Like everyone else (with one exception), I was born a sinner. My parents said we were Christian, but I did not grow up in the church. I did not hear the Gospel until I was in my early twenties, the night I came to Christ. As a child, I was obsessed with the supernatural, and by the time I was a teenager, I was practicing witchcraft. Meanwhile, I did know that there was someone named Jesus but I didn't really know who he was, except that some people called him "God."
When I was fifteen, a boy from a neighboring school swept me off my feet. But within eight months, I had fallen victim to his manipulative charms, and had ditched all of my friends and most of my activities, and had started to avoid my family. Looking back now, I wonder how I didn't see it coming...
The first time he beat me, I had just turned sixteen. For a year, I wrote off the intermittent abuse as a fluke. However, once it intensified, I felt too scared and alone to do anything about it. It's very difficult to understand that, even now, having gone through it. I was so deceived.
One night, during a particularly fierce beating, I spontaneously cried out to this mysterious "Jesus" to help me. The boy pulled me close, spit on me, and told me there was no God to save me. In that instant, I believed him-- if there was a Jesus, then I wanted nothing to do with Him, because He sure wasn't helping me just then.
As I neared my twenty-first birthday, I had enough of the abuse, and I left. I moved 1000 miles to get away. I had continued and increased my involvement in witchcraft over the years, and it evolved even more once I was "free." Over the next couple years, I grew exponentially more promiscuous (even stripping for a time), drank a lot, and had grown addicted to self-injuring. I was branding and slicing my skin to find relief from the flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety due to the past abuse. I had frequent bouts of nearly paralyzing depression. None of my promiscuity or drinking or prayers to my gods seemed to assuage the emptiness and turmoil inside me.
In 2007, I met a man who was a Christian, but I didn't know that right off the bat-- had I known, I probably would've wanted nothing to do with him. I fell for him hard.... But I began to pick fights with him about religion. I tried to persuade him to give up this so-called Jesus. The more I railed against him, the stronger this man's faith became. It made me angry.
One day, I noticed something peculiar. I couldn't seem to pray to my gods and goddesses anymore or say the words involved in my spells. I was quite literally gagging on the words. I nearly vomited. This continued, and I was getting more and more frustrated. The following week, I had the strangest urge: I wanted to buy a Bible. I fought the urge for days, until I finally bought three. Reading them, I was intensely annoyed because I found I could not make sense of the words. The next week, an even stranger and more disturbing urge surfaced: I found I wanted to go to church. I held it in for a few days, until I quietly broached the subject with that Christian man I was dating. He chuckled and felt my forehead, asking if I was feeling okay, but then he arranged it so that we'd go with his mom to her church that weekend.
Walking into the church that Sunday, I was shaking. I thought for sure everyone would know instantly that I didn't belong, that I wasn't one of them. I felt dirty. As we sat there, I began to cry. I don't have a clue as to what the sermon was about, because I was completely wrapped up in the experience I was having in that seat. Inside me, emotions boiled. All of the things in my life seemed to converge on that one moment-- and it was overwhelming. I cried in my head, over and over, "Why did you leave me? Why did you let that happen? Why did you leave me?!"
Suddenly, I felt a warm, comforting feeling. Then, I heard (but in my heart, not my ears), "I never left you."
Those four words resonated in my soul.
That night, confused and shaken, I knew what I had to do, but I was scared. I knew somehow that Jesus had reached out to me. So I randomly opened one of my new Bibles. I looked down, and a verse jumped off the page at me:
"I have wiped away your transgressions like a cloud; your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you."
I was like, "Okay!"
Then I called the mother of the man I was dating and told her that I wanted to know Jesus. For the first time in my life, I heard the Gospel; she explained everything to me, and I knew instantly that it was the truth: that I was a sinner in need of a savior; that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and rose again on the third day so that I would be washed clean and redeemed; that I would have new life in Him.
I was born (again) on September 23, 2007, at the age of 23.
Everything changed. I was transformed. Some things were instant, others gradual, some still going. I went home that first night, and found myself repulsed by being in my room where my altar to my gods stood. I set about quickly to dispose of or destroy all of it. I began to thirst for the word, and I finally found that I could understand it. I read through the Bible for the first time within nine months.
Since then, I've been deepening my relationship with Jesus, and daily find myself more and more dependent on Him. I've stopped injuring myself; I've come off of depression/anxiety medication; I rarely have flashbacks and nightmares. I've quit smoking, I don't drink (except a glass of wine at family functions, like, twice a year), and I've found I have new desires-- desires to serve Jesus, to love others, and to know God more fully. I have started a kind-of Twitter "ministry" where I try to encourage recovering self-injurers and educate others on the subject. I am now married to that Christian man I was dating, and he loves me just as I am, even knowing my horrid past, and encourages me to grow in Christ.
Think about it! The former witch, who despised Christians, who nearly hissed at the name of Jesus, has been fully redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ! I am new! In no way am I perfect, but He who is working in me IS perfect. And I know that the Lord will complete the good work He has begun in me. Praise be to God! The only ONE who is altogether lovely!
Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. "
-1 Timothy 1:15
Thanks Emily for your Amazing Testimony!