I drank. I drove. I killed.
And then I woke up in a cold cell. Confused. Broken. Afraid. Empty. Alone. With a DUI to my name.
How in the world had my life come to this? Two innocent people were dead because of me.
I thought I had perfected my behavior. I thought my life was under control. I was going to be different, better than all those people who had caused me so much pain. But now I was the one hurting people and destroying lives.
What do you do when your behavior has gone too far? How do you cope when you wake up one day and see that the very thing you loathed is what you have become? What do you do when you realize that the demons in your closet are the very same ones that your family carried, except you have additional ones added by your own decisions, your own bad choices, and your own unacceptable behavior?
It’s a discovery that could have destroyed me. Had it not been for the grace of God, I wouldn’t have been able to live one more day.
I wanted to give up. Trust me. There seemed to be no hope.
I felt so alone, so utterly hopeless. Death seemed like a great choice…a logical choice…the only choice. How else would the pain ever stop?
On many occasions, I stepped up to the finish line of life, prepared to cross it. Society would have gladly let me pass by. In their eyes, I didn’t deserve to live. Day after day, Death was there, screaming and cheering, eager to claim its third victim…me.
But I couldn’t do it.
Somehow, even in the darkness, I sensed the voice of Love calling out to me, saying, “You’re not alone, child. I’m here. And I love you. You don’t have to carry this pain alone. Come to Me and find rest for your weary soul.”
I accepted His invitation, and for the next seven years, behind prison bars, Jesus walked with me and helped me persevere through the pain of guilt, fear, loneliness, and shame that could have so easily consumed me. He placed me in a faith-based dorm where I learned how to worship, study God’s Word, and pray. I found peace through His music, guidance through His Word, and comfort through prayer.
Jesus also walked with into my new life when I was released from prison. He has lovingly led me from that day until now and has picked me up time and time again.
Surrendering to the love of God wasn’t easy for me. I’d not had a person demonstrate the concept of true, unconditional love. I didn’t know what love should look like. The only people that “cared” for me were those who wanted something from me.
Because of the rejection and abuse from people who should have loved me, it took me a long time to trust God and His Word, even though I knew He was God. I thought His promises were for other people, not for me. How could anything good be in store for a sinner like me?
There’s not enough space here to tell the sad details of my childhood and young adult life. Suffice it to say that, beginning at age six, I endured one traumatic event after another including verbal, mental, and sexual abuse. I also lost the only person who ever truly loved me. The continuous yelling, hitting, drinking, and belittling in my home took a toll on my young mind and shattered my heart to pieces. Eventually, the anger and hate my family displayed became my own. And my heart grew cold.
I hid my pain deep within. I fought the anger that tried to control me. And I hated everyone around me.
Hiding. Fighting. Hating. These were my coping mechanisms.
If only I had sought help for my broken heart. But where could I have gone? Who would have helped me? There seemed to be no good choice. So I pressed on.
Hiding. Fighting. Hating. Drowning my pain in alcohol. Manipulating my way with lies. With each passing day, my thinking became more twisted and my heart darker.
In due time, I fell apart. Like a ticking time bomb, I exploded. Killing others. Shattering lives.
But therein that shattered mess was God, ready to help me pick up the pieces and rebuild my life. He’s always been by my side. I’d just never considered His presence in all the darkness of my life. Was God really there amid all that pain? Yes, He was. I’d caused much of it, but He was helping me through it. Loving me. Giving me the strength to live one more day.
If only I had reached out to Him sooner, I could have avoided so much pain and loss. But there is no going back or undoing what is done. There is only the choice to move forward in a different way and be thankful for the pain that led me to my future. The pain that led me to the greatest love of all…God.
For God is love. And love showed me that I was somebody. Love showed me my voice was just as important as another’s voice. Love shouldered my burdens. Love healed my broken heart. Love helped me persevere in hope. And you know what else? Love showed me that my life wasn’t a mess; it was a miracle! And my miracle life mattered to God! And so does yours.
No matter how far you’ve gone, I want you to know that you’ve never gone too far for God’s love to find you. He is right there in the middle of your darkness, ready to help rebuild your life. He is calling out for you; listen: “Come to Me, and I will give you rest.” (See Matthew 11:28–30.)
Most of us spend our entire lives looking for unconditional love, for someone who will accept us as we are—our faults, our failures, and our dysfunctions. You don’t have to look any further. Jesus Christ is the love you’ve been searching for. If you accept Him, He will heal your heart, take your pain, and give you a hope for your future, too.
Author: Laurie Amber LaPorte
Photo credit: Jamie Street on Unsplash