Transformed: Guest Post by Amanda Earl
Abused. Depressed. Lost. Homeless. Raped. Drug addict. Alcoholic. Party girl. Self-obsessed. Insecure. Angry. Inferior.
If you identify with any of the words above, you can relate to a part of my past. It’s been a long and crazy ride.
I grew up in a Christian home with loving parents and a wonderful extended family. I had everything I could ask for growing up and was one of the most innocent-hearted high schoolers you would ever meet. At least this was my story, up until I met my first boyfriend.
Without going into too much detail, I will just say that I was physically and emotionally abused by him, and after a year and a half of being together, he forced me into having sex with him. I didn’t want this at all, and he was well aware of it. Unfortunately, it happened, and I remember shaking so hard and crying hysterically after it was over. I had officially lost my virginity. I remember that moment so well. I knew something was taken away from me that I’d never get back.
We started living together, but there were no more rooms in the house we were moving into, so we lived in the garage. We lived there for 5 months until we stopped paying rent. We couldn’t afford it anymore. With nowhere else to go, we lived out of my car for 3 months. We started smoking weed constantly, and picked up a terrible habit of smoking cigarettes. To say I was depressed is an understatement. We were together for three and a half years until I finally broke up with him.
To escape the pain, I turned to partying and alcohol. It was a release. I was trapped in a bad relationship for so long that I just wanted to live life. I turned 21 a couple weeks after we broke up, and started going to bars every Thursday through Sunday. I drank until I almost blacked out. I dressed provocatively to get male attention. I put so much emphasis on my outward appearance and spent hours getting ready. I hooked up with guys I barely knew and did things that the innocent high school girl I used to be would’ve never dreamed of in a million years.
Partying became my life. I literally lived for the weekend. At 22, I started going to raves. My first one was a very well-known rave, EDC. I was offered Molly, a drug, and I took it. I had never felt so carefree and elated in my entire life, and I decided I would never give this up. The feeling of happiness was overwhelming and it seemed to cover all the pain and emotional distress I was dealing with. It was a euphoric experience that I wanted to last forever.
Although EDC ended, the drugs continued. I took Molly almost every single night. I would roll whether I was home or going out. Weed and alcohol used to sound fun, but Molly dulled them in comparison. It was infinitely better than anything I’d ever done. I wanted to roll as much as I could.
After 6 months, my best friend, the one who started rolling at EDC with me, told me that we had to quit. She said our habit was way out-of-control and she felt that it was taking over our lives. I knew she was right, but just the thought of quitting depressed me. But somehow she convinced me and we stopped cold turkey. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t think I would’ve ever stopped. I truly believe I would’ve went on to bigger and “better” drugs, still searching for that high.
Although I quit taking Molly, my addiction to drugs didn’t stop. I found out that adderall and vyvanse would give me a high that was similar to Molly, and I could even get a prescription for them. Which meant I could go to the doctor and get the medication whenever I needed a refill. So that’s exactly what I did. And not long after I stopped taking Molly, I started taking adderall and vyvanse everyday. I thought I finally found my happiness in the little white and pink pills I was taking. And they were safe, right? They were prescribed by a doctor.
I was so wrong. Not only did I become addicted to them, but I also started becoming extremely anxious, my depression was at an all-time high, and my anger turned into rage. My memory wasn’t as sharp and nothing was fun anymore. I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing because I didn’t want them to stop me from taking them, but I also wanted to be set free from my uncontrollable emotions and addictions.
At this point, I had two options: I could turn to God or continue down this long, depressing, lonely path of searching and chasing something that only seemed to continually disappoint me.
I chose to turn my eyes to Christ.
I stopped taking adderall and vyvanse, because I knew the Lord was calling me to quit. I confessed my drug habit to everyone in my life so they could all hold me accountable and help me through the process. I read so many forums online about stopping this drug cold turkey. Everyone on there said they were depressed for months. I was not ready to fight that battle. But I got rid of them and prayed so hard God wouldn’t allow me to go through depression any longer. I was sad for about a month, and I’d be lying if I said it was easy. But God took my heaviness away, and I didn’t feel the burden of depression lingering over me. I had struggled with depression for years, and I felt Him lifting that heavy weight off of me.
My last “episode” with vyvanse was 16 months ago. Since then, I can honestly say I have been walking faithfully with the Lord. At least the best I can do, with the Lord’s help.
I have surrendered my life to Him, and He has been changing my heart ever since. The anger that was raging in my soul was replaced by joy and peace. I stopped smoking weed and cigarettes over 3 years ago, but alcohol was hard.
I felt God telling me to stop drinking, so I haven’t had a drink in 8 months. I thought giving up all the things that I held onto so tightly (drugs, alcohol, partying, etc), would make life boring and mundane. But I have been proven so wrong. I have never felt more joy. I thought being on Molly would be the best I could feel in this life, but Jesus has changed that and I know now that its definitely not the case.
Drugs, alcohol, sex… they all give you a temporary, fake happiness. But that hole in your heart, that longing for more, is never filled. The hole gets deeper and the depression gets heavier with every pill and every drunk night out.
Jesus provides real, everlasting joy.
Am I saying I never feel sad? No! But now, when I am unhappy, I focus on Jesus. I remember all the wonderful, beautiful gifts and truths in His word. I remember the fact that I will spend ETERNITY with Jesus Christ, in joy and peace like I will never be able to imagine until I get there. And I think about this verse: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” – Phillipians 4:8-9.
It’s pretty crazy looking back. Because God radically changed my heart since then. I think it’s insane that Jesus chose me before I was walking with Him…even before I was born! He chose a sinner like ME! And Jesus did the same for YOU if you’re a believer.
Isn’t that incredible? How can we even begin to understand that kind of patience and love?
This beautiful picture of our loving Father is depicted in Psalm 139: 13-18: “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body, and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!”
It is the biggest blessing and it is a beautiful thing to be part of God’s family. I’m not worthy, but I am forever grateful. I continue to keep my eyes on Jesus, because he perfects my faith and gives me peace and joy like I’ve never had before. When times get hard, I remember the joy awaiting me, just like Jesus did when He endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).
Because of Jesus, I can replace the words at the beginning of my testimony.
Loved. Cherished. Friend of God. Daughter in Christ. Forgiven. Peaceful. Safe. Joyous. Salvation in Christ. Blessed. Changed.
Those words define me now.
Amanda Earl is a math teacher in Huntington Beach at Ocean View High School. Her greatest desire is to be a light to her students and inspire young people to build a relationship with Jesus Christ. She enjoys hiking, camping, spending time with family and friends, and reading.