Witness Him Now
The story you are about to hear is true. You may doubt it. You may think to yourself, “ It's too terrible – too tragic. It has to be made up.” It’s not. I know this because it is my story. My name is Leia, and I’m 32 years old.
I was born into wickedness. My mother was married and then divorced for the 3rd time because of her pregnancy with me. I was not her husband's baby. My mother was a lost woman. There is no better way to say it. As Christians, we use the term loosely to describe anyone who does not truly know Christ. My mom was lost in every sense of the word. She definantly didn’t know Christ, but she also didn’t know what she wanted or how to get what she wanted from life. She had no clear picture of who she was as a person or a mother, and she taught us the same vague, unpurposeful way of living. If she knew there was a God, she was choosing not to make Him Lord of her life, and she taught us to live the very same way.
As a child, no matter how bad your home is, and it was bad, you still want to please your mother, even if that meant taking care of her during one of her mental breakdowns. A major childhood memory of mine was when I was 11. I came home from school to find my mother had overdosed on medicine and had cuts all over. I called 911, but she wouldn’t go to the hospital without Katy, her cat. I remember sitting on the couch crying and saying to her, "If you love me why do you want to die? I need you!" My mother, by the time I was born, was a recovering drug addict. Perscription pills had taken the place of alcohol and much harder drugs. She was an addict none the less. I think that she believed that the pills would numb the pain, and I am pretty sure it did most of the time. Some of the men she dated or married were also hooked on drugs. I have two siblings by a different father and countless step-fathers and boyfriend “father figures”. That kind of lifestyle invites unspeakable evil into your life and home – the home where her children lived. And so, depravity became our way of life. During the downs of her ups and downs, I was tossed from one place to the next. I was abused mentally and physically. As I grew older I became promiscuous, and I got involved in alcohol and drugs to make it all go away. It was an incredibly corrupt environment. We were living below the poverty level – surviving day to day life that often felt “not worth living”. There is a word I didn’t know then that fit my home life perfectly, Iniquity. Iniquity had an open door in our home.
By the time I was 13, my brother, 10 years older than me, was now in prison, and my sister, now graduating, joined the military. I'm certain she wanted to run as far away as she could. So there I was, left alone to take care of my infantile mother. The sicker she became, the more I rebelled. I ran away and stayed gone for days getting drunk, missing school. I discovered a group of friends that used drugs and I felt a commonality. We were all broken. My mother finally decided that I needed help, and she sent me to an all girls children’s treatment center. I went from no structure to complete lock down. I rebelled even more. I was so confused. In this place EVERYONE is dignosed with something and medication is the solution. This began my 14 years of prescription pills use.
At “New Life”, the treatment center, I was inprisioned - like a caged animal. A tall barbed wired fence surrounded 6 buildings. I was in the maximum unit. Unsure of how to get out of this, I acted in rage. They placed me in a room by myself, alone once again in my thoughts. I was the unwanted one, the throw away kid. I spent a month in this padded room before I realized what I was doing wasn’t working. It wasn’t enough to be honest about your pain or your feelings. That was not what these people wanted. Just barely coming into my teen age years when other girls were finding themselves and their independence, I began learning how to please people. So I did what they wanted me to, like a robot. The medicine began to numb any real thoughts or feelings, and the truth became watered down. I was in this bubble. They told me when to eat, when to shower, when to play. I learned to show no real emotion. If I was too happy then that meant I was likely to lead a more carefree life full of danger and unhealthy lifestyle choices, but prolonged sadness would lead to depression which is not healthy either. I learned suttle hints of when to smile and when to be slightly disappointed. I lost myself little by little. One year later I was placed in a Upper Subarban neighborhood with my new moms. Yes, Moms. Dorothy and Shannon.
In this home there were 12 other kids. I was to stay in a garage turned into a bedroom with 6 other girls of varying in age. By this time I had mastered my defense. Run. And that’s what I did, I ran. When things got hard I wouldn’t stick around, they couldn’t keep me. I would leave and run to whatever boy seemed to notice me until the cops came and took me back. I remember wanting to have a baby so bad, somebody who wouldn’t leave me. I was out of control and before long nobody wanted to deal with me. At 17, I was emancipated. I was on the streets, sleeping wherever I could lay my head. Most nights that meant culverts or allies. On my 18th birthday, in 45 degree temperatures, I hitch-hiked from Austin to Brownwood, Texas. The guy in the driver seat introduced me to some drugs I had never tried...meth. This life opened up a whole new set of people. People who accepted me and had fun. And with nobody to tell me what to do, I felt free for the first time. It wasn’t very long before this drug had complete control over me. This new found freedom was short lived and before too long I realized I was not free, but trapped in my addiction.
In my addiction I was willing and forced to do many unspeakable things. I remember longing for a connection with men like the ones I saw other “normal” people enjoying. But I felt trapped inside, alone and afraid. My addiction was preventing me from enjoying real relationships with others. A year into my addiction I met a guy. He was handsome and charming. I gave him my heart completely. He promised me the sun and the moon and the stars but pretty soon he became very abusive. I was convinced that I couldn’t leave him. In my mind I would never make it. I needed him. This went on for a couple of years until finally I had our first child, Chelsea. I looked into her beautiful eyes and for once I felt like I had a purpose. I was a mom. I yearned to give her all that I had lost and all that I never had in the first place. The only problem was that I had no clue how. I loved the best way I knew. Her Dad and I were still using, and by using I mean using drugs, using people, using whatever we could in order to get what we wanted. Two years later I had Layla. So now with two little girls, it was us against the world! The abuse had gotten really bad and it was not uncommon for a television set to barely miss the baby in one of his fits of rage. At 2:00am a loud voice in my head screamed, “Get out!” I remember the fear like it was yesterday. I called my mother in Austin and she came in the middle of the night. She made arrangements for me to go to rehab and then enter a battered women’s shelter. There the girls and I lived for six months
I stayed “clean” for about 6 months. My desired to fill the empty hole inside was bigger than ever. I now faced this big world with two little girls and I was paralyzed with the fear of doing it by myself. I doubted myself and that if there was a God that he could help me. So I tried with all my might to do what seemed to be impossible. Function.
I moved into my own place with the girls. During one of my trips back and forth to Brownwood, I met a guy. Within a week he moved in, and we became inseparable; however, we were still making bad choices and there would be consequences. The state decided I was an unfit mother and sent the girls to live with their grandmother. I panicked. How could I let this happen? So I moved to Brownwood and “cleaned” up. I got the kids back and I vowed to never let it happen again, and I have been clean from meth ever since. Unfortunately, pills took the place of the other, and we soon learned that we could make great money selling them. This went on for years. Everyone around us was getting in trouble. And in 2011 so did the guy I was with. In 2010, he sold to an undercover cop, and in 2011 he was arrested. Our relationship was very broken at this point. We loved each other the best we knew how. We both came from hard family lives, and we were doing the best we could with what we knew to make things work.
I remember stumbling in to a little Baptist church in Bangs, Texas. I don’t know why I chose that church. I had no ties there, and I had only been to church a handful of times over my whole life on “emergency visits”, usually this was a desperate attempt to fix a hurt or get out of some bad way I was in. But this time was different. There was a lady speaking at the pulpit. I really didn’t understand a word she said. All I knew was that I wanted what she had. Something inside was urging me to go to the front, but I couldn’t get my feet to move. But at the end of service when they did what is called “alter call”, I made myself go and sit in the front pew next to this lady. And I cried and cried and cried. She silently wrapped her arms around me and prayed. She stood in front of me both hands on my shoulders and asked me “Do you want Jesus?” I then replied “Yes, but I can’t.” Because in my heart there was no way I was good enough, and if the Christian people knew all that I had done, surely, they would judge me. But she would not relent. She looked into my eyes, I could see a sincere concern for my soul and she asked me if I was a sinner. I sobbed and said “YES!!” We prayed together and I asked Jesus into my heart and into my life. Since that day in August of 2011, Jesus became my Lord and Savior. That lady was Terri Tidwell, my new mother in Christ. God used her that day to save my life and to start the restoration of my broken family. So much has happened since that day in little Bangs, Texas. I am truly a new creation. There is no better way to put it. My hope through my testimony is to spread the love of Jesus, and to help people overcome the lies we have believed our whole lives. There is healing in Jesus' Name. I am living proof. The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy. Blessings! Leia