Create in Me a Clean Heart
by Deania, former Open Arms resident
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me.”
That is Psalm 51:10, and it’s my prayer.
Growing up, my father was angry and abusive, physically, mentally, and verbally, especially toward my mother. So as I got older, that’s what I thought “love” was. I also struggled with low self-esteem. I’m a big, shapely girl, and my dad always made me try to hide it. So I always hated how I looked. I’m self-conscious, and I put up with a lot of abuse in my life because I thought that was all I was worth.
I got pregnant at 17 and was forced to marry a man who didn’t want to be a father, a husband, or married to me. I was raped at 21 and had another child. And by my mid-20s, I was a full-blown addict with four kids. I shoplifted and prostituted myself for drugs.
In 2011, I tried to get clean. But then I got involved with another abusive man, and things got really bad. He got me into selling drugs. We lived in an abandoned house with no water or utilities. And he beat me every day. He beat me so bad once, I ended up having seizures and going to the emergency room. The only relief I ever had were the times I went to jail. But that’s where everything finally started to change, too.
I got involved with a jailhouse ministry that surrounded me with love and acceptance I never experienced before. These people believed I could change, and I believed them. So when I got out of jail in the spring of 2016, I came to Open Arms. Here, people didn’t see Deania the drug addict, the prostitute, or the “big girl.” They saw me how Jesus sees me — smart, intelligent, and beautiful. And they hold that mirror up to me every day.
Today, I’m safe, sober, and I’m starting to believe what they see in me. They believe I’m going to make it, and so do I. Because Psalm 51:10 is my prayer. Every day!
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