Submitted by Heather Thixton

I was born and raised in Athens, Georgia and attended the same small church since I was born. My parents were kind and loving people, and I my older brother always set a great example for me. I was baptized at the age of 8, and attended church camps and children’s church religiously. However, at the age of 9 I was molested by one of my grandma’s foster children. Growing up I was always full of anger, jealousy, hate, and all other sorts of emotions. I did not understand why I was so angry all the time. My brother always seemed to have everything working for him, and I felt as if the world, and God, was against me. In elementary school I was constantly tormented and teased, and as a result my mother home schooled me through middle school.

At the age of 16, I started looking to guys for the acceptance I felt I needed, and ended up having sex with a guy who I thought I loved. It devastated my parents and I felt like I did not deserve to be alive. At the age of 17, my brother married his childhood sweetheart, and I always dreamed of the day when I would get married and live “happily ever after”. So, I searched high and low for the “guy of my dreams” and ended up dating guys who only led me deeper into sin. These guys took advantage of my kindness and willingness to please others in order to be accepted, and at the age of 19 I was raped and beaten multiple times by a guy I dated for 2 years. I felt like, in some way, that I deserved how I was being treated. I figured I was such a screw up that no one would ever treat me any better. So, I continued to date guys who were by no means what God wanted for me.

Later, in 2008, at the age of 21, my parents got divorced after nearly 30 years of marriage. My world fell apart. I tried to stay strong and love both of my parents, but I felt like I constantly needed to take sides. As a result of the divorce I moved out on my own. I fell deeper into a life of sin and continued to look for acceptance and my place in the world by continuing to hold onto ungodly relationships. I started going out to the clubs and thought that I had finally found my place in the party scene. I thought I had found true happiness. However, I would keep finding myself in situations that caused me to compromise my morals, and again at the age of 23 I was raped by the boyfriend of one of my friends at that time. I then decided that I no longer wanted to get married because I didn’t believe that a marriage could last, or that there were any good guys left in the world.

Both of my parents eventually remarried. I didn’t understand how they could move on and love other people, but I wanted my parents to be happy, so I learned to accept it. Through everything, I never stopped going to church or believing that God existed. I just simply put my beliefs on the back burners of life. I figured that I was going to heaven regardless of my sin because I was “saved”. I would constantly do wrong and ask for forgiveness and in my own strength try not to repeat the same sins. Of course, we all know that my own will power got me nowhere and I continued to sin.

About a year ago I felt as if I was getting nowhere in life. I was 24, still in college, living with my grandparents, and single. I knew that something had to change, so I took the initiative to get back into church and take it seriously.  I felt so much shame and guilt from how I was living that I would talk myself into believing that God was done with me. I truly felt like there was no way that He could love me through the constant pain and rejection I put him through.

In December of 2011, I began going to Victory. I instantly felt a connection. I could feel the presence of God so strong in service that I just knew my life was going to change, and change for good. No more back and forth, no more half-way, I was doing this! So, on May 5, 2012 I decided to re-dedicate my life to Christ through baptism! POWERFUL… that’s all I can say!

It’s been a long road, and a heart-wrenching one, but now I feel God’s love stronger than ever in my life! I no longer feel the need to look to men for comfort or acceptance, I no longer feel disgusted by myself and my actions, I feel nothing but the grace and mercy of God poured over me. I walk in freedom now! I know that God has great plans for me, and although I’m not perfect, CHRIST IS! I’m so stoked to now be living with joy and peace, and I want to share this joy and sense of peace with everyone I come in contact with! GOD IS AMAZING!!!!!