HeidiMy name is Heidi.  My parents divorced when I was a young child and ever since an early age, I resented the idea of family.  I was torn between my mom and dad and ran with any opportunity I had from my “broken down family”.  As a way of escape, I ran to relationships.  At the age of twelve, I began experimenting with drugs and alcohol.  At fifteen, my drug abuse escalated when my step dad passed away.  I was devastated by his death.  He and I were very close.  With him gone, I felt so alone.  I was desperate to find stability in my life.  I felt abandoned by God.  I was very angry at God because I felt like he had taken two fathers away from me.

My drug addiction continued over each successive year, with each year getting worse than the one preceding it.  I tried everything I knew to find someone or something to love and accept me.  I wanted anything to fill the void I felt in my heart.  I turned to friends, boyfriends, and drug after drug searching for happiness.  Over time I became filled with self-hatred.  I was so ashamed of the person I had become, but I could not stop.  I began injecting cocaine and Oxycontin into my veins daily.  This self-hatred and shame I felt soon turned to self-destruction.  I was ninety pounds and killing myself with my drug addiction and eating disorder.

At my lowest point, I robbed my drug dealer.  A few days later she came after me.  She showed up at the apartment and threatened me.  I was terrified, and that night I called out to God for the first time in months.  Fearful that my life may be taken that night, I said, “God I’m not ready to die.”  Three days later, as an answer to that prayer, I was checked into a rehabilitation detox facility.  I was in a safe place.  I completed the days that were required of that short term program.  But I knew I needed more time to change.  I knew I wasn’t ready to leave.  I knew that if I started using drugs again that I would die, so I went straight from the detox facility to Teen Challenge of the Upper Cumberland’s crisis center.  When I arrived, I was scared and completely overwhelmed.  I experienced love and acceptance from the staff and students, which compelled me to stay after trying to leave immediately upon my arrival.

I was transferred to Appalachian Teen Challenge for my long term program, where I stayed, and graduated after thirteen months.  In those thirteen months I encountered something real – something so much more real than the passing feeling of a high, or momentary happiness that a relationships brings.  I encountered Jesus Christ – the person with whom I have a relationship with, who holds me up and has freed me from addiction.  Knowing Jesus Christ freed me from a life of addiction, hurt, insecurity, and shame.  I am now filled with joy, zealous for life, strong in my faith, and hopeful for the future.  Jesus Christ took away all the hurt and replaced it with joy and peace!

It has now been over a year since I graduated Appalachian Teen Challenge.  I am studying Christian Ministries and Psychology at Emmanuel College, with hopes of getting my degree in Clinical Psychology, to become a clinical counselor to those that battle drug addiction and other life controlling problems.  I run Cross Country and Track at a collegiate level, with all praise going to Jesus’s name!  I was recently elected as Miss Emmanuel of Emmanuel College for the 2014-2015 school year.  Miss Emmanuel is an elected student that the staff and student body believe represents Christ-like behavior.  Her responsibilities include, but are not limited to, being a leader in SGA, holding a public figurehead position and representation of the school, and interacting with staff and alumni.  I have had opportunities to testify and evangelize about what the Lord has done in my life!

I never thought that this would be my life.  I thought I would die a drug addict, a junkie.  But since being rescued from addiction by God, He has continually had His hand on my life.  Today, I am able to tell you that God changed my life ever since I chose to serve Him.  He has completely changed my life for the better.  I have never experienced the joy or fullness of life that I now have in Him.  I now feel like I am finally alive – something I never experienced in my addiction.  God surely can do “immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine”.  I am living proof that God can change your life and make you fully alive in the life that He has planned for you – one filled with a sense of purpose and fulfillment!