Dec 31, 2013 marks an important day in my life. It was the day I decided that I was tired of living a life of partying and doing what I wanted to bring momentary pleasure, only to bring guilt and shame later. It was the day I decided to fully follow Christ, no matter the cost… Even if it meant giving up parties with my friends, and even if it meant giving up alcohol completely.
I had my first drink around 16 years old, it was a Shiner. For me, beer was never an acquired taste like my friends had warned me it would be. It was an instant taste that I loved, and craved. Up until then, I never had too much interest in drinking. I wanted to taste the beer to see what it was like, but I never really thought much about drinking, let alone getting drunk. When I turned 17, that changed. I hung around an older guy that my parents warned me against, who ended up getting me drunk and then proceeded to rape me.
I think after that, alcohol became a source of comfort to me. A source of escape. In my mind, alcohol was the only thing that saved me, it was the thing that erased my memories, and the thing that made me temporarily forget myself. It was a way past my depression. Going to college, I found a group of friends that I loved & trusted, and we all partied every weekend. Our parties were never too crazy. There were never drugs present, beside the occasional pot smokers who would sneak out to the cars to smoke, and there were never people having sex all over the place. The majority of our parties consisted of drinking games, trying to speak foreign languages, and dancing to Kpop. The parties were fun for me, I felt safe. No boys ever tried to do anything to me, and if they did it was because I wanted them to. The alcohol made me feel powerful and in control. I could control how much I drank. I could control how much fun I would have.
I could control how much I drank.
I could control how much I drank.
At least, that’s what I told myself, over and over. I convinced myself that I was in control, meanwhile alcohol was slowly sneaking in and taking over. I needed to drink to be around people. I needed to drink to feel confident. I needed to drink to laugh. I needed to drink to wind down or to have fun. Every time I drank, it was out of survival. I needed it.
Back to December 31st. The pivot point of my life. Several days prior, I was bored so I invited a boy over to drink 3 bottles of wine with me. Worst idea ever, by the way. We ended up making out and doing the stupid things drunk people do before I got mad at him, and spent the rest of the night puking up my guts in the bathroom. The vomit that came out looked something like the inside of my stomach, stained dark with red wine. Or was that blood? I didn’t know. All I could think about was whether or not I should go to the hospital. I stayed in the shower and washed my body repeatedly with some lavender soap. I couldn’t even manage washing my hair, it just fell over my face as droplets of water slipped down my cheeks into my mouth. At least I was getting some form of hydration, right?
I don’t remember the rest of the night… Just the smell of that soap, which still reminds me of the wine I drank, and I want to gag thinking about it. The boy must have left, or maybe he didn’t, I can’t remember. All I know is that I hated myself more than I thought possible.
December 31st, I showed up to a New Years Eve party that I had been invited to. I didn’t really want to go, but partying in the new year was all I really knew how to do. I couldn’t even drink and the ever present smell of alcohol still brought back the taste of vomit. The boy was there too, drinking again. How could he drink so much after that? But then again, what was I doing at the party anyway? That party was so awkward because I knew that I was out of place. I wasn’t supposed to be there, and I wasn’t having fun, so I went home. That was the last time I would ever drink. It’s the last time I would ever go to a party. I knew that in my heart.
I spent the next several days in the silence of my bedroom, crying until my tears ran out. I still remember the feeling; feeling like my heart would collapse under the weight of the sin I had been living in for years. Feeling like I would suffocate if I didn’t confess and repent of everything to God. So I stayed in my room and prayed, and read the Bible, and wept, and wrote to God, and wept more. I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. I couldn’t stop reading Psalm 51. Whatever brought David to write that psalm, I didn’t know… but no words had ever felt so true to what I was going through.
The following Sunday came along and I was more ready to be in church than I had ever been, and more than ready to feel God’s presence again. I don’t even remember what the sermon was about or what led to my collapse in the back of the auditorium, all I know is that it was in that moment that I truly gave everything to God.
I felt like I was crying so loud the whole world could hear me, you know, the kind of crying where you can’t even seem to catch your breath.. The ugly crying, so to speak. Either way, I was curled up in a ball in the back of the church next to a potted plant. The leaves seemed to provide some sense of safety. I don’t remember anyone around me. It was just me and God.
And then, alas, I could breathe again.
Everything would be okay again.
I would be forgiven, again.
Looking back, tears fill my eyes as I realize how sweet God was to me during that time. I had no idea the decisions I was making and how they would later impact me. I had no idea that me giving up the broken life I had built would mean God restoring and rebuilding everything I thought I had lost. I had no idea.
God is so good.
If you ask any recovering addict, they will tell you that in order to overcome an addiction, something has to fill that void and take the place of the addiction. That is so true, although I had no idea at the time. I didn’t even consider alcohol to be an addiction at the time, I just knew it needed to stop. But God knew what it was to me, and He knew exactly what I would need to get over it.
The invitations to parties were slowly replaced by invitations to go out with my church friends to do fun things, like watching movies, bowling and playing games. And each time we went out, I remember feeling so clean. I had no idea how to have fun without alcohol, but this newly found “fun” to me was the best feeling of joy and laughter I had ever experienced.
The nights I’d spend drinking were replaced with nights I spent learning the piano on a keyboard given to me from someone at church. I don’t think they even knew the impact that keyboard would have, but looking back I can see that having a keyboard to worship God with was a key factor in filling up my time. I spent hours upon hours learning each key, singing songs to God and playing melodies from my heart.
The desire to drink was replaced with a desire to spend time reading and re-reading the Bible. I didn’t want to put that book down. There was, and still is, so much to learn about God.
The desire to receive validation from boys was replaced with a desire to please and love my savior. I know, I always used to judge Christians who’d say they were in a relationship with Jesus or “in love” with Jesus… But I began to understand that. That feeling of love, when you’re so overtaken by it that you want to shout it from the mountain tops, “EVERYONE, JESUS IS SO AMAZING AND HE LOVES YOU”. But then you’d look crazy. But why aren’t we shouting that every day? The truth of His love is something that cannot be denied.
Every addiction I had, without me knowing it, God had provided an outlet and a way of escape. Just like his word says, in the midst of temptation, he provided a way out. I cry just thinking about His gentle love. He’s so good.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability. But with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. | 1 Corinthians 10:13
So here we are… December 31st, 2016.
I look back at the Sierra from 2013 and I hardly recognize her. Telling my testimony is a funny feeling because I feel like I’m writing a story about someone else… I’m not the girl I used to be. My old self died, and my new self was born by the grace of God.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. | 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
What’s funny is that at the time I gave my heart back to God, I was so terrified. I was crying in my room about it for 3 days. It was the hardest and scariest time in my life. But now, I just see all the blessings and miracles that God did through that. There’s no way I could write it all in this post, but maybe I’ll write a book about it one day. I can tell you some of the key things God did in my life after my step towards obedience in loving Him.
- December 31st: I re-dedicated my life to God. No alcohol, no parties, no boys, no distractions, just me and God.
- March 2014: God brought the most amazing, loving, godly man into my life, Tim.
- May 2014: I was offered a full time internship with my church
- July 2014-2015: The internship began. Endless opportunities for spiritual growth happened throughout the year, and too many blessings to count.
- July 2015: The internship finished, and I took my first mission trip to Nicaragua. I began to see God’s greater calling on my life.
- August 2015: I got hired at my first full-time job
- October 2015: I was able to pay off all my credit card debt
- December 2015: I bought my first car
- June 2016: I took another mission trip to Miami and returned to Nicaragua. God showed me more pieces of the vision and calling over my life
- August 2016: I moved to Austin, adopted a (psycho) puppy, and found a church
I look back at the past three years and thank God for how much healing I’ve experienced. He provided an amazing church to serve and grow in. He brought along an amazing and godly man to show me what real love looks like…. seriously, I learned more about the love of God by seeing the endless love that Tim has shown me. If a man can love me that much, I can’t even comprehend how deep God’s love is. He brought me the most amazing friends to love and grow next to. He opened the door to work at a job (with the most amazing boss in the whole world), which provides for all my financial needs. I’ve grown closer to God. I’ve experienced an indescribable freedom. I’ve experienced a deep and lasting joy in my spirit.
I start laughing just seeing how my one act of obedience and surrender turned into a spiral of blessings and divine opportunities. The life I was living before was directionless. I felt empty. I could never find lasting joy. Everything I did was in my own effort, all up to me and it was stressful.
Now, I’m free from that. God saved me.
I pray and ask God for direction, and then I do what he guides me to do, and I know it will be okay. I know it, because I’ve lived it. Where God guides, He provides.