Hello, my name is Cynthia. I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who is no longer spiritually dead. I Celebrate Recovery from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse, relationship addiction, and chemical dependency. I still struggle with codependency, food issues, self-criticism, financial issues, and I am the wife of an alcoholic. That is why I am here, I need God and the support of accountability partners and my sponsor. I was born May 16, 1971, to a young couple that got married because they were having a baby. By the time I was three, my parents had been married and divorced twice. When I was about four, my mom met a great guy and was soon married. That didn’t last near as long as I wish it had. Just after my 6th birthday, the horrible demon named cancer took him from us. This is when my battle with depression began. I felt abandoned and was afraid to ever let anyone get too close for the fear they wouldn’t be around very long and I would have to endure the pain of them leaving me. So, at the age of 6 I am dealing with depression, fear of abandonment, relationship issues, and fear of letting anyone get too close. That is a lot for a 6 year old to deal with. My mom remarried a year or so later. He started taking us to church and I gave my all to the Sunday school class. I even had the starring role in the Christmas play one year. I had given my life to God and was taught that He loved all the children of the world and He was there to protect them. At home, that is not what was happening. My stepfather turned out to be a child molester. My mom was an overnight nurse so I spent a lot of time alone with him. I always dreaded it when it was time for my mom to go to work. Once she left, I no longer felt safe. He would come to my room to tuck me in and would tell me all the things that were wrong with me while he touched me in a sexual manner. This went on for several years. My mom was unable to have any more children so I grew up an only child. My mom and stepfather decided to become foster parents since they couldn’t have children of their own. Soon after they were approved, our family was blessed with a pair of sisters. One of the girls was older than me and the other was younger. I was forced to share a room with the younger ones and the older sister got my room. I was pretty upset and angry over that and even acted out. I found out years later that my mom was told it would be best to separate the girls because the older sister was too protective and mothering the younger sister. You see, the younger sister had mental disabilities and bad things had been happening to her. The older sister was her defense and the reason she was now safe, or so it seemed. Not long after they moved in, not only was my stepfather touching me, but he was also touching the younger sister. Because of a story, the older sister told me, I finally got the nerve to run away and tell someone what was happening. But, nothing came of it. I was soon back home in my old room because the foster girls were removed and no other foster child would ever be allowed to live with us again. They were safe, but I wasn’t. The sexual abuse continued until I was 13 and ran away from home again. This time I ran to the wrong people and was taken advantage of by two high school boys and lost my virginity that night. At that moment in my life, I truly believed that was all I was good for, sex. I went on living my life trying to get attention from every boy I thought was cute by using sex. In my mind, a relationship had to be sexual for it to mean anything at all. During my step study, I learned step 2 for those dealing with physical, emotional, or sexual abuse says, “Believe God can restore us to wholeness, and realize this power can always be trusted to bring healing and wholeness in our lives.” No matter what I do or what has been done to me, God can fix me! That is the best news ever! By the time I was 14, I was completely out of control! I moved in with my biological father and his wife and her 5 kids. I quickly ended up with a crush on one of the bikers that hung around the clubhouse with my father. As soon as this man realized I was crushing on him, he took advantage of the situation and I was pregnant at 15, he was in his mids 20’s. Needless to say, he didn’t stick around once my father found out that baby was his. He moved off to California with his wife and kids and I haven’t seen or heard from him since. Just before my son was born, my mom confronted my stepfather about the abuse and he finally admitted what he had done. She divorced him, bought a house, and asked me to come home so she could help me with my son. I gave in to her wishes. I didn’t realize at the time how blessed I was. She made sure my son had everything he needed and taught me how to take care of him. She worked full time and provided for both of us while I attended school. Yet, I remained a relationship/sex addict and an extremely rebellious, hormonal teenage girl. I would sneak out at night to go drinking with older men, I would get drunk and call my father to come to get me because he wasn’t as hard on me about it as my mom. I felt unloved and damaged. I was lost, confused, angry, bitter, and not ready to be a mother at 16 years old. I wasn’t even doing a good job at being a teenager. But in Celebrate Recovery, I learned that even though I didn’t think I was good enough, God loved me right where I was. Psalm 34:18 says “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” My mom tried her hardest to get me back in church, but I was still angry with God and dealing with some church hurt. I blamed God for all my heartache and pain. Where was He when I needed Him? Why was my life such a mess? I was saved, so I should have been saved from the hurt and bad decisions I was making, right? WRONG! God gave me free will and the decisions I was making are what led to the devastating consequences that came along in my life. In 1989, when I was 18, I had fallen head-over-heels with a guitar player who became my first husband and the first man to ever physically and emotionally destroy me. Because of his physical abuse, I lost custody of my son just before he turned 2 years old. My father raised him until he was in middle school when I finally got him back home. In the meantime, I was being cheated on, lied to, abused, we would separate and then reunite. I was drinking, experimenting with acid and pot, and just living a life of chaos. We finally divorced in June 1994 after having two daughters together. I just couldn’t take anymore and I couldn’t allow my daughters to grow up thinking that sort of life was ok. I wanted more for them. I still hadn’t found anything to fill that hole in my soul. My heart was longing for something, so I turned to Wicca. I read all the books by Silver Ravenwolf and anything else that was suggested to me. However, every time I started to participate in a Wiccan circle, I felt like one of the Baal worshipers in 1 Kings 18:26-29. They called out to Baal, danced around the altar, cut themselves, and raved in a frenzy until night, but nothing happened. Baal never answered them just as the gods and goddesses I was calling on never answered me. There was not a sound, not a single answer, I was ignored, abandoned, and felt no one would ever hear my cries. My emptiness was not filled. I was unhappy and miserable. Eventually, I claimed to be agnostic and went on with my life. I met another liar and fell in love with the false version of who I was told he was and we were married on Halloween in 1997. I was told on our first date that we were celebrating his 21st birthday. I found out when I was about 6 months pregnant with our first daughter, that we had actually celebrated his 18th birthday. I was 26. The lies didn’t stop there. I followed him to North Carolina. He told me that he was ready for the kids and me to come, but when we all arrived, well, we had no place to live, he didn’t have a job, and there I stood trying to figure out the next step. Within 9 months of arriving in North Carolina, I was leaving and coming back to Missouri because of lies, cheating, drugs, and physical and emotional abuse. It was all too much for me to handle so I loaded up and moved to Jefferson City, MO where my best friend lived. We were divorced in September of 2000. I wasn’t completely innocent. While in North Carolina, I met someone and when I left, he and his brother came with me. He fell in love with me, but I didn’t fall in love with him. I was still caught up on my soon-to-be ex-husband and our relationship didn’t last very long. I was sitting in a strange town, alone, raising 5 unruly kids, trying to work and go to school, and still trying to live a chaotic life of drinking, men, and rock concerts. It was not working out very well for me, and I tried to take my own life. My depression was severe and I felt that my kids would be better off without me. My mother came to the rescue for my children and stayed with them until I was released from the hospital. I still didn’t change my lifestyle. In fact, it got worse. I am so grateful that God did not allow me to take my own life so that I can serve His purpose for me now. If you are feeling suicidal, don’t quit before the miracle happens and God brings joy to your life. Keep coming back to Celebrate Recovery and do not isolate yourself. We are all here for you! You matter! I became friends with a lesbian couple that lived down the street. My daughters were good friends with their daughters so we spent a lot of time together. I eventually started experimenting with that lifestyle for a bit, but quickly found out that wasn’t what I was looking for either. I jumped from boyfriend to boyfriend some more but none of them were good enough. Or, maybe, just maybe I wasn’t giving them a chance so I would end the relationship before they could. It didn’t hurt as bad when I kicked them out of my life instead of them abandoning me, right? In January 2003, I had met this pretty well-known tattoo artist and he moved into my house. He also brought drugs with him. I was anti-drug…until I came home one night and he said, “don’t knock it till you try it.” He then took a hit off the crack pipe, kissed me and blew it in my mouth. I was instantly hooked on the feeling and went from zero to IV drug use in a matter of days. We transitioned between crack and meth and I was keeping up with this experienced drug user the best I could because I thought he wouldn’t care about me if I didn’t. For a few weeks, he made sure I was safe and always had my fix. Then he started looking at other, younger, better-looking women and I knew it was over, but I didn’t know how to get free of the drugs. In less than 6 months, I managed to lose what little dignity I had left, the tattoo artist, my job as the manager at a local beauty supply store, my kids, my home, and everything I owned except what would fit in the trunk of my car. Later that year, I was headed back to Springfield, MO with the new guy of my life. He promised me the world and told me he would help me stay sober. What I was actually given, was a shed to live in his sister's backyard in the heat of the summer. Then there was a trip to Ohio, where he robbed several places and we used that money to get high. We were sitting by the river in Toledo, OH one afternoon using drugs, and that is where I had my first seizure. The seizures continued to take place almost every time I would use them, but it didn’t stop me. I was driving the car for most of the robberies he committed and should have gone to prison right alongside him, but he took the rap so he would have something to control me with. I spent the next couple of years running up phone bills in fake names and driving to see him in jail, and eventually prison until I got caught taking in tobacco and was told I could never come back. That was actually a blessing in disguise because I was finally able to break free of his control. After going to court and losing my 2 youngest daughters to their father and my two oldest to my mom, I decided it was time to get sober. On August 1, 2004, I walked away from drugs. I was still living a chaotic life and didn’t give up drinking or men. I came back to Missouri after not finding my place in Ohio. When I got back, I was arrested and spent 30 days in jail for hot checks that I, and a so-called friend, had written for drug money the year before. Once free, I was able to remain drug-free and start building my life again. I was soon the assistant manager at a local retail store and was hanging out with a new boyfriend. He had to be a good guy because he was a corrections officer. But he wasn’t. He had a wife, got caught taking drugs in the prison, and only wanted me around to satisfy his sexual desires. Again, I settled for less than I deserved because I didn’t think I was worth anything better. It didn’t last, of course. He went back to his wife and I was abandoned once again. I was forced to get my own place, pay my own bills, and live my own life. It wasn’t easy, but I was doing it. I was alone and did not like it very much. I started writing to men in prison and even visiting one now and again. They understood the chaos of my life and they couldn’t hurt me. I could still run around doing whatever and whoever I wanted and keep that side piece behind bars that told me the things I wanted, and needed, to hear. One of those men ended up conning me though. He convinced me that he was a great guy in prison for something he didn’t do. I was naive enough to believe him and we got married in February 2006. I spent the next year or so preparing for him to come home. Boy was I disappointed once that finally happened and I found out who he really was and he found out who I really was. Neither of us was the committed, loving people we said we were. Within about 6 months, I was tired of his sexual abuse, threatened physical abuse, lies, and pot smoking. I had found something else to occupy my time with and didn’t want to be married to him anymore. I divorced him in February 2009, but we continued to share a house while living separate lives. That hole in my soul I told you about earlier, well, it was still there. He introduced me to satanic witchcraft. I started reading everything I could find on the subject. It gave me the freedom to live my life however I wanted because it encouraged relationship addiction, sexual misconduct, drunkenness, immorality, and everything else I wanted to do that I thought made me happy. But, the hole in my soul was still there and growing much, much bigger. We both became involved with the National Socialist Movement. I had finally found a place where I was fully accepted for who I was and was loved…but only because of the color of my skin and what I could do for them. The NSM is a racist, white supremacist group that blends events with local KKK members. I had never been racist before. In fact, the man I left North Carolina with was black. My neighbor was Mexican and we were good friends. I used to babysit kids of all colors. But I fit in with these people because I was white and they gave me an outlet for all my anger and hate. They would party like no other and I spent several nights drunk, embarrassing myself, and not caring about life. At one of those blended events, I was reminded about Jesus. Yes, Jesus used a klansman to reintroduce me to Himself. I quickly became involved with the cult of Christian Identity. I was soon praying, reading the bible, and applying it to my white, racist life by twisting it here and there, following the food laws, and learning how to follow the other 613 Mosaic laws one at a time, while ignoring the greatest commandment found in Matthew 22:37-39, “Jesus said, love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” How in the world was I going to do that? I didn’t love myself and sure didn’t show love to my neighbor. I was filled with rage, hatred, and hurt. My soul was still very empty. I was the prison liaison for the NSM and soon took over that position for Aryan Nations after resigning from the NSM because they were not Christian Identity. During my time with Aryan Nations, I met this sweet guy named Adam that accidentally stole my heart, but we didn’t admit that for a few years. He was in prison and involved with a white gang. We were a perfect match, we hated the same things, or at least we thought we did. The fact is, neither of us hated anything or anyone except ourselves and the lives we chose. We had both lived a life filled with chaos, drinking, drugs, and self-destructive behaviors. We were absolutely perfect for each other. Adam and I were married on September 25, 2014, while he was still in prison. He was released in 2017 and we both walked away from the gang lifestyle hand in hand. The truth is, Adam and I still are perfect for each other. He has his struggles and I have mine, but with appropriate boundaries, grace, Celebrate Recovery, and most importantly, God, we can get through anything together! Before his release from prison, my husband introduced me to his aunt. She invited me to go to church with her at Northside Christian Church. I reluctantly got up and went. I didn’t think some Judeo Christian church was going to have anything for me. I still had lots of cult beliefs in my head. To my shock, everyone I met that morning already knew about my husband and me. They hugged me, shook my hand, and told me how happy they were to meet me. They also told me they had been praying for Adam for years. I left that day feeling like I had found my church home. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my Christian Identity, or how that was all going to play out, but God did. Over the course of the next couple of years, Ed Holt, the Growth Group leader, and Wayne Bushnell, the pastor, taught lessons that answered all my questions. They had no clue what my issues even were, so how were they speaking to me so clearly? It was a God-incidence because there is no such thing as coincidence! There is a reason God tells us in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Christian Identity is not the only cult teaching from the Bible. It is vital that you read the Bible and test everything you are taught against what the Bible actually says. If you are not being taught the Bible as it is written, RUN! If you were to ask me today what verses in the Bible made me believe Christian Identity was the one true religion, I couldn’t tell you. God has wiped all of that hate, false teaching, and nonsense out of my mind. I focus only on Biblical truths now. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable--if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise--dwell on these things.” I learned to love God in a whole new light! The light of His truth! I learned how to love myself a little bit more every day. The hole in my soul was being filled. Relationships that had been destroyed were being rebuilt on the foundation of Jesus Christ. My mom had prayed for me for 20 years. Now we attend Bible studies, women’s conferences, and anything I ask her to together. We are growing in the Lord with each other and that is all she has ever wanted. My children and I have a much better relationship and I have 12 amazing grandkids that I get to watch grow up and two grandbabies in heaven. I get to be an example of God’s love to each of them and pray they will seek after the Lord as they grow. I am no longer suffering in my own chaos. I am now living a life filled with hope, love, and grace. Remember that I told you my husband and I got married while he was still incarcerated? Let’s go back to that for a moment. We didn’t know each other outside of phone calls, letters, and one, yes one, face-to-face visit. In fact, before that first face-to-face, I went to the courthouse and applied for our marriage license and then went and met my husband the first time. The next time we saw each other was on our wedding day. Most people would call us crazy, and we probably are, but God had a plan. God knew that we needed each other. Adam was my therapist for 2 years. I told him everything and he helped me with a lot of my self-worth and mental health issues, especially my anxiety. I stopped taking prescription Ativan and started relying on what I love to call my Adamvan. Then, God brought me to Celebrate Recovery, and through everything I am learning, He is teaching me how to set boundaries with my husband in his alcoholism, how to love him despite his addiction, and how to not be codependent with him. If it wasn’t for Celebrate Recovery, I would have abandoned Adam when he needs me most. I would have let my fear of his addiction take over and I would have run. Instead, I am able to see through the addiction to the man I love and want to spend the rest of my life with. God has done more than I ever imagined possible! He forgave me of my sins. He gave my family back to me. He made me whole. He made me a new creation! He gave me hope for the future. Joel 2:25 says, “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten”. And 1 Peter 5:10 says, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” God not only restores, but He strengthens us for the road ahead. I still have a lot of things that I struggle with, but I know with God’s help, that I can handle whatever is put before me. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” God wants me to win my battles against sin and temptation. He is for me, not against me! I recover out loud so others don’t have to suffer in silence! I openly share the story of my life, because I want others to know there is freedom and healing in Jesus. Nothing I have done can separate me from Him, and the same goes for you. I completed my first step study in 2020 and my second in 2021. I can’t wait to do the next one and see what God reveals and heals. I love being a part of this Celebrate Recovery forever family. I love the new life God has given to me. I love being a child of God! I am currently serving in the church as a life group leader for women. I attend ladies Bible study on Wednesday mornings and facilitate Life’s Healing Choices and a step study for the second set of books on Sunday afternoons. I get to love and sponsor two boys from the Dominican Republic through Compassion International and I can’t wait to see what God does for them. I feel so blessed to be able to write to them and pour into them about the love of Jesus. On top of all of that, I am the assimilation coach for Celebrate Recovery at Northside Christian Church. I love helping out at Celebrate Recovery by setting up, greeting newcomers, helping with the meal teams, being involved with training, attending social events like super awesome Christian metal concerts and Save Our City. I also run our Facebook page and most recently our Instagram. I hope to add more social media outlets in the near future. If you would be interested in learning more about being on the assimilation coach team, I would love to talk to you more about it. It might seem like a lot of work until you get started and see just how much fun it is. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says, “ Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.” I thank God on a regular basis that I am no longer living that life of chaos. I am not that girl anymore! That hateful, lonely, angry, sexually immoral, bitter, idol worshiping, a drunk girl no longer lives here! I have been transformed like a caterpillar into a butterfly. I am a woman that loves God, loves her family, respects people, and embraces their differences. I will never be perfect, but I can strive every day to be better than I was yesterday. God will continue to grow me through all situations and all kinds of people. Isaiah 43:18-19a says, “Forget the former things do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing.” God has healed much of my brokenness and will love me forever. In 1 Kings 19:9, God asks Elijah a question that we might find silly but is actually really important. He asks, “What are you doing here?” I want to ask you the same question right now. What are you doing here? Hopefully, by the time you have dealt with that question, God has shown you who you really are and you see that He has placed the next opportunity for you to mature in your faith and experience His healing power on your doorstep. You are here tonight for a reason. You are not here by mistake or by chance. God placed you in this place, in that seat, next to those people because He knows you belong here. My prayer is that you will listen to Him and keep coming back. Celebrate Recovery works if you work it. One of my favorite authors, Kelly Minter, wrote in her study “All Things New”, “When we choose to align ourselves with God and His ways, however imperfectly, He sovereignly gathers the darkest seasons and woeful failure of our past, transforms them, and makes us, well, useful in His kingdom.”
Thank you for letting me share.