As I write this, my heart is filled with joy and happiness. I did it! I graduated from Captive Hearts. One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.”
As far as I can recall, I always believed in God. I considered myself a “good person” and always tried to do the right thing. Every time I achieved a goal, I expected that achievement to bring happiness, but it seems like there was always something missing. I desired to be praised and to feel wanted and loved, so I always tried to go above and beyond. I was never really satisfied inside my heart and in my mind, there was an emptiness. Growing up, my parents were very loving and supportive. Of course, there was dysfunction, but I knew that my parents loved me and that’s all that mattered.
In high school, I was co-captain of the varsity cheer-leading squad, elected Homecoming Princess, play softball, was in the concert and marching band, was the yearbook editor, and took all honor classes. I was very involved in most extra-curricular activities. All of my achievements brought happiness to me at the moment. I had hopes and dreams to be a news reporter someday. Once I got accepted to California State University at Fullerton. I just knew I was headed for success. I declared my major in communications and it seemed like I was on the right path. At the age of 19, I knew what I wanted. There was nothing that was going to get in the way of me achieving my goals and dreams.
Then I met methamphetamine. I never thought I would ever try drugs. Addiction does run in my family, and I saw how it tore my family apart. I remember as a little girl absolutely hating drugs because they took my older brother away from me. I’ve seen all the hurts and struggles that he went through. I never wanted to experience that kind of lifestyle. It’s crazy how you can be so against something for so long, and then the next minute you’re doing everything you said you would never do.
I began to lose my morals, self-worth, and the trust of my loved ones. My life had become unmanageable and it was like I was living two different lives at the same time. It was exhausting trying to keep my drug habit a secret from my mom and my boyfriend. I was so ashamed of the lifestyle that I was living. All I wanted was to go to school and work as much as possible. That was the only way I could hide my using and I thought that as long as I continued to get good grades in school and made money, I was able to justify my drug use. My disease began to get ahold of me and my secret wasn’t a secret anymore. Everyone knew and I was so embarrassed. I tried to stop using drugs, but the truth was, I just couldn’t.
In 2006, I found out I was pregnant and I was so happy and relieved. I finally had a reason to stop using drugs. I believe that God gave me my little boy to show me how much He loves and cares for me. After that day, I made a promise to God, myself and my unborn baby that I would never use drugs again. I never told anyone about that day because the only one who was with me through everything was my Father God. My life began to get better and I found myself truly happy again. I was so excited that I was going to have my own little family. My family trusted me and indeed they had their Sara back.
In 2007, I gave birth to my precious little boy, Dylan, my pride and joy. I loved being a mom and having him was the best thing that ever happened to me! When he was 6 months old, I decided to go back to school. I really wanted to help women who struggled with addiction. I was in college, working and taking care of my baby. Life was hard, but my son’s dad and I really worked together to make everything work.
I felt like I was accomplishing a lot, and then I started using drugs again. This time, it was meth, heroin and cocaine. I dropped out of college, quit my job, and literally surrounded my life around drugs. My son’s dad begged me to stop and I really wanted to, but I couldn’t. I began to not care about anything and started running around on the streets and eventually just never went back home. I felt so much shame and guilt and believed that my son was better off without me.
The next five years were a nightmare. I was a hardcore addict in and out of jail and prison. I engaged in criminal activity and used lots of drugs and knew that everything I was doing was going to get me locked up again, but I continuously did it. On May 17, 2014, I believe God knew how hopeless I truly was and He heard my cry for help. I found myself once again in the back of a cop car. I was tired of living the way I was living, but the only way I could ever stop was when I got arrested.
I spent 17 months locked up in San Luis Obispo County Jail. That is where I first heard of Captive Hearts. I looked forward to every Tuesday because Ms. Judy, Lynn Frady, and Christa Spates would come in as jail ministry and loved on us. Ms. Judy just has this light on her, and it brought a sense of peace to my heart every time I saw her. Those women gave me hope when I was in there. I’m so forever thankful for the jail ministry because that’s where my walk with the Lord began. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and began to put all my hope in Him. The more I pressed into His Word, the more content I felt with Sara. Although I was locked up in jail, I was the happiest I had been in a very long time.
Ms. Judy promised me that when I got released, there would be a bed for me at Captive Hearts. I never quite understood why she loved us women so much, but I knew her love was genuine. Being so far away from home was difficult for me. All of my family was in L.A., where I was born and raised. The jail ministry became my new family and Ms. Judy said to me that she would be my surrogate mother until I was able to be with my mom again. By the grace of God, I was released 13 months early on house arrest. Ms. Judy kept every promise she made to me, and I made it to Captive Hearts on Sept. 24, 2015.
I know and feel in my heart that going to Captive Hearts was the best decision I ever made. I surrendered to Jesus and stopped running on my own self will. Every day the Lord’s love and light shined through me more and more. I received so much inner healing from all the classes we did and started to love myself again. Being in a recovery home can be very difficult, but Captive Hearts is just full of love, and we are a family! I made some friendships and bonds with a couple of women that I know will be a friendship that lasts forever. My entire life has completely changed.
Today, I know what I want, I want what God wants for me. For the first time in my life, I feel free. The love that LeeAnn and Cyd has shown me really made an impact in my life. They believed in me and held my hand as I walked through the shame and guilt that I felt. I don’t feel any shame or guilt now because I’m a new creation in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the creation has come—the old is gone and the new is here” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I receive that with an abundance of Grace! I have a relationship with my son again. The Lord is good and I’m excited to live the life He planned for me.