I know that many of you have been through horrible tragedies. I know that even more of you feel stuck with where you are in life.
Perhaps some of you are even questioning God’s existence.
I have gone through it all. And I have one thing to say: God is alive.
God has done miraculous things in my life. And He has called me to share them with you.
Here is my testimony.
When I was a little girl, my life seemed to be perfect. I played with dolls, built sand castles at the park, and danced with my siblings at my dad’s concerts. My family went to church every week, and my dad led the worship team and adult Bible studies.
Growing up, my daddy helped me come to know God. When I was 6, I was baptized. This changed my life, because I saw the whole world in a different perspective. I knew God was with me, and I trusted Him, because my life was good.
Then my dad became an alcoholic.
My life was turned upside down. I have vivid memories of disputes between my mom and my dad. I remember lying in bed, hearing plates shatter against the wall, screaming, door-slamming, all of it. And I just cried. I begged God to let it stop.
Eventually, my dad stopped coming around.
When I was 9 years old, the day came when my mom called me and my three siblings into her bedroom. I could tell she had been through one of those heartrending, hopeless cries that make one’s lungs collapse and gasp for air. She didn’t need to explain through the tears. I knew what happened.
I remember feeling sad. I remember crying. But I also remember not understanding. I was nine years old. The words, “Papa is not going to live with us anymore,” made sense. But, “we’re getting a divorce,” didn’t. I thought devil was playing a trick on us.
When my parents separated, my mom suffered through depression. She neglected the needs of me and my siblings. She refused to face reality. If she wasn’t playing games on the computer, she was sleeping. Our house was always a wreck. I don’t know how I made it to school. My special-needs brother, my older sister, my little brother and I grew up with little parental guidance.
There was an agreement with the courts that I had to stay with my dad every other weekend. When I did, I felt uncomfortable. The fridge was still stocked with beers. He had a girlfriend with a daughter. I remember wishing that I could trade places with her. She got more attention from my dad than I did. At least, that’s what I thought.
After a few years, I was doing fine for myself. Fine, meaning I made it to school dressed, got good grades, and tried to make friends. But there was a void in my life.
I prayed about my Papa all the time. As a little girl, I journaled about him in pictures. I was hopeful that my Mama and Papa would get back together again. It was childish. But I prayed that God would change him. I begged God to bring my Papa back to me.
God answered with a miracle.
One day, I was waiting for my dad to pick me up from school. His car pulled up, and I could tell something was different. He walked towards me, knelt down, and took my hands in his. Through teary eyes, he told me that he was choosing me. That he was going to change his life for me. That he was never going to take a drink of alcohol again.
My Papa chose me.
He completely changed his life around. He begged me for forgiveness. And he made me the happiest girl in the world. My life with him from then on was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
In recent years, my dad has told me more of the story.
Alcoholism almost killed my dad.
It drove him to such a low point in his life, that there was no hope. There was no light. His reality was consumed with darkness. And the line between reality and drunkenness no longer existed.
But, there was one act of God that penetrated through the darkness surrounding the alcoholism. In the depths of his suicidal thoughts, he had one moment of selflessness. One thought that he had to live—that he had to put down the gun for his children.
I thank God every day that even when my dad’s world was engulfed in despair, the Holy Spirit breached the darkness and shined light on him.
Throughout high school, whenever I was going through a hard time, my dad would always tell me to “Trust in God and do the next right thing.” I loved it. But not as much as I do now.
Now I know that this is the phrase that saved my dad. One man told him this phrase, and it was his lifeline. It saved him, and it saved me. “But I’m homeless,” he would tell the man. “Well, the only thing you do is trust in God and do the next right thing,” he would respond.
“To trust in God,” meant to put all faith in His will, knowing that God had a beautiful plan for his life that involved his children. “Doing the next right thing,” meant putting one step in front of the other. It meant doing the dishes. It meant picking up his little girl from school and begging for forgiveness.
My dad’s story consistently brings my eyes back to the way God loves us. He constantly pursues us, chooses us, and sacrifices for us.
I know that God exists, because of the hundreds of miracles that have happened throughout my life. They are clear signs of divine intervention—and they are undeniable.
I also know that He is a good, good father. When a little girl has the faith of a mustard seed, she can move mountains. And that is what happened in my story.
He gave me comfort in the midst of this tribulation, even as a little girl. He has answered my prayers, and in adversity, he has blessed me beyond belief. I look to Him for my strength, my joy, and my fortitude. And let me tell you something: it has never failed me, and it never will.
No matter where I find myself in life, I will never fail to trust in God and do the next right thing.
“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; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” – Psalm 40:1-2
Testimony Part 2: About my Mom
After my parents separated, I grew up in a house of hostility. My sister and my mom hated each other. They both had overpowering wills and dominant personalities. My mom did not treat her the way she should have. After some altercations and incidences with the police, my sister was forced to move out when she was 14 years old.
She lived with a member of our church. But what my mom didn’t understand, in the clouded judgment of her depression, is that my sister was not healthy either. She had bipolar disorder. Yet, my sister was the one taking care of us. She cleaned the house. She dressed my special needs brother. She cooked us dinner.
After my dad got healthy, my sister moved in with him. They started a family, and she was happy. I yearned to be a part of that healthy life too.
At the age of 13, I made the courageous decision to move in with my dad. I remember the day that I came home, grabbed my bags, and told my mom that I was going to stay with Papa for a while. She was screaming–bawling. I couldn’t handle it. I was destroying her.
I promised her I would be coming back…that I was only leaving for a little while. Through her teary eyes, she looked at me and screamed, “No, you’re not!”
She was right.
That was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. I couldn’t bare the thought of inflicting so much damage on the woman that birthed me.
When I moved in with my dad, I was happy. But while my new family was becoming healthy, my mom was going off the deep end. Three of her children left her, and the only child she still had custody of was my special needs brother.
The court mandated that I spend every other weekend and holidays at my mom’s house. These nights always ended with a screaming fight between my mom and my sister, because they resented each other so much. Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas…they all ended with screaming, tears, and feelings of resentment.
Eventually, I stopped coming over for holidays. And eventually, I stopped talking to her.
When I blocked out her existence, I could cope.
Life became normal. But, it didn’t last long.
Last summer I got a call from my dad while I was at work. He told me that my mom had truly gone off the deep end. She had been using medical marijuana to cope with a car accident injury (more like to cope with the depression), and it made her have a psychological breakdown.
She was hallucinating, screaming “the voices were after her.” She tried to light her apartment on fire. She urged my special needs brother to run away and never come back.
She threatened the life of my special needs brother.
She went to jail for arson, but was released, contingent upon the completion of monthly psychological evaluations. I do not know where she is now. But what I do know, is that now, my special needs brother, who has a rare form of Autism called Trisomy 5P, gets to live a healthy life. Because he lives with us now, he gets to participate in sports. He gets to go to dances put on by the Tim Tebow Foundation. He gets to live without carrying the emotional baggage of my mother.
On Mother’s Day, 2016, I got a call from my mom. She informed me that she is jobless, homeless, and living in her car.
I know that in the same way that God had his hands around my Papa in the pits of his alcoholism, He is holding my Mama tight in her despair.
And in the same way that I begged God to restore my Papa when I was a young girl, I beg God to do for my Mama now.
God does not want me to live a normal life.
But the amazing thing about my testimony is that God has been evident through it all.
I have faith. I have hope. I trust in God and do the next right thing.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” -Romans 8:28