The story below is written by Kellie Brown, and is her testimony of coming to Christ through many personal tragedies. Kellie is a friend, and a Christian Life Coach in Louisiana.
When I was born my biological father left my mother because of her pregnancy with me. He didn't want me or any other children for that matter. I never knew my father, nor have I ever met or seen him at all. This was the first of many rejections in my life.
My mother remarried when I was three and her new husband adopted me. As far back as I can remember my mother always seemed to manage her troubles by drinking alcohol. Most of my memories of her consist of her being either drunk, asleep or at work leaving my two sisters and me to fend for ourselves. I never could understand what was so wrong with us that she felt she needed to drink all the time. She and my dad separated, divorced and remarried several times until they finally divorced for good before I was a teenager. My mother continued to drink heavily, and my extended family chose to ignore the problem. This left my two sisters and me unsupervised most of the time, and free to do whatever we wanted.
The next major crisis in my life came when I was twelve. I was riding my bicycle near home one day and a drunk driver leaving a bar lost control of his motorcycle and ran into me. I was catapulted through the air a very long way and hit my head on the pavement. I suffered extensive brain trauma and was in a coma for three weeks. When I awoke it seemed I was not the same child at all.
I continually struggled emotionally not caring anymore about most anything, and I was determined I was going to do whatever I wanted regardless of the circumstances. To cope with any further pain of rejection I would just get drunk, smoke pot and take harder drugs. I used anyone who tried to help me in order to get what I wanted and then discard them. I was afraid to let anyone get close because I felt they too would reject me sooner or later. Through all this my sisters and I continued to be taken to church where I heard that Jesus loved me, but I couldn’t understand why. In my mind, I felt no one else loved me so why would He. I continued to rebel and had multiple run-ins with the law for minor things. I was suspended or expelled from school more than I can remember. Deep down I just wanted someone to care enough to stop me. Basically I just wanted someone to love me.
When I was fifteen both of my sisters and I started to be placed in and out of foster care, as my mother was either in no condition to take care of us or I was in getting into trouble. While in foster care a couple from our church actually became my foster parents. The man who was my foster dad, who was supposed to protect me and provide for me, sexually molested me. At church one day I decide to talk to the pastor to see if he could help me. I was shocked when this pastor asked, “What did I expect?” He said I deserved it, and this totally turned me off to church and God.
After this my life began to spiral even faster and further downhill. I started snorting cocaine, stealing, lying, and making up stories just to get attention. At the age of sixteen I attempted to end my life by taking a whole bunch of pills. This was my plan to end things, but obviously it was not God’s plan; He was not finished with me yet.
I did manage to graduate from high school when I was seventeen, and the day after I graduated my mother decided to throw me out. During this time I lived with a friend, and was taking care of her children while going to college. I was still partying and trying to enjoy life, but inside I was growing empty and getting worse.
My next crisis…
When I was 20 I was raped by my supposed boyfriend, and this resulted in me becoming pregnant. I had my daughter Ashley on April 2, 1986. Shortly after her birth I had to have an emergency hysterectomy, and so she was going to be my only child. I had no clue how to take care of her so for the first three months of her life, my sisters and my aunt took care of her. When she was three months old we moved in with another family from church. They honestly thought they were doing the right things trying to help me the best way they knew how, but they were members of a very strict and religious church with many rules which we had to follow. I struggled with conforming to the church’s lifestyle. However, during this time with them I did learn how to care for my daughter.
When Ashley was two we moved out, and were on our own trying to start over again. When I was twenty-three I began to think back on my relationship with Christ. I knew a lot about church and felt like I knew a lot about God, but I also had many doubts. Fortunately, I had a friend who was also a Sunday School teacher and I went to her with my questions. She guided me through the scriptures, and once and for all I settled it in my mind and heart committing my life to Jesus Christ.
God started working on me but I still struggled. I never felt I was growing closer to God, but I was constantly reminded of the rules and regulations my church family expected me to follow. Everything seemed rigid and hard. There was no joy in my relationship – just rules. So all I did was check off the boxes. It didn’t mean anything because I never had the close relationship with God or anyone for that matter except my daughter.
Soon though, it was in this church that I met a guy named Mike. Mike was a Sunday School teacher, and very involved in the church. We were friends at first but it quickly became more. Mike seemed perfect for me. He was the love of my life, and my soul mate. But because Mike had been through a divorce, when we got married in 1992 we were removed from all ministries and leadership of the church. This was a very painful experience for both of us, but this church was all we knew so we pressed on.
After we married Mike adopted Ashley. For twelve years we had many good times as well as some tough times. Increasingly times grew mostly tough because it seemed I was allowing Ashley do things Mike didn’t agree with. We definitely had different ideas on how to raise this young girl. We fought over Ashley going to a public school, attending school dances, and other similar things. Finally it became too much. We thought divorce was the answer, and after two years we remarried. I thought this would finally fix things and we could move forward, but little did I know that this solution would only last a short time. Ten days after we remarried I came home and found my husband on the floor dead from a heart attack. Again my world was tossed into another downward spiral. At this time Ashley also tumbled hard down her own hill. I always thought I could fix Ashley, but I began to see that I couldn’t. The fact was Ashley couldn’t even fix herself, and it was going to take something or someone bigger than us.
During this time Ashley started taking pills because she could not handle the pain of her dad’s death; medication and alcohol was a way for her to escape the pain. When she realized she was taking way too many pills she gave them up for a while, but only to replace the pills with more alcohol. She was running downhill so fast, and it seemed I couldn’t do anything to save her.
She called me one night and told me she was going to see her Dad. I left work and returned home to find her barely breathing on the floor. She had taken an overdose of pills along with a lot of alcohol. When she woke up I decided I had to do something, and so I made her get some help. I gave her two options. Either go check in as an inpatient at a treatment center somewhere, anywhere, or go to Louisiana to my sisters to dry out and get help. She chose Louisiana.
Two days after she got out of the hospital I put her on a plane to Louisiana. It was there that she found Celebrate Recovery, and finally got some the help she needed; best of all she found her own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A year later she even found a young man and got married. A few months after they married and her husband was about to deploy… surprise – she found out she was pregnant.
Her husband was going to be overseas so I decided to come be with her to help when she had the baby. I ended up selling everything and moving to Louisiana in November of 2010. I didn’t really know why I was leaving all I had known for 45 years, but it just seemed like that it was what I needed to do. Looking back I now know why. God moved me here to get a hold of me. He moved me, and put me in a different culture where there was love and acceptance. As I watched my daughter in her new relationship with Jesus she had what I never had –Joy! God had a plan and knew where I needed to be to understand that He loves me just as I am. He set things up so I could move and see my need for Him. Even though I had accepted Him in my heart I didn’t enjoy a close relationship with Him, but now I had an entirely new perspective – not so much about rules and behavior but about love and acceptance. Things now seemed to be going really well.
But again it didn’t last long. On January 17, 2012, the best part of my life came to a sudden end. I came home and found my daughter, who in a brief moment of desperation had taken her own life. You see although she had a new relationship with Jesus, a new husband, a precious baby girl, Ashley still had some struggles of her own, and unhealthy ways of dealing with them. It happened so fast. I was so shocked and angry that she would do this, and even more mad that God would let her do this.
I had closed the door once before, but this time I felt like I slammed the door on God. What kind of God would allow this? But, even as I tried to leave God, God did not leave me. I know now He has been with me all along. He has never left me. I am so glad my small doors can’t keep God out.
It is an unbelievably difficult thing to try to adjust and recover from the loss of a child – my only child – my entire world. For two months I was completely numb. I don’t even remember much of the days and weeks that followed. This past summer I hit a very low point in my life, and I was at my bottom. I was desperate. I longed for my daughter. I was determined to go see Ashley one-way or the other, and I felt like I had reached the end. But God had other plans. I was at the end, but He was just at the beginning. He wasn’t ready for me to go anywhere yet. At the precise moment I had enough pills in my hand, and I was ready to end my life a very close friend contacted me on the phone. It was then that I realized I couldn’t do this to my friends or my family. Regardless of how I felt about me I couldn’t do this to them.
I had been attending Celebrate Recovery for a little while, but I wasn’t working the steps or anything. I was going but I not doing. I was still so angry and bitter at God for taking my daughter, but it was here that I began my journey back to God. I also started seeing a counselor, and a life coach. I now had a team of support. God kept pursuing me. He wanted a deeper relationship with me. There was no way I could get through this on my own. God had been showing His love to me through all of these events.
Through much prayer and guidance on Dec 24, 2012 I totally surrendered everything to God, and made Him the center of my life. This was a first for me. Ashley had always been the center of my life for 25 years. I had always thought if she was the center of my life she would always need me, and that would make me happy. I finally came to realize that all I truly needed was Jesus. I knew this but never really experienced before – Jesus loved ME, and with a love that surpasses any other kind of love from anyone. I have found my worth in Him, and I was finally able to walk forward in this light. After embracing this, and making Jesus my new center I also realized the pain medication I had been on for my knees was becoming a problem. I stopped taking the medication and I’m trusting Jesus with my pain.
No matter what’s in my past I know that Jesus loves me. Now, because what God has done for me I’ve forgiven the people in my past that had hurt me. I am realizing and enjoying that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I’ve come to realize this past year was necessary to get me where I am now with God. I never felt His love like I do now, and I firmly believe if Ashley were here I might never have had this relationship with God. My greatest need is not to be needed; my greatest need is Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:28“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose.”
Isaiah 43:2-3“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. And through the rivers they will not flood over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be scorched nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord you God, your Savior.”
Thank you for letting me share my testimony with you,
Kellie can be found on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/KellieJBrownChristianLifeCoach