Beauty For Ashes – One Owner’s Journey!

I was born into this world with a very extreme kind of personality. Even as a child growing up in South Africa, my parents struggled with me always doing things to the utmost extreme, complete black and white – no grey, and could never do anything “normal” like most people. I am the oldest of two daughters, born to my wonderful parents, my father an Artillery Army Commander & Chief and my mother a teacher and educator, my amazing sister who is 2.5 years younger than me. Only a few months ago my friend changed the language to my personality type: she said that I have a “Passionate” personality very much like the apostle Paul with character traits such as persistence, courage, and being uncompromising (even though Paul had some other awesome personality traits which I was still lacking such as patience, humbleness, and yielding) …

This extreme/passionate personality is a very good trait to have when I am doing something that’s good, because then it is usually done very good, but a very bad trait to have when I am doing something bad, which results in something very bad… I was raised in a loving Christian home with Christian values, but we attended a Dutch Reformed Church as a child which was very quiet and strict with not at all any teachings (that I can remember) about the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, the Power of God, healings and deliverance or anything about our new identity in Christ.

I left school in 1998 and moved to London, UK, where I worked for the next 6 years. Unfortunately, in London, I became the absolute classical case of the “prodigal daughter” (Luke 15:11-32). I started attending parties, drinking way too much alcohol, smoking cigarettes, experiencing with recreational drugs, and living a sexually immoral life. I did not attend any Church and I did not read my Bible anymore. I was surrounded by the wrong people who influenced me even further into this immoral lifestyle. My virginity was taken from me when I was raped in London at the age of 19, which was something that I, at that time, drowned out with parties and alcohol. I then moved into my first relationship with a man 4 years my senior, he was indeed my first love, with the butterflies and all. This was off course a sexually immoral relationship which turned violent in the second year.

He started beating me, threatening me, and the verbal abuse was relentless. He broke my heart by being unfaithful with a prostitute on a “boys only” vacation to Thailand, which resulted in the rapid breakdown of our relationship – which finally ended after 2.5 years. He ended up in prison in the UK for drug possession and was deported back to South Africa after spending 3 months in jail. My partying intensified yet again to numb out the pain of this lost relationship and my broken heart.

This continued for about 2+ years until I met another man and went into my second relationship, 2 years my senior. He was a much softer/gentler man who honestly wanted what was best for me. My personality totally overwhelmed him most of the time, but he patiently continued to love me as I was. This was also a sexually immoral relationship with no mention of the Lord, going to Church or Bible reading – still mingling with the wrong kind of people who partied all the time. We lived together in London for about 2 years, then relocated to the Middle East, as my parents had moved to the Middle East form South Africa. This man went through a very traumatic experience with his parents divorcing after 25 years of marriage, and him finding out that his father has been unfaithful to his mother for about 20 years of his life. This threw him into a downward spiraling depression that neither of us had any knowledge on how to deal with. It resulted in me wanting to party more, and him wanting to spend more time alone in the house on the couch.

He always mentioned that he wanted to become a pilot, but there never was enough money to pay for the qualification. Finally, after 6+ years together, we made the decision together that I would take a personal loan in Abu Dhabi to pay for him to go and complete his Pilot qualification in South Africa. Even though I lived this Godless life, the Lord has always been so extremely good to me, protecting me from great harm and death, and by always giving me very good jobs, earning good money, working for the world’s top multinational organizations without any professional qualifications – only my personality. I enrolled and started studying my MBA in International Business from a UK University the second year this man was in South Africa studying for his pilot license.

I needed to get myself qualified and thought it would be a good idea to keep me busy while he was away. This personal loan I took for him was well over one million South African Rand, and was a huge financial burden on me, which I gladly and freely did for the man that I believed I loved and was fully convinced we would marry after he qualified.

A one-year qualification became two years, and two years became three. The long-distance relationship was too much for both of us to bare, which resulted in him being unfaithful with another woman, and completely shattering my heart. Our relationship ended after almost 10 years together. I felt extremely humiliated and rejected by his actions and lies, after everything I went through for him, all the money (which I still had to pay back to the bank for 6 years), all the commitment and loneliness I endured for his sake, while I was staying completely faithful to him. This totally shattered by heart as I was 100% dependent on that man for my happiness.

This is where the partying went to another level. I would not only now attend parties over weekends, but I will also start drinking in the week when I get home – drinking a bottle of wine alone while crying the night away. Around about the same time I also lost my job, as the company that I worked for at that time closed, and all the employees were made redundant. I now had a broken heart, was jobless, had a massive financial loan to repay for a man that I no longer knew, and had to continue studying and pay for my own MBA studies. The drinking intensified and the amounts of alcohol I consumed daily was shocking, never getting drunk to embarrassment, but always being mellowed out. In this 6-month period of joblessness and total heartbrokenness, I had a friend who just would not stop inviting me to come to Church with her. I always had excuses and rejected her invitation every single time, for months. She did not give up inviting me. That day finally came when I was so broken inside, and sick of her nagging, that I agreed to go with her to Church. She took me to the South African Afrikaans Church in Abu Dhabi, and I honestly cannot remember a word that was preached, but this….

The pastor at one stage looked straight at me, and held his two hands together, saying (to me directly) that God promises that He will hold me together and that He will protect me and take care of me. Immediately an unexplainable peace came over me, a peace that I have never experienced before, and a wonderful peace that I have until this very day. (John 14:27). I did not know anything about the Lord or the Bible, and I was still completely broken and chained by addictions, but I had a peace that everything was going to be OK. This is where the Lord started to give me a hunger for Him, a hunger for His Word and a new fire for His Kingdom. I started attending a Bible study group and attended Church regularly. I was also baptized and recommitted my life to the Lord, best I knew how. I passionately started studying the Bible and intensely wanted to know more about the Lord. The more I learned about the Lord, the more the Holy Spirit started to bring my attention to the alcohol and smoking, more and more convicting me that these things need to go. With my stubborn personality, I was also under the impression that I could easily stop the drinking and smoking, and that I will do it by myself – and that it was not so bad, as everybody else was doing it.

Finally, reality started to hit me that I could not stop by myself, even though I did not want to live like this anymore and wanted to be fee, I could not do it myself. The more I tried to stop, the more I would end up drinking and smoking. Going around and around the same old mountain of drinking alone on weekdays, partying on weekends, dying of the worst horrible hangover on Sunday and Monday, being hit over the head with a baseball bat by the devil (completely condemning me for my hypocrisy and uselessness) on Tuesday and Wednesday – and around we go again… I finally came to the horrible conclusion and realization that I am a functioning alcoholic, and that I am totally powerless to help myself. I sank in and out of the pit of depression, and the harder I tried to get out the deeper I sank – while acting basically completely normal to the outside world – the pain inside intensified. I knew that only God could save me from this mess, and the fire that the Lord put inside me burned more and more for Him. I did more and more Bible studies, reading more Bible, only listening to Christian music.

I drastically got rid of any secular movies, magazines, and music in my house and I only allowed Jesus in my life. I constantly listened to my daily audio Bible to get as much Word into my life as possible. I would even be so desperate for deliverance that I would sit and watch Bible teachings online with a bottle of wine, seeking and searching for the Lord to please come and deliver me…. And then He came….

As I was sitting in the bath one Sunday morning in August 2014, again terribly hung over and feeling physically sick to death, having one massive pity-party about my horrible behavior over the weekend, yet again…. just finished listening to my daily audio Bible episode for the day, when the Lord God Himself spoke to me. I heard Him with my own ears speak to me with an audible voice, and He said to me load and clear: “The battle does not belong to you, it belongs to Me. You stand behind Me and you watch Me win, so that you can bring Me GLORY” – that was it. At that very moment alcohol left my life, as if I had never drank before, as if I never was addicted to it – gone! I did not miss it, I did not long for it & I did not want it anymore. Praise the Lord God ALL-MIGHTY. God spoke and alcohol addiction fled from my life. I have not had a drop of alcohol since that day in August 2014 until today. I am still completely free from alcohol addiction, praise God! I was not free from the consequences of my drinking though, and I had to suffer/go through an almost 2-year withdrawal, which is classified as PAWS (Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome). The Lord’s mercy and grace through this period was simply amazing. The more I started getting my brains back (literally) the more and more I started taking in all my Bible studies. I now started getting so many revelations from the Lord as He was gently and patiently starting to heal me from all my brokenness and pains inside. The passion for the Lord in my heart intensified to a whole other level, and I simply could not get enough of Him. I was (and still am until this day) so extremely thankful that the Lord stretched out His powerful loving hand into the deepest darkest black pit of an alcohol bottle and He came and saved me from that hole – He drastically pulled me out of it by simply speaking to me…. Wow Wow Wow…!!!

I was completely powerless to do it myself and would have probably drank myself to death if the Lord did not come and save me…. I do not have the words to describe this unexplainable appreciation and thankfulness. The gladness and joy I have about Jesus, and the excitement of what He is doing in this world on a daily basis, is beyond my comprehension – I want to explode with excitement! This also allowed me to write and complete my MBA thesis and qualify – which would not have been possible if I was still drinking.

I was still smoking though… The more I learned about the Lord the more I started asking Him to show me what I am missing. I know that it was totally possible for the Lord to save me from smoking as well, I saw what He did with the alcohol. I had no doubt in my mind that it was me myself missing something, and that it was not the Lord who was unwilling or unable to save me from cigarettes as well. Then again, one and a half years after the Lord miraculously saved me from alcohol, He spoke to me again, this time to my heart of hearts. Yet again, after I finished my daily audio Bible episode for the day I heard for the first time in my life, the Lord’s heart… It was the part in the Bible where Moses sent the 12 spies to scout the promised land, and Joshua and Caleb said yes, but the other 10 said no they should not enter because of the giants etc. (Numbers 13). And it was as if the Lord said to me directly/personally… “How long will these people (you) treat me with contempt? How long will they (you) refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?” I felt as though God said to me that He is heartbroken and frustrated with me because I do not trust Him with the cigarettes, that I trust Him with everything else in my life, but not the cigarettes.

Even though He already gave me the wonderful promise that day in the bath back in 2014 that the battle does not belong to me. He said to me that He gave me that promise for all addictions, not just alcohol, but ALL addictions in my life – I just did not understand it yet. Even though He showed me the massive alcohol, and many many more miracles since then, I still did not trust Him enough.

It was as if the Lord said to me that if I do not trust Him now with the cigarettes, I cannot enter the promised land, and would die in the desert. I had a choice to make, this time with a sober mind and a year and a half close walk with the Lord. I had to choose to trust God or not. He said to me that we would go into battle together, even though the battle belongs to Him, that I would be fighting with Him. He would go in front and ensure victory, but we are now fighting together. He said to me that I was absolutely powerless to save myself from the alcohol and it was numbing my mind – but now I have my mind back and I need to partner with the Lord. He cannot come and do absolutely everything on my behalf every time, otherwise I would love Him for what He does for me, and not for who He is. I there and then decided to trust the Lord and I put the cigarettes down for good. Even though I tried to quit smoking literally hundreds of times before unsuccessfully, this time the Lord gave me supernatural grace. The withdrawal was still there, but it was different than before. The Lord taught me to trust and believe Him every time the temptation come to smoke. What an amazing journey of seeing the Lord God Almighty yet again keeping His promises and being faithful as He always have been. I am now just over one year completely cigarette free. Praise the Lord!!! Yet another level of unexplainable happiness and thankfulness. There indeed is Power in the Name of Jesus to break EVERY chain…

And this is how the Lord came and drastically changed my life, changed my heart, changed my “wants and needs”, changed my thinking, and completely healed my heart!!! This is the most amazing journey that I am on now, my life is completely changed, and I am completely free…. I love Jesus with every part of my being. HE is the Author and Perfecter of my faith, and HE will finish the sanctification work HE started in my life. This amazing journey continues every day, I learn more every day, I experience the Lord more and more, He changes me from Glory to Glory, making me more and more like Jesus…. His ways are truly amazing, unexplainably loving, patient and kind … I do not have the words to accurately describe how amazing it is to be a daughter of the Most-High God Almighty….

 

“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation.”
– Mark 16:15

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