I’m living proof that God really does answer prayer, anyone who’s known me for any length of time can attest to that. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m some superficial, shiny, happy, perfect Christian, I’m not. I live by grace. I’m a far cry from perfect and don’t ever want anyone to get the idea that I’m trying to portray myself as such. I’m a real, living, crying, laughing, loving, hurting, breathing, extremely grateful, forgiven Christian. I have good and bad days, there are times when I get so aggravated I can’t see straight, but God’s grace gets me through and gives me the control to hold my tongue. lol. I’m covered in tattoos and scars, both inside and out, vivid reminders of where I’ve been and how far He’s brought me. *laughs* I’ve become a living coloring book to the kids at church. They love it and it never fails to make me smile when they run up with hi-lighters wanting to color the “pictures” covering my arms.
If there were ever an imperfect Christian, I am she, but Jesus Himself said in Luke 7:47 “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” At the top of the page in Luke 7, it’s titled “A Sinful Woman Forgiven.” I know that woman, I can relate to and understand that woman because I am that woman. My past is full of failures, mistakes, regrets, shortcomings, and extremely bad decisions, but Jesus spoke into my life and changed not only my life and circumstance, He changed my heart. I hope by hearing a glimpse of my personal testimony, it’ll encourage and give you hope. God arms never stop reaching out to His children. All you have to do is take one step in His direction and he’ll run 1000 miles to meet you, I know, He did for me.
To make a really long story somewhat short, I lost my son about 8 years ago at the age of 2, went literally crazy, got divorced, moved back home, and tried to die. When death wouldn’t cooperate I turned to drugs to kill the pain and anger that had consumed me. From that point on, I ran from the pain, the memories, and ultimately from myself. In October of 2007, my father called me and asked me to come home so I did. After a few months at home, he caught on to my “problem” and came to me crying, begging me to stop destroying myself. As selfish and terrible as it may sound, for the first time in 5 years I acknowledged someone’s pain other than my own and it killed me to know I was hurting the only person I knew that really truly cared. In January of 08 I went to rehab and started the long recovery process. Not long after I got out, I started having “problems” and the doctor kept a close watch on me. 6 months after “getting clean” I was finally diagnosed with, among a slew of other “disorders,” schizophrenia. I went downhill rapidly, and though the doctors honestly tried, no medicine, therapy, or counseling even began to ease my torment. I finally reached the point of no control, I had no control myself and couldn’t remember a lot of the bad things I was doing. I couldn’t trust myself at all anymore. Dad tried as best he could to help me, but other than prayer, there was really nothing he could do. After a bad black out, I reached my end, sat my Dad down for a talk, and called my doctor to make preparations for my admittance to The Parthenon. What little hope I had left, I placed on that trip to Nashville and in the hands of the Centennial team. We arrived, checked in, I was locked up, thoroughly interrogated, and sent to a psychiatric observation unit for holding. They did nothing and I lost all remaining hope. I was shut up in a 6×6 room with nothing but a window and recliner for what seemed like forever till they finally let me go. I felt like an animal, and when Dad saw me, he knew I had to do what we had talked about before I went in order to keep him and others safe. On the ride home we said our goodbyes and went about making the arrangements necessary for my “plan.” When we got back to Manchester I filled out a power of attorney, took it to where we were told before we needed to take it, but to my distress we were given the wrong information. From there we commenced to the Administration Plaza in Manchester to take care of the papers. While there, my Dad’s pastor, Bro. Joe Hill, showed up to get a tag and things just fell into place from there. We filled out and filed the papers and while Dad and Bro. Joe were talking, I went to leave. There was an older man having trouble with the door, so I opened it for him into the hallway, then again into the foyer. The next thing I know, this man, whom I’d never seen before in my life, was telling me things about myself and past that I’d never spoken aloud to anyone before. He knew my name, where I’d just come from, about my son, and what I was going home to do. While he was talking, Dad, Bro. Joe, and our friend Patrick walked out and listened in amazement. He told me that I wasn’t as sick as the doctors had said, that I was tormented, and that my soul was broken. No medicine given by man could heal the wounds I had suffered, only God could truly heal a torn soul and broken heart, and if I’d let go and give it ALL to Him, He’d heal me, give me a life, and a future. He told me that God had sent him to help me, like Jesus went to the woman at the well. He told me that every moment of my past had a purpose and though I might not see or understand it all then, if I trusted God, I would in time to come, and He’d use me to heal and comfort many people who felt like I did. He said my scars were precious to Him and so so so much more. All I could do was stand there and stare, tears running down my face. I went in there as the first step of my death, and left with new life. I know it may sound crazy, and to others outside the few of us who were there it may have looked like we were standing around talking to a strange old man, but we all, myself especially, stood there staring into the eyes of God.
As he spoke of the things that had happen, it’s like the memory would come to mind, then fade away, taking with it the anger and pain. I was totally and completely healed that day and haven’t had a problem one since. Over the following weeks and months I saw his words come to fruition and still continue to every day. I gave everything I was, am, and ever will be to God. He’s what I was missing and what found me. I know it sounds like a crazy story, but you can ask any of the people who witnessed the whole experience from the time I went to rehab to today and they’ll all tell you the same thing. God came to me with an offer; I took it and never looked back.
~With an amazing act of love and divine kindness, the Almighty God restored this broken and empty vessel into a beacon of His light, love, and filled me with an unquenchable fire for Him. Though I was anything but deserving , He gave me a beautiful life, something I never dreamed possible, and in return I surrender all unto my Holy Father. He healed me of an incurable disease that was claiming not only my mind, but my life as well. I was given another chance, and my past experiences, as broken and troubled as they may have been, have a divine purpose that He part by part reveals to me as I continue on my walk with Him. I pray that He continue to use me, fill my soul with strength, and work through me to help those who are now where I use to be. Help me to shine Your brilliant light in this dark world. Let me be your hands, reaching out to the broken hearted. Let me be your feet, running to the hurt. Help me to speak your truth, no matter the consequences. I praise you, Lord, with not my words alone, but with my life. I hope by hearing what God has done in my life, it will give you hope and confidence that He can do the same for you, no matter the situation or circumstance, all you have to do is call upon His holy name.~
~Stephanie Arthur Hicks~