Heather is a 2013 graduate from Mercy Ministries.
Throughout my seventh grade year I was molested by two of my neighbors. During that time of abuse I became withdrawn in attempt to escape the physical attention from men, in hopes that hiding also meant safety. I slowly started to crave someone to confide in, so when I received a message on MySpace from an older man who also claimed to be looking for a friend, I thought that someone who wasn’t in “real life” would be a safe option for me. After two years of a relationship with him, I was informed by the police and FBI that he was arrested for sexually based crimes against a minor and was also believed to be stalking me.
The sexual abuse and betrayal of trust led to intense feelings of fear and shame. I started self harming and restricting food to inflict punishment on myself that I felt I deserved. I kept my destructive behaviors hidden up until my sophomore year of high school. Within eight months I lost 11 loved ones. In the beginning of that season one of my best friends, Christian, passed away in a hunting accident. My life seemed like a series of unfortunate events and I dove deep into the eating disorder and self harm in order to survive, but in turn they took over and almost took my life. After multiple treatment approaches, I went through 10 rounds of electro-convulsive therapy and lost a complete year of memory because of it.
For nine years I lived by the dictation of my eating disorder, self harm, depression, anxiety attacks, and flashbacks; dropping out of school and going into residential treatment centers for eating disorders on a semi-annual basis. Every attempt I gave at recovery failed because I did not have God in my life. I thought that Mercy was just another rehab with a Jesus twist. I was surprised to find that instead of practicing behavior modification, there was transformation through a relationship with Christ. That was the ultimate game-changer; inviting Jesus into my heart.
God has been faithful to heal all the broken places from my past and help me walk forward into my future. I am able to find joy in what the world may see as mundane and laugh with a full heart. My life wasn’t just restored, but saved. I still continually catch myself in awe of the work that God has done in my life where I just have to stop and cry out to Him in thanksgiving. It is such a blessing to come home after a day at work and sit down to share a meal with my family. In the past I couldn’t keep a job, eat a normal meal, or even have fellowship with my family! It is such a gift to have that reminder every evening of the love and mercy that God has shown me. Every season comes with new struggles but now I am facing them with a different perspective. I have peace with where I’ve been and am excited for the plans He has waiting for me. Praise God, for He has saved me from myself. My only desire is to use my saved life to honor Him in all that I do.