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Former Addict: "I See Myself as a Miracle"

Prostitute. Drug addict. Hopeless.  A few of many words that describe how Lisa Hensley saw herself.

“That's the neon sign, all my life,” said Lisa. “No good, piece of crap, trash.”  

This coming from the little girl who dreamed of barrel racing, and white picket fences.  The same girl who, at 8 years old, was sexually abused by someone she trusted.

“I remember bathing in the tub after it occurred and, I could not scrub my little body enough.  Something is wrong with me.  I am now dirty."  

Afraid to tell anyone, she endured the abuse for five years believing somehow that she was to blame.

Lisa said, “I mean, just guilt.  It's got to be my fault."

By her early teens Lisa had learned how to avoid her abuser.  She also found that drugs, alcohol, and sex, masked shame and guilt.   However, it grew worse when she got pregnant and had an abortion at 15 years old.

“That was when the voices really started, "you're nothing”, you are a piece of trash. Look what you've done,” said Lisa.

When she got pregnant again at 17, this time she kept the baby, and named him Joshua.

“I needed somebody to love me.  And I thought I could do it.  It's going to be me and you and he's going to love me.”

After high school, Lisa moved out and got a job, doing her best to raise her son.  But she often dropped Joshua off at her mom’s so she could get high and party. Once, while she was out to score some drugs, Lisa realized her 5-year-old son asleep in the back seat, deserved better.

She said, “I just looked back and he was so sound asleep, and looked ahead in where I was at, and I just said, "what am I doing? What am I doing?"

So she drove to her mother’s and told her about her drug addiction.

“I gave him to her and I got in my car that night and I knew, a part of me hoped that it was just for a moment, but there was a part of me that knew that I had left him for good.”

That started Lisa on downward slide through prostitution, homelessness and drug addiction.

“I lived to get high and got high to live,” said Lisa. “I couldn’t come down.  To come down was to see this monster that I was. There was nothing.  My life was drugs and I am no good.”

But Lisa did see glimpses of hope.  They came through a Christian woman she met on one of her many days in jail.

“She started sharing with me the love of God. We established a friendship every time she came to that prison while I was there, she always came and found me. She had no judgment.  She was like, "okay, what happened this time?  God still loves ya."  

Still holding onto that hope, she left prostitution but couldn’t stay off drugs.

“I remember thinking that I had done nothing but being a real good drug addict, and that nobody cares,” said Lisa. “ I don't care, so why should they care?”

In 2006, Lisa was working in a grocery store deli, when a woman insisted on talking to her.

“She said, "God has not let me rest until I've come back up here to talk to you.  Are you okay?" I just remember going, "ma'am…", "I haven't been okay in a very, very long time."

The woman encouraged her and invited Lisa to an addiction recovery program called the Potter’s House in Jackson, Georgia. A few days later, Lisa showed up and began talking to the founder Miss Sheree.  Lisa realized her only hope was God.  

“I laid out in the middle of that floor and I bawled like a baby,” said Lisa. “Miss Sheree was at my side on her knees and I asked Him to "please forgive my sins.  Please come into my life and do something with me."

Still struggling with the guilt of the sexual abuse, Lisa got on her knees and prayed.

“I said, ‘I can't have relationship with you, God.  I can't do it.’  And I heard in my spirit, ‘go look up the word intimacy.’ I opened the dictionary and it said, ‘a personal relationship.  Knowing someone better than they know them own selves.’  And I just remember thinking, ‘wowwww.’ The guilt was pulled off.  I was a child, I didn't cause it was pulled off.  So many things were pulled off. That night, yeah, it was big. It was big.”

Lisa was also set free from years of drug addiction. Today, her relationship with her son is restored and she’s a grandmother. She’s also the director of Katlyn’s Promise, bringing hope and the love of Christ.

Lisa said, “I see myself as a miracle.  I see myself as a woman who is a lady, clean.  I'm whole. I'm a woman of God.  I love the Lord.  There's so much, how He can move a heart.” 

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