Joni: U-Turn to God

I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I was raised in a Christian, church-going family. My paternal grandfather was a Southern Primitive Baptist preacher. My family attended every Sunday and Wednesday church service. My mother taught Sunday school; my father was a deacon, and my sister and I were involved in all of the children and youth ministries. I was baptized for the first time at the age of 7 years.

I was always the overweight, chunky kid with self-esteem issues. I was called fat so much that I came to believe it and proved it to be true. I was an excellent student. But, I was also somewhat mischevious.

I started drinking and experimenting with drugs at the age of 15. By the age of 18, I was drinking to intoxication every weekend. At the time, I didn’t think this was a problem, as everyone I hung around with was drinking. I finally fit in, or so I thought. Everyone liked me and invited me to their parties because I was the life of the party, and I was obviously extremely entertaining.

I began getting into trouble at school because of my behavior. I was dismissed from the basketball team and suspended from school during my sophomore year because of drinking on the bus on the way home from a basketball game. During my senior year, I quit school and moved to live with my aunt and uncle in order to complete high school. I have been in many different colleges, many different times, but have yet to earn a degree.

I experimented with many drugs over the years, trying anything that was put in front of me, but the only thing that ensnared me was alcohol. At the age of 19, I obtained an entry-level position with a large financial institution; and over the next 20 years, I had a very successful and lucrative career.

I continued partying and drinking excessively and was charged with my first DUI at the age of 25. This was my life for many years; working all week, partying all weekend, having fair-weather friends, disposable boyfriends, and relationships of no substance. I covered my loneliness and pain with alcohol and food.

In 2000, at the age of 30, I decided that it was time to get married, so I married the first man who was willing. Sadly, we did not take the time to get to know one another. He was an abusive man, and I was drinking in excess. The marriage lasted for 6 months and we divorced. Within the next year, I met and married my second husband.

In 2004, I was diagnosed as possibly being bipolar and was sent to a psychiatrist. This doctor questioned my drinking habits, and his diagnosis rendered me an alcoholic. The next day, I began a 16-week outpatient recovery program and remained sober for almost 5 years.

During this time, I was eating excessively, and my weight was spiraling out of control. In 2007, I had surgery to correct my weight problem. However, the surgery did not fix the unresolved issues on the inside of me.

Our marital problems intensified, so we separated and eventually divorced. I was lonely and misguided, and I relapsed. I moved to New Jersey by myself, which began a tumultuous, three-year suicidal binge. During all of this, I never once sought God.

In August 2009, I came to South Florida for 21 days to a secular rehab program. My sobriety lasted for 5 days. My plans obviously were not working out as I had hoped in the Northeast, so I made the decision to move back to North Carolina. I thought that living in North Carolina, being close to my family and friends, attending church and being re-baptized would help me to overcome alcohol. This was not an accurate assessment.

In November of that year in New Jersey, I drove head-on into a utility pole and was charged with my second DUI. In North Carolina in May 2010, I was charged with another DUI. Fortunately for me, circumstances were such that this DUI was dismissed. By the grace of God, I did not hurt or kill anyone or myself.

In spite of all of this, I continued drinking. In August 2010, I came back to South Florida to re-enter the same rehab center. This time, I stayed for the complete program. They told me that I had to make a life change; so I packed my belongings, quit my job, and moved to Delray Beach. My sobriety was short-lived. In July 0f 2011, I relapsed and found myself on a horrific spiral into hell. I was so broken and empty inside that all I wanted to do was to die. Alcohol was once again consuming my life.

At this point, it seemed that everyone around me began speaking Faith Farm into my life. In August 2012, I was terminated from my job for calling in sick too often. This caused me to pick up the phone and all Faith Farm. I was accepted into the program and arrived on August 30, 2012.

When I came to Faith Farm, I was completely broken and hopeless. I felt utterly worthless and lost. I cried all day, every day, for several weeks. All I could think was that I had been given so much. How did my life end up like this? I now know that I was seeking all the wrong things. Money, men, and material possessions could not fill the void in my soul.

Having lived in my iniquities for more than 25 ears, I proclaim that I have been delivered from my past lifestyle choices, including smoking and my dependence on antidepressants. Today, I am on no medication other than the Word of God.

I now believe that when you commit your life to the Lord and walk in obedience to Him, He will restore you from the inside out. I no longer believe Satan’s lies.

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