I am almost to the halfway point in the program. I won’t lie, this has been very difficult. Let me explain.
My mother and grandmother were both Godly, praying women. I went to church as a child and received Bible teaching. I sang worship songs. I felt I knew God.
When my dad died, I was nine years old, the youngest daughter. Two years later, I ran away from home to escape being abused. As a result, for the next few years, I spent time in juvenile facilities or, if taken back to my mother’s house, running away again.
By age 14, I was pregnant. By age 18, I had three young children. To support us, I worked construction jobs. I was usually one of few women on the jobsite, helping wire electrical contracts or applying stucco, even working concrete. It was tough. I had to keep the guys’ respect, I thought, so I ignored their dirty comments and made sure I kept up. This was an effective strategy. They left me alone and almost treated me as an equal.
In the course of time, I ended up hurting my back and was prescribed pain meds. It didn’t take too long before I realized the meds had “street value,” so I began dealing to some of my friends. The easy money quickly became a habit. I rationalized my behavior by telling myself they were legal drugs and, besides, I needed the money to survive.
For years, my plan worked. I had a regular clientele, and I made more than enough to live. Then, in a matter of days, my world collapsed. I spent an evening with my daughter watching her kids play baseball. Less than ten hours later, I received a call from her husband, who told me she was dead. I was shocked beyond words. To make matters worse, only days later, still deep inside my grief, I watched helplessly as my fiancé collapsed in front of me. The EMTs confirmed my worst fear.
Like Jonah, I continued to descend. Not too long after losing my daughter and fiancé, someone I considered a close friend was busted for narcotics and turned evidence on me. I was arrested and informed I would probably serve 65 years. As I sat in my cell considering my plight, darkness overwhelmed me. I pulled a plastic bag over my head, ready to stop the madness. At that moment, I heard Holy Spirit tell me to stop. He said He had something for me to do for Him and I was here, in this facility, to learn what it was.
“God,” I prayed, “please stop the voices. This place is so loud. There are so many voices in my head, I have no peace. Please, give me peace.” At that instant, the voices stopped. My prayer was answered.
When the plea came down, I learned I would serve 6.5 years and pay a very large fine to the state of Florida. Although that still seemed like a long time, it was more realistic than 65. After moving to the state facility in Ocala, I had a vision. In this vision, I was standing in the middle of a room and one side was very dark and the other side was very bright. I asked God to explain the vision, and He said, “There is both darkness and light in this place. You will be a light.”
Not long after this supernatural experience, Katie Souza came to the facility, ministering and giving away copies of her book, The Captivity Series; The Key to Your Expected End. I asked her to sign my book, and she did, writing, “To Janet, Big Love, Katie.” She also left some of her teachings for us. I read the book cover to cover. I figured, if Katie could go through all the things she did and could still be used by God, then He could do the same thing in my life. Every day, I watched her teachings in the activity room for a full hour. I even got reprimanded a couple of times for staying too long!
I loaned my book to one of the inmates and forgot about it when I was transferred to a different facility. More than a year later someone showed me a copy of Katie’s book and said, “I think this is yours.”
I told them I used to have a copy, but I lost it. They opened the front to show me, “To Janet, Big Love, Katie.” My book had followed me all the way across the state!
Now that I am at the Transformation House, the last seven months have been incredible. Before coming here I thought I had my life on a good track because I spent most of my time in prison seeking God and His purpose. I actually looked forward to sharing my wisdom with Katie; since I was sure she would be impressed with me, her student. Right away, I found how little I really knew. The Academy of Supernatural Healing staff showed me how to soak in God’s presence and through this He began, layer by layer, dealing with soul wounds and personal issues I thought I had long-since dealt with. It was painful and uncomfortable.
Looking back, I did not know what to expect when I arrived. I guess I thought I would be validated and would finally be free again. It wasn’t like that. I had to prove I could be accountable. And, I had to spend time daily allowing God to “shape” my character. I love the results of God’s correction, but I hate the process.
It didn’t take very long before I realized that this was going to be a difficult assignment. My instinct was the same as it was when I was a little girl. Run!
Part of the program was to never be alone but through a miscommunication, I found myself without supervision for a few minutes. This was my chance! I quickly made a call home, where I knew I could get money for a plane ticket. No one answered! So I dialed a second number. No answer! After several more attempts, I gave up and began walking toward the train station, which I knew was nearby.
A few minutes later I was there, but it was closed! Really?! Not knowing what to do I sat down on the bench outside and asked God what He wanted from me. He said, “I brought you here to learn your expected end, which is what you said you desired. I want you here.”
To be honest, I still don’t know my expected end. It feels sometimes like I’m walking through a thick, Florida fog on a dark night. I can only see a few feet at a time. As I move along, in faith, a bit more of the path comes into view. As long as I keep moving, the path is revealed, little by little. I’m fine with that. Already I feel stronger. My confidence in God grows daily. I realize that I don’t need the whole picture now, because God is in control. That comforts me.
I am very grateful to the staff here because they refuse to give up on me. I love working with them, my new family. I even have a new church family. I can’t believe I was one phone call from missing all of this. God is so good!