For many years Tonia thought she knew the Lord. After hiding behind a facade, trying to please people and searching for love, Tonia ran away with the carnival. Her rocky road got rougher and love was always just beyond her reach, until one day Tonia realized she couldn't fool God. Now that she has received the love of Jesus, her life is finally moving in the right direction.
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Tonia's Rough Road to Redemption
When I was young I went to a church and one summer I attended camp. While at camp I thought, if there is a Jesus I will be safe if I say the sinner's prayer, and if not, then I will have lived a good life.
So I said the prayer and from that day on I thought I was saved. I know now that I was not.
Yet from 11 until age 19, I was being pursued by God. I said all the right words. I went to church, Sunday school and youth group. I even started a witnessing group for kids in my high school. Each week we would share our witnessing techniques, have a Bible study and pray for our school.
God's Sense of HumorGod has an amazing sense of humor. He used a girl who thought she was saved to save others, even when she herself was still lost! But all that time I was so sad and lonely.
I have always been a people-pleaser at heart. I built a fake facade that represented all that I thought I should have been in reality. I hid behind that. I showed very few people who I was and what I thought on the inside.
Then came graduation!
I went to a party and almost had sex with a guy I hardly knew. I was longing for love and looking for a real connection with someone. I got so drunk I could not think straight. I left that party humiliated.
Two weeks later I ran away with the carnival. Yes, I became an honest-to-God carny! I was warned by three nice old guys who had 35+ years experience in the carnival, that I had better find a boyfriend or I would eventually have my virginity raped from me.
My Bad ChoicesSo I found the first guy who was interested, and we had sex. This was the worst choice of my young life. You see, I had been molested once and someone else had attempted to rape me at age 12. I knew I didn't want a casual boyfriend, but I wanted to feel whole. I thought having a man would give me that. I left him and went from one man to another. There was nothing left to stop me. I was not a virgin anymore.
I handed each man my heart the first time he used my body. And usually he handed it right back when he found someone prettier or skinnier—proving to me I was not good enough.
Then I met a guy who did love me, or so I thought. We lived together for a while and then his mother found out about us. She invited me to her house and asked me if her son had told me about his 'issues.' I said no. Then she called him and told him he had to come over and tell me, or else she would. Well, sure enough, he came over and told me that he had molested his sisters several times.
Because he had offered me love, I did not dump him like the bag of crap he was, and would later prove to be. I stayed living with his mother and dating him for almost a year. I even planned a wedding with him. Thank God that never came to fruition.
Two months before our wedding, he left me for another girl who had kids.
Soon after that I became suicidal and went to a place called Freedom Village USA. There, on November 4, 1998, I got saved for real.
God's Love for MePastor Fletcher Brothers was speaking that day on how much God loves us. I finally got it. God loves me. I realized that all the rotten stuff I had done was just me trying to fill the hole in my heart where Jesus wanted to be. I learned that I could not fool God. I could fool men, and I could fool myself, but Jesus and God couldn't be fooled by anyone! That day I learned what I had been missing.
I left Freedom Village not long after that. I regret leaving earlier than I should have, but 'til the day I go to be with Jesus, I will have a place in my heart for Freedom Village USA. There I was treated like God would treat me. They loved me and wanted nothing from me. It was so refreshing.
I left there and went to work at a few places. Eventually, by the Lord's leading, I went to Word of Life Bible Institute. I spent a year there learning about Jesus and the Bible. I was taught through the writings of experts in theology and apologetics, like Ken Ham, Charles Ryrie, John Whitcomb and Sumner Wemp. I had the year of a lifetime.
My spiritual life was at an all-time high. And then ... when I left, I started to cave.
That young man I almost married came back into my life. I still had love for him in my heart—do not ask me why! I started a relationship with him and again ended up living with his mother. But it was a good thing, because she was a Christian woman. She managed to keep me grounded and for a while things went well.
Then I left and found a job. Eventually I met and married my husband, who is not a perfect man, but he does love me. I am privileged to have him in my life. And now I have a little boy.
Moving in the Right DirectionMy life is moving in the right direction for the first time in a long time. My spiritual journey has been bumpy, and man, have I sinned! But I love Jesus and am finally starting to walk my faith.
I pray the road ahead is straight and not too rough. Yet if it gets curvy or rocky, I know that so far God has never left me. He has carried me when I wandered into fields that have looked greener, but turned out to be the quick sand to hell on earth.
I tell you the truth, better is one day in God's house than a thousand elsewhere!