ALIVE in Sara
(TW: Please note this talks about depression, please continue with care.)
For as long as I remember, I believed in God and that there was a creator. I have the most amazing mum, and had everything I could possibly need. But I don’t know my birth father, and I think that increased my yearning for God.
As a teen I got involved in a Jehovah Witness church, but when I left they all stopped talking to me. That really hurt, and I felt like I had been abandoned by God as well.
A big part of my story is that I’m an alcoholic. I had my first bad experience when I was 14. We were being silly teenagers and I got alcohol poisoning. I drank to let go of inhibitions and give me confidence. When we went out on the town, there were so many nights when I had blackouts and couldn’t remember how I got home.
Alcohol is a depressive, and when I was drinking so much I had suicidal thoughts. The problem is when you stop drinking, you feel worse, so you drink again to stop the symptoms. So that’s when you start drinking first thing in the morning. I would sit at home drinking, crying out to God and listening to worship music on Youtube. I was in so much pain.
I worked in a café, and someone that I knew went to The Salvation Army used to come in for coffees. One afternoon I was really upset and I just reached out to him and said that I needed Jesus in my life and could I come to church with him one day?
" ... it got to the stage where I ended up in hospital and I was hallucinating. It was really terrifying. I was in such a state of anxiety, I just kept saying the name of Jesus out loud and I felt this peace come over me."
That’s when I got into the Bridge programme for problem drinking, at the Salvation Army Newtown Centre. When I first got there, I was still a little bit unconvinced that I wanted to stop drinking. But as the fog lifted and my mind cleared, I made this firm decision that I was going to get something out of every day. I managed to talk about everything I needed to with caseworkers, and got something out of every class. When I first got there, I just wanted to know how it was all going to end. My case worker just said, ‘Don’t worry about anything, miracles happen’.
When I finished the Bridge, I got a room in a Salvation Army recovery house – it’s for people who are really committed to their recovery. The people I was in that house with I call my brothers and sisters now. We supported each other so much, going to meetings, reading the Bible and helping each other with everyday life. We were a family, and we just kept growing and recovering together.
I started volunteering at Wellington South Corps, greeting people and signing people in when we were in Level 2. I volunteered a couple of hours a week helping as a reception assistant, and then suddenly an opportunity opened up to work as the receptionist. Then I was asked to be the finance admin assistant, and I’ve been doing that for a year now. I really love it, and I'm really good at it!
Last year I had another few relapses. I don’t torture myself with the why, but it got to the stage where I ended up in hospital and I was hallucinating. It was really terrifying. I was in such a state of anxiety, I just kept saying the name of Jesus out loud and I felt this peace come over me.
One of the things l’ve learnt about God is that it’s a two-way relationship. God will give you the things you ask for in some way, but you also have to do your part. When I came out of hospital, people from Wellington South banded together to support me. I just did absolutely everything that was suggested. My sponsor checked on me every day, and picked me up for AA meetings. It was full surrender from me, and full acceptance of my powerlessness.
Recently, I’ve been doing a ‘discipleship bootcamp’. We learned about how God is faithful and won’t allow you to be tempted beyond what you can handle. Reflecting on this, I see how I have come through hard times because I leaned on God and trusted fully that no struggle is too big for Him. His Word is just so beautiful and reassuring. Every day, I’m just leaning into Jesus.