Graduation day at Mercy is always our favorite day! Last week, two beautiful young women, Sydney and Dallas, graduated from our program. Today, we are honoured to share a bit more from our horse-loving, graduate Dallas. Even before she began her emotional testimony, Dallas wanted to make one thing clear to the full room of friends, family, residents, staff, and supporters: “I have forgiven everyone from my past. I praise God that He is the greatest redeemer of all.” Amen.
The Years Before Transformation
Dallas grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan with her parents and little brother. From the outside, her family appeared flawless, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Dallas and her brother endured emotional, mental, and physical abuse, in a home filled with fear and secrets. Dallas desperately wanted to feel loved and safe, but because of the neglect and abuse she endured behind closed doors, she began to believe that there was something wrong with her, that she was only getting what she deserved.
Throughout this time, her mother tried to teach her about God, but this only resulted in warped ideas. Dallas asked Jesus into her heart, out of fear of hell, but she thought that God was judgmental, and he would only love her if she was perfect. It was exhausting. Her mother became ill, and her parents eventually divorced. It was messy.
Then, at a very young age, she became sexually active. This encounter caused Dallas to feel guilt and shame, almost as if she was “used” or “dirty.” She became sexually active with men and women, allowing people to take advantage of her. She became skilled at secrets. She began to be controlled and tormented by fear, particularly through terrible nightmares. Dallas endured negative comments about her weight constantly, even at home, and she pretended not to care, even though it hurt horribly. When she lost weight after an unrelated surgery as a teen, the resulting attention and compliments only confirmed her fear that she was worthy if she was “thin and perfect.” She began cycles of binging and purging, restrictions and indulgences, that continued for years.
Dallas used drugs, sex, and alcohol to cope. She lived a double life, convincing everyone that she was fine, even while addicted. After three years, she half-hardheartedly sought treatment. She “worked the system” – allowing counsellors to believe she was sober, while she kept her destructive behaviors. She lost half of her body weight, due to her eating disorder and addictions.
“I was so sick of life that I honestly felt that, if this was all my life was going to be, I would rather be dead,” said Dallas. That was when her cousin, Jenna, told her to apply at Mercy. During the application process, Dallas’ eating disorder endangered her life. With the care of a Christian psychologist, a dietician’s counsel, the support of her boyfriend, and the fervent prayers of her mom, Dallas’s health miraculously stabilized. This drew her closer to God. For the first time, Dallas felt that God might have something more for her, and she wanted to know more.
Dallas arrived at Mercy desperate for healing and freedom. She was determined to graduate, to be perfect, so she completed her assignments, met her milestones, and, once again, worked to earned her self-worth. “I believed I was at Mercy to learn how to cope,” admitted Dallas. “But Mercy has not helped me to “cope” – it’s been so much more than that! I have learned that I can overcome all of my issues, they no longer need to rule my life.”
“I have honestly fallen head over heels in love with Jesus and I am experiencing an overwhelming relationship with my Heavenly Father,” shares Dallas. “I have nothing to fear. God has proven Himself to me, again and again, how faithful and good He is.”
Dallas has been set free from drug and alcohol addictions, sexual sin, and eating disorders. She is walking in freedom.
“I know that I have the choice – to choose life – and not only that, but I can enjoy it! Every day God wipes my slate clean, and I am ready to battle whatever comes my way. I choose to treasure the body that God has given me. I refuse to let guilt and fear overwhelm me when I eat. God has completely delivered me from my addiction to exercise, and now I am able to exercise for fun, not out of obligation. I was even successful at running the 10K Run for Mercy!”
“I am a child of God,” proclaimed Dallas boldly, “and I am beautiful, blameless, and treasured in the eyes of my Heavenly Father. I no longer live under guilt and shame from my past.”
“To my family and friends, your support has gotten me through more than you know” said Dallas. “To the Mercy staff and all the wonderful, amazing people who have been supporting me, and praying for me, words cannot explain the impact you have made in my life. Thank you! And to Jesse, it is only by God’s power, and His grace, that He has enabled you to stand right by my side for the past 5 years, through a lot of turmoil and trouble. Through it all, you have refused give up on me. You are truly amazing.”
Dallas’ most tender words were reserved for her Rescuer though: “Most of all, thank you Jesus… your blood has made me clean, pure and completely brand new; I once was lost but now I am found.”
Life After Mercy
Dallas went back home to Saskatoon this week, covered in prayer. Like all of our graduates, she will experience a supportive year of Transitional Care as she begins her new chapter. But no matter what she may face in the future, she will never have to do it alone again, from now on, she is walking through life with Jesus. “I have experienced just how important it is that I allow God to do His work, in His timing, and that He has a purpose for everything, both the good and the bad. And, by His grace, I am free!”
We are so proud of you, Dallas! You are so loved. We can’t wait to see what you do with your new freedom.