"My mother had health issues and my father left before I was old enough to know who he was," is how Stacy Jackson describes her earliest memories. Memories that created confusion about what a healthy relationship really looked liked.
At the age of eight, Stacy was absorbed into the foster care system where she quickly moved from one foster home to the next for 14 consecutive months. She remembers hearing about God, but each home had a different view of who He was and how we fit into the mess of each brittle worldview. Admittedly, she was confused about God, so she decided to live by her own personally constructed standards.
At 15, she met a man who at 24 promised her the love she desired to find. But, he was an addict and their relationship didn't lead to the relationship she had craved. Instead she spiraled into addiction for the next 20 years of her life. The trail of addiction tragically led her to 72 arrests and three confinements in the state prison system. It was in prison and in a work release program that she experienced the grace of a healthy relationship.
"I met a couple at this program and no matter how I questioned them or tried to get them to leave me alone, they loved me. They loved me until I could love myself and have a new outlook on God," Stacy remembers. "Whatever God they were serving—that's the God I wanted to exist." That couple pointed her to the truth and introduced her to the God of Scripture.
God softened her heart. Alone in her room, practically unstoppable tears began sliding down her cheeks. She prayed, "God, I don't want to be an addict anymore. I don't want to go back to using when I get out of here," she quietly begged. She threw herself at the mercy of God and ran headlong into the waiting love she discovered. She was recently baptized at the Journey, the church she said, "just felt like home."
Instead of regretting the abuses of the past, Stacy knows that God can redeem the pain and trouble that once darkened her future. "I believed He allowed me to go through those things to glorify His name in the end," she recounted as she considered all of her past experiences. In fact, her past is more than a bad memory. It is waking a dream for her future.