Pain, confusion, loneliness; alone, separate, apart, isolated — physically, emotionally and mentally. Life, even as a child, was a battle to be fought everyday. Broken hearts, promises, people. “Why?” “Why?”, I would ask over and over. Never finding an answer. Relationships with others were fragmented, fleeting, painful… so painful, “God, help me”, I cried again and again.

I began to build walls of protection. I tried several. Hard, tough, brittle, unfeeling, non-loving, non-giving. I didn’t want people too close. People brought pain and disappointment. I couldn’t live up to their expectations. At 16, suicide sounded like release from the prison of loneliness and pain. God had heard my cries and I failed at this attempt. I began to seriously rebel after that because I didn’t believe there was anyone who truly cared about my pain. I’m sure no one even suspected the agony of loneliness I suffered. “Why was I so different from my peers”, I wondered time and time again. In my Senior year, my Dad asked me what was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I get a date so they (parents) could be alone occasionally. Pain, pain, pain. I really can’t describe how that affected me. I had gone to 15 different schools before I graduated. After that my life became as driftwood, no purpose or aim. I pretty much let situations and circumstances move me along. I felt that I was being sucked down into a dark bottomless place — more dark — more isolation — more pain.

When I got married, things brightened for a time but the downward trend was a lifestyle that had a death grip on me. We were married for about 2 years when I wanted out. Marriage was not satisfying. I was hungry for something that would fill the emptiness. I began to look at married friends and family and to question to myself why they were happy and why I wasn’t. One day I came to the conclusion it must be their faith in God that makes them content. So, I looked for God in their churches. I took classes, became a member of their church, going through all the forms prescribed by them. I went back to my pew and cried, “God where are you? I feel no different, I am burdened with sin and nothing has changed.” (For I had discovered that sin was what weighed me down). He heard my cry and sent someone into my life to show me how to be free. This lady told me of God’s great love for me and His promise of a new life in Jesus Christ. New life sounded so wonderful. Brand new, clean, whole, no past, only a bright eternal future and rest, rest for my weary soul. It wasn’t long after that that God filled me with the Holy Ghost, His promise to all believers. Some years passed and much heartache before I made a true commitment to God. Again we had moved and he allowed people to come into my life that would tell me how to have eternal life — peace, joy and rightness. This time I was baptized in Jesus’ name for the remission of my sins, filled again with His wonderful Spirit and led to a church where I could hear the word of God and my faith could grow. But the goodness of God did not stop there, for with these gifts I became part of the family of God at New Life Assembly, where I experienced unconditional love. A place where people were waiting for my arrival, just for the privilege of loving me. I had a family. I came out of the prison of isolation and I am surrounded by people who genuinely love me. The walls are gone and His gentle love expressed by my church family enfolds me.

~ Celeste S.