I met Chelsea when she was in middle school. She and her brothers and sister were in our junior high group at church. Brad and I have been connected to her family ever since. She has walked an incredible road and I asked her to share it with you...
I waited patiently for the LORD;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.
Love was something that I always knew. Love from my parents, family and friends, and God's love had always been apparent to me. What I was unsure of was love for myself.
I entered high school with few friends, but with the knowledge that the Lord would always be by my side--and He has although sometimes I never sought to acknowledge it.
As freshman year of high school had come and gone, I seemed to have lost sight of myself and who my identity was in Jesus Christ. I started to explore and rebel a bit.
On a night in June, 2005 I had encountered an opportunity to drink alcohol for the first time. I had felt safe under the roof of my own home, despite the fact that my parents were on vacation in Florida. Although my sister and I did have permission to stay at home together that night, what my parents didn't know was that there were three untrustworthy boys there and a good amount of liquor.
My insides were turning with a nervous feeling that somehow this night wasn't going to turn out for the better. But I put my gut feelings aside and engaged in a new activity anyway--turning my back on my family, my self-worth and my God, and this was only the beginning.
As I began to drink what tasted like nail polish remover, and burned like fire inside, I started to get dizzy. I had lost track of the amount of alcohol I had consumed and faintly remember anything what went on after about 60 minutes of drinking.
I woke up the next morning in my bed, trying to remember how I had gotten there. I then realized that I didn't have any clothes on and Ryan*, one of the boys, was lying next to me. I remember my heart pounding abnormally fast and not wanting to make any sounds or movements. I was so afraid and so unsure of what had happened.
I decided to quietly get up and try to find my sister. She was sound asleep in her own bed. I frantically woke her up to ask her what had happened the night before. She tried to remember as well, and although things were still blurry, she had remembered coming into my room and asking me what I was doing, but got no answer from me.
The next thing that I knew I had to do was call my parents. But Ryan had to leave first. I didn't want to talk to him; I didn't want to look him in the eyes. I just wanted him gone. As he left, I had remembered my brother, Corey, had spent the night at Ryan's house with Ryan's brother.
Before I could pick up the phone to call my mom, Corey was home. I could tell that he was angry and already knew what had happened. He encouraged me to call my mom right away. Calling my mom was, to this day, the hardest thing I've ever done, but I knew I had to do it.
High school was hard. Still not really knowing who I was, where I fit in. I would go back and forth with God, telling Him that I would spend time with Him tomorrow, or that I would go to Bible study next week because I really wanted to go to a party instead.
The summer before my senior year my boyfriend of one year had broken up with me. This changed me significantly. I decided that I just didn't really care anymore. I began to sleep around, drink more and became majorly addicted to marijuana.
Through all of this, God was still speaking to me. I knew that He was always there with me. Even though I felt God's love and protection around me all of the time, conviction sulked deep down in my heart.
Everyone around me could see that I was going downhill so they decided to intervene. My family sat me down one afternoon and gave me the raw details. They told me that I wasn't fooling anyone and that if I was going to continue making bad decisions then I had two choices: I could move out or I could go to a 30-day rehabilitation center in Phoenix, AZ.
I was so angry. I packed my bags and decided to leave the house with no phone, car or money. My siblings had tried to get me to stay. That weekend I numbed myself with drugs and alcohol. By the end of the weekend my friends had talked me into going home and rehab.
I remember driving up to my house that night. My brother Brandon ran outside, opened the car door, picked me up and carried me inside the house. I was greeted with tears and hugs. They were all so happy that I had finally woken up and made a good decision. It was one of the only times I had seen my dad cry. I knew that I had hurt him and that I needed to do something. I needed help, to fix myself.
The next morning, March 1st, 2008, I was on a plane to Calvary Rehabilitation Center in Phoenix, AZ. That day at school, everyone knew where I was. It was humiliating. The hardest part was that I was supposed to graduate in 3 months and I was worried that this was going to hold me back.
While in rehab, I learned so much about myself. The center was a Christian center. I learned a lot about God and got to start over with Him. I really found God's mercy and grace over that 30-days.
I was left with the question : what was I going to do after rehab? I was blessed with the ability to finish classes via email with my teachers so I was able to graduate. I chose to stay in Phoenix and live in a halfway house--even though this would mean that I had to miss my senior prom. Now that I look back, I think my intentions in staying weren't to stay at a sober house. I stayed because I didn't want to face anyone back home. Although I was happy that I had gone through rehab, I was still embarrassed.
While in rehab, I had met a guy named Ellett. Ellett was from Tucson where he was a heroin and cocaine addict. After rehab, Ellett also stayed in Phoenix to live in a halfway house. In recovery, they tell you not to date for a year, but we didn't care--we did it anyway. I think I was looking for someone to care about me and love me; apparently I had lost sight of God once again.
After 2 months into sobriety, Ellett told me that he had to move back to Tucson to attend drug court for previous charges. I decided to go with him but "forgot" to tell my parents. The next day I moved out of the halfway house and we were on the road to Tucson.
While in Tucson, Ellett relapsed. He tried to hide it from me, but I knew. I decided to call my parents and let them know where I was. As I expected, they weren't happy. That made me mad so I decided to go ahead and relapse with Ellett. Over the next few weeks I was drinking and smoking weed again and I was also injecting cocaine and heroin with Ellett. The next month of my life was huge blur, but through all of it I still felt God with me. Strangely, I began to draw closer to God. I would pray and read my Bible and use drugs in the same hour.
I remember falling asleep crying every day and waking up crying as well. The morning of June 18th, 2008 I decided to call my mom. I hadn't talked to her in about a month. I told her that I needed to come home. She booked me the next flight out--no questions asked. I sat there in awe, thanking God that my parents are able to show Jesus' love for His children. I know that they really wanted to hear from me, but in the circumstances I was in, I was surprised that they even considered letting me come home.
When I got home, I knew that my parents had to have known that I had relapsed. It was apparent in my weight, my face, my appearance, and my attitude. I knew that there were consequences ahead of me, but I was ready.
I started another 30-day rehab in Colorado a week after I had come home. This time, I took rehab more seriously. I took recovery seriously. I took seriously the fact that I couldn't do anything without God. Knowing how much I had hurt my family and broken them apart was where I drew the line. I didn't want to hurt them any more. I knew this was it. I had to get my act together. This rehab was not a Christian facility. It really forced me to seek the Lord on my own and find Him in my own space and time. It was certainly a challenge, but so rewarding. I found God's beauty in me. I found His abounding love and had finally grasped the concept that I am beautifully and wonderfully made. I was done doing harm to myself. I knew that after rehab, it would be time to give back.
I joined YWAM and found God on a "higher power" basis. I went into it trying to find out who I was, but God had different plans. He wanted to show me who He was and how He could be my Father. He wanted to show me how He could renew my broken heart and use and new and clean one for His glory!
I have recently found out that Ellett, the guy I was dating in Arizona, passed away from a drug overdose.
Through all of this, I am so grateful that God has pulled me out of the pit and set me on the Solid Rock. He has faithfully given me a place to stand and will never fade away.
I have been clean now for 2 years and 1 month! I praise and thank God every single day for keeping me clean.