other. We learned to depend on each other for support and the relationship that began in lust miraculously turned into a deep and meaningful friendship. Brandon promised never to leave me. As the months continued to pass, the pressure to decide what we were going to do reached a boiling point. Thankfully, the least likely person rose from her deep sleep of depression. I believe that the Lord woke her up. My mom said she was willing to adopt the baby and suddenly the darkness cleared. In that moment, we finally had peace and we were able to process our pregnancy with all the information from the doctors, counselors and the pregnancy care center to make a decision on our own for our future. That peace allowed me to hear The Lord’s soft whisper – “you can do this, the two of you can do this together.” I had peace, a peace that we were not alone and could become a family. On November 1, 2000, at the age of 17, I delivered a healthy baby boy, and we named him Joseph. Our new life as a family of three began. Brandon and I got married and together we worked hard to become the best and most responsible parents for our son. Joseph became the center of our world, we didn’t have friends or much family involvement so our life revolved around him and life as a family of three.
For six years we worked to put Joseph first and did whatever we could to appear that we had everything together. We were more concerned with making sure our child looked like a good kid that was in church than we were about being the example for him. Our marriage was not focused on God – we were too busy trying to make it look like we were focused on Him. A mask, formed out of the fear of what others thought of me and my job as a mother, covered me. I was one Sarah in the presence of others, and a completely different Sarah behind closed doors as a wife and mother. A great big hole started to grow inside my heart as my son grew. The years of being a young wife and mother of a small child were gone and I was only 26 years old. I turned to pornography to try and satisfy my emptiness and I soon began to push the envelope to feed my desire for something better. My thoughts and eyes began to wonder and being married began to sound less and less appealing to me. I didn’t have a cent to my own name, no job, no college education or skills. I felt worthless and without purpose. I was trapped with no easy way out, totally lost in darkness, helpless and hopeless. I hated myself and who I was; plagued with frustration that I couldn’t fix my life. Bitterness, resentment, anger, shame, guilt, and selfishness swelled up inside then at times rage would pour out of me in self destructive ways. Once again I was driving myself into the ground from the inside out. I had two choices, death or life. Fortunately, God gives us unlimited grace and mercy and He never once let me go. Jesus called me from the depths of my darkness to seek His face. I did. And once again my life changed, but this time it wasn’t just change, this time I was completely transformed. I began a new life and a new creation was born in Christ Jesus.
I was like a broken down building with shattered windows and holes in the roof yet deep down I had a solid foundation built on the blood of Christ when He took my place on the cross. I see our walk with Christ, this relationship with Him as a journey down a road. As a follower of Christ, we are called to walk close to Him, learning to follow His footsteps. I was on this path with Christ for years yet I sat down, arms crossed, in the dirt for awhile. The amazing thing about God is his limitless patience, He stood right by me while I sat there digging deep holes for myself. His hand was always stretched out waiting for me to look up and accept His help. I did look up and take his hand and by the goodness and grace of God, He welcomed me back on the path with open arms and asked me to follow him yet again.
But now that you’ve found, you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our master.
This total surrender to God empowered me to turn from my sinful ways and change, I truly repented from my sins and turned from them. The bible says that if your right hand causes you to sin, you are to cut it off. There were many things in my life that I needed to cut off and it started with the pornography addiction; everything got destroyed and my marriage began to grow with the rejection of that sin. I began to see my husband in a new light and my eyes and thoughts no longer wondered. I also began to read God’s word and apply it to my life. However, the one thing that the Lord called me to do through my transformation was quite simple – He asked me to just trust Him. I let go of my shame and guilt and allowed God to start molding me into the woman He created me to be. There are things that I still struggle with, however I look to the Lord for help and not my own ability to fix or hide my problems. I came out of the darkness and took off my mask. I found joy and peace in the light with Jesus.
2 Corinthians 3:18
And so we are transfigured, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become more like Him.
Aurelia’s Note: Sarah’s story is to be continued! Stay tuned for her family session and the next chapter of her story!