Hi, I’m Melissa Harris, I am a recovering addict and cutter, diagnosed with a mental illness nearly 15 years ago, a proud mom of two boys and wife to Kassie Harris. I am a Spirit-filled, born-again woman of God and I want to share with you where God was when I needed Him most.
I left London in November 2009. I caught a taxi directly from the Mile End Hospital Psychiatric Unit to Heathrow, got on the plan and landed at OR Tambo. All I owned was packed into one large suitcase. My mom met me at the airport and then told me that I couldn’t stay with her and her new husband. They were living on his son’s property and he didn’t want a mentally ill person with a serious addiction problem staying there. So I was homeless, penniless and carless but at least, through God’s grace and mercy I had a job. My mom organised for me to stay at a boarding house in Boksburg and that’s where my life began to change dramatically. I had wanted to stay in London and tried everything in my power to do so but after praying and asking for God’s help, He shut every door and thus I found myself in Boksburg.
You must be wondering why I was in the Mile End Hospital Psychiatric Unit in the first place. It’s a long story but at the age of about 24 I was diagnosed with having Bipolar 2. After the diagnosis, I lived to fuel this disease and so it continued its hold on my mind and my life. It tore my mind apart, tore my body into pieces, and resulted in my losing my son, my family, my jobs and my friends. At that point in my life I thought it was okay that I was addicted to cocaine and crack cocaine because as a Bipolar, addiction and extreme behaviour were normal. The extreme highs and lows were part of my everyday life. Over a 10 year period I was in and out of various Psychiatric institutions including a 3 month stint at Sterkfontein, not a nice place at all. But God’s hand was on my life and still He remained in control despite how out of control I was.
Coming back to Joburg was the first right decision, the first Godly decision that I had made in nearly 15 years. And it was in that boarding house that I really found out how much God has in store for my life and how much He could heal me.
So to recap, I landed in November 2009, moved into this Boksburg boarding house and met the man who would in a few short months become my husband. For years and years I prayed to the Lord to let me meet a man, who would truly love me for me. With all my baggage and my scary past, this man, Kassie Harris accepted me totally and completely. I was still on my medication so I looked drunk and high all the time and still today can’t remember a lot of the first month back home. Drugs weren’t really an issue for me because I was broke and I didn’t know where to get any. Slowly but surely God worked a miracle in me. He healed my broken spirit and put together the shattered pieces of my mind and my soul.
In February 2010 both Kassie and I joined the Word and Life church. It was there that Kassie really met the Lord for the first time. It was incredible and things got even better for both of us. In late February Kas proposed to me and I happily accepted and in April 2010 we were married by Pastor Steve Erasmus from Woord en Lewe, the Afrikaans side of our Church. Things started looking up; we could really feel the hand of the Lord on our lives. In March that same year, after prayer from our Connection Group leaders, Richard and Grant, I believed that I was totally and completely healed from being Bipolar 2. Furthermore my husband just blatantly refused to believe that there was anything wrong with me. And in truth, there wasn’t. I just had believed the lie from the devil for so long and had changed my personality to fit in with being Bipolar. The medication kept me numb, it stopped me from dealing with the pain of my childhood but the benefits of totally and completely relying on God have outweighed the numbing 10 to 1. My mind is clearer, I have, with help from my husband, my family, my Church and my God dealt with a lot of the pain from my past. I have been set free from all the guilt and shame of my youth, I have been made a new creation in Christ. I am proud and so grateful to God that I can say that I am still off all medication and getting stronger and better every day.
But as I mentioned the devil doesn’t like our progress and development in the Lord. In June 2010, I was fired from my job for asking for a personal loan from the company. The walk with our Lord will challenge every aspect of your character. The reason for asking for the loan from work was for my mom, who was very ill. But when my director asked me to supply proof my pride kicked in big time. Why did I have to prove anything to anyone? I was a senior member on the team and my word should have been good enough and I said so. They say that pride comes before a fall and it did. After a disciplinary hearing, I was summarily dismissed. Three weeks later my mom died. Two days after my mom died I found out that I was pregnant with my second son – my eldest being nearly 15. So much sadness and pain but God’s gift of a new life growing inside of me kept me going and kept me clean.
After losing my job I had to think quickly. We couldn’t survive on just one salary, our expenses were too high. I decided to go on my own again and started up a PR and Marketing company. That went relatively well, God opened doors and I managed to secure one largish anchor client. As my pregnancy progressed I realised that I would have to get someone in to carry the load while I was on maternity leave. Being 35 years old and pregnant was starting to take its toll on my body and against the wisdom and advice of my husband I partnered with someone I had worked with previously. The catch – we were spiritually unequally yoked. The result was that in a space of a month I lost my client and had absolutely no income. We had no nest egg or emergency funds to rely on as we were already living day to day.
In the beginning I was optimistic, my faith was strong (and I felt unshakable) but after two months, with our rent and car payments in arrears, no electricity and no food at home, I was devastated. I questioned God, asking Him where he was. I demanded answers and broke down with Pastor Basil and also in my Connection Group. At this point I must tell you that I have never not had money. I have always had the God-given talent to be able to get in work but this time the doors seemed to be closing left, right and centre. I also had my baby at the Joburg General Hospital as we had no medical aid, this in itself was a rather life changing experience for me but God held me and my new-born son in the palm of His hand the entire time. At the time Pastor Basil was preaching a series on storms and I felt this was so relevant to our situation. At this point I must add that my husband’s faith is what sustained us, he was unshakable in his belief that God would provide and that He would see us through this storm. And of course He did.
Not long after these breakdowns, God opened an INCREDIBLE door. I was offered a job by an amazing couple in our Church who serve the Lord tirelessly with energy that can only be God-given. Today I stand and reflect and what has happened over the past two years and I look at the challenges I still face every day and I know, that I know, that I know that my God, Jesus Christ loves me infinitely and has plans for my life, plans for my good and to prosper me.
Every day will get better as I walk in His will and stand on His Word. Yes we face challenges and difficulties every day and life is not easy but I know that if I submit myself, my will, my emotions and everything I am to Jesus that He will sustain me. He will more than sustain me, He will make me a Conqueror. I give Jesus Christ the glory and honour for sparing my life on so many occasions and for bringing me to the point I am at today.