Laura spent years not believing in God and instead turning to destructive relationships and behaviours, until in the pandemic someone spoke to her about Jesus.
I had a well-off childhood, although my parents really didn’t get on and divorced after I left home. Growing up, I wasn’t brought up with a faith and didn’t hold any particular interest in it, but I did visit churches occasionally with friends, my school and girl guides. I always enjoyed church trips, events and finding out about all the different faiths. As I grew older, I began to develop a negative view of religion, mostly thinking all these things were made up to control the people in times gone by or to manipulate people into war against each other. In the end I settled on being agnostic, on the fence if you like, because there might be some truth to it, so I didn’t want to rule it out.
As a teenager, I kicked about the streets and hung out with what “the wrong crowd”. From the age of 13 I started drinking at the weekends, this led to experimenting with dope, speed, acid and ecstasy. I found myself taking more and more and my two-day weekends turned into four days. At the time, I thought I was living the dream. I liked the drugs, the laughs, and the social life and how it all made me feel. Now I can look back and see all the horrible and dangerous situations I found myself in and give thanks that I escaped that lifestyle. I met my first husband on a night out, I was out my face, and he was teetotal… the rest is history.
At 13 I started drinking at the weekends, this led to experimenting with dope, speed, acid and ecstasy.
We were married, had the house and car, we also had three daughters by the time I was 24. They were my life; I had no friends or social life outside of my family. After my 12-year marriage ended, I moved on to the, let’s just say ‘not ideal years’. I made a few wrong choices in relationships, I had to work a 60-hour weeks to provide for my children, it wasn’t perfect, but we always made the most of it. I then met my second husband of five years and had another precious daughter. However, this was a narcissistic relationship that ended in me leaving with my four girls and three dogs just five days before Christmas. I have now been single for two years and have found the love of God, I put my faith in him and trust that he will lead me to the right relationship this time.
I encountered God though a tragic event and witnessing a miracle. My then 16-year-old daughter tried to end her own life. She took an intentional overdose of the prescribed medication she had for a chronic pain condition. She was suffering physical pain and was emotionally trapped in the living situation we were in. She had no hope, she had calculated the timing and researched a fatal dose so that she would not be found until it was too late. However, by some miracle she was discovered just in time, and was given the strength to heal and wake up after three days in intensive care.
My then 16-year-old daughter tried to end her own life.
I questioned it all: the whys, my failings, my daughter’s pain. The biggest thing that was on my mind was how she was saved. I couldn’t believe the turn of events that meant she was found unresponsive but clinging on to life that night, instead of the traumatising image of finding her in the morning when I went in to wake her for school. I was overwhelmed by the thought that I had to save my children. I had to prevent this from ever happening again. Six weeks later, we moved out and the relief we all felt that first night at dinner was sensational. It was like a massive weight was just lifted off us.
During the lockdowns, I would pass three churches on my daily walk. I desperately wanted to ask my questions to someone who might have the answers. I started chatting to people all over the world to help with the isolation and I quickly developed a close friendship with a guy in America who turned out to be a pastor’s son. He helped me through some very difficult times and guided me through my early studies, helped to answer my questions and pointed me in the right direction.
Through joining my church, coming to know Jesus as my Lord, serving in my church, volunteering and working with a Christian charity I have met the most wonderful people.
Now my life is so different. Through joining my church, coming to know Jesus as my Lord, serving in my church, volunteering and working with a Christian charity I have met the most wonderful people. Having relationship with fellow believers is like nothing I ever imagined. Before I never had friends, I didn’t think I needed them. But now I cannot imagine life without them. I have started seeing the most wonderful man, who was saved from a life of addiction. After spending 20 years in addiction, he went to a rehab facility and started to build his life again. Unfortunately, he did relapse for a few months but recognised what he needed and completed another programme. He has always had faith in his life, but it was during his time at rehab, and in accepting his personal relationship with Jesus that his life was made new. It is an inspiration and a privilege to watch God move in his life as he walks in Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”.
I have faith for my little brother, who is living in addiction. He has a similar staring story to mine and says he has no idea how he ended up so far into addiction, riding the waves, relapsing, and substituting for five years. He struggles to break free. He started coming along to a Christian charity that does support meetings early last year and feels that meeting other guys like him helped to take away some of the stigma and helped him to start talking about his issues openly. He is still using street drugs, prescription meds and in and out of work as he is unstable and can’t to hold down a job. He still has a long way to go, and we know that it may be a long journey.
Now that I have accepted the guidance of God and acknowledged his word, I literally have the manual to life!
Now that I have accepted the guidance of God and acknowledged his word, I literally have the manual to life! I know how to deal with any situation and handle my own emotional outlook. When I have challenges in my life I can turn to Jesus at any time, and he is right there with me. It is not always easy, but I can see a massive difference between myself now and two years ago.
Don’t let your own ideas of who God is get in the way. Start with a fresh mind, read the Bible, meditate on God’s word, pray (talk to God), speak to other Christians, ask the hard questions, prepare for not liking the answers, challenge everything (including yourself). Give thanks for all you do have and most importantly, never stop doing these things! We are all on a journey, start with having a little faith and see how far it takes you.
For help and support with any of the themes of this testimony, you can reach out to Street Connect - a charity whose mission is to offer hope and opportunity of recovery for individuals disadvantaged by addiction and associated issues including homelessness and poor mental health.