I didn’t just wake up one day in my teens and decide I wanted to be an addict and a prostitute. Childhood sexual abuse and trauma set me on a collision course with disaster.

As a little girl, I read all the happy-ever-after fairy tales, but I figured “girls like me” didn’t get to believe in fairy tales. No. Girls like me had to put on their big­girl britches so they could make it on the streets.

I learned to be a master manipulator and developed many other dysfunctional survival skills. My heart was cold and hard, and I lived in a constant state of denial. I justified my bad behavior with blame and self­pity.

My battle continued over three decades and resulted in many casualties, especially in my relationships. I had nothing to offer anyone. I was mentally, emotionally, physically, and morally bankrupt. Every part of me was broken.

But then I had an encounter with Jesus, much like the one experienced by the man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1–9). The Bible doesn’t tell us much about this man other than he was sick and he was stuck. Before he met Jesus, he had spent 38 years sitting in the same spot, hanging around the same sick people, stuck in the same mindset, and facing a pattern of the same circumstances.

Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I am confident this man spent all those years doing all that same stuff while hoping for a different outcome.

Jesus wanted him to experience something different, something better. So, without minimizing the man’s problems or blaming him for his mess, Jesus cut right to the core of the matter with a question: “Would you like to get well?” Jesus wasn’t looking for a detailed explanation of how the man got to his pitiful state or why he was still there. He just wanted to know—do you want to be well?

The man answered with excuse-­riddled, blame-shifting sentences like: “I can’t. No one will help me. Someone always gets to the water before me.” In his answer, we see the root of his problem. He lacked personal accountability for his predicament.

But Jesus was compassionate. He didn’t just offer the man a different outcome, He offered him the ability to participate in the plan of action as well. Jesus said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” He gave the man a choice: get up and move forward, or stay put and stay stuck.

To find wholeness, this man had to move out of the realm of “same”—that mental, emotional, and physical place that felt natural and comfortable. He had to accept Jesus’s invitation to try something new. If he did, he would find healing and be empowered to live a completely new life. The Bible tells us this man made the right choice, and Jesus made him whole.

Letting go of my old excuses helped me find wholeness too. Like this man, I had to take responsibility for my life. I had to quit feeling sorry for myself and to stop blaming everyone else for the disaster my life had become. Yes, people had hurt me in unspeakable ways, but I had to rise up out of self­pity, pick up my mat (the familiar things I clung to), and walk out with Jesus.

That was five years ago. He brought me out of darkness and transformed my life. I’ve been walking with with Him ever since.

Are you tired of the same pitiful results, time after time? Have you been stuck in the realm of “same” for way too long? Jesus’s invitation for wholeness is for you too. So go ahead. Get up. Pick up your mat. Start walking in a new direction toward your victorious life with Jesus. Do it today.