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Ready to Die, Woman Finds New Life

“Never had that experience of a boy knocking on the door and wanting to take me out.  And I just figured it was me.  My overweight. The way I looked. It terrorized me that I would never experience love.” Growing up Elisa was a shy girl with a poor self-image, which made it difficult for her to make friends. She recalls, “I was alone all my life and I just – I just really hated being alone.  I didn't understand ‘Why did I have to be alone?’"

Her father was a minister and although they spent a lot of time at church, it meant nothing to Elisa. She recalls, “But I wasn't feeling it.  I didn't get it. Because to me "church" was boring.”

After high school Elisa had more opportunities to socialize and discovered that alcohol helped her overcome her shyness. She said, “The alcohol changed me from a quiet person, respectful person, into a wild, unruly person. The alcohol started ruling me, you know, and I couldn't control myself.”

When she was 21 she met a man and fell in love. Thinking she’d found what she wanted, they moved in together. She recalls, “That was the first time I had experienced love outside of my family.  And I gave all I had. I thought that's what love was, you know?” But he was mentally abusive and never really loved her. Elisa recalled, “And so that's where I increased my drinking. I'd walk to the store and get me some beer, get cigarettes, drink myself to a stupor, cry.”

After five years she’d had enough and she moved out. Her self-image problems resurfaced. To deal with the growing emotional pain Elisa tried crack. She said, “It took me uh to a numb place where the alcohol really didn't. I didn't want to feel my pain no more.  And so I sought to disappear, not to feel anything.  And that's what the crack did.” Alcohol and crack consumed every part of Elisa’s life for the next 18 years. She was a functioning addict with no direction. She recalls, “Even though I would drink to try to find peace, the raging that was going in my mind and in my heart, that pain there, I just couldn't find it. But yet, still I would drink and I would drink and I would drink.”

At 46 Elisa wasn’t eating regularly and her body was wasting away. A cousin convinced her to check into a hospital for help but Elisa had no desire to keep living. She remembers, “I went to the hospital to die.  I really did.  I didn't go there to uh come back home. I didn't think there was anything that the doctors could do, that I was just going to die. I had no hope whatsoever.” Doctors discovered Elisa’s kidneys were shutting down. They began dialysis and flushed her system of drugs. Starting to think clearly for the first time in decades, Elisa thought back on her father’s sermons about Jesus and she found a glimmer of hope. She remembers, “My mind immediately went to the Lord because I tried everything else to cover the pain, to numb the – what was going on in my life. That's when I started thinking on-on-on God. I was afraid to talk to God because uh – what could I say to him?  How could I explain what I'd done, how I was living?”

Then one night a nurse surprised Elisa by saying that Jesus was waiting to talk to her. She said, “I just cried, you know, I just laid there in the bed and I would cry.  In that stillness, was when uh I was able to hear and feel God's sweet love.  That's when I knew who God was.” Elisa found the Bible in her room and started reading. She stayed in the hospital another 25 days reading her Bible and recovering. After being released she remembers, “That Sunday I went to church.  I went to church and uh that's when I verbally opened up my mouth and I said, ‘Yes, Lord.’ And confessed my sins and that he saved me. Even though I lived a wretched life for many years, he forgave me and he healed me.”

Elisa enrolled in college and graduated with a B.S. in Human Services and Criminal Justice. She started a non-profit seeking to share Jesus’ love with others who are lost and alone.  She believes, “That love that I've always wanted and desired is in Christ. He's more than I ever could have hoped for. Christ loves us all. He wants you to leave your old life, come walk with him.   No matter what that life consists of, drugs, alcohol, gambling, lying, whatever it is, it's not too much for Christ to heal.” 

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