Yesterday at the Farmer’s market, I discovered a tent, “Vegan Outreach”, which is a group of vegans working to spread the lifestyle and movement. Back in Maryland, my best friend was the only person I knew personally that was also vegan. It was very difficult not having a community and constantly being made fun of for being different. Since I’ve been vegan, I have had the urge to do more. To spread awareness and make veganism easier in some way. They gave me amazing information and social media platforms to get involved with! They also told me of a vegan restaurant 5 minutes from our house that makes vegan donuts once a week!
Today was the suspenseful testimony day… I didn’t let myself think about it until this morning. I didn’t want to prepare and plan what I would say, I wanted to ask God what He wanted. There’s so many different trials and challenges I could talk about in my life, but we will share our entire testimonies in late October. This one would be a general, more “PG rated version”. I didn’t want to focus on sin or glorify the devil, instead I wanted to share what my life was like before Jesus, the ‘aha’ moment when everything clicked and lastly, highlight how my life has change for the better since living with Him. I felt as if Jesus was putting my mom’s accident on my heart and wanted me to open up about that.
I absolutely love hearing testimonials. They relight my fire and make me so happy to hear how God has worked and changed my brothers’ and sisters’ lives. I was extremely nervous, but I felt genuine love and understanding in the room. There was no pressure to be perfect. The space felt accepting, warm and free of judgment. I won’t lie, I was very nervous. I didn’t expect to cry… I was wrong. I typically do not open up about my life or like to dwell on the past. I tell myself that I am ok and to keep moving forward, but today made me realize that I must allow myself to heal. I thought it would be appropriate to share a small part of my story with you all, in the hopes that I may grant you some encouragement and strength.
My parents were divorced when I was young. I remember feeling torn in both directions, trying to balance out my dad, mom and friends. It was difficult moving my life back and forth and only finding times with my dad every other weekend. I started school in a Catholic School, where God meant a dictator and someone who would punish you if you sinned. I absolutely hated it and transferred to a public school.
In middle school, my mom was in a life-threatening accident. She was in a coma for months. I would sing our song, “You are my sunshine” to her in the hospital and one day her heart beat began to spike, which gave me a huge sense of hope. Each day, I would plan out what it would be like when she woke up and what she would say; I desperately wanted to hear I love you. But when she finally woke up, all she said was, “Pain, pain, pain.”
Later in recovery, my mom was determined to escape the hospital. So much so, the doctors had to rig a tent around her hospital bed, prohibiting her from getting out. I distinctly remember one time when we were alone in the room, my mom told me to get her out so she could leave. I tried to pretend that I couldn’t reach the zipper and she was furious with me, I knew then that she would never be the same.
She eventually came home, but for years we were at war with each other. Her brain injury came with a lack of a filter, patience, judgement and memory problems. This was extremely difficult in a time when I needed a mother figure the most. I was angry with God and couldn’t understand if He was real, why would He allow this to happen? I began to find comfort in things of the devil: partying, raving, drinking, drugs, boys, etc. Every time I went out, I was even more destroyed and lost than before.
I fell into a deep depression and had little hope for my future, until I was introduced to my man, Jesus. I started to attend a youth group, where I was challenged and was opened up to a new world of love, safety and acceptance. One night, we were split up into groups where I kept silent, like I normally did. While the others prayed, I spoke with God about wanting to speak up but the fear of being anything less than perfection held me back. God assured me that He would forgive me if I didn’t speak, but that He really thought I should.
Then, the leader came into the room and pointed at me, he said, “You have something we need to pray about. Speak.” And I did just that. I confided my fears in complete strangers. These strangers instantly put their hands on me and began to pray. They told me I was amazing, important and that God had big plans for me. I was completely overwhelmed with genuine care and love that I had never received before. When they were finished praying, a girl, Peggy, delivered a vision to me. She said she pictured me with a red balloon in Ocean City. People were walking past me, not seeing me, but God came from behind me and hugged me. Peggy told me that Jesus has been with me, healing me this entire time. She told me that I have felt as if my innocence was taken from me, but that I may find joy in a life with Him.
I didn’t go into detail about the significance and relevance of the vision, because I wasn’t comfortable sharing too much, but I shared how the vision changed my relationship with Jesus forever. This was a major turning point in my faith, because it showed me that God is my Mother, Father, best Friend, Counselor, and true Love. He has been, is and will always be there for me. I do not need to run to evil things to suppress my pain and hardships. They are all lies and traps which will leave me feeling guilty, empty, hurt, lost and confused. He will accept me with open arms and be a safe haven. He is so faithful. From that point on, I could see this world for what it truly is.
I was saved 6 months ago and I have dove in head first ever since. I became addicted to His everlasting love. I ended by expressing how happy and grateful I am to be here. I am scared for who I would be without Jesus rescuing me. I would not have a reason or will to live.