I had been just over a year sober when I came to my first retreat in 2016, RELEASED. I was starting to learn more about God which was not something I had been doing. I had a lot of resentment and anger towards God from my childhood. But after my last relapse and coming back to find God, I very distinctly heard Him say, “I never left you!” So, I had to give God a shot. I had a lot of doubts and questions when I came to retreat. I was really struggling why God would allow so much suffering and pain in my life, which I had experienced from sexual abuse and then I abused drugs to cope. A good friend told me to pray to God for the answers you need and to accept the things you can’t understand.
I kept coming back to Women's Retreat because I was seeing all these powerful women that were on fire for God, they weren’t ashamed or embarrassed of their past. I was desperate for answers when I came to the first retreat and one of the leaders stayed up with me with answers. If I was really going to give God a chance, I needed to have some answers. And I kept coming back because I wanted to learn more. I wanted to have that relationship with God that I saw in the other ladies. Last year at UNASHAMED, I knew I wanted to get to that point! I saw so many strong women speaking out loud about their relationship with God and I wanted that. My history of abuse taught me not to trust my voice and when I am in front of people, I can’t do it. I know I have something to give to other women that are suffering in abusive relationships like I was. I want to find my voice and tell them that they are worth so much more than that!
This year at FIERCE we talked about the lies that the Enemy gives us. I went back to my room and wrote some of the lies I have believed. “I’m too scared to share my testimony and the truth of Jesus and that’s a lie! God, you have done miraculous things in my life and I’m sorry that I’ve been too scared to tell people because I’m afraid of what they will think. I’m embarrassed of my own abilities to speak but you wrote the story. God, give me the strength to tell it to whoever will listen. Please put people in my life who need to hear what you’ve done.” I’ve been wanting to find the strength to tell my story.
At FIERCE they offered a workshop that walked us through how to tell our testimony. I have told my story many times in AA groups, but never really in a Christian setting. I always leave out the most important part—which is how much God had to do with my transformation! I didn’t stop drinking, doing drugs or even smoking on my own. These were things I prayed on daily and had sisters in recovery and in Christ backing me up and supporting me and praying for me. It’s been a complete change in my life and I’m four years sober this month.
One of my favorite part of Women's Retreat is being away and getting a chance to nap. The quiet that is offered out here is not what I have in my day-to-day life. There is time to sit around and laugh and pray and share together and we don’t get to do that any other time. I never miss this retreat!