Zana Hembree: No More Masks
By Audra Smith
The 700 Club
Original Aire Date: October 5, 2010
I always wore a mask. I would never let anyone see what I really felt inside.
Since I was two weeks old, I went to church every Sunday. So, from the outside looking in, it looked like a picture perfect family. But on the inside things were not okay.
I grew up living in fear. There was anger, and rage, and physical attack in my home. I didn't dare tell anyone what was happening at home.
A script developed in my mind that rolled constantly. You're fat. You’re ugly. You’re stupid. You’re not worthy. So, I began to look for acceptance outside of my home.
I started drinking at 14, but the masquerade continued through my college years. I would start the night off with a fifth of whiskey and chase it with a half of a case of beer. I would do that five to six nights a week, then I would go to church. It was a vicious cycle.
In 2001, I moved to Nashville, TN, and shortly after I arrived, I landed my dream job at the Grand Ole Opry. I was the event coordinator. I felt like I had finally made it, because I had an all-access pass to Music City.
One night I attended a Nashville Star Premier party, and I met a guy. He was interested in me, too. Automatically I was so attracted to the way he made me feel like a princess. I had never felt that before and so I was just willing to do anything for him. So I took on his fast paced party lifestyle.
We went out drinking one night. We were drinking whiskey as usual. He looked at the door, and he said, "I just wish a pretty girl would walk in." It crushed me, because I realized that he didn't look at me as a girlfriend but more as a drinking buddy. I just sat there and drank more and more and more.
I don't remember leaving the bar. I pulled onto I-65 North, but I was heading southbound. I had a head on collision with a van, a family of three. The only thing I remember was waking up out of my black-out in the back seat of a police car. I woke up, spitting glass out of my mouth. I had no injuries, but I had a mouth full of broken glass.
Both cars were totaled in the accident. But no one was injured. To say that it was a wake-up call was putting it lightly. As I faced what could have been a very tragic end to a family and me, I was so ashamed, just horrified at what had happened. But, God was speaking to me in a way that I had never known before. It was as though hitting rock bottom was the place I had to hit in order to fully see how much He loved me.
He was saying, "I am saving you, because you are worth fighting for." That is all I needed to hear. My whole life all I wanted to hear was "I love you" and "I want you". I just realized that all of the horrible things I had done in the past to feel loved and accepted were fleeting. It didn't matter. The only person who could fill that love and acceptance for me was God, Himself. From that point forward everything changed. It was a huge miracle.
No one knew that I had been convicted of a DUI and I had to spend a weekend in jail. I never missed a day of work.
After the accident, Jesus became my everything. I became passionate about church in a whole new way. I began praying to God about how He would use me. I knew then that the masks in my life fell away. I didn't have to live a double life anymore.
I found that the relationship that I wanted my whole life, with love and acceptance and self-worth was right there for me... and it was Jesus.
Can God change your life?
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