The Unlovely Beginning: The Way You Start Does Not Have to Define the Way You Finish
Hi, thanks for taking the time to read my personal testimony. My name is Casey and I founded GO:61. This story has been a life-changing experience for me, and if you're stepping into the abolition waters, it very well might be a life-altering journey for you as well. It is my hope in sharing my testimony of times of struggle and nearly giving up that someone who is in a similar situation will grasp onto hope. When it comes to Jesus, a bruised reed He will not break and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.
I grew up in a small town in Missouri and went through years of sexual exploitation as a child. By the time I reached the age of 12, I would begin a 20-year mission of trying to end my life. I was in and out of destructive and dangerous relationships and detrimental patterns. At one point, I found myself, with two young daughters in tow, at a women's shelter. The shelter had received permission from the state of Missouri to move forward with changing the identities of my daughters and me so we could begin a new life. Our situation was deemed dangerous enough to warrant the measures.
The process would be a three-day process for the paperwork to go through. On the third day, I backed out of the changing of identities. I knew, deep down, that if you changed my name and all my exterior situations, that I would be relocating and starting over with the same problem - me. The problem was I had never had intervention or healing for the years of trauma I had experienced. I knew until that healing came; nothing would change for me - even if the circumstances changed, I knew I would repeat the same patterns, choose the same relationships, and fail to cope with life.
Therein rested my primary problem: I did not know how to heal. I had tried counseling. I had been on medication. I had self-medicated. I had tried changing cities, homes, jobs. I knew about Jesus, but I was pretty sure I could never make it to Jesus because someone as tainted and far gone as me could not reach Him. I was right. I could not get to Him. But He did come to me. I thought Jesus was for people who had it together and could want nothing to do with someone who was always deemed to be a failure.
A fateful night came when I tried the last time to commit suicide. I took 70 pills; certain my life would now be over. By this point, I had lost my kids, my extended family, and nearly everyone else in my life. For me, I could see no reason to continue. Each day felt like a punishment of being faced with a lifetime of despair. After taking those pills, I was certain my unexceptional existence would finally be snuffed out.
I was wrong. I woke up the next day, ill, but painfully alive. It was at these crossroads that I uttered the prayer I will remember until my last day, "God, I don't think you can change me, but if you can, please give it your best shot."
I truly wanted God to help me, but I believed it highly possible I was too far gone for anyone, even God, to help. I knew, even as I prayed that prayer, which if God was going to help me, I had to do my part. To me, it was similar to asking God to help you lose weight. Maybe He can help you lose weight, but if you never get off the sofa and if you never stop eating twinkies, you probably won't lose the weight. I looked at my part as meeting God halfway - and I did it hoping that He was truly there on the other side, and not leaving me alone in this one final seeking of a restored life. I had people in my life who had deemed me unsavable. It took everything to turn away from those labels and believe the promise God has for His children - Rescued.
In the next year and a half, I married the man I was living with, and we both committed ourselves to following God. We went to church. Nothing changed except that I was busy on Sundays. One day, when I was ready to give it all up, convinced this "Christian thing" did not work out for me, a man approached me and spoke words to me that began a change for me. "Honey, I don't want to offend your walk with the Lord, but if you are not already doing this or something like it, I recommend you give it a try. Try reading your Bible for 15 minutes in the morning and praying for 15 minutes in the morning, and then do the same thing again at night. That's an hour a day with the Lord. See if that helps you."
Someone had finally given me an assignment. I learned that going to church did not equal to following God. Church attendance is vital, as is the fellowship and worship that comes with it. But without reading the Bible, hearing directly from God through His Word, and learning who we are in Him for ourselves, we are worshipping nothing more than a gathering of people experience on Sundays.
The next year and a half led to me absorbing as much of the Bible as possible, and it continues on today. When I started reading the Bible, it was painful, it was difficult, and I did not understand it. I began to reach out and ask questions, and I took notes and continued reading. Soon, I added prayer to my reading, asking God to help me understand His complex and deeply mysterious Word. And in this process, my healing began to take shape. It was not complete, but the healing process had started, and it was developing. One deeply penetrated anguish at a time slipping away, to be replaced by an affectingly curious interest in who God was, which led to a bubbling and tearful sense of reverence for who He is once I started discovering these revelations through the Bible.
My faith grew as I read and understood more of His Word, but it also grew because of the evidence He showed me by transforming my heart, a little each day. I was noticing within myself new outlooks and attitude changes that I had never had previously. In a few short years, I felt so far removed from the traumatized and nearly incapacitated person I had been before. I was no longer suicidal. I was no longer even depressed. I'd love to say it took only a few weeks for a transformation to occur, but it took a few years, and the transformation and healing, are still occurring today. Every time I read something more in God's Word, another design of healing takes place.
You, if you're struggling, if life seems too much, I want you to hang on and consider looking to God. He is close to the broken-hearted and He draws near to those who draw near to Him. Even if you have only the tiniest speck of faith that things can be different, that He will hear your plea for rescue, that's all you need. God saved my life, not just my eternal life, but my life here on Earth as well. He transformed me from the inside, and then the external factors also began to change. He restored my family, surrounded me with loving people, and gave me a purpose that is much bigger than myself. He can and will do it for you, too. Jesus is ABLE to meet you where you are and to draw you out of the lonely and broken pit in which we often find ourselves.
GO:61, Founder & Executive Director