I had never been very into religion nor did I have very many beliefs about God. Growing up, I was not raised in a church. My family seldom went to church. I remember we would show up every year for Easter and maybe once or twice that I can remember just to go. I didnít think much of church, I actually used to think it was really boring and I had better things to do with my time than sit there for an hour and try not to fall asleep. As far as my beliefs went, I believed there was a God somewhere up there, really far away and that he could have possibly created the world, but other than that I didnít think much about him. I seldom prayed to God, and if I did, it would be once in while when I wanted something to go my way. I would say a quick prayer and ask for whatever I wanted to come true. That was about the extent of my relationship with God. As a result of this, I was unhappy for the first 21 years of my life. I am now 22, and I was saved by Jesus Christ on March 21, 2002. Since as far back as I can remember, there has always been emptiness inside of me that I could never escape. I tried everything to fill that empty feeling inside of me. I tried drinking, gambling, smoking, going to parties and clubs, dating, and many more. I tried everything but the one thing that could really save me from my sadness, Jesus. I began drinking when I was in the 9th grade. After I finished high school and moved on to college, I got a lot worse. I began drinking more and more. By the time I had turned 21, I was an alcoholic. I have always been a shy person, afraid of what people will think about me, always unsure of myself. So I discovered that as long as I was drunk, I could escape that shyness. I was the life of the party. Everyone liked me and thought I was such a fun girl to be around. That was a really good feeling. We all search in life to be liked, to fit in, and for the first time, I found something that allowed me to do all the things I couldnít do on my own. I was outgoing and funny and crazy. So as you can imagine, I became very dependant on alcohol. I remember it always being a joke with my friends that they couldnít take me anywhere unless I was really drunk or else I wouldnít have fun. And it was true. I was insecure and I hated myself. I hated the way I looked, the way I acted, the way I talked. You name it, I hated it about myself. But not when I was drinking.

I was never able to control my drinking. I thought, the more I drank, the less anxiety I would feel in social situations and the more fun I would seem to everyone else. So I drank, I drank until I couldnít drink anymore. I spent most mornings after I had been drinking hung-over. I threw up all day till about 4 or 5 usually and then I started to feel better. This happened almost every time I drank. But I couldnít give it up because I couldnít live without it. I couldnít face anyone or anything without it because I hated the real me, the shy girl that couldnít say or do anything right.

So I continued on my destructive path, hurting myself and others. My family didnít know what to do about me. They were always so scared that I wouldnít live to see another day. My mom used to hug me before I would go out for the night and she wouldnít let me go. She was terrified that it would be the last time she ever saw me. But I would tell her I would be fine and go on my way. That was my thinking back then. Nothing would happen to me, I will be fine. I didnít ever think about dying. It was only alcohol right, how bad can it be?

Then something miraculous happened. My sister, who I have always been very close to, began going to church and was saved by Jesus Christ. She had accepted him into her heart and she was transformed into a new person. My sister and I had our father leave when we were young, I was 5 and she was 7. My parents got divorced and we didnít see our father for several years. It affected us both differently. She held onto people after that, in every relationship she had she tried everything she could to not lose them. I on the other hand, kept my distance from people. I couldnít get too close. I guess I was afraid of losing anyone else, so I just didnít get close to anyone. I thought that as long as no one got too close, as long as I didnít need anyone, I would be ok. You canít lose something you donít have was my motto. My dad eventually started coming around again and now my parents get along great and we see them all the time. So my sister had just gotten out of an abusive relationship and she was miserable. She had no self esteem, no self worth; she hated everything about herself, her life, her family, anything she could think of. I still remember how hard it was trying to be there for her and help her through it because she wanted to blame everyone for her problems, including me. So my mom told her to find a church and she did, and she began her new life, living for God. At this time, I was in a relationship for a year. I had fallen in love and for a while, it had made me happy to finally have someone to share my life with. We talked about marriage and babies and growing old together and what a wonderful life we would live together. The only problem was we didnít talk much about anything too serious.

My whole life, I had avoided serious conversations. I used humor to hide my feelings. I was big on sarcastically avoiding any topic that dealt with real emotional content. So naturally, I surrounded myself with people that were the same way. My boyfriend, my best friend, and of course all the people I would hang out with at parties. It wasnít that I didnít want to talk about my feelings; it was that I never learned how. Since I was a little girl, I was always quiet, always kept to myself. I was the good child that never complained, always laid back and carefree. If only I had felt that way on the inside, I would have been ok. I got very good at pretending to be ok. But in all honesty, I felt like I was dying inside. I felt like I had no one in the world to confide in, no one in the world who would understand how I felt inside. So, I did my best to ignore that pain. I drank and partied as much as I could to avoid how miserable I felt inside.

So after my sister found God, she seemed so peaceful and happy. I could see the amazing change in her life. She would try to help me and tell me that I need to go to church and I need to accept Jesus into my heart. I would never listen. I didnít think I could do such a thing. To do that, it would mean I would have to give up drinking, I would have to give up everything that I knew, everything that I thought made me happy. So I did what most people do when they donít want to hear something, I avoided her. I thought it was a great thing for her, but that it wouldnít work for me. Finally, one weekend, my sister and I drove home to visit my mom. It was a really bad time for me. I was on the verge of an emotional breakdown. I still remember sitting at the dinner table and having to excuse myself. I went to the restroom and burst into tears. I couldnít tell you what I was so upset about. It wasnít a specific incident that made me upset. I couldnít pinpoint why I was crying. All I know if that I felt completely empty inside. I could feel my heart breaking and I felt like I was dying inside. That happened several other times that weekend. I, of course, never told anyone though. I couldnít let them see me cry because then they might know that I was unhappy, as if they didnít already know anyway. It was pretty obvious I hated myself and my life. Then, one night, my mom and sister knew I was upset and they started talking to me about God. I finally listened. I was so desperate for anything to make my misery go away, I would have tried anything. So I listened for a long time. The next day, we went to the Christian Bookstore and my mom bought me a Bible. That night, we all sat around and read from the Bible and I started feeling a little better. The next day, my sister and I left to go back home. I remember that night like it was yesterday. It is a night I will never forget. I started reading my Bible and I decided I needed help. I couldnít possibly go on living the way I was. So I sat at the end of my bed and I prayed. I prayed for a really long time. I told God that I knew I had done some bad things in my life and I asked Him to forgive me for all of them. I begged him to come into my heart and make me feel better. I cried and I cried as I prayed, begging God to help me change my life. Finally, I finished praying and I felt a lot better. I was exhausted because I had been crying, so I laid down and fell right to sleep. I can honestly say the next morning I woke up feeling like a new person.

For the first time since I could even remember, I was excited to start the day. I no longer was worried about having to give up alcohol and partying, because I didnít need them anymore. For the first time, that empty feeling inside was full. God had taken away the pain and sadness and replaced it with hope and joy. I finally had hope. Hope for a better life, hope for a better day. That was four months ago and I am still going strong. I live each day for God now. He saved me from all of my misery and brought me to a better place. I live each day now feeling like I am a part of something important, which is something I never felt before. I know now that God is always here for me, always watching over me, and always protecting me. That is an amazing feeling to have. I know that no matter what I face in the future, I will be ok because I have God watching out for me. All my life, I can remember being unhappy, with occasional moments of happiness. Now, after being saved by Jesus Christ and experiencing the love of God, I live a life of happiness filled with the hope and unfailing love that comes from knowing our wonderful Father in Heaven!

Always remember that Jesus loves you and He died so that you could experience this love of God that I have shared with you in my testimony. All you have to do is accept Jesus into your heart as your personal savior. With God's love in your life, you never have to feel alone again!

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