Today’s guest post is the personal testimony of Nicole Cottrell from Modern Reject
Disclaimer: In effort to keep testimonies real and the audience prepared, I will be “rating” each testimony for age appropriate content. This post is rated PG-13.
At 16, just two months shy of my 17th birthday, I met the Man that would change my life forever.
I had been invited to attend a conference by my friend. She said I needed to be there. I had to be there. I sat there in a stadium teeming with junior high and high school students. Thousands of whispers sounded like one collective hum.
The man on stage spoke about second chances. He spoke about new life and change. The man said that He was calling us, that He wanted us.
I knew what it was to be wanted—that is, what it was to be wanted by men. At age 13, when grown men would hit on me, I knew what they wanted. I knew what they were after.
I also knew what it was to not be wanted. I had a dad who was young and alcoholic—or so my mother says—who couldn’t be bothered to clean up his act fast enough to keep his wife and baby girl. A dad who forgot birthdays and holidays. Who said one thing but never followed through.
I also knew what it was like to not be wanted by another man, my stepfather. He would scream and occasionally hit. He seemed to tolerate me, but not want me.
By the time I sat in that stadium, surrounded by thousands of young people listening to the man speak about the One, I had already lost my virginity, done drugs, stolen, and lied too many times to count.
I knew the man’s words were somehow true, though. It was as if he was speaking to me and no one else. He asked me to make a decision. He said God was calling me. Who would be first? The stadium fell silent and out of the darkness I heard a voice yell out, “I am Yours, Lord!”
Another teenage boy near me cried out to God, “I am Yours, Lord!” Then another voice, “I am Yours, Lord.” Then another and another, until the stadium filled up with cries of the brokenhearted and the desperate, the needy and the forgotten.
I felt myself rise from my seat. It was as if I was being pulled up out of it. I felt the words escape my mouth…
“I am Yours, Lord,” I whimpered.
Then I sobbed.
In that instant—less than an instant—something changed.
My parents immediately took notice of the change in me. My mom assumed it was a phase and that I would soon outgrow it. My senior year of high school was filled with rumors of how the “girl with a reputation” suddenly became “holier than thou.” I felt free for the first time. I knew that I no longer had to sin. I could finally stop doing all of the things I had always hated. Now I had a reason. I quit having sex. Quit drinking. Quit smoking, swearing, lying. I had peace for the first time in my life.
College started and I was in a healthy relationship with a young man who loved God. He encouraged me to grow more, read my Bible more, pray more, and live a life worthy of Christ. And yet, long distance and my weak roots took their toll.
I found myself thousands of miles from home attending college, in a new city, feeling utterly alone and hopeless. I quickly fell back into old patterns.
I found the familiar feelings of being wanted by men in the form of an unhealthy boyfriend. I started to drink heavily and use drugs here and there. I had tried finding Christian friends in college, but there weren’t many. Good churches in Boston were even harder to come by.
I decided that the Christian life, the one I had been told about, was just too hard of a life to live. It was impossible, in fact, and so I quit. I quit trying to “be good.” I quit feeling guilty for not reading my Bible, or not attending a Sunday service. I quit pretending.
Two years into my destructive choices, I found myself in a pit of despair. I wanted to die. I was homeless, depressed, imprisoned to my own thoughts and behaviors. I was not attending school and found myself instead emotionally chained to a man who was toxic and harmful.
I had nothing. Not a home, not a dollar, not a sliver of hope, or a thread of dignity left. I knew that I needed to go home. So I boarded a Greyhound bus and travelled from Boston to Phoenix over three days.
After a very long and dark three days, I arrived home. Broken. Desperate. It would be another year of destructive living before I would begin crawling back to God.
Finally, I started crawling. Not because He made me feel guilty or because I felt I owed God something. I slowly began the process of repairing my relationship with Jesus because I knew the Truth and I had never escaped it.
In all of my horrible choices, after three years of destructive living—spitting in the face of my Lord—I had never once felt that Jesus Christ was anything, but Truth.
From the moment I had stood in that stadium and cried out to God, I had always known that He really is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
I slowly started attending church, but this time, something was different. I was different. This time, I began to understand God’s grace and mercy.
I began to realize that I did not need to “be good,” because I’m not good. He is Good. I began to understand that all of the times I woke up and felt like Christianity was an impossible way to live, it was impossible, in fact, without the Holy Spirit.
I saw my life begin to feel empowered and hopeful, triumphant and victorious, as I daily heeded the Holy Spirit and His promptings. I also, for the very first time, experienced the need for fellowship and accountability. I knew that I could never again be a lone Christian, but that I needed the body of believers.
The things that once seemed impossible or forever broken were restored and given new life. My relationship with both my dad and stepdad were both restored. I was able to forgive them thanks to the forgiveness the Lord had granted me through Christ. I am able to walk in love, knowing that while my fathers here on earth may not be perfect, my Heavenly Father is perfect.
I lost the need to feel loved by a man sexually in order to feel worthwhile. Instead I am loved by my Lord and my husband. I know, thanks to my wonderful marriage and Godly husband, what it is to be fulfilled, loved unconditionally, be serve and to serve wholeheartedly.
My children have shown me even more of God love for me, for each and every one of us. How giving His son away to die a cruel death on a cross is the ultimate sacrifice of love.
I entered into God’s grace and have never looked back. I still hold hurts and pain, scars and wounds from my former life and my childhood. However, I now know that God is bigger than all of those hurts. And not only that, He can redeem them.
He has taken my broken life and used it to glorify Himself. He has allowed this messed up, too often prideful, selfish girl, to somehow display His love and redemption.
I have a husband and two children, a ministry, and a future. I have a hope that can never be stripped away or forgotten. I have a God who says, “While you were yet a sinner, I died for you.” I have the promise of Christ and His unfailing love.
You can find out more about Nicole at her website or her twitter.
Thank you for sharing Nicole!
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