Post Categories: July 11, 2019

Heather’s Story

When she was 15, Heather experienced an overdose that nearly killed her. Read her story and learn how her later imprisonment led her to Jesus.

A woman wearing a hat, draped in shadows.

When I was 8 years old, my parents divorced. At the time, it was just my brother and I. My mother was granted custody, and my father visitations.

Upon my parents’ breakup, my mother promptly moved us out of the small town we were raised in. We left behind, to my dismay, my father and both sets of grandparents.

My mother was adopted when she was two years old, and my adoptive grandparents were very religious. Whenever I was visiting my father, which was most school holidays, my grandmother on my mother’s side would come and pick up my brother and I. This would happen every Friday and Sunday.

On Fridays, we would spend the day at Grandma’s house, helping in the garden or watering the flowers. I remember praying before supper. On Sundays, like clockwork, Grandma would walk the short distance to my father’s house and pick us up for Sunday worship. And each Sunday, we would make the walk to the old Catholic Church.

At the time, my opinion of church was that it was anything but exciting. It felt drawn out and very dry. I wish I could say I understood church or who Jesus was, but I can’t. To my younger self, Jesus was a story, and church was a place people went on Sundays.

As time passed, I grew up. I would like to say I grew into a proper young lady, but that would be a lie. My mother’s household did not function at any point growing up. In fact, it was nothing short of extreme abuse at the hands of my step-father.

I left for good when I was 13. I ended up on the streets of Edmonton, in an area which few people want to travel to. “The Row,” as we call it, consisted of drug dealers, prostitutes, and thieves. The Row is where I found out I had excellent survival skills — none of which were legal.

I bought into a lifestyle of handsome men with beautiful cars and lots of money. I dated dealers of one sort or another during my early teen years. These men were all about their turfs (blocks), their drugs, their money, and me — and pretty much in that order too. I did not want for anything, or so I thought.

At 14, I was using drugs, and involved in all sorts of criminal activities. Later, those activities would cost me years inside the penitentiary for women.

I didn’t understand God, but I figured someone was up there — because someone saved me.

At 15, I overdosed on cocaine. When I came to, I was being resuscitated. I hallucinated, and thought I saw these shadow people. It was probably just the people who were there at the time, but the whole experience scared me. So much so that I ran right out of the condo, and kept running. When I finally looked back, I was some thirty blocks away, and standing in front of a friend’s house.

I ran to his door, and when he opened it I remember saying, “I’m scared, and I think I just died.” I ran past him and straight into his bedroom, where I jumped into his bed and hid under the blankets. I started praying to God. I didn’t understand Him, but I figured someone was up there — because someone saved me.

I just want to take a minute here to say that addiction is nuts. I mean, I died when I was 15. And truthfully, I would have been out of my mind to think about drugs again after that. But I relapsed on more than one occasion. Looking back, that really is the definition of insanity.

I got sober and went home in my grade nine year, after my close encounter with death. I was at my father’s and it was the first time I was there during school months. I enrolled into the Catholic school. I took religion class, and I was introduced to Jesus.

I knew His story. However, Jesus was still just that to me — a story. Who could believe that this amazing and loving God, the Father, would send his Son to die for us? And Jesus, some guy I never met, would die willingly for me? I thought that was crazy.

That changed just this past year. I had been progressively getting clean for the past number of years, with fewer and fewer slips. I had also been out of jail for a period of time as well. However, one of those “slips,” combined with my poor decision making, ended with me back in jail for most of 2018.

While in jail, I began doing Bible studies and attending worship. Finally! It was like I had all this baggage — a trunk full of junk. And here was Jesus, talking to me, telling me it’s okay and that He would take all the guilt, shame, worries, and doubt away. I prayed for forgiveness, and I thanked Him for all He had done for me.

I thought back to that day I overdosed, more than two decades ago. It was truly a traumatic experience. I am blessed that the Lord had other plans for me. I could have died at 15 years old without knowing Him, but I sit here today. He saved not only my body, but my soul.

He is my Shepherd, and I am His sheep. I live each day in complete awe of the abundance of God’s glory, His vast blessings, and the immense love that He showed each of us when He sent His Son to die for us. As Peter tells us:

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

I am currently in a correctional center, and the sun just brightened my entire room, and I feel that Jesus is here. I am filled with this amazing feeling. This is the second time I have felt this way, and the tears are pouring down and I am crying for the second time.

He will never abandon us. He will carry us when we are too weak to walk. He forgives us and loves us unconditionally. It is never too late to come to Jesus. He is waiting for all His children.

The other day, some 24 women, myself included, attended Women of Worth, and we were praising through song, and I was overcome with this same feeling. The next thing I knew, I was in tears.

I was crying for Jesus, for all the suffering that He took upon Himself when He saved us from spiritual death. He is still taking our burdens today.

He saved us, that we should live by example, and be good role models to others, by walking in His path.

I feel His presence and know He loves us so much. He goes through all our struggles, giving us the strength to endure. He will never abandon us. He will carry us when we are too weak to walk. He forgives us and loves us unconditionally. It is never too late to come to Jesus. He is waiting for all His children.

Heather’s name has been changed to protect her identity. Featured photo by Luke Braswell on Unsplash.

If you want to make a meaningful impact in the hearts of prisoners, you’ve found the right ministry.

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