“Your father abandoned you because you were not worthy. You’re not good enough. You’re dirty. You’re damaged goods. You’ll be a drug addict for the rest of your life. You’ll die with a needle in your arm—and you’ll deserve it because of all the terrible things you’ve done. God doesn’t love you. He doesn’t want you. He will never forgive you.”
For so long, those words and others like them were a constant chorus in my mind. I fought against believing them, but it was hard. Satan wanted my life, and he used these lies to take me down.
And then one day, I realized his tactics. I recognized him for who he really was—a liar, a deceiver, and most importantly, a defeated foe. How did that happen? I finally realized who God was, and I accepted who I am in Him.
The day I surrendered my life to God and stood tall in my identity as His child was the greatest day of my life. It was a choice that changed everything. But getting to that point wasn’t an easy road.
I was introduced to the Lord at a young age. I used to go to Bible study at Miss Purdue’s house with the kids in my neighborhood. I believed in Jesus, but the older I got, the more I forgot about Him. The trials of life picked away at my childhood faith.
Abandonment by my father, childhood sexual abuse by a close relative, and then the death of my mother—these planted seeds of pain that grew and overtook my heart and mind. By the age of 16, I was lost, alone, confused, and angry.
I turned to drugs to mask the reality of my world. I spent most of my teenage years in a drug-induced stupor. My mother had been everything to me—the most important person in the world. When I lost her, I felt like I had nothing left.
The years went by, and I spiraled out of control. One hit of heroin was all I needed to be hooked. After that, my life was no longer my own. My addiction led to numerous felonies. Yet in the midst of my chaos and darkness, I could hear God’s voice calling out to me. “Stasha,” He’d say, “you don’t have to live like this. I want better for you. I can make it better if you just let Me.” But I kept running, kept trying to mask my pain, and kept racking up more felonies.
Ultimately, however, God had a plan, and He used those felonies to save my life and to teach me about His unconditional love and grace. These weren’t always easy lessons.
I discovered I had breast cancer while sitting in jail, waiting for my prison sentence to begin. I had surgery at Orlando Regional Medical Center, and then I was returned to the jail. It was a difficult and humiliating experience, but during this time, I finally looked up. I had exhausted all that the world had to offer. I’d tried everything and everyone to ease my pain. Something had to change.
Once again I heard God’s voice. “Stasha, you don’t have to live like this. I want better for you. I can make it better if you just let Me.” This time, I was ready. I gave my life to God, and in that moment, I felt His love wrap around me. I finally knew I wasn’t alone—that I had never been alone.
I was sent to a men’s prison so I could receive chemo treatments for my breast cancer. The men’s facility was the only place with an available cancer treatment. It was a time of incredible isolation, but it was there I finally drew close to the Great Physician—the One who could heal not only my diseased body but also my broken heart.
I read my Bible and learned about the Lord and His love for me. I spent 18 months in prison, and then I was released. I was sure I was ready to live for Him— certain I’d never go back to drugs. But within three weeks, I was high again.
How? Why? Because of pride.
I thought I had my life all under control. I marched out of that prison so sure of myself, I never once stopped to ask for God’s strength or the support of His people in making a new life. I quickly learned I couldn’t do it on my own. And I crashed.
This failure absolutely defeated me. Convinced God was mad at me, I hung my head low and kept on going on my own. For a whole year, I trudged down my path of destruction. Convinced God had washed His hands of me, I reached a darker place than I had ever been before.
Predictably, I found myself back in prison. And there again, I heard God’s voice. Reminding me of His better way. Inviting me to come back to Him. It wasn’t too late. I hadn’t gone too far.
I returned to God. Once again, I turned from my go-to, destructive ways. But this time, I humbly accepted God’s help and chose to move forward with Him, one step at a time. He led me to some amazing women who loved me and walked the journey with me—in particular, the wonderful people at the Lydia House in Orlando, an outreach of First Baptist Orlando.
God used these precious women to teach me, based on the authority of the Bible, how to break free from the spirit of rejection and abandonment that had held me captive for so long. I learned the importance of forgiving myself and began a process of forgiving those who had hurt me.
I also learned my identity as a child of God. I know now that He calls me His beloved. Worthy. Enough. Clean. Perfect. Forgiven. Useful. The names He gives me are far removed from the ones Satan taunted me with.
This is my story, but it can be yours too. I want you to know that this time around, it can be different. And it can be better. God is calling out to you; He’s telling you too: “You don’t have to live like this. I want better for you. I can make it better, if you just let Me.”
Give it up. Let God make it better. Let Him give you the life He died to give you. Stop running. Stop hiding. Stop covering your pain. You can’t do it on your own—but with Him, you can. All things are possible with Him.
I know that God will give you better if you let Him. He has given me a life I could never have imagined. He has brought real change in me, and He’s given me a family in Him where I am never alone.
He’ll do the same for you.