Monday, October 29, 2012

A Sweet Testimony Of God's Grace by Colie Maxwell

A few days ago I was invited to share a testimony with you of a young woman. A young woman whom I've never met, but through the grace of God, our paths have been brought together for only a purpose greater than my own. I love when I get to witness God moving. When we share from our hearts, feelings, raw emotions and all, we draw closer to one another. We come to understand one another and we get a glimpse of the life before us. The life that God is creating glory through. I invite you to read Colie's testimony. It is a story that will change your heart and open your vision to a great and mighty God filled with grace and passion. This is Colie's story..

I was born three months premature. Because of that, my eyes have poor vision and the surrounding muscles are underdeveloped. This made me look different. So, as is often the case with those seen as “different,” I grew up the odd girl out. I was made fun of by students, teachers, friends, and family. Alcoholism and critical words plagued my home life. I had no escape or comfort. I believed in God but had no relationship with Him, and I didn’t grow up in the church. I had one best friend who was manipulative and controlling. She was my friend when it was convenient.



I was bullied all through elementary school and Jr. High school. In seventh grade, I moved to a new school. I was shy and afraid and did my best to be invisible. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help but be seen, and the verbal abuse continued from every side. One of my teachers even called me an “ugly duckling” in front of the entire school cafeteria. My mom found out that I had no friends and threatened to place me in private school. I felt like a loser. Like I was worthless.The first time I cut myself, I was twelve years old. I felt like no one cared whether or not I was alive. No one liked me. I wasn’t pretty enough.



By my freshman year of high school, I started to learn how to fit in. I dyed and straightened my hair, removed my braces, got contacts, and started wearing make-up. Despite my outward appearance, I was broken and hurting inside more than I could put into words. When I was 14, I started struggling with anorexia. I began to restrict my food intake in hopes of becoming more physically attractive. At the age of 16, the sum of my repressed pain and my fear of the world drove me into a deep depression, and at that point, I started counseling. After three months and making no progress, I put on a happy face and left counseling.



I decided to escape into extracurricular activities. By the time I was 17, I was in color guard, student council, varsity cheerleading, and track. Because of my intense physical activities in sports, my struggle with my eating disorder quieted, and I started eating healthier. Over my four years in high school, I became the image of a perfect life. I graduated with a 3.3 GPA. I coached young girls in cheerleading, volunteered at concession stands, and was on the homecoming court. I was accepted into the college of my choice and I had a plan for my life. All the while, on the inside, I was depressed, empty, and above all, without hope. I ran from my pain and was drowning in self-hatred.



My freshman year of college started, and anxiety and depression hit me head on. I didn’t eat or sleep. Seven years of uncried tears flooded from my eyes. I went to class often enough to get by, but I couldn’t focus at all. I was dying inside and starving for hope. I started attending a Christian fellowship at school. For the first time in my life, I had Christian friends, and I was learning about God and His love for me. He became my hope and purpose. I wanted to know Him more, and at 18, I accepted Him into my heart.



Soon after, my atheist roommate wanted nothing more than to prove to me there was no God. She tried convince me that Jesus was not real and she took away the little hope I had been clinging to.It was then when I hit rock bottom and found myself lost in darkness. I started cutting again to numb the pain. I went home to start counseling again and started attending a community college. I was diagnosed with severe depression, and as is common, they put me on anti-depressants. Even with medication, I was still unable to handle the pain and was screaming with self-hatred. The cutting quickly went from an addiction to an obsession. I couldn’t make it through the day without ripping myself apart.



When the semester ended, I left counseling and moved to Ohio for a summer job at an amusement park called Cedar Point. I was happy to be out on my own and away from home. Once I settled in, the pain inside me started screaming again. Self-harm had a death grip on my life. I brought razor blades to work just to get through my shift with a smile. I found a Christian fellowship and started going to life groups. One of the girls tried to help me stop cutting, but I kept trying to quit in my own strength but couldn’t.



At this point, my spiritual mom suggested that I apply to Mercy Ministries, a residential Christian counseling program for troubled girls; but, I insisted I was fine and didn’t need to go. However, I knew something needed to change. I went back to the doctor and he prescribed a stronger medication. Still, the pain inside grew to be unbearable. I started abusing over the counter and prescription drugs to the point of becoming numb. I felt hopeless and dead inside. I attempted suicide by overdose twice that summer.



In the fall, I went back to school. I tried to run from the hurt again. I joined color guard and got involved in a co-ed fraternity. I lived off campus in a house with two other Christian girls who I became very close friends. My spiritual mom and best friend lived about five minutes away. They did everything they could to help me, but I wasn’t doing anything to help myself so I grew worse. I started counseling again. I put a smile on, went through the motions as expected, but I was falling apart even faster. Eventually, I was no longer able to function. I began skipping all my classes. I stopped eating altogether. I would either not sleep at all or sleep all day. I wanted so badly to die and just escape this world and the mess I had made of my life. I finally decided to apply to Mercy Ministries, because I had no other options. I knew only God could save me. Unfortunately, even as I was going through the application process, I continued to spiral further down. I again attempted suicide and hoped never to wake up, but (God had other plans for me because) I woke up the next morning with no ill affects from the attempt. Shortly after this I admitted myself to the hospital and was placed into a psychiatric ward.



I reached out for help from my friends. I withdrew from school and went home to live with my parents. They monitored me for cutting and suicide attempts. I was not to be left alone; my parents even distributed my medications so they could be sure I was taking them properly. I began seeing a counselor again. For three months, my parents did their best to get me through. They fought for me because I had completely given up on myself. Because I could no longer cut, I resorted to tattoos and piercings. Though I was angry and rebellious, God used my time at home with my parents to begin restoring our relationship.



Just when I thought I couldn’t hang on any longer, I got the call that I was accepted into Mercy and had a spot in the Louisiana home. The day I got there, I was excited and terrified at the same time. At first, I chose to act out in my issues instead of going to staff members for help when I was struggling. Because of that, I was placed on probation. During my time at Mercy, I learned to ask for help, trust God, and focus on Him rather than my issues. It wasn’t a fun experience, but I am so very thankful that I went through it. I don’t think I would have stopped cutting if I hadn’t had that opportunity.



Mercy, for me, has been an incredible journey. It is also the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Giving up is easy, but fighting against the devil is not! It isn’t my war though, it’s God’s, and the war has already been won! Mercy has equipped me with the armor to live victoriously in the freedom Jesus died to give me. I have a choice. I can choose life over death, faith over fear, and His unconditional love over my self-hatred. I am not a bad person. I am an imperfect sinner saved by grace, and nothing I could ever do will ever make Him love me less. I am not alone; God will never leave me or forsake me. I am forgiven, and I have a life worth living. God has healed my broken heart. He has restored my emotions and my hope. In Christ, I am strong, pure, and beloved.


Friends take a few moments and visit Mercy Ministries and pray for Colie. She will be stopping in and I know she would love to hear from you. We all have a story worth hearing. Your story may be what brings change to another heart.


Colie, sweet blessings to you as you continue to grow in the Lord and walk this journey. Thank you for sharing your testimony with me and my readers. God knew before breath was breathed into you what a blessing you would be. You are a treasure
and you bring hope to many who are hurting. Thank you for adding joy to my heart.



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