If you have ever wondered what your purpose is here on earth, if you are longing for a sense of dignity and belonging, I understand. I’ve been there, and it is with incredible gratitude to the Lord that I share my story.

I can describe my childhood in one word: rejection. It didn’t begin that way, though.

See, in the early years, I had a close-knit family. Things were good. My mother, who was a Christian, had a huge influence on my life. Her relationship with God inspired me to ask Jesus into my heart when I was nine or ten years old. But before I could fully grasp my own relationship with God and grow in it, something went very wrong.

My mother decided to leave my dad for someone else. Then my dad remarried and was always working. Our family was suddenly over. It seemed that everyone else looked out for themselves and forgot all about me. It felt like nobody knew where I was or what I was doing, and…probably, nobody cared.

Thank God, I was determined to work hard and finish high school. Then I put myself through two years of college and moved away from home to start my own life.

But one big issue remained: I felt completely rejected and alone. With no family, I never felt that I belonged to anyone.

I desperately wanted someone in my life, anyone who would accept me. This desire made me an easy target for predators. A man nine years older than me came into my life and took complete control. He wanted to know what I was doing every minute of every day. I had never had someone so interested in me. It felt good. Like someone finally cared about me.

I was so wrong.

This man brought nothing but destruction into my life. Over the next seven and a half years, I was abused and mentally tortured. He constantly told me I was disgusting and worthless and stripped me of all confidence. He told me no one would ever want me but him. And I believed him.

During those years, this man introduced me to a variety of drugs and brainwashed me with teachings of white supremacy, leading me into a world of hate. Amid all this darkness, however, two of my greatest blessings came…my two precious daughters.

As much as I hated my life, I felt I couldn’t leave. I thought all this negative attention and control was love. But in reality, I was in my own prison.

Then one day, everything changed. This man did a robbery and went to prison. Finally, the spell he had over me was broken. I was finally free from his hold. But I wasn’t free from my sense of rejection. Loneliness settled in once again.

I desperately wanted someone to want me, to treat me nice, and to make me feel loved. This time it was a former youth pastor turned heroin dealer and user that I welcomed into my life. Once again, I found myself in a dark world of destruction, and my out-of-control addictions added to the darkness.

Then God’s mercy came.

I got a DUI and was sentenced to six months in a county jail. While incarcerated, everything I owned was stolen. My house was looted, and my identity taken by thieves. And of course, I lost my daughters.

I didn’t just hit rock bottom; I was under the rocks, totally crushed.

And in that place, I did the only thing I knew to do—I prayed. I remembered the God of my youth and slowly started getting into His Word. And God began to work in my heart.