#HerStory India Jonassaint
Her story. My story? You want to know my story? Well, I can let you know that from the outside looking in, it may seem pretty typical. Church girl who did well in school. Took a few risks and met the love of her life. Got married and had a baby two years after marriage. Pursuing her dreams and trying to live happily ever after. Kind of typical right? Well this is NOT my story. There are SO many hidden details that make my story thus far very unique. Let’s get started shall we?
Well, first off I was what you would consider a church girl. I grew up in church and knew nothing but church my entire life. I loved God with my whole heart and really desired to please Him, however my faith would be put to the test once I started college. I was in for a rude awakening.
I like to think of college as a true, defining moment in a young woman’s life. You experience a lot of things that will either make or break you. Everything I experienced did both. I was faced with some very tough decisions, and it would be great to say that I did everything right my first year of college, but to tell you the truth I did everything wrong. Except for making the dean’s list, I was involved in toxic relationships, abuse, promiscuity, drinking, experimenting with drugs and just plain low self-esteem.
Unfortunately, I had been sexually assaulted before I left for college and it changed my views on everything I stood for. I didn’t understand why I should honor God if people would just take advantage of me like that. I wanted to take advantage of people too.
Everything I thought I knew and my upbringing were brought into question the moment I set foot on that campus. I was acting like I left my morals back home in South Carolina. The average person would say I was having fun, but would fun put you in an abortion clinic? Absolutely not.
I gave in to so much sin during this point in my life. I couldn’t believe the things I had opened myself up to. I felt like God had turned His back on me. I knew He must’ve hated me at this time in my life. Everything was going terribly bad, and I was reaping the consequences of my careless behavior. Not to mention that I really didn’t understand my faith either.
Sure, I knew the basics, but there I was believing that God’s love for me was conditional and that I had to perform a certain way to earn my salvation. I got tired of playing church, and I wanted to experience the world I thought I had been missing. I quickly learned that long before the foundations of the Earth God had a plan for me. He chose me for Himself and destined me to preach His Gospel in the earth.
Now, during my first year of college, I couldn’t fathom that. I was sinking into a huge dark pit called depression. I was making bad decision after bad decision. I was turning to drinking to numb my pain. I was turning to men to validate myself. I was turning to everything else but God.
It wasn’t until the tail end of my freshman year that I had had enough, and I finally started to hear the still, small voice that I had quieted for so long. I finally started listening to God again. I desired to obey His word again. I became fed up with my backsliding and what it had brought me. I just wanted Jesus again.
I literally came crying to my boss at the time who also happened to be like an older sister. I knew she was saved and that I could trust her. I came clean about everything. That moment reminds me of James 5: 16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
She listened to me and prayed for me. I needed to confess my sins to another person. It began my long process of healing. I didn’t know what was next, but I knew that it would be better than my past.
I wish I could say that everything was easier after that point. It was a grueling process of sanctification. I still had my slip ups, but my conviction was growing stronger and stronger. I started to live a life full of repentance again. I still dealt with depression, but after a while God delivered me. I no longer needed validation from other people. I was secure in who I was in Christ.
Later on, I founded College Girls After Christ. It is an organization to encourage women to walk in and fulfill their purpose in Christ. My pain birthed something beautiful. I didn’t want any other girl in college to go through what I went through. I didn’t want any other girl to make the same bad decisions. I understood how important support and godly community was in college.
I forgave myself for everything I had done, and I began to walk in my forgiveness. The next few years brought many hurdles but lots of goodness and God’s graciousness. Eventually, I moved to Atlanta, Georgia for a new start. All I had was a job offer and my car full of clothes. God miraculously provided for me and I met my husband.
We met and got married under a year, and I’m blessed to say we are thriving in our marriage. We recently had a baby boy and our lives are full of so much joy! Looking back, I never would have thought that I would be in this place. My life is no where near perfect, and to be honest we struggle too. I’m still going through the sanctification process, and God is pruning me daily.
I was terrified that because of my past sin I wouldn’t be able to have children. I was worried that something would go wrong, BUT GOD. He is Who He says He is. He showed me so much grace through my pregnancy and labor. I’m still in awe of His mercy on me because I know I am so undeserving.
My story is not what others typically would think, but I think my story is pretty typical. Why? Because I realize that there are thousands upon thousands of women who relate to my story. I realize that there are many women in the church that have suffered through some of the same things I have. I realize that there are women who are dealing with certain things right now.
I now understand that despite my sin, God had a plan for me. I understand that He didn’t allow me to live through those things just to enjoy life and be silent. He desires for me to share my testimony for HIS glory. It literally has NOTHING to do with me, but everything to do with Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t even be able to share this story of mine without the strength of the Holy Spirit. Sin and shame would cause me to hide, but Christ in me causes me to boldly proclaim His name in the midst of my story.
I understand how deep this goes. I also understand that many will be shocked to learn that the little, perfect India that they looked up to or were inspired by has a dark past too. I’m not proud of my past, but it’s my story and I cannot change it. I choose to glorify God through sharing my story in hopes that He will use my story to set someone else free.
You don’t have to live in bondage. You don’t have to be depressed your whole life. You don’t have to live in shame of what happened to you or the decisions you made in your sin. Jesus died for it all. He already knew. Have hope knowing God STILL loves you and has a plan for your life. He will use you.
I pray that God has used my story to speak to someone, even if just one. I hope that it inspires others to live their life with no regrets knowing that God has called you according to His purpose. This is my story.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 ESV