It was a beautiful day in the South, birds were chirping loudly and children could be heard playing outside, their blissful laughter filling the warm, summer air. Yet in a small apartment, an unwed, pregnant 22 year old silently fought for her life. The smell of cologne filled her nostrils as his rough, masculine hands gripped her arms and then her neck firmly, all while uttering, “Why do you make me do this? This is your fault”. The unborn child within her seemed to take cover, forming into a ball on the left side of her stomach.
“Is this really how I am going to die? Am I truly a Christian, will I seriously go to heaven? What will happen to my child?” I asked myself while my abusive boyfriend choked me. “Lord, if you are listening please get me out of this situation and I will certainly return back to your will”.
How did I find myself in such a low, dark hole? The answer is simple: I was a slave to my sin. I wanted to do right, yet evil was always present. I hadn’t always been in this dark hole, and I knew deep down inside that I was created on purpose for a purpose, yet sin continued to entice me and I continued to answer its call.
I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas to parents who loved me and my siblings. My father was a state trooper and an ordained minister and my mom was a psychiatric assistant. Growing up in a Christian home was difficult, to say the least. Though my parents did their best in raising me, I always felt like I wasn’t enough, I felt like I just didn’t fit in. I found myself with low self-esteem, feeling that I wasn’t attractive or intelligent enough to even stand alone in this world. Hopeless was my middle name!
At 11 years old, my mother taught me 1 John 4:4 which says “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (NIV) That verse remained with me through the years and I still recite it out loud when I feel that life is just too much to bear.
My parents never taught me about premarital sex or drug use so when I made my way out into the world I decided I wanted to try it all. In college, all the forbidden sins that had been hidden from me were now fair game. While I knew each decision carried consequences with it, I was going to get the ultimate college experience. I yearned for love from the opposite sex, if I could just get his attention then I thought maybe I’d feel beautiful. Even though my father expressed his love for me growing up, I wanted more!
While in college, I met a young man who I felt was my equal; he just understood me and our friendship slowly grew into an unlikely romance. This was the beginning of my journey into the dark hole. I went from earning A’s and B’s to just barely getting by. Then I found myself in a secluded and desolate two bedroom apartment shacking up with a young man I had only known for a year, smoking marijuana and drinking my excruciating pain away.
The more time passed, the deeper I sunk into the dark hole. The romance turned into black eyes and bruises, each one always followed by an apology. I wanted out and I needed out. I couldn’t quite understand how I allowed myself to get so low and so distant from Christ. I felt abandoned and alone.
This led me to the fateful day in 2006 when my life was almost taken from me. As his hands gripped my throat, I felt life slowly exiting my body. I then lost consciousness, but could still hear him yelling over my lifeless body, “I hope I haven’t killed this girl. Baby wake up, I’m sorry”.
While I laid there, I could hear the Holy Spirit ever so clearly. “Jamie, this is not the end for you, return to me”. After waking up in the hospital, I made the decision to leave the abusive relationship after two years and fled to a friend’s residence to finish out the last semester of my senior year in college. On December 15, 2006, at 6 months pregnant, I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts Degree.
I began to climb out of the dark hole!
After I graduated, I returned to Dallas to live with my parents, which was a difficult and incredibly humbling experience. I hated myself for pursuing my selfishness instead of doing what I knew to be right. I beat myself up for allowing myself to get to this place in life.
I knew that God was still God and still in control of my out of control life, but I couldn’t feel his presence. “God you said that you would never leave me nor forsake me, where are you?” I yelled. But, despite my begging and pleading, He remained silent. As an unwed and pregnant preacher’s kid, I was apprehensive about attending church again. It just didn’t feel right, so I didn’t set foot in church. I was ashamed and wasn’t ready for the humiliating stares or the gossip that was surely to come my way from the church folk.
On March 27, 2007, I welcomed a healthy baby boy that I named Zion because I knew that returning back to Christ saved my life! Gazing into Zion’s eyes made me realize that my purpose was bigger than myself. In that moment, I knew I had to change my approach to life. Climbing out of that dark hole began to become a little bit easier, or so I thought.
Then postpartum depression hit. No one had warned me about this. It felt like the consequences from my sinful choices from years before were starting to rear their ugly heads. After months of struggling, I tried to take my life, certain that things would be better if I simply wasn’t around. But my dear mother appeared and removed Zion from my arms, all while uttering the words, “Baby, the good Lord has a plan for your life and you just have to trust Him”.
I decided to attend my local church service the Sunday following my suicide attempt. Yes, people stared and asked inappropriate, thoughtless questions all in the name of God, but I continued through all of the senseless behavior. And, after years of running from the calling on my life, I rededicated my life to Christ. This time I meant the words and I called upon the Lord with all my soul. “Lord, I surrender. Whatever your will is for my life, I accept it and I am willing to walk with you”.
Finally, I saw the light drawing me out of the dark hole.
I learned the amazing love of God that sought me even in the midst of my darkest moments. His grace became a daily reminder for me. I realized the thing that I had been desperately searching after was always found in Christ. Yet, it took me my entire college years to understand and appreciate Christ’s love for me. I stopped searching for love from a man and started to dig deeper into the word of God. I knew that the love of God could never be compromised and that truth made me feel safe. The Lord had been so good to me, but he was going to do even more. He was just getting started rewriting my story.
While attending church one Sunday morning, I embarrassingly darted into a young man that I grew up within the church. “Please don’t ask about my son, because it is not any of your business and I am not looking for a boyfriend so don’t ask”, I thought amusingly in my head.
Even today, his words still pierce my heart. Smiling back at me jubilantly he said, “Jamie, wow, you look amazing, how are you?”
Okay God, what are you up to now?
One date turned into a fairytale, predestined courtship, that turned into marriage. And we have been married for 4 years now. My husband has displayed Christ’s love for me and my son through his actions day in and day out. He has helped raise my son and when he voiced to me that he wanted to adopt him I was overjoyed. “You wouldn’t be the Jamie you are today if it wasn’t for Zion”, he whispered. And, in the midst of the meticulous adoption process, we found out that we were pregnant with our second child! On June 10, 2015, the Lord blessed us with a sweet baby girl we named Moriah!
The Lord has truly taught me that just because you are broken doesn’t mean that you are beyond repair. The Lord is great at turning broken pieces into a masterpiece for His glory.
I had to travel down the road of abuse to appreciate the selflessness of God.
I had to fall down in order to be picked up by Christ.
I had to learn to be the person God wanted me to be, not the person everyone wanted to see.
I had to realize I couldn’t figure it all out on my own and trust the hand of God on my life.
I had to find true rest and wisdom in Christ.
I had to stop trying to find the light and be the light!
I had to seek Christ above all else.
I had to embrace that God was truly in control of my life.
God was always guiding me to a place of sincere worship. And now I praise him for the smallest things in my life; I can take no credit for all I have today. God used my deepest pain to launch me into my greatest calling, ministering to young women who feel they have no hope left. I have the privilege of saying to those who feel as though tomorrow will never be brighter, “rise up, you are powerful beyond measure.” As I minister to incarcerated young ladies I challenge them to dream beyond what they can imagine, remind them that they are daughters of a powerful King, and encourage them to hold their heads up with dignity, poise, and authority. I speak of how God is still writing their stories and the latter is so much better than what they could fathom.
While I am flawed and imperfect, I know the grace and mercy that comes from Jesus Christ. And, because of this, I can confidently live in complete freedom and redemption. I am a living testament that there is no hole too dark or deep that His grace and love cannot reach.
How has God changed your life? How has he changed how you see yourself?
We want to hear your story (even if it's still in process) of victory in Christ!