By Alex Chatfield
I’ve spent most of my life believing in a judging God, but not a loving God.
I grew up without an earthly father, but with a critical and overbearing single mother. Feeling that I had no control over my life, I began to starve myself starting at age 12. Knowing I could control what I ate gave me a sense of accomplishment that I could not get anywhere else. I went from 125 lbs. (a healthy weight for my height at the time) to only 95 lbs, at which point I was hospitalized.
I attended a highly challenging private school in Dallas, where I struggled to meet my mom’s expectations academically. I remember bringing home a paper that I had gotten a "D" on, crying because I was upset about my grade. My mom told me that I was a disgrace to the family, and asked me how I thought God feels when I consistently throw away the opportunity He gave me to go to such a wonderful school. It was then that I knew I could NEVER please my mother, and that God must hate me. So, I decided to hate Him too.
I started doing drugs: ecstasy, acid, weed, and my personal favorite, cocaine. I never had money for rent because of this, so I had to live on my friend’s couch. All of these drugs were filling the hole where I had taken God out of my heart.
I don’t know how to explain this without saying that God was taking care of me, but after a year of heavy drug use, God woke me up. He opened my eyes that this was not the life I was meant to live. I wanted to have a future and a family, and every day I was on drugs I was losing that real purpose for my life. So I quit drugs, cold turkey.
However, I still didn’t really turn to God, and denied Him control over my life. And when it came to relationships, I could have been the poster child for what a girl with “daddy issues” would look like. I searched for love from guys, and each guy I dated (and especially the ones I slept with) fulfilled my deep need for love that I didn’t get from a father at home.
One day, I found out that I was pregnant—and nearly 4 months pregnant. Again, here is where I CANNOT deny that God was taking care of me: on the very day my child had been conceived, I had quit smoking and drinking because I simply “didn’t feel like it” (my exact words) anymore. I still had to face the consequences of my actions, but I also had to acknowledge that I had been entrusted with a GIFT who I knew was meant to be on this earth because God had protected her. My child, my wake-up call, my story of grace.
God used this consequence of a decision I had made to make me realize that there is hope found in Him. While I was pregnant, I prayed that God would use my story, my daughter, and myself for His glory, and HE HAS! He sent my daughter (16 months old at the time) and I to Guatemala for 2 months on a mission trip. I got to see God use my story and past mistakes to reach many Guatemalan girls, and even my crazy outgoing daughter impacted the women there because she accepted and loved them without reservation. What a great God we have to use some of the smallest things, including children who can barely speak a few words, for His glory.
After getting involved in Watermark, and now leading a community group, I am so humbled by my fellow sisters in Christ and cherish spending life with them and this body of believers. I cannot express how much it means to be reminded daily that WE are the hands and feet of Christ. Because Christ died on the cross for my sins, which is pure love, I am now commanded to love and serve others the way He loved and served and SAVED me on the cross.