Stephanie Striley: Running Back to God
By Christine McWhorter
The 700 Club
Original Air Date: December 3, 2010
"I became a legitimate pothead. I smoked weed every day, multiple times a day, and I did that throughout my freshman year."
Stephanie Striley never really felt like she fit in at her school. She tells The 700 Club, "I think that set me up for a desperation once I got to middle school. I became more desperate to find a place where I fit in, and that led to compromising my morals and what I knew was right in order to find that place."
The friends she eventually made introduced her to marijuana when she was only 13.
"They say marijuana is a gateway drug, and I always used to laugh at that. But it’s so true. Once you start that progression, it’s a continual pattern."
She spent her days skipping school, hanging with friends, and doing drugs. She says, "I really, really was in an illusion. I really felt that I was happy. I could have told you that I was honestly happy. I felt like I was doing the right thing. Even thought I knew that it was breaking the rules, that was what felt normal to me."
But the fun ended when a friend offered methamphetamines during their lunch break.
"It immediately owned me. I immediately was addicted. I didn’t go back to school for the rest of the day. In fact, I didn’t go home for nine days. And that was really what started and marked the beginning of the downward spiral.
The drug and the high from it and the need for more totally overrode all logical thinking."
She was so afraid to go home, she spent more than a week at a friend’s house. Her parents spent days looking for her. When she finally came home from her friend’s house, she did everything she could to keep her addictions a secret.
"I was constantly trying to hide something, whether it was the smell of cigarettes, a lighter in my purse, foils or paraphernalia from the methamphetamines. It was constantly this hidden thing. When you’re addicted to a drug, you just cannot think outside of that addiction and how to feed it and you’re constantly concerned about the high that you have right now. When it comes down, when I can find more."
To support her habit, she began selling meth. It wasn’t long before her parents found out, and they gave Stephanie an ultimatum: get off of the meth or move out.
"The week that I turned 17, I dropped out of school, and I moved out of their house. I moved in with a guy that I had only known for a week and had become somewhat romantically involved with. He immediately became abusive."
Stephanie lived in constant fear of her new boyfriend. She says, "He was very controlling, very jealous, and he thought that I had been cheating on him. So he held me at gunpoint trying to get it out of me that I really hadn’t. I thought that the only way he’s going to give up is to shoot me. At that point I cried out to the Lord, ‘If You let me live tonight, I promise I will leave here.'"
He finally let her go, and she moved back in with her parents. But when things didn’t get better, she could only think of one way out.
"Literally everything that could go wrong went wrong. Nothing was right in my life. I just got to the end of my rope, and I just decided that I was going to kill myself."
She planned to overdose on pills, but before she could, her family checked her into a mental hospital. When she was released, she went right back to her old life of drinking, drugs, and another abusive relationship.
"I’m struggling with all the mental and emotional anguish that comes along with trying to keep my head above water."
Stephanie finally escaped the relationship, but a couple of months later, she found out she was pregnant.
"I didn’t know what I was going to do. This panic sets in and you have this rush of so many emotions. But I just remember within the first hour probably, I just started to fall in love with my baby. I just knew that I wanted to do whatever it took to give him the best life possible. Because of the way that I was raised, I just knew that involved Christ. That was when I made the decision in my heart that I was going to somehow find my way back to Jesus. I didn’t know what that looked like and I definitely did not have a plan of action, but I just knew I was going to find my way back for the sake of my child."
Then and there, she decided to rededicate her life to God.
"Recovery for me was immediate. When the Lord set me free that day on April 2, I was free indeed. It was like I never had a craving for it again. He did it all for me. I never had to do any rehab or any program. I never had to do any counseling or anything like that. It was just that the Lord’s grace came in and truly set me free from the addiction.
"I think that through the rejection that I had when I was younger and having this longing and this ache within my heart to truly fit in and truly be accepted was completely blown out of the water when Jesus started pouring out all of His blessings. But to truly taste and see the Lord is good and how much He cares about you personally and intimately, that just began to fill that void."
Today she is married and has three sons and has reconciled with her parents.
"I think when I was nine years old and I was baptized, I made Jesus my Savior. But it wasn’t until I was 19 that He became real to me, that He became a person, someone I could communicate with, somebody who could intimately bless me, speak right to my situation. He became very real and we developed an actual relationship. I never have to question whether or not He’s going to come through. If He can deliver me out of all that He rescued me from, then of course, He’ll be faithful still."
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