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How to Change a Life With Love

Daneen has always sought peace by the water.  But her life’s-story is one with little peace, and much pain.

“I just felt like it wasn't gonna stop. I couldn't take it anymore,” Daneen said through stifled sobs. “And that's when I sliced my wrist.”

The motivation came from years of abuse. Daneen was only 5 when her father started beating and raping her and her sisters. His threats kept them silent.

“I remember just getting up and going in the tub,” Daneen recounted, “and trying to wash that dirty feeling off and just scrubbing till, you know, my skin was bleeding.”

For years Daneen thought her hellish life was normal. But at 11 years old, when she saw how her friend’s family treated one another, she realized just how broken her life really was.

“Panic attacks, anxiety, depression, no self-worth. very lost and no clue who I was,” Daneen told of her condition.

Following her suicide attempt, Child Protective Services put Daneen and her sisters into foster care. During her five years in the system, she met a family that were Christians, and they told her about God.

“I would think about God, but I'd get mad,” admitted Daneen. “‘How can you be God and let this happen to me?’”

Once she aged out of the system at 16, Daneen was on her own. By 21, she had two children, and was married to a man who had also been abused. While their common bond brought them together, it also tore their lives apart.

“The beatings were so bad - broken ribs, broken cheek bone, hemorrhaging in the brain,” Daneen said recounting the horrors. “I had no self-worth. Really was convinced it's what I deserved.”

Her husband also abused cocaine, and eventually, so did she. 

“And for the first time it stopped – all the pain stopped,” Daneen said of her new fix, “I instantly hated myself, disrespected myself. But it was a new way to get the pain to stop.”

After 11 years they divorced. But Daneen was left with two children to raise, and a growing dependency on cocaine.

“When I couldn't handle life, what I had been through and who I was because of it, I just numbed it,” she said plainly.

Over the next decade, Daneen gave her best as a mother, suffered through another abusive relationship, and continued to treat her demons with cocaine.

Then one day in 2009, Daneen felt she could take the pain no longer.

“Just hating myself and thinking, ‘if this is life, I want out. My kids are better off if I die,’” Daneen darkly thought. “I had the whole bottle of Valium. I was curled up in a fetal position on my bedroom floor and just said, ‘God, if you don't help me, I will take my life.’”

“And my phone kept ringing,” Daneen said surprisingly. “It was my mother. And I didn't want to answer it. I had the whole bottle of pills in my hand and the phone right here, ringing, ringing. And finally, I'm like, ‘What?’ And she's like, ‘What's wrong?’ Like she knew. I just dropped the pills all over the bed, and I laid in a fetal position crying out to God.”

Daneen’s desire to use was gone the next morning, but she still had the heart of hurting, young girl.

“I didn't know how to change my life. I didn't have a clue what was healthy, what love was,” Daneen admitted. “I just wanted to be loved. That's all I wanted.”

One day, Daneen found a card a friend had given her. It was an invitation to church.

“I wanted to know something normal, something healthy, and I figured maybe I'd find it there,” she hopefully thought. “And I'm like, ‘Oh, I think I'll go check it out.’”

A reluctant visit turned into regular attendance, and she even got connected with the women’s group at the church.

“And they were like, ‘We're gonna love you till you love yourself.’ And they did,” smiled Daneen. “They actually taught me how to live again.”

But it wasn’t until years later at an altar call that Daneen finally understood and accepted the truth of God’s love.

“And I lost it. I just cried outwardly in church. And then I said it wholeheartedly,” Daneen remembered, “just asking God to just come into my life.”

Not long after, she was baptized.

“I loved the fact that we were getting baptized in a river.  Just made it seem more Godly, like, you know, what Jesus did. So it was pretty powerful,” Daneen recalled. “I had written all my pain and fears, everything on a little note, and then I held it in my hand and the pastor prayed and when I came out of the water I felt like a new person! It was amazing to feel new.”

Through continued growth in healthy community, counseling and Bible study, Daneen’s abuse-ridden story finally has peace.

“I can finally say that I like me,” chuckled Daneen. “I know Jesus loves me because the world has tried to take me out so many times and like He ‘ain't letting me go anywhere. He has saved my life. He has shown me that I am worthy, and I am loved, and He loves me just the way I am.”

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