Cheri’s story of healing

For me it’s sometimes hard, even now, to look back on where I came from. I was the second child to teenage parents who struggled with their own addictions, pain, and dysfunctions. They were unable to love me or even provide a safe environment. Because of her own brokenness, my mom survived by taking out her hatred and anger on me. My dad was caught molesting me for the first time when I was three months old. I have no idea what it feels like to be in a normal home with parents who love you or have your best interests at heart.

By age 13, I ended up on the streets of Los Angeles. For the next 10 years, I saw and was involved in some incredibly twisted things. But they were less damaging than my home life because, by then, I didn’t expect to be loved or cared for. When I was introduced to drugs I found for the first time in my life that I didn’t feel like killing myself. It was unbelievably powerful. I found that if I took enough drugs, I could survive anything. But underneath it all I searched for someone to be normal, for a safe place to belong, to be loved.

At age 23, a drug deal went bad and I found myself with a gun in my face. I felt so grateful! I’d been trying to kill myself since I was eight years old. Now in a couple seconds all the pain would be over. When I realized he was just trying to scare me, I wanted to scream, “My next breath scares me! Please pull the trigger!” But he didn’t. And I had to breathe.

The next few days I walked around in a daze. I went to see my mom, hoping for some reason to live, but nothing had changed. However, she was excited. She’d gone back to school. For a degree in social work! I couldn’t breathe. I’d spent my whole life trying to get her to even touch me, and now she was going to teach people how to care for each other? I felt like screaming! But I just politely said, “You’ll probably do a great job. I gotta go.” She told me she had something for me and handed me a manila envelope and I left.

I was done. I went back to the drug house that was home at the time, intending to kill myself. I walked in past the naked guy, high on PCP, in the living room. Someone had just shot up heroin in the bathroom and thrown up all over. I found some syringes with the crazy thought that I could pump air into my veins until my heart exploded.

The manila envelope on the bed caught my eye. I wanted to rip it into a million pieces until my hands bled. I didn’t want to hear one more time how I had ruined her life. And then…God showed up. I don’t know how I knew it was Him, but for the first time in my life I felt safe. And loved! I just wanted to sob.

I felt that God impressed me to take the papers out of the envelope. Across the top of my mom’s term paper was a note, “Please give this to Cheri.” I struggled to read the words…the story of how her mom abandoned her as a child, of her own molest, of my father’s abuse. At the top of the third page were the words, “The only reason I survived was that I took all my anger and hatred out on my second child and I ruined her life.” God gently said to me, “This was never about you, and if you trust me, I can change your life.” This may sound crazy, but I think He gave me a glimpse of who I am the day after resurrection—an innocent and beautiful child. I had never felt innocent. I heard Him say, “I’ve never seen you any other way.” And it did change me.

True Step Ministries and the Celebrating Life in Recovery program are my attempt to share with you what God shared with me: That He is crazy about us, that He delights in us, that He is bigger than all the abuse, dysfunction, molest, rebellion, addiction…all our junk, and if you give Him a chance, He will change your life.