Have you ever made a bargain prayer with God? For example, “Yo Bro…I mean, Dear God, If you get me out of this one…If you just shed 60lbs off of my body by the time I wake up…If you just make this person feel called to another job that is far away from me…If this cop doesn’t give me a ticket…I will dedicate my life to you forever.” Yup, we’ve all been there. Well if you’ve read my about me page you know that my my moment came when I was in the 8th grade. It was about midsummer and I had just gotten home from attending our normal Sunday service, but during this particular Sunday, we had a group of high schoolers share their testimony after going on a mission trip. They shared about how Jesus impacted their lives and how their “testimony,” was able to impact the people they had conversations with. In this moment, I began to wonder if I had a story to tell. Has there been anything significant in my life that would be able to change another person? What was it like to have a life altering faith? I went to church on Sunday and a Christian school during the week, but what did my faith amount to and to be honest…at the time it wasn’t much.
You see, I come from a loud and proud Italian family that was born and raised in the south so if we do anything well, we know how to make good food and share stories at extremely loud levels. More over, my mother was a master teach and her favorite subject to teach…history. It could be world history, ancient history, US history, or even geography, she loved the subject and she had a passion for the stories of the past. Stories that have been passed down from generation to generation in hopes that one day we would learn from their mistakes, to be better, and influence the next generation to do the same. At the beginning of every school year, no matter the history class, she would start off by saying, “History is not just stories of the past but it is His and Her stories. So, what do you want your story to be? What kind of legacy are you going to leave behind you?”
I was surrounded by stories of every kind and I began wondering what my life would amount to, what would be the stories I would tell one day? So there I was, a young and bright 13 year-old who wanted to have a story like my Mom was talking about. A story like the those other teens shared about in church and that was the moment I bowed my head and began to pray. Sitting in the middle of my messy room, leaned up against my bed frame looking at the pictures on my wall, I told God, “If you give me a story, I will give you my life.”
I didn’t know what God was going to knit together or what would happen throughout my life, but it was soon after this prayer was said that things quickly began to change. Little did my family and I know that two years after my grandmother (father’s mother) had past away that our father would flip on a dime. The innocence was removed from our childish eyes that used to be filled with so much magic and wonder, and my family and I began to bare the unthinkable. In church on Sunday we were a perfect, pressed, and presentable family. Behind closed doors, arguments ensued that could be heard outside the house, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse…all until one day they had their final fight. A fight that would leave my mother gasping for air as she falls to her knees from an asthma attack. As I watched my mother fall from the corner of the hallway…I watched my father walk out the door. I ran to my mother and my brother and I decided that we couldn’t do this anymore. It was time for us to go so we packed up our things. We called my grandmother and within 48 hours a marriage is over and hearts are shattered across the highway as we leave behind the pain of what was.
Fast forward four years, my parents divorce had been final, I was about to turn 18, and graduation was on the horizon. I had offers from colleges all over the country who were willing to pay for my entire education just so that I would attend their school and all I had to do was finish the year strong and simply pick the school of my heart’s desire. Life was once good again and things were about to change for the better with a fresh start in sight. Until April 15th, 2015. My Mom had a doctor’s appointment and little did I know that when I called her to find out where she was, Dr. Baker had just informed her she has Stage IV metastatic Breast Cancer and she was given 6 weeks to live. On the phone she said she was okay, but I knew something was wrong. She was short, vague, and told me not to worry. She was fine and I would see her later. But little did I know the blow that our family was about to take.
A day now forever marked in my mind. A day that changed our lives as we now began a new fight. A fight against time and a fight against something so deadly that you can’t see it from the outside looking in. When I looked at her, she still looked like my mom, my healthy beautiful mother who cared for me, loved me, and fought for me every single day, but on the inside…sickness, cancer that was spreading, and a death sentence that kept trying to take her away.
We fought for three long years. From chemotherapy to radiation. Surgery after surgery. Maintenance pills, remission, to the cancer spreading again and again. She always had hope and she always had faith that God has some great plan and we just needed to keep praying and trust Him but me…I was the skeptic or as I liked to call it, the realist. Was God really going to work a miracle? Did he really see the pain and suffering my mom was enduring? Why did we have to go through this after everything we have just been through? Like come on God for real? Is this it? Is this the story that I vividly remember praying for? Is this your grand ole plan because if it is, I didn’t want any part of it.
May 31st, 2018 at 12:54pm…my Momma took her last breath and God called her home.
A girl marked by pain and suffering now left without a mother and a father, a broken faith, and no hope for tomorrow and sadly…the story and the struggle doesn’t stop there.
My faith became non existent even while working for a church, showing face, and praying with people for miracles in their lives, but where was mine? If He is a good Father then why would I have to endure going through a night of assault? Why wouldn’t He stop all of the bad things from happening in my life? Why would I continue to search for love and validation from men who were never going to be able to fill the whole or heal the wounds that have been left by the past? Why would it feel like I’m in my own living hell with not even a window to jump out of or an escape route to run from?
I could no longer see passed my pain. All I saw was a nonexistent God who could care less about me, a broken family, a wounded heart, and a shell of a person who no longer saw the purpose for her existence. I was felt so lost, so abandoned, and like nothing even mattered anymore. So why fight back? Why try when it already feels like you’ve been beaten to the point of death, you’re lying on the floor, and you have been left for dead in a pool of your own blood.
Filled with shame and bitterness, all I saw was darkness and all I felt was agony. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t eat…and I just couldn’t live. I was as bad as bad could get as I was emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually depleted. I was making mistakes and bad decisions all over the place. I was ready to ruin my life and just say screw it to everyone and everything and that is the moment I found it. Rock bottom. It was like running full speed to do a cannonball in the deep side of the pool and then finding out there’s no water to catch you in the fall or going skydiving and right as you go to pull the parachute you realize you left it on the plane as you plummet to the earth.
No safety net, no life preserver, no big mattress below you to cushion the fall. Just the hard solid ground and to be honest I was prepared and ready to end my life. In my eyes it was a long time coming and I had finally hit the place where I couldn’t do this anymore. I couldn’t maintain a job that required faith when I didn’t have none, a relationship that I was using to try and fill the emptiness of my life, I was ready to ruin my life and take everyone down with me and the pain just became too much to bare. I was ready for it to end, but then something changed.
I could list many moments where my faith was impacted over the years, or I found a renewed sense of faith but my life didn’t truly begin to radically change until December 13th, 2020. It was a late night phone call with a dear friend and coworker who took up in arms with me against the spiritual warfare in my mind. It was a realization of hitting rock bottom, not even being able to say the name of Jesus, and it was the breaking of chains that Satan had wrapped around my heart to bring me to this point. I thought I was finally free of my past, but this was only the beginning.
On the night of January 6th, 2021 I was finally made free. That night was the first night of Revival at Wellspring Community Church and that entire day, I was off. I was back stuck in my depression and anxiety. I couldn’t put my finger on it, I thought it was just another episode, but it was so much deeper than that. There was a spiritual warfare and assignment for my life that I didn’t see coming. I was in misery as I sat in my car debating on whether or not to go home when the night was over, because something told me if I went home…I probably wasn’t going to make it back. Suicidal thoughts had rushed back into my mind, I was trapped once again, my mind was racing 1000 mph, and I couldn’t shake the battle that was before me. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed. I prayed out loud, I declared the name of Jesus in my life, I was not about to lose this battle again, and fall back into this old darkness, and most of all I knew I couldn’t do this one alone.
I ran back inside to the church and found two incredible ladies who were mighty prayer warriors and as we sat down and they began praying over me. One prayed in tongues and the other just prayed out loud, and for a good ole baptist girl, this was not normal for me as spiritual warfare for me was not a thing, but it became very real very fast. There were spirits of darkness that had been tormenting my life for years on end with this constant pain and suffering and in the midst of prayer it felt as if my heart was being torn apart. As if there was a strong grip on my heart finally being torn off. I was in complete and utter agony until I finally felt this overwhelming release. The battle was over. God spoke life back into my spirit and He told me loud and clear that I wasn’t broken anymore. In Chris alone I was finally free and I was free indeed. I have been saved since I was a little girl and baptized and did all of the things that a “good Christian,” does, but it wasn’t until this moment that I found true breakthrough. I discovered a tangible salvation and faith. In this moment, I realized God never left me, I wasn’t forsaken, and my life is worth so much more than my past. I had let my past constantly drown me in darkness and keep me from building a personal relationship with God long enough. I was running from God because I didn’t trust Him with what was going on in my life and all I saw were constant moments of let down and disappointment.
But now things have changed. I need God in my life now more than ever before. I am hungry for what He has in store for me, and I am grateful that He has taken all of this ugliness, pain, and suffering, and has turned it into my story. Because even though He is not the one who caused all of this chaos and destruction throughout my short 23 years on this earth, he is the one who is making beauty from the ashes. He is using my life to show others that even when you are at your lowest, God is still there. When you are on the mountain top, God is there and especially when you feel like you have gone as far as you can go and taken all you can, God is right on the other side about to bring you breakthrough.
There are plenty of moments that I have written about that I wish I could wipe clean or erase…but if my life can help one other person find hope and find Jesus in the midst of their darkness, then my life has been worth it and I to this day would not change a thing.
I am a Beautiful Daughter of the most High King and my life is not in vain but worth so much more than anything the enemy can throw my way even when I was ready to throw my life away.
As it says in 2 Corinthians 4:5-6, “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”
God written this story on my heart and placed the His light within me. Now I will share it for the rest of my life to be a light in the midst of darkness. A ray of hope for those in need and a vessel for whatever it is God has in store for my life.
Because God has given me a story and now I am giving Him my life.