For many years, I struggled with addictions and mental disease. In 2007, I stood before a judge who gave me a chance to receive mental treatment; if I completed the program, then I wouldn’t have to serve my 15-year sentence. I completed the program and upon my release went to live in a halfway house. While there, I was beaten and raped. Because of the trauma, I ended up back in a psych ward.
Upon graduating a second time from the mental institution, I went to live in Tennessee with my big sister and her husband, both of whom are godly people. I fulfilled my after-care requirements at the church.
I attended church regularly, prayed, and attended various group meetings. I even surrounded myself with Christian people. I did everything I thought I was supposed to do to be free, as I desperately wanted to do right. But I was so lost. I really thought I knew God because I knew His people. Looking back, I realize that I didn’t know God at all. I had never sought a personal relationship with Him.
Why? I really didn’t trust Him. Deep in my heart, I didn’t believe He would set me free from my addictions. I didn’t have faith in His Word. Sure, I had religious routine, but it only kept me in bondage.
My kids came to visit me in Tennessee. I was so grateful for my time together with them. On July 23, 2009, I drove to Florida to return my kids to their dad. Never could I have known that that would be our last hug and kiss. I said goodbye and went to a local bar to find my parents; both are addicts. I told my mom and dad I hated them and the home environment in which I was raised. I resented them with a passion.
Three nights later, I was found cracked out, beaten, and raped, with a razor blade lodged in my throat. When I came out of surgery, I was arrested and charged with first-degree attempted murder. I was facing a life sentence. At that moment, I gave up on life. I had tried and tried to “do right,” to no avail. I blamed God for my being in and out of confinement. I just wanted to die. I attempted suicide, and I would have succeeded had the authorities not found me so quickly.
Under arrest in the hospital, I remember looking up at the doctor who was holding my bleeding neck; my slit wrists were tied together. And in that moment, I heard the Lord’s voice say to me: “I love you. Turn to Me.”
And I did. For the first time in my life, I turned to God and totally surrendered to Jesus. I started seeking Him for myself. Since turning to Him, I’ve never cut myself again. The Lord has truly taken care of me and set me free just as Psalm 27:10 says: “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.” God has never forsaken me.
I don’t know how much longer I will be behind bars. I trust God’s timing. While I wait, I will continue to believe that God is able to restore all that I’ve lost. I will live for God’s glory and spread His Word through my poetry. Here is one such poem. I hope you enjoy it. It is entitled, “You Can Be Free.”
The love of Jesus is abundant,
His loving Word is true.
Leading you and guiding you,
In everything you do.
I thank the Lord for this every day,
On my knees, faithfully to Him I pray.
His love endures forever,
His love strengthens me.
He gives me hope for the future
He will set me free.
I just want to spread the Word
As He places it upon my heart,
For Jesus is the only way,
His love will never part.
Turn to Him in sadness,
Anger or despair.
When life’s troubles seem cruel and unfair
He will stand beside you,
He will see you through.
I’m here to tell you, my friend,
Jesus Christ loves you.
Give Him a chance.
Turn to Him and see
That even inside your prison walls
You too can still be free.
Written by Jamie Dawn Selkey
Photo by Aziz Acharki