I post women’s testimonies every week for Changed Hearts: I AM Woman but I have never really shared my full testimony. That doesn’t seem fair right?! To be honest, I had not fully shared it because I didn’t feel as though it was completed. News flash Ms. Walston, it will never be completed until you are up and out of this earth girlfriend as I will continuously have areas that Jesus is shaping me in. I’ve briefly touched on parts of my testimony in different blogs (So We're Friends;Today I Choose to Believe the Truth) where I talked about insecurity and friendships so I won’t talk a lot about them here. Most of the people that follow me on social media started following me when I was saved and have no idea where I started. I never want to portray this image of being perfect or that I woke up one day saved, loving Jesus, obeying Him, and always happy because that’s a lie! I still have to repent, I still fail, I still have struggles, and I still mess up. I was in desperate need of a Savior THEN and I’m in desperate need of a Savior NOW. My purpose in sharing this is not to glorify sin but instead to glorify my Father in heaven who has transformed me. The best way to describe my story is this statement: you never realize that you are living in dysfunction until you are exposed to what is really normal.
I grew up in a home with both parents and my sister. We all went to church together but I wouldn’t say I grew up in a Christian household. We originally attended a Presbyterian church and no offense by any means but it was real dry…I wasn’t interested in going to church because I thought it was boring. When I was in middle school, my mom moved my sister and I to a Baptist church that I thought was “fun” but it was still just going to church, nothing more. I learned things while I was there but still had no clue about salvation, having a relationship with Jesus outside of going to church, etc. I either went to church because my mom made us or I wanted to see some little boy or friends. My parents eventually divorced and my mom, sister, and I changed churches a couple of times but always stuck with a Baptist church. Long story short, I wasn’t a fan of “church.” There had been so much drama in churches that I was exposed to at a young age that really put me off of church and I thought all church people were fake and phony and I was just over the “show” that was being presented that was called church. Nonetheless, I was the good girl; I was on honor roll all throughout grade school, I didn’t do drugs or smoke, I didn’t drink, I didn’t have sex. In fact I remember telling this guy before I decided to make him my boyfriend “I am NOT having sex with you” as I looked in disgust. Then I turned 18, went to college, and that’s where my story really begins…
So here’s the thing, I love hard…like really hard and I’ve learned that to be a strength and a weakness at times. I was the girl who always had a boyfriend, I rarely stayed single for very long and I looked at men as always being replaceable; lose one? Just go on to the next one, no big deal. I met this guy my senior year in high school that I fell completely crazy (literally crazy) in love with that I ended up losing my virginity to. And yes this is the same guy that I told “I am NOT having sex with you.” As with all puppy love it started off great but things went left at some point. I became very attached to him in an unhealthy way. Everything was about him, nothing else and no one else mattered and I became the crazy girlfriend. Yes I was the girlfriend checking his MySpace (how long ago was that???lol) his facebook, his phone, all of that. I was messaging girls who I thought he was messing with. I was so insecure in who I was in that relationship and I completely lost myself. There was a time that I lied about thinking I was pregnant because I wanted to keep him. I didn’t trust him at all, I thought he was cheating on me all the time, but the scary thing was the mentality that I had was even if he’s cheating on me, even if he’s doing me wrong, I would rather stay in the relationship. I would rather be miserable and unhappy and stay in that relationship because I was so “in love” instead of leaving and that’s what I did, I stayed. Let’s be clear, love does not make you feel that way. If you feel the need to constantly check a person or you don’t trust them you don’t need to be in that relationship. Deal with your own personal insecurities by yourself before you try to add someone else into the mix. Likewise, you shouldn't feel the need to constantly check the person you're with when you pick the right one. Just saying...
When I hit college I remained in this relationship and I remember one of my first memories of my freshman year was going to Target with this girl and trying to get away from her for a minute because I needed to buy a pregnancy test (the irony in this was that she needed to buy one too). Luckily, I was not pregnant and you would think that would’ve made me wise up however, later that year I thought I had an STD as I was having unprotected sex with this person that I didn’t trust and thought was cheating on me. Once again, luckily I did not. We eventually broke up but it took me years (yes multiple) to get over that relationship. I hated the woman that I was in that relationship and I vowed that I would never be that insecure, vulnerable, etc. in a relationship again. So I went from one extreme to another…I developed this independent, smart mouthed, no respect for men attitude because I didn’t want to be that girl anymore. I had such a bad attitude towards men and I’ll never forget I was talking to this guy one day and I was popping off at the mouth talking to him all kinds of sideways and he pretty much told me about myself and that I couldn’t talk to people however I wanted to and hung up the phone and we never talked again. You would think that would've make me check myself but did I care? No, still kept the same attitude and hung with girls who had the same attitude which didn’t help anything at all.
My spring semester of my freshman year I met this woman at a bank and she asked me if I went to
church. I honestly looked at her like she was crazy and said no.
She asked me for my number and offered to take me to a church called New Life
Ministries. I’m thinking “what kind of horrible person says NO I don’t want to
go to church with you!” but that’s how I was feeling on the inside but I gave this
woman (a complete stranger remind you) my phone number anyways. I wrote it off
thinking oh whatever she won’t call; well she did…and I ignored her call lol.
But she kept calling until I eventually answered and went with her to New Life
Ministries. I attended there with her for a few months and I quickly noticed it
was something different about this church. It was a really small church but
powerful. They preached about holiness, sin, heaven and hell, salvation, pretty
much all the stuff I had been oblivious to or just ignoring. They also kept
telling me they loved me but they’re actions showed it more than the words they
said and I was so not used to that. As I continued to go I started to open my
heart back up to God. I somewhat rededicated my life back to Christ and then the
unthinkable happens…I find out that one of my close friends from high school
was killed in a car accident. I was so angry with God. I’m thinking really God?
I just gave you my life and You let this happen, what the heck?!?! So now we’re
back at square one, just going through the motions of “going to church.” Although
I was mad at God, I was still a people pleaser and I didn’t feel right telling the
woman I didn’t want to go to church with her anymore.
|My Ashley and I RIP Sunshine|
The funny thing is even with a jacked up attitude I was still a people pleaser, I never gave the people who “deserved” it attitude, and I didn’t pop off at my female “friends.” So I continued going to church even though, once again, I didn’t want to. When I started my sophomore year that was when I started really drinking. I can honestly say I didn’t drink that often and that I wasn’t an alcoholic or anything but when I drank it typically did not end well. I recall waking up one day after taking multiple shots of vodka with my roommate with a huge knot on my forehead after running into the wall multiple times because I had drank so much. There was a time where I woke up with bruises on my cheeks because I had been pinching them so hard (I didn’t realize it because I was drunk) trying to create blush. But my most infamous moment was being in a hallway in the back of a club waiting in line to use the bathroom because I had drank tequila and I wasn’t feeling well and as I’m waiting to get to the bathroom, I throw up all over my shoes and the floor as my friends find me in my own vomit drunkenly trying to clean up the mess.
While all this is going on, I’m still “going to church” remind you. Still sitting up in church on Sunday mornings and maybe even Tuesday nights for bible study. I will say I was definitely skipping some Sundays here and there likely because I was hung over from Saturday. I was messing with a guy who I knew had a girlfriend but didn’t really care. I got a matching tattoo with someone I couldn't even tell you the last time I spoke to them. I continued to drink on some weekends, go out to clubs/parties, the usual things you do in college right? (wrong, that’s a sarcastic right in case you missed that memo). Well in 2008 these two new girls started attending New Life Ministries, Gopi and Mariah, and they don’t know this but I remember meeting them and not necessarily thinking they were weird but just thinking they were different (love ya’ll, mean it lol). They were very chipper, I was not use to that at all remind you I still had a bad attitude lol, and they knew all the answers in bible study and I’m thinking what the heck is going on here? Lol We attended the same college yet we had never met one another prior to attending church together. I always say that it takes me a really long time for people to get close to me which is true but what they didn’t know at the time was that I didn’t befriend them right off the bat because they seemed really churchy to be honest lol. I wasn’t feeling that at all…so I still had my group of friends outside of church and we drank, clubbed, and did what “normal” college kids do (once again slight sarcasm).
|Shenanigans from my wilder days as a friend would say|
In the midst of all the shenanigans ending with the last relationship I end up becoming friends with Mariah and Gopi, yes the too churchy for me girls lol. The thing was, I didn’t realize how dysfunctional my normal was until I met them, and not that they were perfect but they were pretty normal and they didn’t do half of the things I did. I actually don’t think they did any of the things I did lol They kind of called me on my crazy. I remember them laughing at me and also kind of looking at me sideways (not in a judgmental way but more in like a girl that's crazy way) at some of the stories I would tell them. I believe they called me crazy A when I told them I considered slashing that boys tires. I can think of three of my old friends that if I told them I was going to slash a guys tires not only would they have encouraged me to do it they likely would’ve asked me if I needed help because they would come with me to do it. With my old friends, I was the calm one, I was the good girl, I was the church girl; with Mariah and Gopi I was the crazy, sassy, smart mouthed, feisty one of the group. Needless to say my crazy stood out a little bit more with them lol. I started to realize how dysfunctional my normal really was.
For once in my life I didn’t have any distractions, my “friends” were gone, I wasn’t dating at all and definitely not looking to do so, it was just me and God. I was being stripped of things and people left and right and it was during this time that I started to get really serious about having a relationship with God. I started attending New Life in 2006, remind you this moment didn’t happen until the end of 2009 early 2010. As I’m starting to develop a relationship with God I was approached by my Bishop’s wife at the time and I was asked if I would start giving a word on 4th Sundays at church. The inside of me was screaming NOOOOOOOOO! I hate public speaking, I so did not want to do that none whatsoever! Still a people pleaser I said, sure! I had no clue what I was getting myself into…for everyone who was at New Life Ministries when I first started giving the word I apologize lol I read word from word from my paper that I had written out my message on, I didn’t include any scriptures, I read poems, and I did this for months! I would get so nervous and every single month I considered telling my Bishop I couldn’t do this anymore. I didn’t though…Eventually they got me away from reading word from word from the paper and that was difficult for me but it enabled me to trust God to speak through me. I was falling apart but in the best way possible. Everything and everyone that made me feel comfortable were gone; they graduated or left the area and it was just God and I. He picked up the pieces even though they were really messy.
On Easter Sunday of 2011 I was licensed as a missionary at New Life Ministries church and it’s one of the days that I will never forget. I remember when it was discussed of me getting ordained I made up in my mind that I didn’t want to go back to the things that I used to do. I'm so thankful for my church family and my leadership of both the late Bishop and my current Pastor who encouraged and pushed me towards Christ. To be honest sometimes they literally had to push...and drag lol but I'm so thankful for my covering. Most people would read this and say “I don’t see what the big deal is, that’s what most college kids do,” but the thing is it’s the norm based off of the world’s standard. I’m so thankful that God showed me that what I thought was normal and okay to live was not His plan for my life. I’m proud to say that I’ve been abstinent for four years, I don’t drink at all (personal choice), and I’m starting to learn what God created me to do. This is all through the strength of God and not my own. I’m still learning, and I will forever be learning. I thank God for deliverance, (from crazy especially lol) redemption, and restoration.
I’m aware that when I minister I can come off very strong in addressing sin. That is because I know what it is like to be bound by sin and to be stuck in that cycle and my heart breaks for people who think that it is normal simply because that is what everyone else is doing. I’m not judging people but I’ve been there and I know what it’s like to be in sin and thinking that that way of life is okay and I also know what it is like to be saved by amazing grace and realize that that normal by the world’s standard is miserable. The reason why I talked so bluntly about the sex topic is because sexual sins are one of the biggest issues that people, yes Christians included, struggle with but we never really talk about it or how sex outside of marriage affects people. Soul ties are real; there is a reason that God created sex between a husband and wife and it is not to keep anything good from singles but it is to protect us from unwanted pregnancies, STDS, having abortions, but most importantly spirits that cling onto you from being yoked up with the wrong person. Our bodies are a temple, let’s honor God with it all the days of our lives. Hope this blessed someone :)