From a Child of Abuse to a Child of The King
When asked to tell her story, Stacey repeatedly says, “God is faithful,” with a smile on her face. If you know her story, you’d have to believe in the healing power of God to understand how she feels that way.
Stacey has very few childhood memories, but most of the memories she has are filled with abuse. She began drinking alcohol and smoking at age 11 as a way to cope with her parents divorce. Stacey wanted to live with her dad, so her frustrated mother agreed. Stacey’s father and stepmother tried to reform Stacey’s behavior by controlling her, isolating her from the rest of the family, and starving her for days at a time. She began sneaking food out of trashcans to eat. She was regularly beaten with a leather belt and a heavy brass belt buckle. After changing into gym clothes for PE one day, Stacey’s PE teacher, Coach Hess, saw the physical signs of abuse Stacey had endured. “Coach Hess walked up to me, wrapped her arms around me, and ushered me safely back into the gym. I was living in Christian City Children’s Home within weeks. It was the first time I felt safe and wanted, and I knew I would be okay.” She lived at the children’s home until she graduated high school.
Once a high school graduate, Stacey had to leave the children’s home. With no example of how a stable life should be lived, she fell back into old habits and began drinking. The more she drank, the angrier she became about the childhood she had suffered. “I decided to get even. I began lying and manipulating my grandparents to get money from them, thinking that would make me feel better – but it didn’t. I was on a downward spiral. By the time I was 20 years old, I had a baby with another alcoholic.” After 2 years, she took her toddler and left their home, sleeping in her car or on friends’ couches and floors. Within 10 years, she had lost everything, including her car. She had burned all her bridges.
Out of options, Stacey came to Pensacola where her mother and younger sister lived and moved into their spare bedroom; but Stacey continued her destructive lifestyle. After a couple of years, Stacey and her daughter moved into a small apartment on their own, while Stacey struggled to find stability. “I couldn’t differentiate between the truth and the lies. I had horrific nightmares, and one morning I woke up in a rage. I snapped at my daughter, beat her, then took her to school and told her not to tell anyone what had happened. I suddenly realized that I had become my father; but even then, I was more worried about going to jail than I was for my own child’s wellbeing.”
A few months before this explosive incident, Stacey had begun talking to someone new at work – a Christian who was 2 years sober. Stacey’s coworker had spoken about a Christ-centered recovery program called the Most Excellent Way (MEW). Shaken by the incident with her daughter, Stacey left work and went to the church on the corner of Olive Road and Davis Highway. She found the office and a woman named Paige who told Stacey more about the Most Excellent Way meetings, showed her where the meetings took place, talked about her own experience with MEW, and then told Stacey there was a meeting scheduled for that very night.
Stacey came back for that night’s MEW meeting and to every meeting held after that. “I knew God was wanting me. It was making me sick, and frankly I was scared to death; but I thought I needed to clean myself up first. I thought, ‘Let me get this fixed first, Lord, then I will come to You.’ ‘Let me get this straightened out, Lord, then I’ll be ready’.” But changing on her own wasn’t working. Stacey knew she needed more.
Next week, learn about Stacey’s path to healing, and how she is using her experiences to help others through the Most Excellent Way and the Charis House ministries. Click here to read part 2.
Most Excellent Way meetings are held each week at the Olive Baptist Church Main Campus (Tuesdays and Fridays from 7pm to 8:30pm) and at the Olive Baptist Warrington Campus (Wednesdays from 7pm to 8:30pm). Meetings are open to anyone struggling with addictive behavior, as well as the family members and loved ones of those struggling.
To learn more about the programs of Ministry Village at Olive, including The Most Excellent Way and the Charis House, click here.