It was August 31st, 2012. I had exhausted every other well for water, yet I was still dying of thirst. There I was on my bathroom floor at 16 years old contemplating just ending it all because I couldn’t continue on with such an emptiness inside of me. I was broken and in need of a savior.
My story before Jesus is quite a complicated one. When most people ask how I came to the faith, I usually just tell them “All that matters is that I was lost and now I am found” and I attempt to change the subject. I do that for a couple of reasons. One: In the past, I have told people the full story and I usually get a lot of the praise and credit. It made me feel all icky inside because my salvation is solely a gift that I didn’t deserve in the slightest. Two: I hate reliving that part of my life.
Yet, I have found that glancing at the jail cell that I once was in makes me worship with more passion and gives my heart a unique fullness. Mainly because when I look at that cell that once held me captive, I see that the doors are wide open. I notice a pair of keys in my hand. I remember that I once was a slave, but I have been freed.
Growing up, I lived on Long Island, NY.
My dad owned several bakeries and supported my family well financially. He kept us in a beautiful home and opened his wallet whenever I was in need or want.
Yet, this didn’t make up for his physical and emotional absence. I never knew anything different so this was the norm for me. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I realized that I had a deep longing to be loved by a father that didn’t know how to.
I craved this so much but it was something that could have never been given to me by him. I only had a hand full of memories with my dad growing up and most of them did more harm than good. As time went on, secrets were exposed and I understood why...
My dad had been (and still is) married to a woman that is not my mother, I was born out of an affair, he had severe bi-polar, and some other baggage that isn’t even worth mentioning.
It was a screwed up situation that I had no control over and I still, to this day, deal with the consequences of it all.
My dad did convince me as a little girl to take piano lessons. He claimed that it had been his dream to learn so now he wanted me to. Because I was so hungry for his attention, I dedicated myself to that instrument, developed my talent, and became pretty good. I expanded into songwriting and soon had dreams to become famous. I put my worth in that journey. If I made it, I was valuable. If I didn’t, my life didn’t matter.
After years of pursuing this dream, I got my big break. A record label decided to take a chance on me and I was signed with them for a full year. I put school on the back burner and concentrated on making this a success. Soon, I had a full on team. I had a manager, publicist, a full backing band from MTV, a stylist/fashion designer that made me original clothes, and ongoing sponsors like Pepsi and Mac Cosmetics. I recorded my first single that was released on iTunes, I would visit WestLake Studios in LA, I was on radio stations all throughout the Northeast, I got invited to the Grammys, I attended Jay Z’s exclusive Grammy Party, my song was licensed by the show Teen Mom, and I was playing big time shows in NY.
(Never shared this video publicly- And when you watch it, you'll see why. HA! My 15 year old self was ridiculous... But it'll give you a quick sense of what my life was like back then.)
Though I had all of this support, hundreds of people showing up to my performances, people stopping me places for my autograph, and even earning my own money, I didn’t care if my dad wasn’t noticing me. And sadly, he wasn’t. Because my dad wasn’t giving me attention, I thought that maybe other men could fill the void.
I did a lot of stupid things while on this pursuit.
Sometimes I kissed a different boy each day of the week. I can’t even remember some of their names. I always went after older men without even taking into consideration if they were single or not. I met guys online and went to meet them in person. I dressed horribly. I was desperate for any attention I could get. Even if it was the gross kind.
I’m not proud of any of it.
I was used by men. Even a distant family member sexually abused me (You can read about that experience by clicking here), which is when I had my final revelation. I was trash and no longer had a purpose here on earth.
Throughout this year of losing myself entirely, many people planted seeds in my head about God. Older ladies I would meet, a friend from school, a random stranger. They would randomly tell me that God had a great plan for me, they’d ask me if I knew what salvation meant, or explain to me that Christ died for me. I always rolled my eyes, laughed, said thank you, or tried to change the subject because of how uncomfortable it got.
I would be in bed a lot of nights by 6 PM, my mom would knock on my door, and all the lights would be off. She would ask me what was wrong and I would just say “Mom, I have an emptiness that is so deep that I just want to die”. She would feel bad but she didn’t know how to help me. No one did.
Yet, during this season of absolute drought, God kept chasing me.
A friend of mine mentioned a church in passing and somehow I remembered the name of it one night when I was desperate and very much alone. When I looked it up online, there was a service going on at that moment, I quickly went there, caught the end of the service, and then met a woman that changed everything.
She sat with me, told me the Gospel, and answered all of my crazy and outlandish questions about spirituality. Before I left her on the night we met, I asked her, “Well, how do I accept Jesus if I decide I want to?” She told me to say a prayer of confession and to invite Him into my heart. She actually winded up being my maid of honor in my wedding and the sweetest friend.
When I got home, I dropped to my knees in my bathroom and looked up the salvation prayer on Google. No music was playing, I wasn't high off emotion, I wasn't being influenced to think certain things- but I felt it. I felt the chains fall off, I felt the oneness with Christ, I felt forgiveness. Yet, I instantly knew that if I wanted to be serious, I’d have to give it all up. The music, the dream, the boys, the attention.
So I did.
There is a lot more to that story of how I gave it all up. It wasn't easy and I didn't want to at first.
I fought with God for a few weeks before I went through with it, but it happened. I lost people in my life. Many people from my team never talked to me again and friends turned their back on me, and though it really hurt- I knew I was in His will. I even went as far as to switching schools to start all over again.
He winded up using me in more ways than I ever could have been used if I was a secular famous artist. Still, so many years later- I am more in love and on fire for Jesus than I have ever been. The emptiness or depression has never come back. I am truly saved, all by His mercy.
I have also been able to forgive my dad. We don’t have a normal relationship, even now, but I understand that he is sick and without a true relationship with God. I love him and have so much compassion on him, praying daily that he finds true happiness.
So there ya have it... I may not have acceptance from the people I should have had it from, I may not have my voice heard by millions, I may not be rolling in money and attention- But I am more known and fully loved than I could have ever imagined.
Whoever you are, reading this... If you haven't accepted God into your life yet and started to truly live for Him- this is a sign from Him right now to you. He is the only way. Surrender today. Pick up your cross and follow Him.
You'll never look back.