Dawn Testimony

​I was born in Crawfordsville and raised in New Market Indiana. My father was so disappointed in not having sons, he refused to name me. The last memory I have of him was of his fist going through a wall just before he left our family. I was 7. My mother remarried my step dad, who I never appreciated until adulthood. Instead of the sons he wanted, he had me and my two sisters to raise. The man was a tyrant. Apart from his presence, I looked forward to being home.
 
My mother was unaffectionate and distant, but I knew she loved me because she took care of me. She worked and cleaned a lot to stay busy. Their marriage was strange: perhaps a means to an end. He was obsessively jealous and she was always crying. Although alcohol was prevalent in my home, it was not abused to my knowledge. Us kids just thought that’s what grown-ups do, they drink and smoke. And I just figured when I got older, I would drink and smoke too. As a child, I was creative and artistic. I ran around town getting into people’s things and letting my imagination run wild. As soon as I was old enough to play outside, I met my best friend Misty. In the woods, we would imagine we were Indians, or stranded with nothing but our instincts to survive. My memories of school were not so fond however: Misty was in a different grade than me. I didn’t understand the assignments and could not make friends. I hated school. I remember laying in bed at night wishing I was dead. Then after my grandfather fought for integration in the church, I was singled out for choosing ethnic friends. But it was there I met my first love.
 
My grandpa was the pastor of the Pentecostal church we attended. We went a couple of times a week, sometimes twice in one day. I always knew there was a God and that Jesus died for our sins. But at the time, all that meant to me was that I needed to be good. However when I was 13, my grandfather died and we never went to church again. My parents disapproved of my interracial relationship and there was tension between us from that point on. They tried to use scripture to justify their beliefs. It really rocked my world because I wasn’t brought up that way. I couldn’t believe it was coming from them. It was never a topic of discussion until I started sharing my life with other races.
 
From there on I fought to do things my own way. I had to succeed without my parent’s help. Three children, one affair, and a divorce later, I found myself drinking and partying almost every weekend. I was going to college and raising my children alone, with help from my sister. My last marriage started out really good. We did a lot of stuff together and he raised my children as if they were his own. He made me happy and we seemed to have a lot in common. We got along and enjoyed camping, fishing, and barbequing on a regular basis. Because of this I quit going out and partying, although I continued to use alcohol moderately.
 
As our marriage went on, I became more and more depressed. Working all the time, running a business, taking care of the kids and the house, the bills, and constant maintenance over all of it overwhelmed me physically and mentally. The harder I worked the more my husband became absent. It felt like I was the only one working toward what I thought we were building. I became lonely and depressed and my drinking increased. All my life I stored up my treasure in the hope of unconditional love from another person. That was the point of my life, to get old with someone. I expected one person to be able to satisfy all of my needs, and when it didn’t happen I became bitter and failed to fulfill my duties as a Godly wife. But God was not at the center of our marriage. In reality, even my love for my husband was about me. He became discontent and looked elsewhere. The last affair was more than I could handle.
 
I didn’t see anything left for me in the world. My kids were grown. My daughters were struggling and I just broke down. Our finances were crumbling and our marriage was coming to an end. I stopped imagining a future where my security and stability were found in another person. After we divorced, I never looked for anything permanent. I was haunted by my past and things got out of control. I shut down completely. I couldn’t bear to wake up in the morning or continue going to work. The constant feeling of despair and darkness lead me to several attempts of suicide. Although, they were really cries for help. I realized in the midst of an attempt, as the blood was letting out, that I really didn’t want to end my life. I just wanted the pain to stop. I didn’t want to die, I just wanted to stop living.

 
      Alcohol became the center of my world and I had no answers.
 
My then ex-husband was newly single again and showed up at my daughters (Bella’s) baptism here at Stonewater. It was bittersweet. When I saw him it was like a piece of myself came back. After some conversation we decided to work it out and get back together. But by that time, alcohol was such a strong part of my life, I couldn’t put it down. I was in too deep. God brought my husband back and yet I was still in darkness.  If having everything returned to me was not the answer then I wondered what was? I knew I needed God but I didn’t know how to get Him. I also knew I didn’t want to put my husband through what I had underwent the last 6 or 7 years.
 
We knew about Through The Gate because our daughter, Bella had successfully completed the program. We saw what it did for her and we knew that this place offered something that could change a person entirely. I had resigned myself to the fact that one day I would get the call that she had died from a heroin overdose. So if Through The Gate could make my atheist, heroin addicted daughter into a sober follower of Christ, we knew there was something special going on there. The whole time we were saying, “what do they have that no other place has?” On the outside you don’t realize that it is God. The credit was His.
 
I was hesitant to go because I didn’t want to bring shame and embarrass my daughter. I didn’t get how this place worked or know that there were people here praying for me. Marshall insisted that I was going. I was in shock at first because it felt so sudden and we had only been married for a week. The first couple of weeks were filled with anxiety and fear of the unknown. In my mind I told myself I wasn’t going to stay long. But Being alone with myself and my studies started to change my heart. Through a lot of self-examination and internal thinking, I started to realize how little control of anything I ever really had.
 
In the past, my faith was never real. At Through The Gate I have learned who God actually is to me. Before it was all just like a story that I heard about. Now I have a relationship with Jesus and I know who He is. Now I know it’s not about “being good”. It’s about understanding and living the gospel. Because I have been able to make sense of God, I have been able to make sense of everything. Without Christ, there is nothing to look forward to. I needed a solid purpose that will last forever. You think that’s what you’re doing when you are living to build your life, but you’re not. It won’t last. There’s more than just being a wife and increasing your assets. A relationship with Jesus is the only thing that’s given me a chance. Without that hunger for Him, I would have no recovery.

 

                    He is the only thing more powerful than addiction.
 
I
have learnt that life isn’t about me, that God loves me and that I can be forgiven. I always thought you had to be perfect to come to God but I learned that He loves me even through my sin. It’s the ones steeped in sin who need who need Him the most. My perception of God is totally different now than what it was before. I know that all the ugly things in my life can be forgiven if I truly repent and love the Lord. I even see others differently now. I see the imperfections in all of us. It takes a lot of love and patience to affect people and be an example. And in that, you find that your capabilities to serve others extend so much farther when you’re not self-serving. Relationships built on Christ are stronger because they exhibit the love of God.
 
The relationship with God I have built at Through The Gate has made my marriage stronger the second time around. I hope and pray that the Lord can use me to help and bless others the way that I have been helped. If I could say anything to the new ladies in the program, it would be to hang in there and be open minded.
I would say to love each other the way that the Lord has loved you. We are all sinners and broken. Take the time to learn what the Lord has for you.
 
I would like to thank Steve and Janet for their faithfulness and obedience to the Lord. In turn, bringing about this program. I am thankful to everyone who volunteers their time and sitting with us. I am thankful to my husband for sticking it out with me and to my daughter for being patient and supportive (especially since she had to witness me from start to finish). I also want to thank Misty for always being my friend. And for listening to all my stories about the Lord while I went through the program. Overall I am grateful to the Lord for this whole opportunity.
 
I would like to end with a piece of my favorite life verse from Ps 23. “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and Your staff, they comfort me”. In this life we walk through sickness, hardship, trials, and physical death. I can endure all through the power and promise of God’s Word. He is my protector and my comfort. He is my purpose. In Him I find my peace and joy.
 
Thank you.

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