Made New: Laura’s Story
God is writing each of our stories and sometimes the events that take place don’t seem to make sense. We go through hard seasons that make us question His goodness, but things that don’t make sense to us serve a greater purpose that only He understands. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8 NIV. There are many events in Women’s Mission guest, Laura’s, story that don’t make sense. However, her life was transformed by redeeming Love. She has been made new in Christ Jesus.
Laura’s mother was in and out of Laura’s life at her own convenience, leaving Laura’s father to raise her. Though Laura has a positive relationship with her father now, he was a strict disciplinarian while she was growing up. “I was wild,” Laura says. “I was fast so I think sometimes he didn’t know how to handle it.” Now he is the person in her life she is the closest to. “I look up to him and respect him, and I love him,” she says.
Laura got married and had her first daughter, now 17, when she was right out of college. When Laura and her husband separated, she started partying and drinking on the weekends, which eventually turned into using drugs. Then, a knee replacement surgery caused her to become addicted to pain pills for 3-4 years.
She was raised going to church and believing in God but those things fell to the wayside while she was using. “Finally I just prayed to God one day. I said ‘I can’t take this life anymore,’” Laura remembers. “It was sucking my soul. I prayed and cried, and it was the first time I had prayed in years.”
After that initial prayer, things got worse before they got better. “It started spiraling downward quickly. I felt like I wanted to kill myself and then I was in the mental hospital and then I got arrested,” Laura says. “I think that when I prayed God heard me and was like ‘you might not like what’s about to happen.’ He made me hit rock bottom. He stripped me of everything.”
Laura found Jesus again during her time in jail and prayed for the forgiveness of her sins. She wasn’t let out of jail after her preliminary hearing. “I think that was for the best because I think I would have gone out and got my Vicodin,” she says. When she did get released, she went to the pharmacy and got a bottle of Xanax and a bottle of Adderall. She prayed for God to give her the strength not to get them refilled, and He answered her prayer. She didn’t get those prescriptions refilled.
She tried to commit suicide three times because she felt that she had nothing left; her kids had been taken from her. Then, she got bronchitis which turned into pneumonia and caused her to be in the hospital for a time. “I said, ‘Jesus take me now,’ but he didn’t want to.” Her father told her that meant it wasn’t her time.
When she went home from the hospital to her mom’s house, she didn’t want to take her medicine or take steps to get better because she still felt suicidal. Then she admitted herself into a psychiatric ward.
She was in 3 different hospitals for 6 months, and each hospital referred her to Bethesda Mission. “Finally after the third hospital said ‘Bethesda Mission’ I said ‘okay I get it,’” Laura says. “Sometimes we want to do things our way and God doesn’t let us.”
Laura came to the Women’s Mission in April 2016, and that’s when things started to look up for her. “When I walked through the door, I had lost my hair, my skin was green, I was shaking, I wasn’t sleeping, I was talking to myself. It was bad, but coming off of crystal meth will do that to you,” Laura says.
For her first couple of months, she went to day groups at Wellspan Philhaven, which helped her to talk about things and move on. “At one point it was 7:00 in the morning, I was drinking my cup of coffee walking to Philhaven, and I was so proud of myself because I wasn’t on Vicodin or Adderall and was walking to somewhere that was helping me,” she says. “It was a really good feeling that hit me really hard.”
Since coming to Bethesda she has had to learn to find herself; the part of who she is that drugs took away, again. “When I’m sober, I am by the book, on time. I remember how I used to be. It‘s amazing how I lost myself,” she says.
“The whole community here is important. Every counselor has a different position. When you walk in in the condition I walked in, they all pull and tug and push you to get you back to Laura,” she says. “I think it’s important to realize you have angels here that helped you. I don’t think I could have done it anywhere else.”
She believes her mental health challenges make her relationship with Jesus stronger. “If you have mental issues and you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, I can’t even imagine,” Laura says. “You’d be in a very, very dark place.”
Once she was on her way to being well again, she could work on other areas of her life. She got custody of her daughter back a year ago, and they live together at the Mission. Laura’s daughter still watches to make sure her mom is okay. “She did lose her mother there for some time and I think she was angry about it,” Laura says.
Laura and her daughter are looking to soon move out on their own. “I’m just trying to keep moving, and doing what people do in life,” Laura says.
Laura’s life isn’t perfect, but she has hope, which she was lacking before.
Laura’s other daughter, 9, lives with her father who is still in his addiction, leaving them too dangerous for Laura to be around. She has unsuccessfully attempted to go through the courts to get custody of her. Laura hopes her other daughter will come find her when she is older.
Here at Bethesda Mission, we get to play a part in the stories God is writing in the lives’ of the women, men, and children He entrusts to us. “We get to watch Jesus love our guests to wholeness,” Director of Women’s Mission, Shelley Brooks, says. We are deeply grateful for this opportunity to see people be made new.
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